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Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #80 on: May 26, 2016, 12:35:39 pm »
Thanks for following.

Regarding the fire extinguisher - I'm in the process of trying to shed weight and luggage, rather than add more. Even if it may be small, if it is absolutely not necessary I prefer not to take it (yet I still carry too much crap compared to some other people). And assuming that that extinguisher thing would actually work in open space (which I doubt) I'm not sure how effective it would be anyway - if I would catch fire while riding (as I think happened to Speedy), by the time I would notice it may be way too late (those 690 tanks are tricky to fill and I regularly end up with petrol spills despite my best efforts to avoid them - if flames will get to spilled petrol I will not have a time to even abandon the bike on my own).

I'm not even sure if the risk of fire was real or only in my head. Assuming it was real, the right solution IMO is to take the risk into account upfront and adjust the riding to mitigate it. Specifically in this case I wouldn't just waste away 3 - 4 hours of colder morning for breakfast and easy cruise of about 60-70km, but rather start as early as possible, and push on to get to the cutline as soon as possible when the temperatures were still lower. The early start would enable to sustain high speeds for longer distances, keep the temperatures a bit lower and give me time to stop to let the bike cool down and possibly to clean the radiator guard few times (it worked for about 20 - 30 km when I did it).

On the bike preparation side, I will get another fan installed on the radiator to help with keeping the bike cool.

I got complacent because I have ridden that cutline before and expected it to be more or less the same. I have never worried about fire first time (when it was wetter) and the risk of catching fire didn't cross my mind at all until I hit the cutline - at the end of the day few days before we've spent 3 days crossing a lake just 100 km to the south.

Offline OOOOMS

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #81 on: May 26, 2016, 12:54:25 pm »
Yip, I can understand your reasoning regarding weight and space being at a premium :thumleft:

Like a first aid kit.....takes up quite a bit of space, but are you going to use it? Well Mommy says I must, so best I do  :laughing4:
 

Offline OOOOMS

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #82 on: May 27, 2016, 08:38:01 am »
OH Nooooo......

 

Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #83 on: May 27, 2016, 10:10:31 am »
Sorry, a bit busy now. Will try to wrap it up over the weekend.


Offline teebag

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #84 on: May 27, 2016, 11:05:29 am »
Fantastic - finally somebody with hands-on experience!

Teebag - do you remember if there is a bridge over Selinda river, or did you have to wade through the river?

We bush camped up near the Zibadianja Lagoon and crossed the Savuti Channel to head up towards Linyanti - there was Zero water in the channel till later in the year.


Current pics from the area:
Zibadianja Lagoon water less than 2km down channel


20 km further down channel
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #85 on: May 27, 2016, 11:18:57 am »
Thank you teebag - much appreciated  :thumleft:.

If you followed the channel up to Linyanti - weren't you riding on the private safari concessions, or are those also considered public land?


Offline Amsterdam

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #86 on: May 27, 2016, 12:09:12 pm »
Enjoying this and inspired. Don't know much about the area. Is July a good or bad time for riding there ?
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Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #87 on: May 27, 2016, 12:44:47 pm »
Enjoying this and inspired. Don't know much about the area. Is July a good or bad time for riding there ?

I'm useless with the seasons and generally ride whenever I can or fancy, but I think the worst time is probably March - May, when pans are wet and grass too long. You can google bots seasons - you will get information there, for example:

http://safari-consultants.com/destinations/botswana/when-to-travel-seasons

From my perspective the season is important only for two things - if you want to avoid flooded Makgadikgadi, which I think you will be fine in July, and if you want to do that delta circumnavigation, when it is important to know if you can cross Selinda river or not. I'm still not sure though when that river is high. Outside of that I do not think season makes too much difference. Once in December I couldn't do Hunter's road, because it was just cottom mud, but I found a cutline along Chobe boundary instead and all was good.

Offline teebag

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #88 on: May 27, 2016, 02:17:46 pm »
Thank you teebag - much appreciated  :thumleft:.

If you followed the channel up to Linyanti - weren't you riding on the private safari concessions, or are those also considered public land?

Remember we did this when it was still hunting concessions and the rest run by Bots parks, I think after that they banned hunting in the area and moved to private concessions.

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Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #89 on: May 29, 2016, 02:17:19 pm »
Day 9

I had two days to get back to Joburg, which should be easily doable from Planet Baobab even including lots of dirt. So that is what I wanted to do. My usual route through Makgadikgadi was out, so instead I aimed to hit the dirt roads along the Zimbabwean border all the way down to Tuli block, where I would spend the last night of the trip in Molema campsite. Next day I would then hit as much dirt as possible crossing to SA through Zanzibar and then riding down through Belfast and Waterberg to Joburg. Pretty straightforward.

As I was out of the sticks, I took it easy in the morning, having lazy breakfast and walk-around before setting of way past 9:00 am. First 100 km was boring straight tar to Nata, so I dialed in my normal cruising speed of hundred something and went to sleep again. I woke up again about 20-30 km later, when my rear started to weave about little bit. The inteligent response of course would be stop and check what's going on, but that is not how I roll. 

