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Weather

Cape Town, South Africa
December 14, 2017, 12:38 am
Mostly cloudy
Mostly cloudy
61°F
humidity: 93%
wind speed: 2 mph NW
sunrise: 5:29 am
sunset: 7:52 pm
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December 14, 2017, 1:38 am
Partly cloudy
Partly cloudy
62°F
humidity: 73%
wind speed: 7 mph NE
sunrise: 6:22 am
sunset: 6:34 pm
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Where in the world is Dean?

I’m right here in Aswan, Egypt!

Hello family, friends and associates,

Sorry to be dark so long.

Everything is good!  My Cape Town, South Africa to Cairo, Egypt  motorcycle adventure has been moving fast and furious (all good!).  There is not enough time in a day to experience all and everything available.

I have all kinds of reasons why the All-Star Motorcycle Circus blog has been dark for so long.

1.  The cat ate my mouse!

2.  It’s too (early, late, hot, cold) to sit at a computer to post stuff!

3.  After riding 6 hours (7AM-2PM) do I want to sit at a computer trying to upload a photo or go see the unofficial 8th wonder of the world … the rock hewn churches King Lalibela created?

4.  While working on my blog the hotel’s power goes out and 15-seconds later the emergency generator kicks in.  I get a notification that I did not disconnect my external hard drive HD correctly (which I store all my photos).  Now my HD refuses to boot up!   Soooo, no photos until I get home and have the HD worked on/rescued!

The real main reason is lack of wifi in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan.
In our travels we stay at a few 4-star hotels but many 1-star lodgings which include the Maasai Simba Camp, a jeep safari camp, a brand new hotel with no sheets, no TP and no bathroom towels but plenty of mosquitos.  These 1-star lodgings are the best available in that area.  Many of the hotels we stayed at say they had wifi only in the lobby for a couple hours a day (the service was poor and posting photos took dozens of futile attempts).
Rather than sit in the smoke filled hotel lobby for 2-3 hours trying to get text and photos to the blog, I chose to explore the towns and finding markets and brows shops, visiting historical sites, and talk to the people.
As of today, we have ridden a little over 12,000 km starting with South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and today we are in Aswan, Egypt.

Here’s the sequence of countries and the location we stayed at after the last post.

Malawi – Lilongwe (1 day+), Chintheche, (1-day+), Koronga
Tanzania – Mbeya, Kisolanza, Dodoma, Babati, Arusha (parked our motorcycle for 4-days while we went on a 4-day Ngorongoro Crater & Serengeti National Park safari
Kenya – Merrueshi (1 day+), Mt Kenya (1 day+), Marsabit.

There might be a tire problem.  The Conti TKC-70 that worked so well on the 2015 Silk Road are wearing faster than expected.  The aggressive riders, Tom, Joe, Steve, and Helge might need a tire change.

We spent 8 days in Ethiopia staying in Yabello, Awassa, Addis Ababa (1-day+), Kombolcha, Lalibela (1-day+), Gonder.
In Ethiopia the roads have multi-uses, they are the main corridors for all cattle, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, ducks, chickens, etc.  People walk on the roads everywhere including the centerline!  As we ride up to a group of people alongside the road, they begin to cross the road in front of you.  Children as little as 3-4 years old play by themselves on and along the roads.  And of course huge tractor/trailer rigs, huge tour buses and those dang mini-vans traffic is helter-skelter in-between and around the above.
Arron, riding a new water-cooled BMW1200GS, was traveling alone (as we all do) in an area where the bushes were up against the road.  Suddenly a crazed donkey charges through the bushes at full donkey speed in front of him.  Arron T-bones the donkey and they both go down in a pile of blood, guts and a mess of BMW parts.  Arron wearing full riding suit, Aerostitch, and helmet is covered with blood!  The BMW is totaled, the front triple tree separated from the frame!  Joe and Steve are the first to arrive.  Arron was walking around in a daze.  Joe does an immediate medical assessment, gets Arron to remove his bloody Aerostich to learn that Arron has no wounds.  An ambulance happens to be on the road and stops.  Arron goes to a country hospital approx. 10 km away for x-rays and observation.  He is back at the crash scene in 45 minutes to gather his personal belongings.

A truck is secured to transport the BMW back to Addis Ababa (capital of Ethiopia).  Arron and one of our handlers go back to Addis Ababa to assist Arron shipping his totaled BMW back to the US (to fulfill the Carnet de Passage).  Arron can continue with us riding in the chase vehicle.  He can fly into Sudan and meet up with our group as we ride north.

The next day, at the Ethiopia/Sudan border, Nick learns his Ethiopia Visa ended the day before we were to exit Ethiopia.  All the rest of us had the correct exit date.  Nick, a Canadian, used a different VISA service and he did not check the dates on the Ethiopia Passort Visa when he got it back.  This means Nick can no longer exit Ethiopia with us.  He must go back to Addis Ababa and get a new Visa with the correct date.  Typically this can take up to a week or more!

We discussed all the options and Tom B came up with a totally out-of-the-box idea!  What if we get Arron to come to the Ethiopia/Sudan border and ride Nick’s bike through Sudan to the Sudan/Egypt border. Nick was able to get his Carnet de Passage motorcycle out of Ethiopia and into Sudan and the bike will sit in Sudan custom awaiting Arron.

Nick will then fly from Addis Ababa to Cairo then takes a commuter flight to the Sudan/Egypt border to Carnet de Passage his motorcycle out of Sudan and into Egypt.  Then Arron will ride the chase vehicle while Nick returns to his moto.

Sounds crazy but this worked!  The original group is back together again less 1 motorcycle.

After we crossed into Sudan, it was a world of difference.  No animals on the road, no people walking on the road, no children on the road.  The traffic was minimal.  The country side changed from lush green mountains, farm communities of Ethiopia to brown desert as far as the eyes can see.

In Sudan we stayed in Gedaref, Khartoum (2 days), Karima, and Soleb,

Egypt – Abu Simbel and today Aswan.  Tomorrow we ride to Luxor for a 1-day+ guided tour.
I’ve been on the road for 55 days!!!  It’s amazing how quickly time goes by on a motorcycle.  This adventure is over in 11 days.
CURRENT LOCATION:  Upper right corner is my Delorme inReach Explorer satellite tracks provided by SPOTwalla.  When activated, it provides a real time track of my travels.  The tab “All-Star Motorcycle Circus & E” opens for more options.  “Adjustments” enables the viewer to select more days of the tracks.

The tracks are archived back to my arrival in Cape Town, South Africa, 10 Jan, 2017.

Use the zoom slider on the left to open up the map to see our entire route. The two tabs in the upper right “Map/Satellite” switches the map illustration with satellite photos.

GlobeRiders has it’s own BLOG “2017 Cape to Cairo Live Journal!”  There is a complete description of the excursion, rider bios, updates of the ride, and an active satellite location link.

Speed demons and Money Changers

Once again its time to cover ground to Malawi.  It will take us several days of riding.

Day 17, Tue, Jan 31, 2017

Start Location:  Protea Hotel, Livingston, Zambia

End Location:   Lusaka, Zambia

Distance:          478 km (297 miles)

Hotel/Pension:   Best Western Plus, Lusaka, Zambia

Money Conversion:  Zambian Kwacha: $1 USD = ZMW9.90 or ZMW 1 = $0.101 USD

As we ride east, the European influence diminishes.  Today was a 300 mile day.  Not a long day but because of the numerous visual “new to us” events and many more people walking on the roadsides.

14.01 liters costs ZMW115.12.

