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Author Topic: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)  (Read 11119 times)

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Offline BoskakBruce

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #120 on: December 03, 2020, 11:04:37 pm »
The sun sets as it only does in Africa.

The company is great. We eat dinner together, drink wine, chat and generally shoot the shit till we’re too tired to anymore.

It’s been another amazing day. Hard riding, but amazing scenery.

Still no accidents, no mechanical failures, and now new friends.

Life is good. Let's see what tomorrow holds... (insert ominous music here)
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Ride Reports: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
 

Offline funacide

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #121 on: December 03, 2020, 11:21:55 pm »
Really enjoying this, keep it coming!
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Offline BoskakBruce

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DAY 4 – Sesfontein to Opuwo
« Reply #122 on: December 04, 2020, 08:25:27 pm »
We wake up determined to leave early today. It’s a fresh morning, but the weather repost says that it will soon be 35 degrees centigrade.

We’ve got a big (and hot) day ahead that includes Robbie’s Pass – something Marc has been whining about for a few days now. He keeps dropping hints that perhaps we shouldn’t ride Robbie’s Pass.

You see, Robbie’s pass is rocky and steep, and last time Marc was here, it kicked his ass. He’s been anxious about it every time we mention it.

I, on the other hand, am wanting to ride everything I can while I’m here. Jan Lucas is determined to show me as much of Kaokoland as he can, so between the two of us we outvote Marc.

We’re doing Robbie’s Pass. I tease Marc saying that I’ll pull him through if he can’t make it on his own.

We have breakfast with the Germans, enjoying more good coffee, good company, scrambled eggs and sausage.

I’m feeling happy that we’re almost ready to leave and it’s only 8am.

Then, Marc discovers that his front tire has a flat.

There goes our early start. ☹

An hour later, I’m hot and sweaty and we still haven’t left. But soon enough we make it out the B&B gates and head to find fuel.
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Ride Reports: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
 

Offline BoskakBruce

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #123 on: December 04, 2020, 08:26:18 pm »
We split the fuel costs using a great free app called SplitWise. It’s designed to help friends split expenses on a trip.

So, in this case, I paid for all of our fuel with my card (to save our cash) and the app keeps track of who owes who what. Then, at the end of the trip, settling up is a piece of cake.

We head out on a very rocky track (thanks @Xpat) behind the Fort Sesfontein hotel. Things are looking up. It’s getting technical and I’m up front for a change leading the pack.

I’ve got my favorite Spotify playlist playing in my helmet. After about the third song, I realize that I haven’t seen the other’s in a while. I stop and wait for a few minutes before turning around to find out what happened to them.

I discover them with the tarp out. Oh no, this can only mean one thing. Puncture repair time.

Marc’s 690 has picked up a nail in his rear tire.

There’s not a tree in sight. It’s getting hotter and hotter and we all want to just get back on the trail ASAP. Marc removes the wheel. Jan Lucas spoons off the tire. I check it for thorns while Marc patches the tube. 

For some reason I cannot remember now, the puncture repair takes another hour instead of 30 minutes.

It 10:30 and we’ve already spent 2 hours fixing flats. This is not a good omen.
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Ride Reports: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
 

Offline BoskakBruce

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #124 on: December 04, 2020, 08:27:14 pm »
But things look up once we’re back on the track. Lots of rocky climbs interspersed with sandy tracks and we’re grinning again.

We come across a steep rocky ascent. It’s the most technical hill we’ve ridden so far and I’m chomping at the bit to have a go at it. 

I try to remember everything Alfredo Gomez taught me at the Hard Enduro clinic that I attended last month. Get on the pegs as soon as possible. Toes in. Knees gripping the seat. Elbows up. Arms relaxed. Momentum. Go!

I make it up all the way to the top without dabbing once (and without sitting either). Man, that was fun.
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Offline BoskakBruce

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #125 on: December 04, 2020, 08:28:16 pm »
From the top of the hill, the track levels out and turns into a rock festival.

Same deal here…

Get on the pegs as soon as possible. Toes in. Knees gripping the seat. Elbows up. Arms relaxed. Momentum. Go!
 
The rocks seem like they are never going to end and by the time they do, I’m happy to sit down.
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Ride Reports: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
 

Offline BoskakBruce

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #126 on: December 04, 2020, 08:28:55 pm »
Now is probably a good time to say a thing or two about the 500 seat. It’s a plank.

So, before we left, I had a local seat guy make me a seat based on a design by Fisher Seats. It turned out very well and my ass has been happy the entire trip so far. The best part is that the wide part doesn’t interfere with my “attack” pose at all.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2020, 08:31:48 pm by Overland Bruce »
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Offline BoskakBruce

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #127 on: December 04, 2020, 08:32:19 pm »
After the rocks, we’re looking for a place to rest and almost ride into this – a giant Fesh Fesh hole. That would not have been fun.
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Ride Reports: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
 

Offline BoskakBruce

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #128 on: December 04, 2020, 08:32:54 pm »
As we continue looking for shade, I’m reminded that we’re not the predators here. We’re prey.
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Offline BoskakBruce

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #129 on: December 04, 2020, 08:35:10 pm »
Eventually, Jan Lucas finds a shady spot and Marc erects his tarp.

