There is no worse way to start a big journey then loosing a member of the group after just days. When Nicolas gave me a good hug and said his goodbyes in Windhoek, Namibia, I was riding north to meet the other guys with a big lump in my throat and felt so very sad. For the longest time I could not believe that the journey was over for Nicolas even before it really had started. I were not the only one to miss Nicolas, both Dan and John had the same feelings and the ever funny and thoughtful John came up with a great idea that we should make a cut out picture of Nicolas and take pictures of him along the journey. What you see here is a few samples of the pictures that we have taken so far on the journey. It is a good reminder that Nicolas is still with us in his spirit and that we miss him dearly.
We will still have many opportunities to introduce Nicolas to people as we meet them along the way, so stay tuned and we will post more pictures in upcoming chapters from this great journey.
Nicolas is now back in France healing his wounds and we wish him a speedy recovery and that we get to see him sooner rather than later.
Nicolas cutout printer and laminator happened to wear an Eiffel Tower T-shirt, Swakopmund, Namibia.
Skelton Coast, Namibia, where Nicolas came so close to visit.
Geo Cash of Helge’s book on the Rhino Road in Namibia.
The Damara village welcomes Nicolas with open hands.
Nicolas shows John a hollow Baobab three in Botswana.
Helge is having a sundowner with Nicolas after a long days ride.
Cape to Paris 2014
Every journey starts way ahead of the actual departure date, we all know this. This particular journey started to take form already in 2011 during the GlobeRiders Silk Road Adventure 2011.
Nicolas, Dan and John asked me if they could do a custom tour with GlobeRiders riding from Cape Town to Paris. Of course we could make a custom tour, we love to create special journeys for small groups. The four of us immediately started to work on an itinerary and in the summer of 2013 the team met in Seattle to discuss the final details of the journey. At the time when we met in Seattle Nicolas were on his way around the world riding solo. In the spirit of getting the team together John made sure to come cross-country from Philadelphia to visit in Seattle where Dan and I live.
During the week we spent together we set the start of the journey and meeting date in Cape Town to February 13th 2014. Bikes were shipped from Seattle and France to be stored at the local BMW shop in Cape Town where we had done plenty of business on previous trips an ideal place for safe bike storage one would think. But this time this choice would end up as a bad choice and this is where the real story of our adventures starts.
Back in Seattle I were sitting up watching Jay Leno show on TV and I where just about to go to bed when I received a email from Cape Town. The email came from a company unknown to me that claimed that our four bikes would go in to liquidation unless they were picked up from the BMW shop the following day. Apparently the BMW motorcycle shop in Cape Town had gone in to liquidation and all inventories would be moved to an actioner within a couple of days.
I sat up all knight that day to solicit help from my friends in Cape Town. We had no time to loose, the four bikes had to be rescued or our journey would be in jeopardy. I went to my extensive database of contacts desperately searching for a helping hand. To the rescue came Elize at our shipping company in Cape Town and she were able to gather a team to remove the bikes from the BMW motorcycle shop in to a safe storage facility. I can’t tell you with words how relieved I were when I knew the bikes were safe, now the real final preparations could continue.
As a stark contrast to all the stress leading up to this journey I found myself in a rather unusual space as I settled in to a first class cubical on Emirates Airline flight to South Africa. Could I ever get used to this way of flying, absolutely, do I have enough air miles to do it again soon, unfortunately not. It sure was worth it though; I actually enjoyed flying this time.
It was a happy reunion with the “boys” when we met in Cape Town and before leaving this beautiful city to start the long ride to Paris we took the cable car to the top of Cape Towns iconic Table Mountain. We were super lucky with the weather and as you can see from the below gallery we snapped some great pictures of the mountain and its vistas as the clouds kept changing the scenery.
February is summer south of the Equator and with that comes some extreme heat. We measured 108F as we headed north out of Cape Town and started to wonder what to expect in what traditionally is a much hotter climate in Namibia. But when we came in to Fish River Canyon, Namibia, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the temperature went down a little. We also encountered some rain and that would further cool the air.
Namibia and Fish River Canyon is one of my favorite riding places with a lot of dirt roads so for that reason we spent two nights here. We had come in the back road to the canyon and had already gotten used to riding in loos gravel and sand. The morning we sat out to leave the Fish River Canyon Nicolas set out ahead of the pack. We were all following the same GPS tracks leading us to Sousussvlei where some of the world’s largest sand dunes live. It was a tricky road this particular morning as it had been raining for a good part of the night. As we catch up with Nicolas, John and Dan goes ahead of the pack and Nicolas and I settle in for a more moderate pace. At this point the road is dry and dusty so I have a good distance to Nicolas to stay out of the dust created by his bike. We are to catch up with Dan and John at our lunch spot of the day, Helmeringhausen.
