Jeremy on why?

People keep asking me why I’m doing this trip! For me it seems the most logical thing in the world, but I guess it is a little out of the ordinary and deserves a proper answer.

For me (Jeremy) it all really started about the same time I was getting into motorbikes, I started watching bits of the Dakar Rally in the Sahara desert which just captured my imagination. I could imagine myself riding along through desert dunes in the incredible heat experiencing nature in it’s rawest form, working with my machine to cover huge distances against the clock. What was even more exciting was that normal people could even enter this endurance race as amateurs! However as I researched the idea more I soon came to the realisation that they weren’t so much amateurs as very rich amateurs – the cost of a month in the Dakar as a privateer was just too much.

The seed had been planted though and coupled with my own wanderlust a plan started to form in my head. Inspired by a 4×4 trip with friends to the Arabian desert in Oman and the Emirates 2 years ago I started making my own hatchling of an idea into reality. My initial plan had been to ride across the Sahara from West to East, trying to spend as much time in the untouched and most remote parts as possible (limited by fuel and water) with the romantic idea of spending time with the Tuareg of the Sahara. But as I started looking into this idea politics started to get in the way. The problem with the Sahara is that it is just too wild and this seems to be reflected in a lot of the countries in the Sahara, even now as I write this Niger, Chad and Sudan all have some sort of conflict, Libya and Algeria have strict controls over where you go and you are forced to take guides with you (read megabucks!) and Egypt seems to be known as the most unfriendly country to take a bike into. Large parts of the Sahara just have too many restrictions or are simple unsafe because of rebels, smugglers and robbers.

So with a trans-Sahara expedition out of the question for the time being I started to look at the more traditional routes to Cape Town and settled on a route that would take me down the west coast of Africa through several of the western Saharan countries and then down through the interesting countries of the Congo and Angola before reaching the Cape. A slightly better trodden path will lead me up the east coast though I intend to fulfil a little more of my desert wanderings (if the Sahara hasn’t put paid to that) by heading across from Djibouti on the horn of Africa to Yemen and the Middle East before heading home overland through Iran.

It’s been a trip that has had a gestation period of over 2 years and has been at times hugely emotional as plans and dates have been changed and bikes have been stolen (yes – both my original bike and my existing one were nicked!). Still it is with both a sense of nervousness and excitement that I face this last few days of intense preparation before our estimated departure on or around the 6th/7th of January 2008.

It’s going to make for an interesting journey and I hope that all of you will join Keith and I as we travel through Africa. We will try and share as many of the people, sights, smells and sounds of Africa along with our reactions on this website for you to enjoy along the way.

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Test rides

I’ve had my KTM 640 Adventure for a couple months now and despite not having a huge amount of opportunities to shake it down properly I have been able to do a few trips on it.

In a terrible first trip up North soon after I got the bike the rekluse auto clutch I have fitted from the previous owner managed to break down just outside of Leeds on the M62 to Manchester! Not a happy ending and not the first time I’ve had to make my way back down to London on the train leaving my bike behind.

Thankfully my brother Josh was able to sort it out for me in Leeds and then ride it down to London for me and it’s been trouble free since then.

I’ve also done a trip to Paris and back via the Eurotunnel which was great fun, especially riding around Paris with my mate Rohan on the back. We shot a shaky but funny video of us tearing down the Champs Elysee!

The trip was trouble free and in fact the bike was great, the only thing that I really needed was some heated grips as it is now absolutely freezing and after 30 minutes riding your hands turn to ice blocks.

The picture below is of the bike on the Eurotunne somewhere between England and France.

Jeremy KTM Eurotunnel

This last weekend I also did a trip up north from London to Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds before heading back down to London on Sunday night.

I had a wicked time in all three places seeing family and friends, though again it was my hands that suffered the most! I really must get some heated grips for both bikes or it is going to be a very painful journey through Europe in January!

The picture below is of a friend Naomi trying the bike out for size. I don’t think many people can really get their feet down on the ground as it is such a big bike!

Late night ride!

The only minor failure on the bike on this trip was that one of the bolts on the hard panniers vibrated out and was lost somewhere on a motorway in England! It is the bolt that attaches the rack to the footpeg hanger and the frame just above Naomi’s heel in the picture above.

Lesson learnt – always loctite everything and check the bolts on the KTM regularly as it is such a vibby bike that stuff just vibrates off over time!

Still the bike is going strong though there are just so many things to be done to it to get it finally ready for Africa and the big trip.

Watch this space for further updates as we are now entering the critical last few weeks before departure and the list of things to do doesn’t seem to be getting smaller!

more updates to the site

I’ve updated some more pages on the site with a more detailed description of our current proposed route and also some information about us and added a sponsorship page.

Check them out and let us know what you think.

First Post

Wow! This is the first post on our new website detailing Keith and my journey to Africa on our bikes. This site is just the bare bones at the moment but expect it to take shape as we put more information online and start really blogging in anger!