4 years ago I had a timeless experience with breathtaking landscapes for 5 days. I had no motorcycle experience (except 20 years ago) and I loved it. In fact, it pushed me to become a biker again, an aspiration I had as a a teenager.
I immediately applied for new experiences, as long as they were led by Laurent. Covid delayed all of this but the group was finally able to get together for 12 days: Namaka : 2,500 km of tracks, with 6 enduro motorcycles and a backie (4×4 pick-up as South Africans call it). Adventure, in the sense that everyone participates in the journey and the hardships (because there will be some). We are not in consumption mode, but in sharing mode (at least that’s the spirit).
The description promised gravel roads and days in total autonomy, camping, far from everything and tracks rarely used by motorbike because they are technical, requiring a support vehicle or sometimes washed away by the rain.
Obviously excellent physical condition was required. So I started squats 2 months before (two series of 40, which means that the contract was not fulfilled in terms of fitness).
Arrival on Saturday. Welcomes me at the airport Laurent, in greatshape at 60 years old, and Uwe, 45 years old, the burly commando type. Well, Gilles, you could have done one or two more squats series. Too late. The other 3 arrive, from 26 to 55 years old. We load the backie: 4 tonnes in total (max recommended by the manufacturer: 3.4 tonnes)
So you wanted adventure?
Day 1: 350 km half tar and gravel along the Atlantic Ocean. It’s starting to get hot 🥵 (40 degrees, we expect 50 at the Namibian border). Day 2 the serious things begin: sand.
Rising in sand is a special technique. The motorcycle goes in all directions (the handlebars go to the right and left quite violently) so you handle the motorcycle with your thighs, leaning back; speed is the key. The faster you go, the more “stable” it is. You have to get over this moment of apprehension. overall, you have to change your software and, whatever happens, speed up. The little sense you have left tells you to brake or go slower. It is the opposite that must be done:
- if you’re struggling: speed up.
- You feel that you are not in control: speed up.
- You see an obstacle: you don’t touch the brakes, especially the front brake.
In short, completely change the instructions for use
I gain confidence.
Turn with more sand. Too much speed. Sharp stop. I go over the handlebars, hitting them in the process. Nose in the sand, dazed, I take a minute to catch my breath. Result: a twisted reinforced steel handlebar. Without the safety shield I would have hit the handlebars in my right lung.
Okay, let’s calm down. There are 10 days left and the sand is still easy. We arrive at the stage in the evening, all rinsed apart from Pascal and Rob who have experience. This tour promises to be long.
All Laurent’s know-how is to alternate the days where you struggle and those where you « rest » with less difficulty. Like this 150 km connection with 1 turn.
The kindness of the organizer (whose equipment is generally mistreated (quite a lot of damage, especially for me).
I’m not going to tell you everything because it can’t be told. But in short it gives:
- sleep in a cave
- Pitch your tent in places where authorization is issued slowly
- Store enough fuel to last 3 days without a pump
- Enduring a nighttime sandstorm and ending up in a tent full of sand (I’m not talking about the sleeping bag)
- Repairing a puncture at 42 degrees Celsius
- “Smoking” a new clutch in a river bed, full of sand
- Find a replacement motorcycle and bring it over 700 km to manage to finish everyone on a motorcycle
- Fall, get up, struggle
- But managing to savor the sand which, ultimately, resembles skiing in powder
- Finding yourself at 120 km/h on a track
- Crossing a cobra
- Talk about scorpions (not the rock band, the stinging insect) and therefore keep the big boots in the evening when you are in shorts
- Make holes in the ground so as not to leave marks
- Lunch in the back of the Beckie with “Le parfait” on top of crackers
- Drink coffee in the Bush, in the middle of nowhere
- 5 people watching Laurent repair a motorcycle with the means at hand
- Find a mechanic who makes a Teflon part in a village of 300 inhabitants
That’s for the mechanical and sporting part
And for the rest, thanks to the ability to adapt and the reconnaissance made beforehand, finding ourselves in a lost restaurant in a village with a dinner to die for, discussing our lives, EMDR and where we are at in life.
Exchanges with previously unknown people, different profiles, life stories, real encounters.
Without forgetting a duo of guides who share a real bond.
No, a group of men doesn’t just drink beers and talk about motorcycles (well, not only that).
PS : and if this adventure tempts you, unfortunately it was Laurent’s last commercial tour… now long expeditions/adventures will only take place in small quantities. You still have the 5/6 day tours….