Now, at first, I thought that carrying a tarp on a trip like this was overkill. I would soon have my mind changed. Tarps not only make great puncture repair platforms, but also great shade cloths.
 
Then, out comes the tea and hot cup-a-soup. At this point, I’m actually looking forward to the soup. 

Jan Lucas decides that a nap is in order and once we’re feeling a little more energized, we press on towards Robbie’s Pass.
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Offline BoskakBruce

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #130 on: December 04, 2020, 08:38:33 pm »
Once we’re feeling a little more energized, we press on towards Robbie’s Pass.

I let the boys go ahead (so that I’m not eating their dust constantly) and find a comfortable rhythm, enjoying the arid scenery and wheelieing across the dry riverbeds.
Eventually, I realize that I’ve been riding and not seen them for 20 minutes. Either they are blasting really fast or I’m going really slow. Normally they would have waited for me.

I speed up, thinking that they must be around the corner somewhere. They’re not THAT fast.

20 minutes later I’m at the entrance to Robbie’s Pass and the boys are nowhere to be seen.

Shit.

They would definitely have waited for me here. Something must have happened to them. Perhaps they took a wrong turn?

I haul out the Inreach and blast off a (free) preprogrammed text message to the sat phone saying “I’m fine. Where are you?” The Inreach automatically includes my GPS coordinate with the message.

Before I hear back from them, I hear Marc’s (noise polluting) Akro in the distance. At least it’s good for something (locating Marc).

They arrive 5 minutes later with smiles on their faces.

“We took a wrong turn and you must have passed us while we were turning around…”

There I was thinking that I was chasing them, when they were chasing me 😊

Jan Lucas says, “Didn’t you see that there were not tracks in front of you?”

“Actually, No. I was so busy trying to catch you that I wasn’t even thinking that you were behind me!”

We stop to regroup, rehydrate and mentally prepare for Robbie’s Pass.

Then we hit it.

Marc blasts off into the distance trying to get it over with as soon as possible. Jan Lucas makes a more considered approach and I just follow at the back, curious to see what all the fuss is about.

From the bottom, it looks steeper that it is when you’re ascending it.

Robbie Pass beats all of us.

Marc has to paddle to the top. 

I try to impress the guys by blasting up on my pegs and getting stuck ¾ of the way up.

And Jan Lucas makes a spectacular airborne exit off his bike. 

We laugh together, humbled by our failures (not knowing the failures that were about to come.
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Ride Reports: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
 

Offline BoskakBruce

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #131 on: December 04, 2020, 08:40:14 pm »
The track towards Opuwo is fast and sandy.

Now you might think that we’re just blasting along and not really taking in the scenery. And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. But this trip is about the riding as much as it is about the nature. When we blast, it’s mostly because the scenery is dull and the riding is fun.

That all ends when Marc gets yet another flat. This time, it’s the rear again and we discover 18 pin-prick thron holes in his tube. It’s fucked.

Another hour goes by as we take the rear tire off the rim again to get all the thorns out. We stuff in a replacement tube to save time. Marc can fix the 18 holes at camp tonight.

Not 10 minutes after we get going again, it’s my turn. My rear wheel starts fishtailing all over the show and I realize that I have a flat.

We pull over and EVERYONE is not pleased with this situation.

I remove the rear wheel, but the tire is stuck to it and not budging.

Jan Lucas offers his kickstand as a bead breaker.
 
Another hour later, and having removed the nail and the tire, we’re back on the road again.

So far, we’ve spent 4 hours fixing flats. It’s late and we’re never going to make it to the Kunene River tonight.

We readjust our plans and decide to stay over at Opuwo instead.
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Offline BoskakBruce

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #132 on: December 04, 2020, 08:42:21 pm »
I say a little prayer to the tube gods begging for mercy and promising to atone for my sins if we can get to Opuwo without another flat.

They don’t listen.

With my puncture repaired, I get back on my bike. The boys have already left wanting to make up lost time so that we don’t ride in the dark.

Not 5 minutes later, my rear wheel begins fishtailing again like a drunken sailor.

Nooooooooo. Please nooooooo.
 
I pull over and remove the rear wheel again.

But I just can’t break the bead by myself. I send another message to their satphone and wait. 30 minutes later they arrive. We break the bead and pull out the tube.

The valve has ripped off. Maybe from riding on the flat earlier, maybe from heat buildup. 

Who knows. All I know is that I’m tired of fixing flats.

I can hear my buddy Campbell’s words ringing in my head as he said, “Dude. Put mousses in. It’s Namibia. There are thorns everywhere!”

