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Author Topic: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT.  (Read 1128 times)
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BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. on: January 23, 2012, 04:22:23 pm

Not a proper report, just for general information.

It started when I was chatting with someone (Oscar) at the Gorge, Hekport who had just completed the 2011 Roof of Africa.  I had raced most of the passes in the Roof with both trucks and bikes, but that was quite a few years ago.  I was trying to determine how the conditions of those passes are now, compared to then.  Rather than try to explain Oscar said " why don't you go and ride some of them".  This of course was the suggestion my heart was secretly wanting to hear.  I thought about it over christmas.  Decided I would do it in a minimalistic way during the first full moon period to come along.  It is nicer to be out in a moon light night than a dark night, especially if there is a good chance of rain.  I decided to tackle Baboons and Jockstrap, and maybe others.  I drew up a route schedule from Google Earth, and left Johannesburg Monday morning 09/01/2011. 

Travelled via Villiers, Petrus Steyn, Senekal and Maquard to Clocolan where I was going to stay over with Peter Luck and his family.  Those of you familiar with the Roof will know Peter had a lot to do with organizing this magnificent event over many years.  Peter has a lovely family - Wife Lindy, daughter Angelique and twins John and Michelle. 

Day 2. Entered Lesotho via Peka Bridge, which was easy enough, but a mistake in as much as the road to Maseru was slow and congested, even for a motorcycle.  Nevertheless I carried on to Ramabanta.  A flat tire and no shade near Ramabanta proved to be hot and exhausting.  Also changed to 13T counter sprocket, and carried on to the foot of Baboons pass, and went straight at it.  I was in no hurry, but it still proved really hard going with a fully, but lightly loaded bike.  After only 6km, and 5 or 6 looong rest stops I thought to mount my camera on the bike.  At this point I noticed a broken rear spoke that was not broken when I changed the tubes a little while back.  NOTE: This bike is prone to breaking spokes because some years back it spent 24 hours at the bottom of Lake Mweru in Congo.  Although I went to some effort to drain and clean the bike thoroughly, I did not remove the tires as they were fairly new at the time.  Months later at tire change time I could see the error of my sloppy cleaning job, the nipples and spoke ends were badly rusted.  Although the rust was treated, the damage was done.  --  Back to Baboons: I had one spare spoke, and took the decision to ride back down and find some shade and flat ground.  Still hard going, but easier on the back wheel.  I found a mini Pine Forest about 8 km east of Ramabanta and set to work on the broken spoke.  As luck would have it, it was far enough from the valve and tire bolt to replace the spoke by only breaking the tire bead on one side, but it was dark by the time I had the wheel back on the bike.  So, slept there in the pine forest - no rain.  Chris Swanepoel (Stoffie) had phoned through the day to ask if he could ride with me from Roma to Sani.  I agreed to meet him Thursday morning in Ramabanta. 

Day 3. (Wed).  Jockstrap looked easier going, so I thought I would give it a try and see how the rear spokes hold up.  It started well, but after only a few kms and a section of spin-grip / spin-grip I found another broken spoke - now what??  I decided to go to the Top of Baboons and see what it looked like.  After all from top of Baboons back to bottom must be all down hill - right?? 

This turned out to be a good decision because I met Rob Hope, an ex Saffer living and working in Port Headland in Western Australia.  I believe Rob is well know to some dogs here in South Africa.  He had also spent the night on a rocky pass somewhere in the vicinity waiting for some picannins to come and turn his 690 Rally ktm around.  Rob is on an enviable many month tour of South and East Africa.  We chatted on the side of the road for quite some time.  I took a leisurely ride into Semonkong out of curiosity (A real cowboy town, hundred of horsemen, and thousands of livestock), then back to the Top of Baboons - As I topped the first rise, about 1 kilometer into the pass I could see there would still be many more spin-grip / spin-grip climbs, even though it is generally down hill.  With thoughts of more broken spokes I decided to abandon Baboons Pass for another time, and camp there on the first rise.  This night it rained.  I sat through two consecutive rain/thunder storms.  It settled down about 01h00.  NOTE:  Baboons is pretty hard going with a loaded DS bike.  I was carrying 7 liters of water, and 7 or 8 kg of tools, spares and camping equipment.  I suspect it would be significantly easier with an unloaded bike and hydropack only.  But as I only did 6km I do not really know - maybe it gets better, maybe worse. 

