After exactly three weeks in Cape Town waiting for the bike to be registered, fitted, outfitted and so on and so forth – the big day has arrived!
A few days ago I met Uwe Schmidt at the BMW dealership in Cape Town. Uwe, a diver, fisherman, professional cyclist and motorcyclist who has done this trip (South Africa to Ethiopia) twice, took me under his wing and has helped we get the bike ready for this kind of journey. I couldn’t have done it without him. I am extremely grateful for all of his help. So, without further ado, here is the full list of additions:
- High Windscreen
- Headlight Protector
- Hand Guards
- Crash Bars
- Bash Plate
- New Metzler Karoo 3 Tires
- Comfort Seat
- Wide Foot Pegs
- Side Stand Enlarger
- An outlet to connect my air pump to the battery
- Alarm System
- Aluminium Trax Panniers
- Steel plate where the top case would sit
Uwe, who has had a lot of experience with a bike in the heart of Africa, also helped me with these useful changes:
- Clips on the windscreen to hold the map
- Tow rope tied with cable ties underneath the radiator
- Pipe tied under the radiator with rope, glue and rim protectors
- Pipe on the left side of the bike with two pepper sprays
- A water bottle holder and insect repellent on the right side of the bike
- Velcro patches on top of the bike to hold gloves, cellphone and/or taser gun
- Umbrella secured on the inside of the right pannier
- Lightweight tube secured underneath the steel plate of the top case
- Blades secured on the inside of the panniers
- Ease throttle control – a small piece of plastic which acts as a mechanical cruise control, holding the throttle at a constant speed
Besides those, I have an impressive medical kit which boosts, among other things: four months’ worth of anti-malaria pills which I will have to take daily from Zambia onward, a malaria test kit and pills to treat malaria, pills to prevent inflammation, pills to treat diarrhea, antibiotic cream, cream to counteract allergic reactions to bug bites, and antibiotics.In addition, I have B12 shots to administer to myself once a week.
I’m also carrying a lot of equipment for bike maintenance. Basics such as rubber gloves, cable ties, steel putty, glue and rubber gloves. Chain spray, several puncture kits, screwdrivers, torque wrenches, bead breakers. An air pump and digital air pressure gauge. Hopefully I won’t have to use any of this.
Uwe joined me for the first day’s ride, climbing and winding up mountain passes to Cape Point and its historic lighthouse. The view was incredible. Though we had originally wanted to sleep in Prince Albert and attempt the beautiful (and gravely) Swartbergpas the following day, we were forced to stop near Stellenbosch in order to deal with more bureaucracy tomorrow morning.
I will try to explain and hope that this helps future Overlanders. Because I am not a resident of South Africa, I had to purchase the bike under Duncan’s name (an awesome guy who runs African Overlanders). From him I need to receive an affidavit, a letter explaining that he has given me permission to ride “his” bike, as well as a copy of his passport stamped by the police. Aside from that, in order to enter Ethiopia I need to DataDot the bike and then get a police clearance form. I also need a carnet de passage, a deposit of 100% of the bike’s worth redeemable once I bring the bike back to South Africa. For that I must get a quote from the dealer on the worth of the bike and then put aside the money under Duncan’s name. In short, a mess.
I am really in high spirits though. Just leaving the familiarity of the city and riding a full day, camping outside, is preparing me mentally for the journey. The first part of today’s ride was breathtaking. And I am also ecstatic because the bike fell today while I was riding soft sand on my own. I had spent months visualizing what I would do in such a situation – how in the world would I pick up the bike? Well, I leaped off, killing the engine and without thinking too much grabbed the handle bars and pulled it up. Just like that! What was I so worried about, anyways?
I am crossing my fingers that tomorrow we will finish with the paperwork quickly. Afterwards Uwe will ride on with me to Prince Albert. It should be another beautiful ride.