I was beginning to regret not listening to him. 

Anyways, I happily throw away the UDH tube. I hate UHD tubes because they are so hard to install and remove (see pic below). I replace it with the paper-thin KTM tube that came with the bike.
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Offline BoskakBruce

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #133 on: December 04, 2020, 08:44:30 pm »
An hour later, we’re on the road again. Light is fading fast, so we fuck off down the dirt roads towards Opuwo.

My bike is doing 130km/h and handling great. No fishtailing like before. Totally stable.

I have no idea why, but I’m thrilled.

And then it hits me.

The UHD tube.

That motherfucker must have put the rear wheel so out of balance that it was upsetting the entire bike.

Now, with the stock tube back in, the wheel was balanced again (sort of) and the bike was handling normally.

I grinned in my helmet having finally solved half of the puzzle. Then I remembered that I still have a UHD tube in the front tire. Perhaps that’s what is messing up the front end.

But that’s a story for later…

We arrive in Opuwo, find a place to stay, shower and head out to find food. Opuwo is a grungy town with a lot of character. Himba people, Herero people, White, Black – all co-habituating. I really want to return here on my next trip.

We arrive at the only steakhouse in town.

Shortly after ordering, the 2 guys at the next table come over to talk with us about our bikes.“

Are you guys going to ride Van Zyl’s Pass?” they ask.

“For sure we are…”

“We’re heading there tomorrow… to Otjitanda.” they say.

Turns out that these two guys (Johan and Johan) are missionaries and also bikers. They are heading out to a remote village along the route we’ll be taking 2 days from now.
In that area, it’s hard to know if you’ll ever find fuel, and this is a problem that we’ve been trying to mitigate from the beginning.

Then Marc has a genius idea!

“Johan, do you think you could take some fuel to the school for us and leave it there?”

Johan thinks for a while and agrees. “But you have to give me the fuel now. We leave at 5am tomorrow.” he says.

I jump up from the table and run to the petrol station and buy three 5-liter bottles of water.

Then, I empty all the water out of them so that I can use them for fuel.

The looks I got were incredulous.

“What? It’s just water!” I think to myself.

Finally, it dawns on me that I am in a drought ridden land dumping 15 liters of perfectly good drinking water down the drain. Whoops.

White tourist moment.

I fill the bottles with fuel as Johan pulls up at the petrol station. He takes the bottles and loads them into his truck.

It’s a miracle. I praise the fuel gods for bestowing their blessings upon us and apologize to the tire gods for using their name in vain… Because if it were not for the 5 hours of fixing punctures, we would not have met Johan and Johan.

Johan gives us a map to find the school.

Amen.

We sleep like babies in our air-conditioned room. All the puncture repairs have bonded us, we’re safe, we have fuel, we have bikes, we have beer, we have full bellies…

What more could we want for?

Night night.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2020, 08:46:17 pm by Overland Bruce »
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Ride Reports: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #134 on: December 04, 2020, 09:02:19 pm »
Good to see a proper old school report again in this age of one post wonders  :thumleft:

Takes one 15 years back when adv riding was not yet overrun by consumerism and corporate messaging, but fresh, exciting and ambitious...

Good job  :thumleft:
« Last Edit: December 04, 2020, 09:03:57 pm by Xpat »
 
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Offline BoskakBruce

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #135 on: December 04, 2020, 11:53:26 pm »
Good to see a proper old school report again in this age of one post wonders  :thumleft:

Takes one 15 years back when adv riding was not yet overrun by consumerism and corporate messaging, but fresh, exciting and ambitious...

Good job  :thumleft:

Thanks Martin. That's high praise coming from you (whose long form ride reports I love). I'm 6 hours of writing into this ride report and estimate I have at least an other 8 hours of writing to go! I guess it's helping me cement the memories. :-)
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Offline funacide

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #136 on: December 05, 2020, 06:42:37 am »
Good to see a proper old school report again in this age of one post wonders  :thumleft:

Takes one 15 years back when adv riding was not yet overrun by consumerism and corporate messaging, but fresh, exciting and ambitious...

Good job  :thumleft:

Totally agree with Xpat :thumleft: :thumleft:
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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #137 on: December 05, 2020, 08:43:23 am »
Fantastic ride and a brilliant share. Thank you.
Ride it like you stole it!

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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #138 on: December 05, 2020, 08:46:42 am »
Enjoying every pic and word here ... keep going  :thumleft:

Brings back great memories of my trip with Xpat and Straatkat
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Re: Virgin Sand In Kaokoland (a post lockdown adventure)
« Reply #139 on: December 05, 2020, 10:46:08 am »
We sleep like babies in our air-conditioned room.

Damn Bruce I hope you packed enough warm pajamas!! ;) :lol8:
Enjoying the RR hope it's not over soon. :thumleft:
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