I just couldn’t wait for the time to come. I had dreamt about this for so long, thinking that only people with lots of money could do it. I had to go work in Rhodes one day, to repair a television transmitter fault. Just past Steynsburg, I saw a BMW motorcycle standing on the side of the road and realised that with the load it was carrying, the rider was probably doing an overland tour. I immediately pulled over to have a chat with the man. He was from Belgium and was heading back home after a four-year medical contract in South Africa. I told him of my dream to one day do a Cape to Cairo tour on a motorbike. He looked at me for a moment and said: “Stop dreaming and start packing.” With these words swirling in my head, I headed home and about a week later I bought my first research book, thinking I can and am going to do this, though that day would only come nine years later. Everything was in place, I was just waiting on my visa for Sudan. I was set to leave 6 August 2011 and could hardly believe it when my visa came through on the 5th, only a day before my departure. Friday evening I ticked off the items on my list to pack and hadn’t even gotten out the door, when the first problem reared its head. My yellow fever certificate, sent with my visa application for Sudan, had disappeared. The Sudanese Embassy had failed to return the certificate with my passport and you just don’t travel through Africa without it. Fortunately, the medical practice in Bloemfontein was open on Saturdays and to my relief they could give me a copy. A 300km detour, yes, but I wasn’t bothered.
Snow had lightly began falling that Saturday morning and it was freezing cold outside. I was both excited and a bit uncertain about what awaited me, I was after all going it alone. I would just have to take it as it comes. Between Middelburg and Noupoort road works brought traffic to a standstill. First in die queue of the stop-and-go lane, 20km outside Middelburg, the woman in the vehicle behind me got out and took a picture of the sign on the back of my bike saying “2011 Middelburg to Istanbul”, realising that I was 10 minutes into a very long journey. My first 340km was the detour to Bloemfontein to pick up the copy of my yellow fever certificate.
I fuelled up and headed west to Kimberley, where I stopped for lunch and also noticed the front tyre of the bike was somewhat loose on the road, I had completely overloaded the bike. I reached Griekwastad at dusk and asked at the filling station about cheap accommodation in the area. I was just too tired and to bitterly cold to pitch my tent. The guesthouse was quite pleasant and I had the whole place to myself. The somewhat surprised guesthouse owner seemed to think me crazy, when she saw the sign on the back of the bike, and I wondered to myself how many others thought the same. My children expressed a similar sentiment by naming my web page “My Crazy Dad”. I had travelled a total of 638km that day.
I only got on the road after 08h00 the next morning, because I really didn’t want to risk getting sick from the cold, and headed to Upington. It was to be the only cold weather I would experience on my trip. Upon arriving in Upington, I promptly phoned up a friend and had him send all my warm clothes and unnecessary baggage back to Middelburg. Departing from there, the Africa Twin was much lighter and rode like a dream all the way to the border between South Africa and Namibia.Scroll down the read the hole story