And something new for us …  speed traps!    The speed in villages/towns was 50 kph (31 mph) and 80 kph (50 mph) on country lanes and 100kph (62mph) on highways.
We were riding separately as singles and a pairs a couple minutes apart.  Over the course of 15 minutes 4 riders got radar and were signaled over.  I happened to be between two of the riders who were flagged down but passed safely.  Aaron went through the trap safely but saw the 4 riders off to the side with the police, he turned around to see if anyone need help and got tagged coming back!
Helge always stops to aid his riders and started a friendly banter with the police.  Before long, one of the police was sitting on one of the motos posing with a helmet on while Helge shot photos.  The end result was smiles for all and a greatly reduced fine for all.
Lighting Strikes Twice!
Day 18, Wed, Feb 1, 2017

Start Location:  Lusaka, Zambia

End Location:   Chipata, Zambia

Distance:          570 km (354 miles)

Hotel/Pension:   Protea Hotel Chipata, Lusaka, Zambia

Money Conversion:  Zambian Kwacha: $1 USD = ZMW9.90 or

ZMW 1 = $0.101 USD

Another day of riding north-east.  More people walking and riding bicycles on the road.  Traffic was light but the occasional freight trucks and large buses took most of the narrow roads.
And if we didn’t learn, three more tickets today!

Me! Photo by Helge Pedersen.

Me riding by a village in Mamibia. Photo by Helge Pedersen.

Border Money Exchange Insanity
Day 19, Thu, Feb 2, 2017

Start Location:  Chipata, Zambia

End Location:   Lilongwe, Malawi

Distance:          144 km (89 miles)

Hotel/Pension:   Cross Road Hotel, Lilongwe, Malawi

Money Conversion:  Malawian Kwacha: $1 USD = MK726.00 or

MK1 = $0.0014 USD

A general rule for crossing international borders with a motorcycle, always cross as early as possible!  If anything goes wrong, you’ll have the entire day to work it out.  Border money exchangers are basically bandidos but you need local money for road taxes and insurance.

Making friends at the border.

Helge recommend to exchange $50 USD (MK36,300) once we passed the Malawi immigration/customs.  Later, stop at a ATM for more daily expense Kwachas!
Crossing into Malawi before immigration/customs we are swarmed by money exchangers.  I exchanged $50 USD for 18 MK2,000 bills.  Some of the riders exchanged $200 USD.

Harrison C negotiating the exchange rate.

The money is carefully counted.

The money is carefully recounted.

After all the money was exchanged and all the money counted and recounted, 3 of the guys later discovered they were shortchanged!  The border money exchangers were slight-of-hand artists and were able to palm a portion of the bills!

"Voluntary Medical Male Circuncision" truck.

A quick fix to a broken BMW key. A local welder was able to fix the key.

Nick G bought a box of soccer balls and gave them away to kids.

Tomorrow, a city tour of Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi.
PHOTOS: If you want to see the photo’s full-size, click the photo, it isolates to a new page and click it once again.  Use browser’s “back” to return to blog.
CURRENT LOCATION:  Upper right corner is my Delorme inReach Explorer satellite tracks provided by SPOTwalla.  When activated, it provides a real time track of my travels.

The top item, “1 Cape to Cairo” opens to a close up of my location.  To zoom out for a view of the entire route, select the second banner tab “Cape to Cairo 2017” for zoom options.  Select “Adjustments” enables the viewer to select more days of the tracks.

The tracks are archived back to my arrival Cape Town, South Africa, January 13, 2017.

GlobeRiders has it’s own BLOG “Cape to Cairo LiveJournal!”  There is a complete description of the excursion, rider bios, updates of the ride, and an active satellite location link.

It’s Sunday, we must be in Zambia!

Day15, Sun, Jan 29, 2017


After an incredible day and a-half in the Chobe National Park and Chobe River we left amazed.  It’s approx. 18km to the Botswana/Zambia border.

Start Location:  Chobe Safari Lodge, Kasane, Botswana

End Location:   Livingstone, Zambia (Victoria Falls)

Distance:          83 km (52 miles)

Hotel/Pension:   Protea Hotel Livingstone, Livingstone, Zambia

Money Conversion:  Botswana: $1 USD = P10.47 or

I did not mention, but everyone has been taking Malaria pills for 2 weeks now.  The mosquitos are active.  I’m using insect repellant on all exposed areas and most hotels have an aerosol spray in each room used daily.  Many of the hotels in Namibia and Botswana have netting over the beds.
Today is the Botswana/Zambia border-crossing day.  Even though we have plenty of gas, we top off, purchase water and snacks (to use up the last of our Botswana money).

Gas is P7.62 per liter ($0.72 USD)

For the past week, the weather has been nightly showers and during the day overcast and occasional sprinkles.
This border has a reputation for long delays.  At the Botswana border Helge decided he would handle the crossing in bulk.  He takes all the passports and Carnet de Passages.

Immigration – Passport visa stamped and exit paper turned in.  Customs – Carnet de Passage exit for South Africa, Namibia & Botswana.

Once cleared of Botswana, we take a little ferry over to Zambia and work our way up through a huge line of freight tractor/trailers to the immigration/customs.

Auto ferry across the river to Zambia.

The Honda CB500XA is at home in this environment ... hot, rain, dirt and patchwork roads.

The total Zambia side took a little over an hour. For us riders it was relax and wait.

This is a 180° photo. Botswana on the left (river, ferry) and Zambia on the right.

Joe H gathers up the passports. He helped Helge by keeping the many border hanger-on-ers from getting in the way.

Tom B chilling'.

We get to Livingstone, Zambia around 1PM.  Check into the Protea Hotel Livingstone.
Needing Zambia $bucks, Harrison, Debbie, Gary and I make ATM run and head to Victoria Falls.  I’ve been to Niagara Falls and Iguasu Falls, Brazil and was eager to see this legendary falls.  We were warned to get rain gear at the entrance of the falls.  Just how wet could it be?????

First glimpse of Victoria Falls!

Debbie and Harrison C putting on the rental rain gear.

How wet can it be? It was like standing under a shower.

This is the view from the Zambia side looking left.

Zambia side looking right.

Gary S, Harrison, Debbie and I mostly dry.

Zambia side footbridge.

The heavy rains we rode through the past week is showing it's strength here at Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls Bridge. Connects Zambia with Zimbabwe. Tomorrow we'll cross into Zimbabwe to see the falls from that side.

Zimbabwe

Day16, Mon, Jan 30, 2017
Yesterday we got drenched on the Zambia side of Victoria Falls.  The volume of water was very high so the plumage drenched a huge area.

Start Location:  Livingstone, Zambia (Victoria Falls)

End Location:   Livingstone, Zambia (Victoria Falls)

Distance:          0 km (52 miles)

Hotel/Pension:   Protea Hotel Livingstone, Livingstone, Zambia

Money Conversion:  Zambian Kwacha: $1 USD = ZMW9.90 or

ZMW 1 = $0.101 USD

Up early to cross over into Zimbabwe to see the Victoria Falls from that side.  Debbie, Harrison and I take a 15-minute taxi ride to the Victoria Falls Bridge.
The border is in the middle of the bridge.

The border is in the middle of the Victoria Falls Bridge.

At the Zambia customs we easily pass with only a passport and our Zambia visa, then a 2-km walk across the bridge to the Zimbabwe customs where we pay $30 USD for a Zimbabwe visa.
From the custom office it was another 500 m to the entrance of the Victoria Falls Park entrance.

?

Once again, there was so much water coming over the falls, the mist from the high plumage hid the view of the fall at most view points.

The mist from the heavy falls was blocking most of view of the falls.

The pathway along the edge of the falls.

The statue commemorating Dr Livingstone in Zimbabwe.

PHOTOS: If you want to see the photo’s full-size, click the photo, it isolates to a new page and click it once again.  Use browser’s “back” to return to blog.
CURRENT LOCATION:  Upper right corner is my Delorme inReach Explorer satellite tracks provided by SPOTwalla.  When activated, it provides a real time track of my travels.

The top item, “1 Cape to Cairo” opens to a close up of my location.  To zoom out for a view of the entire route, select the second banner tab “Cape to Cairo 2017” for zoom options.  Select “Adjustments” enables the viewer to select more days of the tracks.

The tracks are archived back to my arrival Cape Town, South Africa, January 13, 2017.

GlobeRiders has it’s own BLOG “Cape to Cairo LiveJournal!”  There is a complete description of the excursion, rider bios, updates of the ride, and an active satellite location link.