Out of the blue, and there right in front of me, I see Nicolas fly through the air and his bike cartwheel down the road tearing up a grand cloud of dust. It is like I am participating in a horror movie where there can be no good outcome. I find Nicolas lying on the ground holding on to his shoulder and screaming in pain. It is pretty obvious that he has broken his collarbone, something that x-ray will confirm later.
The only good thing to come from this tragic event is that we are able to test our DeLorme InReach SE satellite text messaging. After tending to Nicolas I was able to send a text using the InReach SE in an area where there are no cell coverage and Dan and John receives the text some 20-kilometer ahead on their InReach SE. This way they did not need to return to us to find out why we were not coming. Valuable time was saved and we were able to communicate the details of the situation and pass on our needs, all by text via Iridium Satellites. In Helmeringhausen they got hold of a farmer with a pickup and trailer to retrieve Nicolas and his bike.
At this point we parted way, Dan and John continued as planed while I followed Nicolas, his bike securely tied on a trailer and our new best friend, Bjorn, the hotel owner in Helmeringhausen now rescue vehicle driver.
With a broken collarbone confirmed by X-Rays taken at a Windhoek, capital of Namibia, hospital the journey had come to an end for Nicolas. I can’t tell you how very sad we were and I knew the tour would not be the same without Nicolas. We were happy that the accident had not been more serious, but only few days in to the journey this was particularly sad. With a big lump in my throat and tears in my eyes I waved a last goodbye to Nicolas as I headed out of Windhoek to join Dan and John in Swakopmund on the cost of Namibia.
One of our highlights and the first real riding challenge was to ride the Rhino Road to Twyfelfontein. It is a rough track that serves up a little of everything like large rocks and deep sand, definitely a technical track. In one way it is a form of initiation or baptizing for the rest of the journey ahead.
Departing the Skeleton Coast heading for the Rhino Road we hit some very rough washboard road, the kind that test every tooth filling you have, shaking and vibrating every nut and bolt of your bike. That night we camp at the entrance of the Rhino Park getting a good rest before the rough track the next day.
With Nicolas accident behind us I think that we all felt our mortality having seen how suddenly the journey can come to an end. For this reason we all did our best to keep it on two wheels and not take to many risks that we normally might have taken. We all knew it, the journey would not be the same without Nicolas and we started to question if we even could go on as a three-person team. Personally I think a small group should consist of 4 people. That way one can split up in to two small two riders team. Nicolas was so much more than just one of the four, he was the equalizer in the group, the one that brought out the best in all of us.
In the days to come we enjoy some great riding in Namibia and we even had the chance to visit the Damara Living Village and Etosha National Park before crossing the border to Botswana. As you will see from our photo galleries in this chapter we had some nice animal sightings in Chobe National Park. Massive amounts of water flows over the edge of Victoria Falls at this time of year making for some spectacular sights if you can navigate around the mist.
What we have covered so far on this journey is very much a scaled down version of GlobeRiders Africa Adventure and this is also where we part way and start making new tracks. Our journey to Paris continues north through Zimbabwe, a beautiful country that struggles to get back it’s prosperous past as the breadbasket of Africa. Hopefully president Mugabe will pas away soon and a new leadership can change the course of Zimbabwe.
At this point we are moving quite fast north enjoying the shifting landscape of northern Zimbabwe and Mozambique before we finally make it to Malawi. I have a long love affair with Malawi. For that reason I am very happy to be able to take Dan and John to Lake Malawi where we meet my very good friends the Mofjeld’s.
Hjørdis and Odd Mofjeld were running Kasungu National Park in Malawi when I met them on my world tour in 1983. At the time this encounter was a dream come through for me and the four months I worked for the Mojeld’s seemed like it could have continued forever. With that said you could understand that it was wonderful to spend the night with Hjørdis and Odd. I think even Dan and John enjoyed the company as we sat talking long in to the night about life as a white couple doing business in one of Africa’s poorest countries, Malawi. A big thank you for the hospitality, Hjørdis and Odd.
The bike riding is very nice and so are the beaches along the shores of Lake Malawi as we continue north to Tanzania. People are super friendly and the road is for the most part well-maintained and not too much traffic to worry about.
We have been on the road for almost a month as we say farewell to Malawi and prepare to ride into Chapter 2 of our journey starting with Tanzania.
Thanks for checking in.