Day 4 (Thur).  Woke up shortly after dawn (what scenery), packed up, and headed back to Ramabanta.  Found Chris at the lodge and joined him for breakfast.  We set of for Roma, fuelled up and headed for Sani, via Thaba Tseko.  After clearing the outskirts of Roma we rode pretty much flat out to to Sani Top (+/-300km) with 3 or 4 rest stops.  Wow what a ride - the first tar section consists of 100s of medium speed curves, the remainder was a variety of gravel roads with plenty of loose - power slide corners.  We were really stoked up when we got to Sani Top at 17h40.  After passport control we had 15 minutes to get to the RSA border control which would close at 18h00.  Believe it or not we did border to border in 13, 5 minutes with 1, 5 minutes to spare.  Chris said he wants to ride up Sani Pass again next day - I agreed (still only one broken spoke).  Carried on to Himeville, and booked into the hotel.  Not much of a hotel, but the a la Carte restaurant was OK.  NOTE: This is an excellent day ride for DS bikes, loaded or not.  I did not see a fuel stop at Thaba Tseko, but we did not need one, so did not look hard.  I guess there would be fuel if you looked. 

Day 5 (Fri).  Lazy start, loaded up, and re-did Sani Pass at sight seeing pace.  We both commented WTF were we playing at the previous afternoon.  Anyway, Chris declared he is now cured of San Pass for a while.  We fuelled up at Himeville, and I re fitted my 15T counter sprocket, and set out for Harrismith via Lower Lotini, White Mountain, Draycott and Oliviershoek Pass.  Very heavy rain forced a 2 hour stop on the gravel road in the vicinity of  White Mountain Resort.  New material had been dumpted on the road and roughly graded, but not compacted and drained, it was very slippery.  Infact Chris in his enthusiasm to get going took a typical low speed mud tumble in the first 100 meters.  Another 5 min wait would have made the difference.  The road quickly dried and we were out of the rained on area, and back up to speed again until Oliviershoek Pass, where heavy rain again forced a stop at the Swiss Inn.  Chris was on for booking in here until he Heard the R.900, 00 pp/pn tariff.  After I mentioned the probability of Nandos at Harrismith he was easily persuaded to carry on.   And Nandos there was, but it was now dark and raining, and again Chris was easily persuaded to go off and look for accommodation (he is good at this).  Before I finished my chicken, Chris was back waving a motel key.  I had always suspected, but never knew for sure there was a very nice motel there at the Harrismith "One Stop". 

Day 6 (Sat). I had an Idea of doing Verkykerskop, Roberts Drift, Greylingstad, but it was still raining, and those roads are impossible slippery red clay when wet.  We rode straight back to Johannesburg on the N3.  No rain until the last 5 minutes before home.  Very satisfied.  Good ride.  Good company.  Thank you Chris for joining me. 

I hope some dogs may find this informative.
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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #1 on: January 23, 2012, 04:55:26 pm

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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #2 on: January 24, 2012, 10:52:41 pm

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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #3 on: January 25, 2012, 07:30:30 am

Wow JIMBO! Respect for taking on those passes.  icon_thumleft
Now you can form a picture when guys talk about these places.
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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #4 on: January 25, 2012, 10:57:36 am

Yes Michiel,  They are tougher than they used to be, or I am softer than I used to be.  OR both.
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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #5 on: January 25, 2012, 11:13:28 am

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how long did it take you te get up Sani?

And please tell me you have a RR for the trip where the DR ended up under water in Congo.
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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #6 on: January 25, 2012, 12:08:20 pm

Respect Jimbo icon_thumleft
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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #7 on: January 25, 2012, 01:39:12 pm

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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #8 on: January 30, 2012, 05:53:32 pm

ONDERBROOK.  Sorry did not go back to this thread till now. 

Up Sani at sight seeing pace; did not time it but would say 25 to 35 minutes.  It is 72 km from Himeville to Top of Sani and back to Himeville.  I.E. 36km each way.  It is tar to the old staging station, infact very good tar, you can maybe scrape your foot pegs. 