Hippos, Crocs & Elephant

Day14 Afternoon, Sat, Jan 28, 2017
After a very successful jeep safari, we do a boat safari in the Chobe River.

The Chobe Safari Lodge was on the Chobe River's edge. Wonderful lodging and food.

At 3 PM we board a small boat for an evening river safari.

The water was glass smooth. The river is very high.

Look at the feet on this little bird.

The croc is quietly waiting for the deer to walk into range. It didn't happen while we were watching.

This 16" lizard was sunning on a log.

Momma & baby hippo never stopped eating.

A large male was showing off! He lunged up with mouth wide open!

Onshore, where we were early this morning, the giraffes entertain other jeep safari tourists.

An large male elephant rolling in a mud puddle.

Stork

We end the day with this huge croc!

Another amazing day.  Great start to see African wildlife in Botswana.

Andy and Harry are sharing a room.  Early in the morning, Harry gets up and opens the front sliding doors.  Then he goes into the bathroom.  Andy asleep hears someone making coffee.  Harry comes out of the bathroom to see monkeys raiding the sugar at the coffee station.  A loud shout scrambles the monkeys out of the room.

Tomorrow we ride a short 83 km/52 miles into Zambia.  Zambia is the first country the requires the use of Carnet de Passage (an international passport for motorcycles).

PHOTOS: If you want to see the photo’s full-size, click the photo, it isolates to a new page and click it once again.  Use browser’s “back” to return to blog.
CURRENT LOCATION:  Upper right corner is my Delorme inReach Explorer satellite tracks provided by SPOTwalla.  When activated, it provides a real time track of my travels.

The top item, “1 Cape to Cairo” opens to a close up of my location.  To zoom out for a view of the entire route, select the second banner tab “Cape to Cairo 2017” for zoom options.  Select “Adjustments” enables the viewer to select more days of the tracks.

The tracks are archived back to my arrival Cape Town, South Africa, January 13, 2017.

GlobeRiders has it’s own BLOG “Cape to Cairo LiveJournal!” There is a complete description of the excursion, rider bios, updates of the ride, and an active satellite location link.

The Caprivi Strip (Revised)

Day12, Thu, Jan 26, 2017
Another repositioning day.  We are riding due East.

Start Location:  Rundu, Namibia

End Location:   Namushasha, Namibia

Distance:          427 km (265 miles)

Hotel/Pension:   Namushasha Country Lodge

Money Conversion: R1 = $0.0443 USD; $1 USD = R13.459

Fuel: 1 liter 95 octane = R11.08

Our typical routine is:

6AM – Awake, dress and pack.

7 AM – Breakfast

8 AM – Rolling

The Caprivi Strip is a little panhandle that juts east with Angola & Zambia on top and Botswana on the bottom.

Because of overcast and threats of rain, temps are approx. 90°F

We ride through the Caprivi Game Park with only an occasional baboon sighting.
The last 4 km to the Namushasha Country Lodge was sand.  I think I have said before “Sand is not my friend!”

Deep sand is not my friend. My first dirt dive in Africa.

As you might have noticed, most of our nightly lodging are on the excellent level.

Hello Botswana!

Day13, Fri, Jan 27, 2017
Our eastern route takes us through Katima Mulilo, 1km from Angola.

Start Location:  Namushasha, Namibia

End Location:   Kasane, Botswana

Distance:          261 km (162 miles)

Hotel/Pension:   Chobe Safari Lodge

Money Conversion: Pula P1 = $0.0952 USD; $1 USD = P10.506

On the road by 8AM.  It’s a short day, 261 km (162 miles) because of the Namibia/Botswana border crossing.  The first order is gas at Katima Mulilo.  We all budgeted our Namibia $ to spend the last amount getting gas before we cross into Botswana.

All gas stations have many attendants. They hustle to get us to ride up to their pump.

Fuel is N$ 11.08 per liter

We were the only border crossers.

The Honda CB500XA is holding it's own with the 9 other BMWs!

Welcome to Botswana!

This was a simple border crossing.

Like so many international border crossing there rules that don’t make sense. Upon entering Botswana, all riders had to walk over to a little box and step in and out of a little box of chemicals. I'm guessing this is to prevent hoof and mouth disease.

Fully loaded, I rode the max speed limit...120 kph (70 mph)!

Typical afternoon cloud activity.

We are all hoping to see elephants as we ride through Chobe National Park.  With a speed limit of 80 kph the only elephant I saw was poop!

This is the only proof that elephants were around.

We get to the Chobe Safari Lodge around 2 PM.  Tonight’s lodging is on the Zambezi River.  Our group of 10 riders were scattered along road.  I later learn  ~20 minutes after I passed, 3 riders had 2 groups of elephants cross the road!
The Chobe Safari Lodge is beautiful.  We spend a full rest day here.  Tomorrow an early morning 4-wheel drive jeep safari then a late afternoon river excursion.

Will we ever see any animals???

Day14, Sat, Jan 28, 2017
For the last 2 days, I’ve rode east along the Caprivi Strip and into Botswana.   I rode by hundreds of elephant warning signs and massive amounts of elephant dung, but I had no personal elephant sighting!

Start Location:  Kasane, Botswana

End Location:   Kasane, Botswana

Distance:          0 moto travel

Hotel/Pension:   Chobe Safari Lodge

Money Conversion: Pula P1 = $0.0952 USD; $1 USD = P10.506

Up at 5AM, meet in Lodge lobby at 5:45AM and 10 of us ride a touring jeep Chobe National Park along the Chobe River.
Camera:  4 year old Olympus Stylus.  Shock proof, waterproof, point and shoot.

The Chobe Safari Lodge had mongoose and razorback families running around.

The 3 -wheel drive jeep safari took 4 hours. We started act the crack of dawn.

The ducks here sit in trees.

Driving beside the river, a large family of monkeys trot by.

Baby on board - high!

Baby on board - low.

The rest of the family run past us.

Fish Eagle

I forgot the name of these but there was a bunch of them.

3/4 of the ride, still no elephants. Time for hot coffee & cakes.

Joe H and hot coffee.

Our first elephant encounter!
The first half of the jeep safari was along the river.  Now we turn inland to see if we could see elephants.  We ride for 30 minutes a see an elephant cross the trail.  The driver stops and there are 4 elephants around us.  10 cameras are snapping away.  Suddenly, directly in front of us a large elephant comes at us on the road.  The next series of photos takes place in about 30 seconds!

While we were in the middle of 4 elephants, this large elephant comes down the trail with a bad attitude!

Our jeep driver slowly approaches him with engine racing. The elephant moves off to the right into some trees. Ears flapping, snorting, trumpeting!

He rolled his head left and right while trumpeting. Half the guys were wetting their pants!

He then rises his trunk for loud trumpeting!

He moves to the bush right in front of us thrashing the leaves with his trunk. Someone yells "Lets get out of here!" Our driver pulls away and the bad boy elephant moves out to the trail shaking his trunk at us. He defended his harem with honor. Our driver was in total control and at no time were we in danger.

On our way out of the park we see Cape Water Buffalos.

This afternoon, we take a boat safari on the river.
Photos will enlarge is you click on them!


CURRENT LOCATION:  Upper right corner titled “Current Location” is my Delorme inReach Explorer satellite tracks provided by SPOTwalla.  When activated, it provides a real time track of my travels.  Select “1 Cape-Cairo” and a map with my latest location comes up.  The 2nd banner tab “Cape to Cairo 2017” opens for more options.  Select “Adjustments” enables the viewer to select more days to view.  Remember we started Jan 13 so factor that in to the total days.
GlobeRiders has it’s own BLOG “Cape To Cairo Adventure 2017”.  There is a complete description of the excursion, rider bios, updates of the ride, and an active satellite location link.
Subscribing or Unsubscribing: It’s easy to be notified whenever I post something.  Just send me an email titled SUBSCRIBE with your email.  I have to add you to the list.

