First bog post Monday, 7 April 2008

Welcome welcome. If you're reading this you probably know exactly who I am and what I'm doing. So this is the first posting on my blog. Writing this block is going to be similar to sitting on the bog; something I'll have to do regularly (or not as the case may be), sometimes pleasurable, other times slightly painful, at times rushed or perhaps prolougned. So stay posted to my blog and you should experience each of those states, just without the smell and other unpleasant defacatory hazards such as running short on blog roll in a muzlin country. Anyway enough shit talk, here's a posting from a brand new, double layered, quilted roll of toilet paper...

So the history is that for many years I've fancing embarking on a trans-africa adventure. Several naive years ago are I invested much enthusiasm in a 4x4 suitable for the trip, but the rest just didn't materialise. This time round I've done months of hard graft researching & planning, and only the worked out the logistics. This is also a much better approach of understanding the financial implications well in advance.

Then, having seen the back of the enslaved preoccupations such as regular employment, mortgage payments and a neat appearance, I've spent the last few weeks in South Africa pulling together the final, crucial ingredients. On a very early morning on the 11th of April my good friend Hennjean & I drove a trailer from White River up to Johannesburg to collect my bike; a new KTM 640 Adventure, from ProAction KTM. I had ordered & reserved the bike a few weeks prior and it was both a joyous & momentous occasion finally laying hands the figment of many daydreams while commuting in sub zero conditions on a 15 year old 90cc scooter in London for several months.

The subsequent weeks were spent gently running-in the engine for 1000km's, attaching & upgrading to the various aftermarket parts that I had brought with from Londres (see Bike section for more on that). It was genuinely gratifying riding the only 'real' dual purpose bike on the roads & offroads of the Eastern Transvaal Lowveld, especially in the company of such an accomplished Enduro rider as Hennjean.

I was also fortunate enough to dive into DIY tyre repair just days after collecting the bike. One morning after meticulous addition of riding gear I dropped the bike off its stand to realise a properly flat rear wheel. I then spent the rest of the day embarked on both physical & mental preparation for the first solo tyre-change. With two tyre leavers slightly shorter than dinner knives, I was always going to be generating copious amounts of sweat coercing the tyre from its rim. However what I didn't prepare for was the brutal & sustained damage to my knuckles and much spilling of claret from fingers. After an hour and a bit of panting, cursing and temper flares I had finally repaired the tube & re-inserted it into the wheel. In doing so I had also managed to add another much larger whole to the tube by means of some cavalier tube levering. So with quick succession take two on the tyre repair drill, this time replacing the damaged tube with a heavy-duty offroad one, and to my pleasure a marginal improvement in the time taken. All-in-all it was a good learning experience, and if nothing else a reminder to pack my tyre repair kit right next to the first aid kit and hip flask of whiskey!

So as mentioned the running-in was generally good-fun, although always skirted with a slight anxiety of treating a new machine with the respect it deserves in the interest of fostering a long, pleasant and mutually beneficial relationship. Then with the very kind loan of my heavy brother in laws' (swaer) truck, team orange headed back to the dealer in Johannesburg for the first service and the addition of yet more tasty little add-ons such as the Akrapovic silencer. While I was loitering around the dealer I had the pleasure of meeting a Turkish guy by the name of Veysl, who was there getting the very same bike serviced on route from a Trans-africa ride along the same route as my intended one. As it turns out he actually rode some of the way with a couple of other ruffians that I was following (Robin & Matteo on Ducati Multistrada's). Veysl is a top guy and gave me some very useful information & contacts along the the route. All this served to put much wind in my sails for the coming weeks.

Then after the service it was over to Jan Smuts airport where I partially disassembled the bike & packed it onto a crate ready for shipping to London (well air freighting actually). I watched them fork-lift the pallet away with a tinge of trepidation, only calmed by the inevitable that the bike couldn't accompany me on my flight as hand-luggage.

So whilst waiting for BA Cargo to grace me with the other 50% of team orange I've been conducting some last-minute shopping, topping up on final vaccinations, and conducting numerous pannier packing exercises. One of the most notable additions to my arsenal has been a Thuraya satellite phone, which was very reasonably priced and is only slight larger than a regular GSM phone.

Thats all for now, stay tuned for the departure post.

# posted by Mark @ 17:50