There is no R.R. for the drowned and resuscitated DR350 in Congo.  This was work related, not adventure fun.  I was looking after exploration at a copper deposit near a village called Dikalushi, between the bigger villages of Kabongo and Kiakalamu in Shaba province.  I did not want my employer to know what an idiot I was.  It happened like this:

If you look at the map of Northern Zambia you will spot Lake Mweru to the west on the Congo side.  The main town in the area is Pweto.  The Congo / Zambia border is a few km to the east of Pweto on a minor, but deep creek emptying into the lake in a shallow delta.  The bridge has long since gone from this border crossing.  A few km to the south of Pweto is a ferry crossing the the Luvua river (running out of lake Mweru) which is actually the beginning of the Congo/Zaire river.  The ferry, although generally reliable was not running this time.  Other choices include wooden boats (hundreds of them) which are either 5 or 7 meters long.  They are made along the Zambian coast from timber felled and sawn in Congo.  They are sometimes powered by a 15hp Honda outboard.  I was returning from the Congo site back to Zambia.  One of the 5 meter, Honda powered boats was available with a 2 man crew.  It was fairly late in the afternoon.  It was decided that one crewman and myself could hold the bike vertical on board while the skipper powered us to the Zambian beach just east of the border where other people could help us off load Suzie.  A Good enough plan. 

Dodging floated fish nets is always a problem on African lakes.  About 300 meters from the beach the prop caught some net, but seemed to break free.  The crewman and myself made a  one hand scramble for the oars to push aside more nets.  The inevitable happened when we both let Suzie go at the same time - over she went.  At the same time the prop did really catch and break the drive shear pin.  I grabbed the float attached to rope an tied it to the nearest piece of metal I could find on the bottom of the boat and threw it back to where I thought Suzie was (I had lost things overboard on this lake before).  To my horror the metal and the float both disappeared WTF.  I managed to line up two features on shore, and make a note of them.  It was pretty much dark now so we headed for the beach. 

Through the night I managed to gather support in the form of another 5 meter boat oar powered, ropes and hooks, and Zambians that called themselves divers, Ha!  About noon the next day (I wanted to think this out carefully) we set out  to salvage Suzie.  The plan was to find Suzie, attach the ropes / hooks the best way we could, haul her off the bottom up to the side of the boat and row ashore.  When in about 1, 5 meters of water Suzie would be righted by hand and wheeled ashore.  I was very concerned about petrol in the tank.  Pweto has no vehicles, let alone fuel.  I directed the oarsmen on the line provided by the two features on shore, and re estimated the distance, it was like "Finding Longitude".  After a few passes I spotted the float dead stationary about 500mm below the surface, I guess the rope had been just a bit short.  An increasing circles search pattern was initiated, and Suzie was found about 12 - 15 meters from the float in about 2,5 to 3,0 meters of water.  The bottom was sandy mud, I would need to clean Suzie thoroughly.  All went according to plan after that. 

First was to make a frame for the tank, and let the fuel water settle - back to that.  Then drain engine, obvious muddy sandy oil coming out.  I opened up and cleaned everything - Lights, Globes, levers, cables, electrical cladding, switches, connectors, indicators, axles, bearings, suspension bearings, air box, oil filter, handlebars, carb, hoses, steering head.  I flushed everything with clean water (nothing else available there) even the engine several times.  Back to the tank; Carefully loosened the taps into a borrowed plastic bucket, fairly clean water (discarded), and then fairly clean petrol (saved in the bucket, and filtered through a T shirt back into the tank.  Good about 10 liters.  When Suzie was back together (two days later), I was fairly satisfied, the only missing item was oil for the engine.  As luck would have it, someone had serviced a nearby windmill recently, and had left the old oil in a cutaway 5l can.  It was probably 90 grade with a few moths and beetles in it, but they could be strained out.  I carried it to the bike, let it settle and with the same T shirt filtered it into the bike. - All set to go, only about 140 km to Nchelenge where I was fairly certain I could get clean oil and petrol. 

At Nchelenge I drained the 90 grade (was no obvious mud/sand), and cleaned oil filter in petrol (it had picked up some sand/mud), and refilled with clean multi grade, and flushed the tank and tap filters again.   All good except the spokes and nipples were rusting away. 