If you dislike rambling babble send me an email titled UNSUBSCRIBE with your email address.  You will be removed from subscriber list.

Dirt, Dirt, Dirt!

Day07, Sat, Jan 21, 2017
Today is a grueling ~500 km ride in more dirt.  The view is pure desert!  Critical is water and gas.  Helge has fuel stops marked on our GPS tracks.

Start Location:  Canyon Lodge

End Location:   Sossus Dune Lodge

Distance:          573 km (356 miles)

Hotel/Pension:   Sossus Dune Lodge

Money Conversion:

Money Conversion: R1 = $0.0443 USD; $1 USD = R13.459

Our typical routine is:

6AM – Awake, dress and pack.

7 AM – Breakfast

8 AM Rolling

It’s hydrate, ride, hydrate, fuel, hydrate … repeat!

Temps are approx. 105°F

While in dirt, Helge recommended we ride with a partner for mutual aid and support.

I team up with Gary Schmidt, a fellow Silk Road rider.  We’re conservative and arrive at the Sussus Dune Lodge around 3 PM.

Sussus Lodge

Historical Sand Dunes
Day08, Sun, Jan 22, 2017
No ride today – Visit the oldest sand dunes in the world!

Start Location:  Sossus Dune Lodge

End Location:   Sossus Dune Lodge

Distance:          0 moto miles but approx. 100 mile R/T via 4-wheel drive tour vehicle

Hotel/Pension:   Sossus Dune Lodge

Money Conversion: R1 = $0.0443 USD; $1 USD = R13.459

Up at 4AM, coffee & rolls and into a 4-wheel tour vehicle for a 60 minute ride out to the historic dunes.

Hiking in sand is tough on ol' guys!

After hiking up a small leg of the dunes, we had an fun breakfast!

After the hike, breakfast was elegant.

A mad run to the beach!

Day08, Sun, Jan 22, 2017

Start Location:  Sossus Dunes Lodge

End Location:   Swakopmund

Distance:          359 km (223 miles) approx. 325 km of dirt!

Hotel/Pension:   Grand Hotel – On the beach!

Money Conversion: R1 = $0.0443 USD; $1 USD = R13.459

This is our 3rd day on desert dirt roads.  It is also the only stop where the weather will be cool!
We were lucky that the day was overcast and much cooler than the past 104°F days.
There are no photos of “more desert!”
Our route turns east!

Day10, Tue, Jan 24, 2017

Start Location:  Swakopmund

End Location:   Otjiwarango

Distance:          379 km (235 miles) Back on tar (asphalt)

Hotel/Pension:   Bush Pillow Guest House

Money Conversion: R1 = $0.0443 USD; $1 USD = R13.459

Today is a repositioning day.  Meaning we just have to get down the road.

There was a big change from desert, barren landscape to small trees and bushes to a carpet of trees and bushes.  We are seeing all kinds of animals, wart hogs, ostriches, zebras, and one rider saw a giraffe.

The destination Otjiwarango is a small town with not much service.  The Bush Pillow Guest House was a B&B.  We had a great dinner and breakfast here.
Another repositioning day…

Day11, Wed, Jan 25, 2017

Start Location:  Otjiwarango

End Location:   Rundu

Distance:          476 km (296 miles)

Hotel/Pension:   Omashare River Lodge

Money Conversion: R1 = $0.0443 USD; $1 USD = R13.459

Straight roads through lush forests.

The road is straight with occasional readjustments. Everything is green!  The day threatens rain but only has brief showers.

You don't often see road signs like this.

A speed limit for elephants?

Gary S in motion.

Photos will enlarge is you click on them!
CURRENT LOCATION:  Upper right corner titled “Current Location” is my Delorme inReach Explorer satellite tracks provided by SPOTwalla.  When activated, it provides a real time track of my travels.  Select “1 Cape-Cairo” and a map with my latest location comes up.  The 2nd banner tab “Cape to Cairo 2017” opens for more options.  Select “Adjustments” enables the viewer to select more days to view.  Remember we started Jan 13 so factor that in to the total days.

Use the zoom slider on the left to open up the map to see our entire route. The two tabs in the upper right “Map/Satellite” switches the map illustration with satellite photos.

GlobeRiders has it’s own BLOG “Cape To Cairo Adventure 2017”.  There is a complete description of the excursion, rider bios, updates of the ride, and an active satellite location link.
Subscribing or Unsubscribing: It’s easy to be notified whenever I post something.  Just send me an email titled SUBSCRIBE with your email.  I have to add you to the list.

If you dislike rambling babble send me an email titled UNSUBSCRIBE with your email address.  You will be removed from subscriber list.

Have moto, will travel

As of this post, I’m in Swankopmund, Namibia.  If you looked at the tracks you will know we rode through a remote section of Namibia.  There was no or very limited wifi.  Most riders could not maintain a wifi connection.  The cell service was OK.  As you can see by my Spotwalla tracks we have been in a constant move and have seen much.  I’ll try to catch up but and time is limited.
Day04 – Jan 18, 2017

After a day’s delay, we ride today …

Start Location:  Cape Town, South Africa

End Location:   Springbok, South Africa

Distance:          586 km (364 miles)

Hotel/Pension:   Kleinplasie Guesthouse (limited poor wifi)

Money Conversion: R1 = $0.0443 USD; $1 USD = R13.459

At 8:00am we load all our riding gear and luggage into a mini van and ride ~12 miles north to the container yard.  We all got our original Certificate of Ownership’s (pink slips) and our Carnet de Passage (kinda like a passport for the motorcycles).  We will need both for border crossings.

Finally, our motor! Last time we saw this box was 3 months ago!

All motos are secure and in perfect shape.

Motos are unloaded, batteries reconnected, and panniers & cases packed.  Tom B’s battery was dead!  His BMW was loaded onto the trailer and went to the BMW dealer 15 miles away.  By 10:30am we are on our way.  2 hours later he chased after the main group using his GPS tracks.
Harry (SA and local tour guide) lead 8 of us 20km out to the highway 7.  We all got our first taste of left side riding.  Traffic circles are clockwise.  It was fairly easy left-side riding following a lead rider.  How will we do once we are on our own?
Photo: Arrow Windshield
Since we are one day behind, we had to ride 586km (364mi) on highway 7 due north to the second nights stop in Springbok.  The entire route is paved.  We are encouraged to not ride in a group!  Stop wherever you want for food, drink, rest, fuel, photos, etc.

Quickly the group of 9 riders dispersed along the route each riding his pace and style.  A couple of the faster riders paired up and disappeared.  I ended up riding alone for most of the day.

Although my 2016 Honda CB500XA had 8,000 miles on it, this was the first time I rode with full loaded panniers and top case.  I rode at various speeds topping off at 120kph (75mph) .
The first ¼ of the ride felt like riding US101 through the Napa/Sonoma wine country.  The countryside turned into the barren, flat desert and the temps began to rise.  When we arrived in Springbok  the temps was around 100°F!
Day05 – Jan 19, 2017
Start Location:  Springbok, South Africa

End Location:   Fishriver Canyon, Namibia

Distance:          318km (198mi)

Hotel/Pension:   Canyon Village (limited poor wifi)

Money Conversion: R1 = $0.0443 USD; $1 USD = R13.459

Today we made our first border crossing from South Africa into Namibia.  It was easy and all of us were through in a couple hours.  On the Namibia side we had to purchase a “Road Tax” of R170.

The Namibian Dollar is the same as the South African Rand

We just exited South Africa and entering Namibia.

Temps are 105°F.  Last couple days I started drinking massive amounts of water.
The last 60 miles were dirt (gravel, sand, rutted, washboard) roads!  We all dropped tire pressures to ~25 psi.

We are out in the boonies!

The dirt road is actually pretty good.  I was able to ride 70 kph for the bad parts, 100 kph for the good stretches.  Last 30 km had some sand.

This is the oasis at the end of the dirt!