Instead for next 5 - 10 I accelerated and decelerated number of times to see what is going to happen. When I sped up the weave seemed to go away, while slowing down made it more pronounced. Always good at imagining the worst scenarion I was wondering if the reare wheel bearings are gone and eventually decided to stop and check. And, as anybody with two brain cells have already correctly guessed by now, it was another flat. The hard walled E09Dakar somewhat managed to stay on the rin and at higher speed almost seemed completely normal - at least in the straight line.

I pulled off the road and set-up workshop in the shade under the only tree/bush for few km around:





As soon as I pulled the tyre off I realized full extent of my idiocy. Riding those 5-10 km on flat tyre in the excess of 100 kmh completely destroyed the tube. That was stupid, but I had a spare tube, so no biggie. The real problem was that the tube ripped off the duct tape from the rim exposing the spokes. I knew I didn't have enough duct tape left to cover the rim (in my weight/space saving efforts I took only small roll of duct tape instead of the big one I used to carry before - and it turned out the small one is good to cover about 1,5 rim) and now finally fully awake realised that without covering the spokes I'm going nowhere even with new tube. The tube would get punctured withing 10 - 20 km at most by the spokes.

The only course of action left was begging, so I positioned myself on the road trying to look presentable in my Maun acquired hat (I don't think I would have any chance in that beanie Straatkat kindly posted pictures of me in) while trying to intercept very sparse traffic. Initiaully I got passed by quite a few cars - including those bling tourist 4x4s, but eventually people seemed to start like me more and few cars - locals as well as tourists - stopped. To my surprise, most of them never heard of, let alone had, a duct tape. Until then I lived under sweet misconception, that anybody in Africa venturing in a vehicle more than 10 km out of town carries duct tape and cable ties as the basic minimum survival kit. Not so, it turned out.

About two hours into manning the road block, my brain started itching. You see, I'm not very smart at planning and organising my trips - I do not prepare and tick off checklists of things to have, and despise thinking hard upfront about what I will really need or not. The way I compensate for this sloppiness is redundancy - when I do pack what I believe in the moment is the absolute minimum required for the trip, I take step back and feel proud about how much space I have left in my luggage. And then proceed to fill-up the space with another peace of almost everything I've already packed - for some reason usually packing it separately from the original items. So now I started to have this nagging feeling that I may have packed another roll of duct tape somewhere about the bike.

And indeed I found one in the pouch designated for food! Well, there went two hours of my life I'm not getting back. Relieved, I taped over  the spokes, put in the spare tube and, leaving baggage behind, took the bike for quick spin to get the bead set in (it gets tiring to try to inflate tyre enough with MTB hand pump). The tube, patched by the guys in the Khwai Tented Camp, turned out to be leaking, so back to the workshop for another round of tube extraction and patching.




My patch didn't work 100% either so I have repeated the process one or two more times (the solution Bill the Bong adviced on kindly later on seems to be to use Rubber Cement instead of that vucanising solution provided in most of the current tube patching kits - unless the tube is from natural rubber which most tubes are not nowadays) and almost started to enjoy it.

I was ripped off my tyre fixing revelry at about 4:00 pm by mother of all storms approaching from west, lightnings and all. There are few thing I like less than electric storm on the flat Botswanian plains, so I assembled the bike back  ctogether after the last patch, packed hastily and set-off with lightnings striking close by now towards Nata. The plan was to stop regularly to reinflate the tyre with the pump and try to find permanent solution in Nata. I've made it to Nata in one go at dusk - the tube was leaking air much slower after the last patch - and I stopped at couple of garages to buy new duct tape and tyre-fix spray, that I hopped could stop the slow puncture. It turns out they didn't carry those in this thorn ridden 4x4 country, so I set-up a watch at one of the garages looking for an unsuspecting whiteys that may carry such things. Pretty soon an elderly white couple in some kind of 4x4 on their way to Kasane stopped by, and I was able to buy from them a big can of tyre fix which I promptly sprayed into the rear tube.

With that sorted I headed already in the dark 10 km south to the Nata lodge to sleep over.

To sum up, in about 8 hours of pretty hard work I have managed to ride 100 km on tar between Planet Baobab and Nata:



By now it was clear I'm not going to make it back on time for work, so I SMSed my boss taking one more day off.

Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #90 on: May 29, 2016, 02:54:01 pm »
Day 10 - 11

In the morning I scored another can of tyre fix and a bottle of slime from nice gentleman I bumped into in Nata lodge. I wasn't sure if the tyre fix spray from last night worked. The signs were good - the tyre didn't loose any pressure overnight, but I couldn't be sure if it will hold pressure while riding. I still had about 900 km to cover to Joburg, and to be safe I have resigned myself to ridding tar at least to Lephalale, where I knew place where I should be able to get another tube.

