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Offline Nardus

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MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« on: August 20, 2008, 04:07:08 pm »
MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!




(Please note that I am writing this report really for my own recollection and the fast fading memory. Also, the pictures presented herein were scanned images from slides that I have taken. As my empty slide spools were stolen on my trip, I had only a limited amount of slides that I could take, hence the lack of picture quantities)

I have always thought that I should write something about my trip through Africa, but never got around to do so. I still have one of the three Michelin maps which I took on my trip and realized that I am struggling to remember what little tracks we took in some of the countries.

During the last year, a friend of mine, Michnus (some of you might know him and those who do will know how he is), nagged me into writing something. Hi Michnus how are you? No fine, when are you writing something about that trip of yours. A month later: Hi Michnus how are you? No, fine, when are you writing something about that trip of yours? And so on and so on ...

Another motivation for starting this trip report was when I was sitting on the couch last week watching Long Way Down on National Geographic. Everybody will have their own way of doing things, but Johan and I did it quite differently. All I knew about Africa, is that you need a passport, some money, a map (optional) and enough time. We honestly did no planning at all. Throughout our 10 months of riding, we never could tell you where we would sleep the next night or which road we will take in two days time.


How it all started


I think my adventurous spirit and love for Africa were inherited from my parents, old Kobie and Ans. Most siblings, especially when older, appreciate their parents to some extent, but once you have met mine, you will love them. My moms eldest brother, Oom Retief Oosthuisen (who is now over 83 years old), was a true adventure seeker. Back in 1954 he organized the first ever overland trip from South Africa across Africa to England and back. It was on this trip where my parents met each other. After returning from this crazy adventure, my Dad opted to stay in Tanzania for another six years as a tour guide where he took tourists around central and east Africa. Not surprising then that I inherited a couple of genes which could easily be triggered to follow some of their tracks left years ago.

So, after spending 12 extremely frustrating years nailed to a school bench, thereafter two as a conscript in the military to fight an enemy that never existed and then another four to obtain a degree which I thought would automatically bring me somewhere worthwhile in life, I eventually found a gap to escape from this cycle of life. Hunting feral cats on Marion Island for a whole year, isolated from most of society for hours/days/weeks to think, reflect and try to find out who I am. Although I never managed to place myself in a definable category, I realized that I needed to start doing things which will make me happy. Sitting on Marion Island alone in the middle of the sub-Antarctic, was one of them. One picture, that kept on flashing through my mind was riding over a hill on a little dirt track when the most stunning view would appear of these planes as you go over the crest miles and miles of short green, green grass with animals roaming on it for as far as your eyes could see, somewhere in the middle of Africa. I think it was a scene from one of the stories my Dad used to tell me when I was a little boy. More of this much later in the report I will refer back to it.

Because Marion Island was so special to me, I have decided to share a couple of pictures with you Enjoy!

A group photo on New Years Day



Me, the Cat Hunter







A party in the early morning hours at the base camp it actually started the previous evening



Lots of open space !



And my favourite lots of time to think, re-think and plan ahead


Some of our friends from the island, who did not want to come back:
Wandering Albatrosses





King Penguins (chicks)



Arctic Skua



And Elephant Seals !!






In 1993, I ended up in a commune with a whole lot of mates in Pretoria. I had no money to go anywhere not even back to my parents in Stellenbosch. I got myself into this situation after a months backpacking trip to Malawi, which turned out to be much longer than a month - until all my funds were depleted. In Pretoria, I eventually teamed up with one of the commune dwellers selling pots, pans and crockery in the homelands north of Pretoria. We actually made fairly good bucks and I managed to spend only half of that on parties and booze. After a couple of months, I think it was in July, I bought myself a ten year old second hand Yamaha XT600 Tenere for R7000  - regarded at the time as the ultimate adventure bike.

I remember phoning my Dad, informing him of the bike. He gave the usual - But why, it is dangerous ..crappy story, until I told him that the intention with the bike was to cross Africa and all of sudden the whole bike thing turned into a - now that sounds like a brilliant idea!!.