The Canyon Village Lodge is very unique.  Very rustic.  The rooms are isolated string of villas on stilts.  The furthest rooms are 400 m from the main lobby.  No A/C, no phone, very sporadic wifi, and baboons raiding some of the guest rooms!
Day06 – Jan 20, 2017
Start Location:  Canyon Village Lodge, Fishriver Canyon, Namibia

End Location:   Canyon Village Lodge, Fishriver Canyon, Namibia

Distance:          0 moto mileage

Hotel/Pension:   Canyon Village (limited poor wifi)

Money Conversion: N1 = $0.0754 USD; $1 USD = N13.256

Today we visit the Fishriver Canyon Park.  It’s the second largest hole in the ground after our Grand Canyon.

The second largest hole in the earth!

Lunch at the Canyon Roadhouse.

This was a great place for lunch and gas tomorrow on our way out.

Photo:

A perfect sign for bone jarring moto riders!

A tree grew through the motor area of this ol' junker.

Just in case you're lost.

Tomorrow, 573km/356mi to Sossusvlei – entirely on dirt roads!
CURRENT LOCATION:  Upper right corner titled “Current Location” is my Delorme inReach Explorer satellite tracks provided by SPOTwalla.  When activated, it provides a real time track of my travels.  Select “1 Cape-Cairo” and a map with my latest location comes up.  The 2nd banner tab “Cape to Cairo 2017” opens for more options.  Select “Adjustments” enables the viewer to select more days to view.  Remember we started Jan 13 so factor that in to the total days.

Use the zoom slider on the left to open up the map to see our entire route. The two tabs in the upper right “Map/Satellite” switches the map illustration with satellite photos.

GlobeRiders has it’s own BLOG “Cape To Cairo Adventure 2017”.  There is a complete description of the excursion, rider bios, updates of the ride, and an active satellite location link.
Subscribing or Unsubscribing: It’s easy to be notified whenever I post something.  Just send me an email titled SUBSCRIBE with your email.  I have to add you to the list.

If you dislike rambling babble send me an email titled UNSUBSCRIBE with your email address.  You will be removed from subscriber list.

Sorry, we want our motorcycles!

Day minus 1, Sat, Jan 32, 2017
First of all … Sorry!  It’s been a 1-1/2 year since I last posted on this blog.  Most of you got the “Year in Planning…” and a few received the “’11.5% Beer & Schloss Heidelberg” wayward post with nothing it it.

For me WordPress is quite complex.  Just changing the weather links took a couple hours.  So the first post had many errors.

1.  Approx 20 addresses were no longer active. Another 20 requested additions or address corrections.

3.  The Satellite Tracking did not work and several helpful folks reported that error.

2.  A “draft” post from 4 years ago “’11.5% Beer & Schloss Heidelberg” was accidently published.  It was an empty title that was never used but my fat fingers somehow activated it.  Once I saw it went live, I tried to cancel, abort, kill but a few of you got it and did send me a note that there was nothing there except an error message.

4.  There will be typos.  No time for photos or proofing!  I’ll add photos later.

I hope all the above have been fixed.

As a reminder, this is a blog about riding a motorcycle from Cape Town, South Africa to Cairo, Egypt (GCC2017), a 9,000-mile motorcycle ride up through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt.

Sun-Tue, Jan 8-10, 2017 – Emirates Economy

Cape Town was a 29-hour Emirates flight from LAX.

15.5-hours from LAX to Dubai

3.5-hour connector layover

10.0-hour flight to Cape Town

Emirates made the flight as confortable and an “Economy” could be.  The flight left LAX Jan 8 evening and landed Cape Town Jan 10 mid-morning.  In 2015 I spent 60+ days with fellow 2015 Silk Road Adventure rider, Patrick Owen.  He met me at the airport.  The weather is very warm!  Almost hot!  Patrick and I had a similar riding style (conservative and steady) so we often ended up riding together.  He is an ex-hang glider, paraglider, ultralight, and gyrocopter pilot.  And he has walked the Way of St James twice!

Communications from Helge is solid.  He reports “Yes, our container (motorcycles) are in Cape Town, South!

Tue-Thu, Jan 10-13 – Mind & Soul R&R

Start and End Location: Llandudno Beach

Lodging: Patrick’s place

Money Exchange Rate:  R1 = $0.0443 USD; $1 USD = R13.459

Gas/Fuel:         Unknown

Patrick and his family opened their home to me.  It was a warm welcome to Cape Town.

I had a great visit with Patrick and family!

Patrick showed me the areas outside Cape Town.  Cape of Good Hope, Table Mountain Nat Park, the most southwestern most tip of Africa, Boulder Visitor Center (African Penguins), the huge wine country north of Cape Town.  And we had fun comparing our many Silk Road memories.

Wed-Thu, Jan 13-14 – Exploring Cape Town!

Start Location: Cape Town Waterfront

End Location: Cape Town Waterfront

Lodging: Protea Hotel Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge

Money Exchange Rate:  R1 = $0.0443 USD; $1 USD = R13.459

Gas/Fuel:         Unknown

I moved into the Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge, to join other Cape to Cairo early arrivals. This was my in-city Cape Town visit.

First I did a “Redbus” tourist loop (R190) around city to see layout then second loop stopped at sites I wanted to see.  Table Mountain gondola station for a ride up to the top (R255).

The Table Mt cablecars had a rotating floor. It rotates 365-degrees while zooming up to the top.

Back on the bus, I got off at Camps Bay where the rich a famous live and frolic.

Later in the day I met GCC17 riders Debbie & Harry Christian & Nick Gudewill.

Today we learn “Yes, the motorcycles are here in customs.  We ride out Mon, Jan 16 to take possession of them.

Day 1, Sun, Jan 15 – Get acquainted and GPS/Sat comm/tracker orientation

Start Location: Cape Town Waterfront

End Location: Cape Town Waterfront

Lodging: Protea Hotel Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge

Money Exchange Rate:  R1 = $0.0443 USD; $1 USD = R13.459

I walked a 5 mile loop from the hotel Waterfront area southeast into the downtown area.  It’s clean and moderately priced.

All the GlobeRiders GCC17 are expected to arrive today!  Everyone attends a 2:00 pm GPS/inReach meeting.

Helge Pederson, tour director, rider

Andy – Local guide, driver, chase vehicle

Harry – Local assistant, rider (guide on vacation)

Riders

1. Aaron Beckord

2. Tom Botz

3. Debbie Christian

4. Harrison Christian

5. Nick Gudwill

6. Joe Harosky – 2016 BMW R1200 GSA

7. Gary Schmidt

8. Steve Smith

9. Dean Tanji – 2016 Honda CB500XA

10. San McCaulley (will join midway)

There is some discussion about riding on the left instead of the right side of the street.  Be extremely careful when entering roundabouts

Helge takes possession of all GPSs and loads the daily “Tracks” and route “Waypoints” and Africa map.  We all use the same map, follow the same Tracks and if required, can use GOTO to the evening’s hotel.

It was confirmed that the container with motos are ready for unload and customs approval.

Day 2, Mon, Jan 16 – They’re here but we can’t get them!

Start Location: Cape Town Waterfront

End Location: Cape Town Waterfront

Lodging: Protea Hotel Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge

Money Exchange Rate:  R1 = $0.0443 USD; $1 USD = R13.459

GPSs are returned.

Original Plan: – Mid morning drive over to custom with moto riding gear, take possession of our motos, reconnect batteries, get all motos running, ride 15km back to hotel and spend the rest of the day re-pack our rides.

Reality: Today we learn “Yes, the motorcycles are here in customs … No we will not be able to take possession of them today!” Through a shipping SNAFU, a certain document from the Seattle shipper was missing and we could not take possession of our motos.  Rats!  This is bad news!  The 12-hour time difference AND the fact that today was Martin Luther Kink holiday in the US — the shipping company was closed.  This is a “Perfect Storm” scenario for not getting our motos and missing the first day of riding.

So to keep the riders from having a conniption, Helge organized a afternoon tour and lunch.

The Cape to Cairo riders and staff inside a picture frame of Table Mountain.