Nata lodge:




I set-off after breakfast in the lodge and things seemed to go well. I stopped regularly to check the pressure in the rear tyre and it seemed to hold, so eventually I stopped to worry and pushed on. It was bloody hot, there was quire a bit of traffic of people returning down to Gaborone from Easter holidays, and of course 690 is not the tool for this kind of slab. I have expected all that - what I didn't expect were very frequent police blocks - every 30 - 40 km at every main intersection. They didn't stop everybody, but more often than not pulled me aside, which was starting to get really annoying. I'm not mature enough to be able to just go along with this kind of nonsensical police intimidation, and knew that it was just question of time before I will lose it badly with one of the uniformed illuminati - which I almost did when they stopped me for a 4th time.

So I made it fuming (from heat and anger) to Francistown, where I made some token queries about new tube (not a chance - especially on Easter Monday), filled up with petrol and turned west to Matsiloje on the Zim border, where I would connect to the dirt tracks heading south along the Zim border hopefully avoiding any more police encounters. This worked as a charm and I rode dirt down to Sephophe, where I hit dirt again heading down to Martin's Drift, where I arrived early in the evening.

Normally I would push through the border, to have clean and easy start next day, but I was too knackered from the heat and the border seemed to be overrun by some religius pilgrims or some such, so decided to stay the night in the Kwa Nokeng Lodge on the Bots side and cross to SA next day.

Route ridden:



Day 11 - last day.

After breakfast in the morning I crossed almost empty border in about half and hour and took tar to Ellisras, where I stopped about 5 km behind the town in the direction of Thabazimbi at a worshop I knew sells tube. The owner wasn't there and when I called him he said he is out of tubes, but he arranged his helper to patch an old 18 inches tube, which I bought as a safety should I run into trouble before getting home.

With that sorted I rode another 70 km on tar towards Thabazimbi, and then hit the dirt roads at the northern end of Marakele NP and continued on dirt through Rooiberg, Assen all the say down to that village sought of Jericho which you need to ride through when doing riverbeds in DeWildt. To wrap the trip properly I crossed about 10 km of DeWildt from the water tower down to the mountain and then hit the tar again in Ga Rankuwa and took it home through Hartbeespoort.

Waterberg - Marakele NP:







De Wildt:






Route ridden:



To sum up - it was a good trip even though it came short of achieving the main objective - circomventing the Okavango delta. I will be back to finish it.

Thanks for following.

Offline JMOL

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #91 on: May 29, 2016, 04:27:46 pm »
Thanks for sharing  :thumleft:

Always a pleasure to read about your trips.
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Offline OOOOMS

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #92 on: May 29, 2016, 05:43:44 pm »
Tx for the excellent report and pics  :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:

 :wav: :wav: :wav:
« Last Edit: May 29, 2016, 05:44:28 pm by OOOOMS »
 

Offline landieman

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #93 on: May 29, 2016, 07:38:36 pm »
FANTASTIC R/R  :thumleft:
don't worry about things you can't change,change the things you can.
 

Offline Malcolm

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #94 on: May 30, 2016, 06:59:35 am »
Thanks Xpat, nice report
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Offline Snafu

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #95 on: May 30, 2016, 09:27:14 am »
Very enjoyable RR, thanks !!!!
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Offline 0012

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #96 on: May 30, 2016, 03:49:42 pm »
awesome report as always, thanks very much!

Have you thought of doing the tubeless modification or are you against the idea?


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Offline Xpat

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #97 on: May 30, 2016, 05:57:36 pm »
awesome report as always, thanks very much!

Have you thought of doing the tubeless modification or are you against the idea?

Thanks.

I haven't thought much about the tubeless (I have only for a while pondered Tubeliss), neither am I against it. But I will probably stick to the tube. At the end of the day, that whole drama was result of only one puncture and the subsequent comedy of errors on my side (pinching new tube, not checking the rim tape, not checking my tyre pressure in Planet Baobab, riding on flat tyre for 5-10 km at about 100 kmh).

I may in the future get that sicaflex (or whatever is it called) applied to my rims, but only to slow down deflation when I get puncture - I would still probably run it with tubes (at least in the front, where I feel the lip on the rim is not big enough to hold tyre on strong enough).

Offline Skim

Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #98 on: May 30, 2016, 07:02:51 pm »
Dankie vir die deel! Nice RR and lots of lekka!
Skim

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Offline mtbbiker

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Re: Short way around the delta
« Reply #99 on: May 30, 2016, 07:36:50 pm »
Thanks again for sharing one of your epic trips.
It is so true, when we get the opportunity to be part of a trip that we  always dreamed of doing, we have 101 excuses why we can't  :xxbah:. But one can always make a plan  :deal:, will be doing a lot of these routes albeit in a 4x4 a couple of days from now (At least I have the family with to share  :thumleft:) But YES I will be dreaming of what it will be to do with the bike !
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