My idea was to pack the bike and venture into Africa for as long as I could, that is until my funds dry up. Except for my little 50cc I got from my older brother back in high school, I had never owned a motorcycle. Of all the options considered, it made most sense to ride through Africa on a bike cheap, fun, not caged in, can go almost anywhere and of course you dont have to talk to anyone. Can you imagine having to spend a couple of months in a cage having to talk and listen to the same persons stories and opinions?  Even worse, put the cage in 40 degree heat and then shake it violently from side to side! At least on a bike this will only happen when you stop hopefully with no shaking.

Well, I struggled to convince any of my fellow commune dwellers to join me, so alone it might have to be. I would have preferred a good buddy to accompany me for safety reasons, but rather alone than not at all. It remains strange how adventurous these things sound and so easily attainable to a lot of people around midnight with a proper intoxicated brain! The next day, it was only me again - no real takers. To my surprise at the end of September one of my mates who was about to write his final exams at the end of the year told me that he is considering doing something like this and that he might join me. I think, as with me, the whole school, army and study thing got to him too especially after spending quite a bit of time with me during the past few months and drinking lots and lots of beer together. In any case it worked, because in two months time I sort of wanted to leave and Johan not only had never owned a bike before, but he still did not have one. In October he found an old XT500 for R3500. I was kinda hoping that he would also get himself a XT600 for obvious reasons, the most obvious being that he is a very long stretch of a fart - a term used to describe Johan by a not-so-much-lady-like lady a year later after our arrival in England.

By mid November, I was sort of ready to go. That means that I had my bike, a tent, 3 x Michelin maps, organized a Carne de Pessagne, a brand new Mandela-passport and R3500 in my pocket. I knew my budget was rather tight, so decided to quite smoking and drinking. To now wait for Johan for another three weeks was getting a bit painful, so I told him that I will slowly head off to Mozambique. There is really only one coastline in Mozambique, so it should be easy to find me and with that I was off.


My test-run with the bike


Before I start with the trip report, let me quickly share my test-run trip with you that I did in September of 1993 to Mozambique.  I had to make sure I can ride the bloody thing and it would be nice to do a quick trip with a couple of buddies (and my good little best friend sister from Stellenbosch).

The Friday night before our departure, we spend all night drinking and partying from the one pub to the next in Pretoria. We ended up at Eds, a real yuppie and crappy joint, but open nonetheless. So at 03h00 on Saturday morning, we were having our last one for the road!! I saw this really beautiful chick sitting at the bar, so I went over and by now feeling very confident, I started to chat. I obviously mentioned the fact that I am off to Mozambique with my scooter in a couple of hours time. What a great pick-up line it almost always works!! She then mentioned that she has so much shit here and how she needed a break like this and how she wished she could just get on the back of the bike and ride away.

So, the next morning at 10h00 Carina woke me up with a backpack over her shoulder. If she wasnt so damn pretty, I would most probably not have remembered her, but I did and I obviously had told her where I stayed and I obviously invited her to hop on the bike with me! Well, I thought, this must be some chicky if she only met me the previous night (or same morning) more than half pissed and decides to come with me.

Well, two days later sleeping in our little 2-man tent, Carina informed me that she was actually married and has a child of 5 years, but that she is not happily married and thinks she might get divorced. Oh fuck!! But what the heck, nothing I (we) can do about this bit of information now, so lets just have fun and enjoy the week long holiday.

I cannot remember much about the trip, although, looking at the pictures we obviously were at Praia do Xai Xai and Inhaca Island and it was really nice to hang around with my buddies and sister. Carina was such good company that we spent another week in Mozambique after all the other people went back to Pretoria. And oh yes, I cannot really ride the bike well and not at all in a sand track.

Here is a picture or two from that trip:

A quick pitstop before crossing the border



Enjoying a local Bob Marley Siggie



Crossing over to Inhaca Island (Carina in the middle, my sister Hanna on the far right and Skua on the left)



How romantic.



Somewhere during our 2nd week



« Last Edit: August 19, 2009, 12:23:15 pm by Nardus »
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Offline Nardus

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2008, 04:10:12 pm »
THE TRIP - November 1993

Mozambique

A few good-byes (especially to Carina- maybe one day..)... and the next thing, I was packed, on the bike and hitting the road out of Pretoria, east towards Mozambique. Oh boy, what a feeling it was!! Excitement, yes a lot of that. A feeling of real freedom, yes a lot of that. Nervousness, yes a little bit of that.