Cape Beach-again Table Mountain in the background.

The Welcome Dinner – after dinner we each introduced ourselves and told why we were here, what we expected to experience.

Day 3, Tue, Jan 17 –The Perfect Storm to keep us from getting our motor!

Original Plan: – Depart before 9:00am.  The first day is a short leg to get used to left-hand driving.  The goal is Lamberts Bay Hotel, Lamberts Bay, South Africa.  268km/167miles.

Reality: Because of the “Perfect Storm” no motos released today!  Lucky for us the hotel had enough rooms for us to remain in the Breakwater Lodge.  Most of us did not have to change rooms.

At 11am the staff organized a auto tour up to Signal Hill to see/hear the noon cannon.  There was a paragliding launch site with 2 dozen paragliders on top but it was blowing downwind!  Lunch was out at Table View beach.

News came at 4:35pm we depart at 8am tomorrow to be at the container depot at 9:00am to free our motos.

These travel glitches happen.  All adventures have changes, revisions and roadblocks. All the riders are very understanding and the though of moving tomorrow has big grins on everyone!

And if you’re going to have problems, have them at a quality hotel with all the associated conveniences!

Tomorrow, riding in the left lane!

Our goal will be Springbok, an estimated 575km/357mi.

PHOTOS: If you want to see the photo’s full-size, click the photo, it isolates to a new page and click it once again.  Use browser’s “back” to return to blog.
CURRENT LOCATION:  Upper right corner is my Delorme inReach Explorer satellite tracks provided by SPOTwalla.  When activated, it provides a real time track of my travels.  The tab “All-Star Motorcycle Circus & E” opens for more options.  “Adjustments” enables the viewer to select more days of the tracks.

The tracks are archived back to my arrival Cape Town, South Africa, January 13, 2017.

Use the zoom slider on the left to open up the map to see our entire route. The two tabs in the upper right “Map/Satellite” switches the map illustration with satellite photos.

GlobeRiders has it’s own BLOG “Cape to Cairo LiveJournal”  There is a complete description of the excursion, rider bios, updates of the ride, and an active satellite location link.

A year in planning …

Day -2, Jan 10, 2017


Dear family, friends and business associates,

The “All-Star Motorcycle Circus and Expedition” is a rambling travel blog that I post whenever possible, while meandering here and there on a motorcycle.

This blog has been dark since August 18, 2015.  If you received this you are on the SUBSCRIBER list which means you will be notified whenever a new post is made.

Subscribing or Unsubscribing: I broke this part of the blog.  Can’t mess with it now.  If you dislike rambling babble email me at “dtanji@gmail.com” and enter UNSUBSCRIBE in the Subject: line and include your email.   I’ll remove it from subscriber list.  Same with SUBSCRIBING.  Email me at the above address and enter SUBSCRIBE on the Subject: line along with your email.

To make it perfectly clear, I am not the “All-Star”.  I’m more aligned as one of life’s circus clowns.  The “All-Stars” are the strangers we meet that friend us, help us, guide us, entertain us, feed us and help get us safely down the road.
Guess I’ve always had a wanderlust spirit; it just took a while before I could make it happen.  I love the unknown and unique events just down around the turn.  Be forewarned, in many situations blogging takes time away from these great experiences.  So this blog’s posting will be made whenever convenient and based on internet availability.
My bucket list is getting shorter.  The next is Africa!
Ride Description – GlobeRiders Cape to Cairo 2017
On January 15 I’ll join Helge Pedersen’s GlobeRiders “Cape to Cairo” tour – a 64 day, 9,000 mile motorcycle ride up through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt.

It’s a small group 11 motos including 1 tour leader & 1 chase vehicle.

The red line is a rough route

Down sizing!
On the 2015 Silk Road excursion, the 2004 Suzuki V-Strompasourus DL1000 performed gallantly against all early bets.  This moto has been to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska then down through North, Central and South America to Ushuaia, Argentina.  It crossed the pond to ride all through Western Europe including St Petersburg, Russia & Nord Capp, Norway.
The problem was I got old!  Me lifting a fully loaded VStrom (~750 lbs) was no longer an option.  It also got poor fuel mileage (35mpg), AND it had cast alloy wheels.  The gravel, sand, rocks, and incredible potholes-from-hell bent the rims beyond repair.  I was lucky that there were no tire seal leaks.
2016 Honda CB500XA

2017 Honda CB500XA

In April I purchased a new 2016 Honda CB500XA – lighter, lower, amazing mileage.  A company out of England “Rally Raid” has designed, fabricated and tested a suspension and conversion to make this into a dual-sport platform.  The basis is a highly improved front and rear shock system, spoked rims, enhanced triple-tree, fat-bars, hand-guards, short hand levers, engine guard, skid plate, foot pegs.  I added GIVI saddlebags and top case, iScottoiler, wired GPS Montana, wired InReach sat com, Warm-n-Safe wireless remote heated system, etc.
The moto had to be in Tacoma Oct 18 to be packed into a shipping container.  Unfortunately the Rally Raid conversion had fitment problems.  This is a new start production and, while the hardware is mostly good I did have problems with the skid plate & engine guard.  And the ordering was confusing which resulted in not receiving everything for a continuous, smooth installation.  The installation ended up 2-steps forward, missing piece, 1-step back, wait a week.  Repeat! Repeat!  The engine skid plates mount tab broke off in Dease Lake, BC.  The Rally Raid engine mount bolt seared off too.  After being ignored by Rally Raid, I removed the skid plate and engine guard and replace with SW Motech skid plate, engine guard and center stand.

New rear and front shocks, triple tree, fat handlebars, Scott steering damper, 17" spoked rims.

I ended up finishing the moto 5-days before deliver to Tacoma and was able to do a 100-mile loop and everything seemed to work!  Moto packed with tools, spare parts, gear loaded onto my Nissan pickup and did an Iron Butt 24-hour drive to Sound BMW, Tacoma to arrive evening of Oct 17.
This was not without some minor catastrophe.  The CB500X was in the back bed with the front wheel one of those locking chocks.  The locking chock enable the rider to put the front wheel in the chock and the moto stands up by it self with no other straps.  I had 4 ratchet straps (2 on each side) held everything upright and tight.  While unloading my CB500X at South Sound, I undid the right side ratchet straps and the moto had too much tension from the left and it fell over with the left-side coming into contact with my pickup sidewall.  It did some minor plastic damage to the CB599A’s left mid-panel.

Oh great!  2 months before the Cape to Cairo ride and my new moto did a pick-up bed gravity dive!  I’m glad the first tip over is in the books!

As it turns out, the container did not arrive that day so Helge graciously allowed me to head back to SoCal.  I did another 24-hour drive back home to start my VISA applications.

The VISA hokey-pokey
The Cape to Cairo adventure was planned for over a year.  I knew my passport would be gone for 2 months getting visas for Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and Kenya.  The passport must be mailed/FedEx to each country’s embassy along with application and fees.  Each embassy takes from 4 to 14 days to approve the visa, paste it in your passport and mail it back to you.  This is a concern for us west coast travelers.  To get 7 visas, our passport must cross the country and return 7 times!
GlobeRiders recommends a visa service, Passport Visa Express, to expedite the visa process.  They are located in Arlington, VA near the DC area where most of the world’s embassies are located.  Yes, it cost more money but the ease of mind is significant!
Now good news and bad news.

The good news is — Sue and I celebrated our 50th last November.  We decided to take the immediate family to Japan.  The Japan family vacation was coming together for the last 2 weeks of November 2016.

The bad news — my passport was back east going through the Africa VISA application and approval.  I will not see that passport till the last week of December!  So I had no passport for the Japan trip.

I went online and found it was possible to obtain a 2nd 4-year passport.  I followed the online instructions and was able to get a 2nd passport in “2 days” at the Los Angeles Passport center – I was good as of Oct 20, 2016

This has been an accumulation of the past 6 months.  Next posting … Africa.
CURRENT LOCATION:  Upper right corner is my Delorme inReach Explorer satellite tracks provided by SPOTwalla.  When activated, it provides a real time track of my travels.  The tab “All-Star Motorcycle Circus & E” opens for more options.  “Adjustments” enables the viewer to select more days of the tracks.

