Coleman Tatra 3 – the suitability for a motorbike adventure

Now, after three months, it would be a good idea to give a small feedback on the Coleman Tatra 3 tent that I chose during the winter. To be specific, in the biking context, given that there are two hikers and one motorbike. When traveling on one single ride, compactness and weight are considerably more important than travelling with two bikes. I’ll try to be as objective as possible.

Size packed. After some tests, we separated the tent and arches separately. The tent goes to the side case, arches in the back pocket of a soft suitcase. Very ok. The minus is the too good original bag. It is based on the principle of a pipe bag and is quite hermetic. And since it is hermetic, when closing, there is always one part where the air can not be removed. This, in turn, will take more space. The original bag is probably quite good if the tent is attached to the outside of the suitcases, but inside the suitcase there should be a somewhat simpler compression bag. Without a bag, you can not pack a tent compact enough.

Installation comfort / speed This is a great blessing that the whole tent stands up only with arches. Yesterday it was the first time in three months that I tightened some ropes and installed the pegs. That’s because there was heavy rain. Putting the tent up and packing is quick and comfortable. So fast that I would not have believed it. The fact that the arches have to be pushed into the channels is no problem at all (time will tell how long they hold up). The fact that the tents stands without pegs and cords is extremely necesseray. In Africa, the ground is usually hardened with burnt clay or soft sand. In some city camps also concrete. All of these surfaces are unfavorable for pegs. They do not stand inside the sand, and you can’t push them in the hard surfaces. Car hikers have a separate hammer with them. For easy installation, the ends of aluminum arches are designed with a “collar”. Once arranged in the ring, they stay there well and you don’t have to ask a companion to hold on to anything.

Size It’s suitable for two travellers. Luggage and riding clothes fit into the front room, and there’s enough room in the bedroom for sleeping and spreading out all the rest of the stuff.

Ease of use A small minus, a relatively low “exterior door”. The bigger the man needs to duck a bit more than he would like to. Because the front room is low, you can’t move around there. To enter the tent, you must open both the exterior and interior door, and then either climb in or out immediately with one stroke. The tent has two exterior doors, but in reality only one is used, since the inner door opens to one side. This is not a special minus, just another door we can not find use and is relatively meaningless. At the same time, the entry from one side leaves the front room entirely to luggage and riding gear and you don’t have to climb over them. Footprint could be added, but it has to be cleaned up and it adds weight / volume when packed.

Ventilation Ventilation is so and so. No condense has occurred, even in the overly humid climate by the sea. However there was lack of air. Especially in the hot and humid climate by the sea when there was no wind. There’s too little mesh surface on the inner tent and the existing mesh is so tight it limits the movement of the air substantially. The ceiling of the tent should also have more mesh. The fact that when the tent is installed only with arches and the cords and pegs have not been tightened and the shape of the tent is not really as it should be, could play the part of the bad ventilation (the air channels are shut). All in all, the ventilation was incomplete only in the aforementioned ultra-humid, and especially hot and windless conditions. At other times, it’s totally tolerable. However, I am considering tuning the inside door so that it is fully made of mesh.

Conclusion In the light of the aforementioned, I will give 4+ (on the scale of 5) to the Tatra 3 as a tent for motorbike travelling. Entering is a bit inconvenient and that can’t be changed. Internal door could be made of all mesh, that can be changed. At the moment it seems that everything was said. If I remember something else I will add it later.

 

About the brakes and ABS

About the rear brake cylinder.

It is now clear that the “window” of the rear brake cylinder is not a separate spare part. Also, the brake cylinder without the window is not an original spare part. The price of the new cylinder is 135 €. The good thing is that the price also includes a new piston with cuffs. But still, the price is high to repair the mistake of the manufacturer. So what, in fact, is a good solution? At the moment I can think of such variants:

1. Focus on the correct and good brake fluid in the future and hope that the new brake cylinder (or rather the window on its side) lasts at least as long as the first one, i.e. 64000km.

2. Remove the existing cylinder and weld the window should. Perharps it is possible? I would be happy to receive comments on this solution.

3. Try to find a suitable brake cylinder from other bike models and rebuild the system a little bit. There, of course, will be other things to consider, from fastenings, to the suitability of the levers to the hoses.