Back in 1993, Maputo was a fairly wild place. None of the buildings have been repaired or repainted, hundreds of vehicle wreckages were scattered all over town, very little of the essential infrastructure was operational and only a few tough and dodgy characters were starting up (often dodgy) business. Exporting LM Prawns, opening up night clubs, wheeling and dealing with things of course, there were a couple of ordinary businesses selling groceries and coffee shops and so on.

A Bar in Maputo - one of the hot spots!



I was sleeping over in the old caravan park. Goodness, now there were a couple of dodgy characters. One lady in particular, called Gloria or something, was running the whole show and she was also the best person to change your Rands into Meticcais. I received my first offer for the bike he said: now with that I can go anywhere and nobody is going to catch me. But no, not really keen to sell it yet.

Potskerf in Maputo



I stayed an extra night in Maputu just to experience this lovely old city a bit better. I actually bumped into a mate of mine from Pretoria, called Potskerf. He was also trying to make a quick buck with the LM Prawns, but realized that the bucks were not as quick as initially anticipated. O well, I had to stay another night then to kuier a bit with Potskerf, who by then knew quite a bit more about the nightlife and the hot spots in town. Must say, prefer this Maputo to the lovely stories I was told about the old Lorenzo Marques, before the war destroyed everything. The war could not destroy the real beat that you hear in Maputu. Man, those Portuguese knew how to mix contrete - concrete pavements, concrete lamp posts, concrete walls, concrete roofs, concrete stairs, concrete sign boards, concrete bloody everything!! Yes, I drove up these steps with the scooter.



The next day I rode to Bilene and camped there for one night. Absolutely beautiful with no other travelers, no toilets, or water, or any other service just me, the bike, the lush bush and the lake this was good. I only saw two people the whole day; the one had a receipt book and requested about R10 for the camping. I told him to come back a bit later as I just want to relax a bit. Five minutes later, another youngster come to the tent and requested R5 for the camping. I obviously paid the R5 and established later that the campsite was actually owned (or at least sold) to two different people. This, I learnt on my trip through Mozambique, would become quite a common phenomenon.

On the way to Bilene



Next day, off the Xai Xai just to really get the feel for the trip in my veins and for the sense of freedom to start settling in. The bike sounds sweet and the country side is absolutely stunning. The new bridge over the Limpopo River is already completed. Things are really starting to happen in Mozambique. O yes, how fortunate I was to be on this trip, absorbing the place, cruising along. OOOH FAAAK !!! A little boy that was crossing the road miles ahead of me, was now standing on the other side of the road, saw me coming, got a fright and took off back over the road. BANG, straight into my one pannier box. Oh shit, should I duck or turn around ? It is only a little boy, he must have got hurt. Dammit, I will have to turn back and make sure he is okay.

I waved down an old landrover and explained in my best Portuguese that this kid has broken his femur badly and needs to get to the hospital urgently. I followed the landrover to the hospital only to hear that the bloody Doctor refused to help the poor little boy until he has some file number from the police a road accident procedure. Oh great, oh bloody great, now I have to hand myself in at the police station. As most low budget traveler would have done, I jippoed the third-party insurance thing at the border crossing into Mozambique saved a good R30 for a piece of useless paper. Of course, the first thing the policeman asked for was my third-party insurance papers. So, there I was on my fifth day in Mozambique and in the chooky!! The policeman gave the Doctor a file name, but he took all my papers, bike keys, etc and locked me up in the Xai Xai jail a mere 10 kms from the beautiful beach at Praia do Xai Xai where I was suppose to be.

To make a long story short - I ended up negotiating with the police Capitanos for the whole of the next day and halfway through the next night. I mean after all, it was a fucking accident and no, you cannot charge me 1000 US Dollars, because that is R3000 and that is all the money I have and I am not ending my year-long trip on day five!! It also does not help to argue in English if the Capitanos cannot understand a single bloody word of English, in fact I still do not know why I did not argue with him in Afrikaans, because then at least it would have been easier for me. We settled eventually on 200 US$ and a letter for me signed by the Captain that this 200 US$ would go towards contributing for any additional medicines or medical expenses by the poor victim the little boy. Well, at least, that was what the Portuguese letter was supposed to read!