The tracks are archived back to my arrival Cape Town, South Africa, January 13, 2017.

Use the zoom slider on the left to open up the map to see our entire route. The two tabs in the upper right “Map/Satellite” switches the map illustration with satellite photos.

GlobeRiders has it’s own BLOG “WHICH HAS NOT BEEN PUBLISHED YET”  I replace the correct link when it becomes available.   There is a complete description of the excursion, rider bios, updates of the ride, and an active satellite location link.

Xi’an – The Silk Road Terminus

The photos have been added to the earlier photo-less “Great Wall” post.
PHOTOS: If you want to see the photo’s full-size, click the photo, it isolates to a new page and click it once again.  Use browser’s “back” to return to blog.
Day 52, Tue June 23, Lanzhou-Pingliang – 332 km (206 Miles)
Including today, only 2 more riding days!  As we ride southeast approaching Xi’an the beautiful remote valleys and snow capped mountains, terraced crops, give way more villages, towns, and small cities along G22.

It’s an overcast day with scattered rain.  Once again, we try to ride the National Road parallel to the G22 Toll Road.  After 40 minutes creeping along on the National Road, forced off the road a couple times, stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the center of half-dozen villages, we jump onto the toll road and ride safely to Pingliang.

In Pingliang we stay at the Guangcheng Hotel, The Foot of Kongtong Mountain, Pingliang, GZ China.  35.550946, 106.593876.  This is a new 2009 5-star hotel resort located in a remote stand-alone complex east of town.  Our building was 200 meters from the main lobby and restaurant.  Not convenient in the rain!  It was a wonderful facility but for us there was only taxi access to local color.
Day 53, Wed June 24, Pingliang-Xi’An – 306 km (190 Miles)
Another overcast rainy day.  While we had a short 200-mile day today, getting to a bike wash was the day’s concern.  Tomorrow we load our motos into containers and /or crates.  Vehicles crossing international borders must be spotless!  Caked mud, dirt, vegetation harboring insects or plant seeds in the vehicle undercarriage can get the entire container rejected

First we were going to meet as a group outside of Xi’an and go to an auto wash near the hotel.  But with our scattered travels, getting all to meet with no GPS location would be difficult.  The decision was made to find a bike wash on our own.  Finally with today’s rain, we’ll wait till tomorrow and wash the bike on the way to the container cargo facility.

Today Ken S and I had no desire to attempt to ride the National Road.  We find the first Toll Road on-ramp, blast pass the toll booth only to run into 8 uniformed traffic police at a traffic stop.  Normally we just ride past and ignore them but this time they were spread out across several lanes blocking our progress waving us to the side of the road.  While we chat with the police, Kainan is waved over joining us.
Kainan (KTM), Ken (BMW R1200 GSA) and myself (Suzuki VStrom) were stopped, lectured, turned around and escorted the wrong way through the toll booth, the wrong way back to the on-ramp and off to the National Road.
We smiled, thanked them, waved goodbye and rode the National Road 8-10 kms to the next Toll Road on-ramp.  Again we blasted pass the right side of the tollbooths and continued on our way.  In all my travels across China’s toll roads, this was the only time I was blocked from toll road usage … the last day riding into Xi’an.
It was an easy GPS route off the toll road to the Grand Park Xi’an Hotel, No. 12 West of Huancheng South Road, Xi’an, China  N34 15.095, E108 58.342. Another 5-star hotel in the center of local color.  It’s across the street from the South Gate of the Old City walls and the Drum Tower, Bell Tower, and Great Mosque and the Wangfujing Shopping Center.

Kurt D was leaving the next day.  At dinner he had to give the traditional farewell comment by himself.  The rest of us were making ours tomorrow.  Kurt gave a heartfelt summation of his Silk Road experiences … the new friendships, camaraderie, and challenges achieved.   He said in a few words what many of us were thinking.  Well done Kurt!

Day 54, Thu June 25, Xi’An
Xi’an was once the largest city in the world and served as the capital for 11 dynasties.  Xi’an was known as Chang’an.  During the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-24AD) it became the starting point for the Silk Road.  It continued to be the key hub for the major trade routes between China, Central Asia and Europe during the 7th and 8th centuries.
The first item is “bike wash!”  Customs requires a clean moto.  If your moto is dirty, the entire container can be rejected.  Sim and the local guide find an auto wash next to the container cargo lot (N34 23.070 E109 05.829).
It was 200 meters from the auto wash to the container loading yard.  While parking and turning off the key to the V-Strompasourus I realized that it was over.  The amazing Silk Road Adventure is over!  No more worries about “Will the engine start in the morning?  “Will I have enough rubber to get to Xi’an?  “Is there a pot hole that will crack my rim?  “Is the chain lubricated enough?

The V-Strompasourus is on the left, the next moto to be tied down. Jim, Chris and I watch Helge secure the tied down points. We loading 12 moto into a this container heading to Tacoma, WA.

Ian untangling ratchet straps while I get ready to write ID info on my Jesse Bags.

Our Tacoma, WA bound container is the white one on the left.

12 motos into a small shipping container for Tacoma, WA, 2 motos and the side-car rig to Bangkok, 2 motos in individual wood crates to Heidelberg, Germany.  We are done by 2PM.
Day 55, Fri June 26, Xi’an Tourist
Before 1974 Xi’an was a little known Chinese city with only national historic awareness.   At one time it was the center of all China and the start of the Silk Road.  This all changed when Kublai Khan moved the capital of China to from Xi’an to Beijing in the 14th century.
In 1974 a small group of farmers were digging a well and discovered terracotta fragments.  Then they dug out parts of a life-size terracotta solider.  This discovery and the four decades of archaeological unearthing and over commercialization made Xi’an and the Terracotta Warriors the new favorite international China tourist attraction.

Bence H behind a full size terra-cotta warrior replica. It costs approx $1,500 to purchase and ship home.

The terracotta warrior modern mold fabrication is popular with the tourists.

Terracotta Warriors - When you first walk into the main building, the immensity takes your breath away.

This is the first of 3 covered pits.

Terracotta Warriors Selfie

Sign indicates site of original well that uncovered the terracotta warriors in 1974. #6 sign is the oldest recorded brick wall - 210-209 BCE.

2 horse chariot and driver. The wooden chariot has long disintegrated.

Terracotta Warrior - Kneeling Archer. He's hands indicate a crossbow. There were 160 of these found in Pit 2

Double-layered flat hat and square-toed shoes, chest only armor indicate a Middle-ranking Officer

Armor-Clad General - one of 7 found in the pits.

Standing Archer - Archers were never used in hand-to-hand combat so no armor. 172 were found in Pit 2

Cavalrymen with his saddled war-horse. 116 similar grouping were found in Pit 2. His left hand held a crossbow.

Partially uncovered pit in front, original covered in back. All the terracotta warriors were crushed from the collapsed roof and layers of dirt. Each was reconstructed like a 3D puzzle.

Another uncovered pit.

Bronze chariot found in a separate area.

Building 1, site of original water well.

Building 4 - a second huge site

Terracotta Warriors Museum

Tonight is the last dinner together.  Two riders already left.  Kainan R and Kurt D departed right after the motos were loaded into the container.  As per tradition, each rider gave a brief summation of their Silk Road experiences.

The mix of riders worked out wonderful.  Everyone had what it takes to be an adventure rider.  I sincerely hope that I have the opportunity to ride with any one of these riders in the future.  Through out the 56 days (Istanbul to Xi’an)

Day 56, Sat June 27, Departure Day
Today is the official GlobeRiders Silk Road 2015 departure day.  All riders except Joe H, John R, Gary S and myself depart the hotel for the Xi‘an International Airport.  Some left as early as 4AM.
We say goodbye to two group leaving before 9AM then we spend the morning bicycling around the Old Xi’an City Wall.

