Africa Blog

The Ride to Half a Million Miles

Desert Camp

  I left Lüderitz early in the morning knowing that I had a long  day of riding ahead of me.  The GPS showed 420 miles out of which only 64 were on paved roads.   It was a nice and cool morning with no fog insight.  Just before my turn off the paved road I came across  more wild horses grazing along the road near Aus.   As I took the turn off I could tell it was going to be a long day as right off the road was rough and sandy. 

    To travel 350 miles I have to keep a pace of at least 40 or 50 mph in order to get to my destination in day light.  The corrugation has a way of rattling the bike and your body.  Its hard to keep a pace above 60 when the bike wants to vibrate to hundreds of parts.  And then there is your body.  My hands and chest are very sore for hundreds of miles of this stuff.  Then you have the sand  that will challenge your confidence anytime but more so when your tired and sore from the pounding.

    After about 50 miles of fighting the rough roads I finally got a break.  The road was smoother and I could push up to 70 mph to make up time.  Then out of no where the winds of Patagonia started.  They weren't  the 60 mph winds of South America but they were somewhere around 30 to 40 mph gusts causing the back of the bike's rear to want to slide around in the lose gravel.

   My stop for the day was to be a one gas station / hotel  stop  called Solitaire.

    About 60 miles from Solitaire are some of Namibia's most famous red dunes.  If you come to Namibia,  you must see these dunes.   After talking to some locals they told me that if I left Now I could make the park entrance before sundown.

   So what an other 60 miles of gravel.   The road was not bad for the most part but every now and then the sandy pockets would throw a little stress your way.  I also discovered two problems riding this late.  One was that there was a little more traffic then normal which most of it was coming at me in stead of going with my direction.  As traffic would pass there would be a huge white cloud of dust that would turn into a blizzard of white dust.  The second problem was I was riding into the sun for the most part and at times the shadows cast by the mountains would make it very hard to see the road surface.

   About 10 miles before the end of the road I hit the perfect storm.   As I was coming around a wide curve try to scan the road a head , I meet with a truck coming at me,  just about that time I entered the shadow of the mountain.  I was completely blinded and going about 70 mph.   You have to remember that when riding on gravel often you pick a track or rut and have to just stay in it.  As the road curve and I could not see  where I was I managed to hit a sandy pocket.  The GS started to going in to a major wobble, the kind where the back is swinging  and my biggest problem was I had no idea where I was in the road.  This was a big one,  about 100 years long.  The GS was singing all over the place and I just keep trying to find the harder surface but, I still couldn't see a thing.  The 100 yards seam like a year long.   Finally luck came and I hit the hard surface and was to control the wobble and was out of the blizzard!!

    How life can change in a second.