The next day and evening was spent at Praia do Xai Xai relaxing and being happy that my trip did not end on day five, and being pissed off that I have just lost 20% of the budget in one day, which could relate to at least one month of traveling. There were no camping facilities at Xai Xai, so the tent was pitched on the beach and I just loved the cement patterns and paintings on the old buildings that survived the war.



Riding by myself was great and the trip to Praia do Tofo was awesome a little sand track through miles and miles of Coconut Palms. I was wondering (and hoping) that Johan had left Pretoria and was slowly making his own way up the coast. Tofo was just idyllic. There could not have been more than about 20 locals, mostly fishermen and the odd woman who tapped sap from the Coconut Palms. What must have been cottages were merely concrete skeletons and I opted to camp under the Cassorina trees. The hotel was pretty much intact, but not really functioning. I saw somebody inside the building either the owner or a watchman of a kind. It was damn hot and the sea was lovely with miles of white beach. I saw the local fisherman catching huuuge Sailfish and Baracuda from the beach. I watched them as they cut the fish up into big slices and cooked it in coconut milk and wine (more like a liqueur) mix to this day I have never tasted tastier fish than that day.

On route to Tofo



Apart from the little mishap at Xai Xai, that was now slowly fading and being replaced by scenes of these most breathtaking places. No sign of other travelers, such friendly locals. I think I will hang loose here for another day or two.

Camping at Praia do Tofo under the Cassorina trees



It must have been around 20h00 that evening, just before nightfall when I hear that sweet sound that could only be coming from another thumper making its way through the sand tracks, yes, Johan has caught up with me. I was not expecting him for at least another whole week! He drove from Pretoria to Tofo in two days! Why, I do not know.  I have never asked, but it was good to have somebody to share these amazing places and experiences with.

We planned to camp for another few days. But then, lo and behold the good Lord knows how to make rain in large quantities. It felt like the big rains experienced by Noah a couple of years back. When we woke up the following day, it was raining so hard that the water could not even be soaked up by pure beach sand! Everything was wet, including the two of us. We both bought what we thought were very good tents, but they were no match against the wrath of God!! We decided to pack up and ride in the rain just for the experience of it.

The main road north had more potholes than tarmac, which is normally not a big issue for a scooter but when the whole road and potholes are now all under water it is rather difficult to guess how big the next hole would be that you are going to stumble upon.

Taking shelter under a tree



Villanculos had a brand new little lodge and the owners were very pleasant. We bought a couple of really big squid from the locals which we ate that evening.
Cleaning the squid



Cooking the squid



On route to Inhassoro - first of many flat tyres for me



At Inhassoro we met a crazy Kiwi with a beautiful cherry and (of all things) his main breeding male Pit Bullterrier. What the fuck do you do with a Pit Bullterrier in the middle of Africa? Any case, we teamed up and decided to ask one of the local dow owners to take us to one of the islands about 10km from the coast. I think it was called Benguella. It was really nice and we enjoyed the company, until the Pit Bullterrier got dehydrated (like us). Not a pretty sight he got very moody and I remember at one point, with no real pre-warning, decided to take on his boss. Being a breeder of these nice dogs, the owner knew he had no real chance, so he backed off until the dog had the last of our water and then he grabbed the dog and hanged him from his choke-chain for at least 30 minutes, whilst beating the crap out of him. Being not really used to treating animals like this, he assured us that this is the way to do it with a Pit Bull if he dares to challenge you !! Okay ...

Dow trip to the island





Camping - Island style





Well, the deal with the dow owner was that he would leave us on the island for two nights and then retrieve us from the same spot on the third day. He obviously got involved in some other business, because we were waiting on that beach until very late on the afternoon of the third day.  Hanging loose on such an idyllic beach and island is normally rather desirable, but if you have run out of water the previous day, it would have been appreciated if the dow owner had stuck to our plan. We eventually waved the only other dow we saw down to take us back to the main land. An interesting experience it was.