The original wall was built initially during the old Tang Dynasty (618 – 907).  It was extended by Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).  It’s the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world.

Xi'an City Wall, South City Gate

South Gate sun dial. No reading, it was an overcast day.

John R, Joe H, Gary S and I rode the entire 8.5 mile city wall.

After the extension, the wall now stands 12 meters (40 feet) tall, 12-14 meters (40-46 feet) wide at the top and 15-18 meters (50-60 feet) thick at the bottom.  It covers 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles) in length with a deep moat surrounding it.
John R, Gary S and Joe H had a Subway sandwich just inside the South Gate.

John R and I went to look for the Bazaar Area.  I wanted to do some last minute shopping and John just loves to explore.  After some wondering around we find the Bazaar behind the Drum Tower in the Muslim Quarter around the Great Mosque.

Barbque pigs feet

John R checks out fresh meat!

Barbecue crabs

Grilled squid

Butcher at work

Home made chili pepper sauce.

Two men pounding nuts with huge mallets.

There was a lot of yelling while the mallet whacked the nuts. Great show!

Day 57, Sun June 27, My departure day
For me an incredible journey is over.  I’ve been reflecting what has transpired over the last three months.

The day-by-day transition from Europe (Dunkirk, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece) to Eurasia (Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran) to Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan) to China has been incredible.

Nationality

As an American of Japanese descent at home I’m American.  On this trip, Europe, Central Asia, & China I’m considered anything but American.  Most think I’m from China or Japan.

When riding in Europe and Eurasia few initiate conversations with me but many want to have their photo taken with me.  Opposite in China most try to start a conversation with me but few wish to take a photo with me.
Roadside Waves and High Fives

On our travels west to east most us riders’ wave at the local people we encountered.  This opens doors to all kinds of social interactivity.

From the start in Turkey, it seemed 90% waved back and when we stopped, friendly locals would approach to talk, invite us to have tea, offer water or food.  Children especially would see us approach and run the side of the road smiling and waving.  This continued through Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran.
In Central Asia, Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan, maybe 60% waved back.  A few of the kids would run to the side of the road and hold their hands out for a high-five as we rode pass them.  I did not participate in this.  The speed limit in all villages was 40 kph (25 mph).  A high-five at 25 mph resulted in a fairly solid smack to a 5-6 year old’s hand.  That combined with the dirt, gravel and rocky streets, dogs, donkey carts, 3-wheelers, an occasional 4-wheeler appearing in front of me was outside my safety margin riding one-handed.
The children’s innocence changed in Tajikistan.  From Kalaikhumb to Horog young boys, 8-10 years old, in the remote villages and farms stuck their hand out for a high-five and held a stone in their other hand.  If you didn’t high-five them, they threw the stone at your back!  This happened a half-dozen times and was the only negative incident of the entire ride.  The stone throwing ended at Horog.
Time & Distance

Pre-Silk Road – Heidelberg, Germany (April 17, 2015), Dunkirk, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Istanbul, Turkey (May 2, 2015) 4,285 km (2,663 miles)

The Silk Road – Istanbul, Turkey (May 3, 2015), Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, to Xi’an, China (June 25, 2015) 12,915 km (8,025 miles)

Total ride – Heidelberg, Germany (April 17, 2015) to Xi’an, China (June 25, 2015) the total distance traveled by motorcycle was 17,200 km (10,700 miles).
The Rides

18 motos started, 17 finished. There were 16 BMWs (650, 800 GSA & 1200 GS & GSA), 1 KTM 990, and 1 Suzuki V-Strom DL1000.  The only DNF is a 2014 BMW R1200 GSA.

My 2004 Suzuki V-Strom DL1000 performed as expected.  The only minor problem was the negative battery terminal working loose on the washboard Pamir Highway between Murgab and Sary-Tash, Kyrgyzstan.
The wheels on the motorcycle goes round and round …

All riders had new rubber in Istanbul.  Either new tires on all motos shipped via container or installed new tires waiting for them in Istanbul.  The tire of choice was the new Continental TKC70s.

Many of the riders planned a tire change in Dushanbe, Tajikistan – only 4,500 mi from Istanbul.  However once in Dushanbe, the Continental TKC70 had plenty of tread and a couple riders decided not to change.  Those that did change tires in Dushanbe saved the half-used tires for a tire emergency (which happened to several of the riders with damaged and flat tires).

I did something entirely different and mounted very hard street tires.  I made the decision go the entire ran the entire 17,200 km (10,700 miles) on one set of tires:

Rear tire:  Metzeler ME 880 Marathon 160/70B-17

Front tire:  Michelin Anakee 2 Adventure Touring 110/80VR19F.

I did finish with plenty of tread front and back … however, the front tire, a Michelin Anakee 2, developed hairline cracks 2-inches off center parallel in the direction of travel.  The hairline cracks were discovered in Sary-Tash, Kyrgyzstan.  There was plenty of tread and no core belt showed through the hairline cracks.  I inspected the tires daily after riding.   Tire pressure checked every morning.  I was certain the roads in China would not be anything like the Tajikistan Pamir Highway.
Engine Heatstroke

Another minor problem was overheating in stop-n-go traffic.  Normal engine temperature gauge was 2-bars.  In stop-n-go traffic the gauge would go to 3-bars and after a few minutes the engine would stall.  So all stop-n-go traffic involved clutch feathering and slightly higher RPMs via throttle control.  The engine temperature gauge never got to 4-bars and there was no loss of radiator coolant.

Headlights – One Eyed Jack

The V-Strom has dual headlights.  And the headlights are on when the key turns on.  This is a good thing to increase our visibility to other drivers.

All countries we rode through DO NOT travel with headlights on.  Starting in Turkey all oncoming vehicles flashing their lights and ride their horns notifying us to turn off our headlights.  We acknowledge their ON/OFF headlights with a friendly wave.  We all rode with lights on to make sure we were seen.

I converted to dual HIDs before my 2011 TransAmerica Ride.  One of my HID headlights started looking yellow in Murgab and went dead by Lanzhou.  The remaining HID headlight maintained my daylight visibility to oncoming vehicles all the way to Xi’an.
I don’t need no stinkin’ oil change.

I’ll probably get some flack on this but I planned and rode the entire Silk Road, 17,200 km (10,700 miles) with out an oil or filter change.  With 100% synthetic oil I had run motos 11,000 miles several times with no ill effects.

I’m from the “If anything can go wrong during an oil & filter change in the middle of nowhere it will!” and “If its running good, don’t fix it!” school

The 2015 GlobeRiders Silk Road Riders

I’ve long known that moto travel open doors and create unique one-to –one experience.  Motos help encourage conversation and creates smiles.

The GlobeRiders Silk Road 2015 brought together 18 independent and unique personalities, riding skill levels, and world travel expectations.

This is an adventure unlike others where the traveler is just a passenger.  This was a unique opportunity to travel through 11 exotic and legendary countries with each rider controlling his own direction, path and speed.  Yes, we all had a common goal each day but we individually chose how and when to get there.

When you spend 56 days with 18 other travelers sharing food, exploring 3,000 year old ruins and city walls, wondering through the many vendors, sounds and smells of a central/night market, picking up motos, fixing flats, sharing fuel, strong bonds can develop.  Now the mere mention of a location or activity brings a flood of memories and grins.  i.e. the tunnel of terror, toll gate running, teakettle fill ups, border crossings, blown shocks, flat tires, lost boys, the magnificent Argos Hotel in Cappadocia, the small Caravansaries lodgings, yurts, etc.

I can honestly say I would travel and adventure with any one of these gentlemen.

I also highly recommend the GlobeRiders Global Adventures.  They are currently taking reservations for Silk Road 2016!

FYI – the cargo container with 12 moto arrived at South Sound BMW, Friday, August 14

GlobeRiders has it’s own BLOG “Silk Road Adventure 2015 LiveJournal!” There is a complete description of the excursion, rider bios, updates of the ride, and an active satellite location link.
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