Conclusion: Suzie had +/- 45 000km on her at that time.  Back in Jhb I noticed a slightly over average oil usage - some damage had been done!!  Bought new piston and rings etc. ready for installation.  But on opening the motor it was apparent that rings only was all that was needed.  Installed the new piston anyway.  This bike has got 83 000km on it now with no further consequence.


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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #9 on: February 04, 2012, 03:39:02 am

That's an amazing story - Respect! Are you still working out that way?  My guess is the company starts with the letter A. What do you do if I may ask?
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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #10 on: February 06, 2012, 06:58:23 pm

BlueBull2007,

Glad you enjoyed it.  There are quite a few like it - misadventure at its best. 

Your guess at my employer (Starting with A) is probably correct.  There were several others. 

I marched along a couple of days behind Kibila signing up concessions with his lieutenants/governors etc. that he left at various locations, and later on administered the various drilling and sample analysis contracts.   My forte was / is getting things done in Africa.  I am not quite as agile as I used to be for that stuff now. 

Currently I am an Aussie Migration Agent (Helping desperado South Africans get to Australia) here in Fourways, Johannesburg. 

What about you???
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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #11 on: February 06, 2012, 09:40:25 pm

Well I feel quite priveledged,
Stoffie and I were fortunate to have this and other "African Adventure" stories told by Jimbo while under the Namibian stars on our recent Volcano run - beats DSTV hands down.
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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #12 on: February 08, 2012, 07:10:33 am

BlueBull2007,

Glad you enjoyed it.  There are quite a few like it - misadventure at its best. 

Your guess at my employer (Starting with A) is probably correct.  There were several others. 

I marched along a couple of days behind Kibila signing up concessions with his lieutenants/governors etc. that he left at various locations, and later on administered the various drilling and sample analysis contracts.   My forte was / is getting things done in Africa.  I am not quite as agile as I used to be for that stuff now. 

Currently I am an Aussie Migration Agent (Helping desperado South Africans get to Australia) here in Fourways, Johannesburg. 

What about you???

I'm a mining engineer, know few people who worked at that copper mine. Right now I'm living in Lima, but working for a Canadian silver mining Co. with properties in Bolivia & Chile. Also a great excuse to go riding in these parts.  Ricky



Well I feel quite priveledged,
Stoffie and I were fortunate to have this and other "African Adventure" stories told by Jimbo while under the Namibian stars on our recent Volcano run - beats DSTV hands down.

Did you do an RR on that?
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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #13 on: February 08, 2012, 09:42:24 pm

BlueBull2007,

Glad you enjoyed it.  There are quite a few like it - misadventure at its best. 

Your guess at my employer (Starting with A) is probably correct.  There were several others. 

I marched along a couple of days behind Kibila signing up concessions with his lieutenants/governors etc. that he left at various locations, and later on administered the various drilling and sample analysis contracts.   My forte was / is getting things done in Africa.  I am not quite as agile as I used to be for that stuff now. 

Currently I am an Aussie Migration Agent (Helping desperado South Africans get to Australia) here in Fourways, Johannesburg. 

What about you???

I'm a mining engineer, know few people who worked at that copper mine. Right now I'm living in Lima, but working for a Canadian silver mining Co. with properties in Bolivia & Chile. Also a great excuse to go riding in these parts.  Ricky



Well I feel quite priveledged,
Stoffie and I were fortunate to have this and other "African Adventure" stories told by Jimbo while under the Namibian stars on our recent Volcano run - beats DSTV hands down.

Did you do an RR on that?

We did, search 'Nabian Hardcore Volcano Run'
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 DR 350 Rides Wet Dogs & wild waters 2011 Midmar Mile 2011 Hardcore Volcano Run May 2012 -  Full Moon Kruger Fence Ride Jimbo's 2012 Hardcore Volcano Run
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Re: BABOON 1, SUZUKI NIL. FAILED ATTEMPT. Reply #14 on: February 09, 2012, 08:50:41 am

Hi Jimbo,

thanks for the story, it was brilliant as expected.

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As Stevie mentioned i think your adventures beats anything DSTV has to offer Cheesy
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