Waiting for the dow to pick us up





Beira was rather eventful with Johan's bike's timing chain sprocket coming off as we were leaving. The city itself was also interesting in that it was rather big and located in a marshy area, with no functional sewage system and obviously no effort to do much about it during the war.

Johan, investigating ...



We were in a way fortunate that the bike broke down before we left town, but when the local engineering firms best effort was to cut off a piece of 4 inch nail and drive it through the sprocket into the casing and fit the sprocket back, off balance, I wonder whether we were that fortunate. Having said that this event changed our sort-of-plan to head in a roughly northerly direction (which would have been Malawi), because our only option at the time to fix this fuckup of an engineering attempt was to go to Mutare in Zimbabwe to get it fixed properly. So off we went at about 40km/h.

On the way from Beira to Mutare we turned off the road to have a look at the Gorongosa National Park. Johan did his Masters degree in Nature Conservation in Pretoria, so we could not drive past a National Park. It was sad to see that big trucks were hauling loads of indigenous trees off to somewhere - a commercial operation. The few kilometer long track to the entrance of the park was rather scary has not been in use for some time and we were somewhat nervous of land mines. There was not much left of the entrance complex into the park.

A scenic view from the road into the National Park



The remains of the main entrance gate into the Park



We overnight in the bush - this was how and where we slept for most of the trip




Zimbabwe

To follow shortly .........
« Last Edit: August 19, 2009, 12:46:36 pm by Nardus »
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Offline michnus

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2008, 05:38:45 pm »
Be-bliksem!Freaking hell Nardus, this is a lekker trip, sounds even better when you told me about it.  :eek7: :thumleft:

Offline Metaljockey

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2008, 05:50:00 pm »
Son of a B.......

That's the biggest hairdo I've ever seen on a white man!







Moerse impressed that you started the report, you just scored yourself a massive amount of effort to come.




Offline PARAMED

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2008, 05:52:50 pm »
Wohoooo.Nardus I am stoked you have started this report,cant wait to see more... This type of travel is what inspires me to dream,and then realize them... Thanks bud. :thumleft:

I still ride a tenere and this for me is still adventure travel in its infancy!

Great stuff,I'm going for a spin now,just to get a taste of what you accomplished......

Lekker.
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Offline Yefimovich²

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2008, 05:59:12 pm »
Really Awesome! Cant wait for the next installment..  :mwink: :deal:
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Offline Cave Girl

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2008, 06:00:48 pm »
Wow thanks for sharing.
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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2008, 06:05:57 pm »
 :love10:
 

Offline Lito

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2008, 06:06:36 pm »
Nice one Nardus. Those Akras couldnt have found a nicer owner  :thumleft:

Tell me - WTF was going on with that hair man.. :o

And second question: is that a Isodome tent in the last few pics? I still got mine - 14 years later - and it works.


Bedonnered report - baie lekker  :thumleft:
 

Offline MrBig

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2008, 06:29:41 pm »
Cool stuff!
But dude.
that hair..

Very happy that you're finally sharing this with us!

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2008, 07:01:01 pm »
Absolutely awesome story and memories :thumleft:
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Offline Sláinte Mhaith

Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2008, 07:30:37 pm »
Cool
 

Offline EtienneXplore

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2008, 07:36:35 pm »
Thanks Nardus,

What a trip !!!!!

Can't wait for the rest  O0


Offline Captain Zef

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2008, 08:14:13 pm »
Excellent... can't wait for the rest

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2008, 08:17:10 pm »
Lekker one Nardu - thanks for sharing. Just watch out for EV wif that "Katskiet-pic" :mwink:
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Offline Johnnie Bok

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2008, 08:37:31 pm »
What an experience!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Offline Smithey

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2008, 08:46:22 pm »
FANTASTIC PHOTOGRAPHS   :thumleft:

 

Offline JO GSA

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2008, 08:55:24 pm »
Great report, cant wait to read the rest....and yes, the hair do is impresive. Bet you changed it to put on a helmet :thumleft:
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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2008, 08:56:03 pm »
brilliant stuff, keep it up!
 

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Re: MAYBE NO SHOES, BUT A BIKE AND THE WHOLE OF AFRICA !!
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2008, 09:15:54 pm »
I want my Tenere back!!. Those bikes have souls.
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