ABS on this particular model.

Already in the winter, when I was preparing the bike for the trio, I was advised to throw the ABS away. At that time, I could not do it. It spent a lot of time and money on redevelopment, new hoses, etc. Today I can say that I should have been listening and just thrown it away. If we ever get home with the bike then I’ll do it.

Public transport to the island and on the island

After some thought, we decided to go to Zanzibar. If we are already here. I investigated from here and there, and check the harbour just in case. It turns out Zanzibar is a bit like Tanzania and then again, is not. Moving around with your transport requires a lot of customs procedures, some sort of paperwork, payment of some taxes and a pretty decent additional fee in the form of a ferry ticket. And in both directions. Thus, we leave the bike at the guesthouse yard and go with a particularly small bag.

All that is necessary (and as it later turns out unnecessary) fit into a tank bag. I hadn’t used it that way before but it’s quite comfortable. The bag also has a shoulder strap that makes it especially comfortable to use.

The ferry leaves from the city center and the economy ticket costs 35$. Business class 40$ and Royal 50$. We are simple people …. The 2.5h is a bit surprising since the ship is a fast catamaran, the same as the new Lindaline ferries. Although Zansibar is not far from the shore, the distance between ports is the same as between Tallinn and Helsinki, that’s why the relatively long crossing.

We reach Stone Town when it was about to get dark. Aggressive taxi drivers and other intermediaries are so much that it’s really angering. Since the accommodation we have chosen is on the opposite side of the island, we needed to do two things. First, get some cash, and then find a dala-dala that would take us to the right place. After a bit of searching, we found the right ATM. Then we set out to find the right dala-dala. It turned out to be a headache. We found the right direction quite easily but it got complicated after that. You ask someone which bus goes where. Immediately there are several people ready to help you find the right bus. The bus found, we sit in and, as magically, the same assistant who led us to the right bus, is also a conductor and asks for money. Give 15 000! Yeah, right. No, okay, give 10,000. No, no, you will get 5000. No ok, give 6000. Okay, you’ll get 6000. Everything goes very fast, the people gather, the bus is so full that I stand on one leg. Then it turns out that this bus leads only to the city border, and we’ll have to switch to another bus there.

When I arrive, I see that others pay 500 per person. Damn. Since the same character is missing, there’s nothing to do. We go in search for the right bus again and everything is the same. Again, there is an intermediary who guides us to the right bus and again tries to cash in. This time I’m wiser and say that no money can be received before arrival. The guy protests and people on the seats next to us say that we have to pay. I explain that I have already paid and do not intend to pay more for some random guys. It makes a difference. The guy tries to save the situation by saying that we have to pay him for carrying the luggage. Since we do not have any luggage, it’s clear to the audience who is who and another mediator is being thrown out of the bus. Later, passengers apologize for the fact that even they sometimes can not understand who is the conductor and pay twice. That’s why it’s better to pay when you arrive. The correct number is 2,000 for driving to the other side of the island.

Let’s be honest, we are talking about small amounts. But the numbers are large and it creates confusion. And every cent counts when paying for nothing, especially if it is bluntly demanded. Moreover, there is different currency in every country and when you are already tired by the evening it’s really difficult.

The last 5 km we ride on the back seats of small motorbikes. The bus turns to the left, but we needed to go the right. It’s okay. The moped does not break down and we arrive safely.

Gods, karma, paranoia etc

 

The climate by the sea is significantly different from that of the inland. The temperature is the same as it has been throughout the journey, 32-33 C but the humidity enhances heat. Although we shower few times a day, the continuous sticky state is quite uncomfortable. Clothes are also moist. The tent is like a sauna. We sleep without any sleeping bags, blankets or linen, not to mention clothes, but still everything is sticky and damp and really hot.  And, like out of spite, although by the sea, the air does not move at all at night. Absolute silence. The sea is like a mirror when waking up in the morning. And if there is no wind at all then the ventilation of the tent will not work well and in addition to the heat and moisture, there is lack of air.

Because of all that, we decide to change our lodging and move to a local guesthouse not far away. I found it quite casually a few days ago. Good room amenities, hot water, air conditioning and a refrigerator. The guest house is even closer to the city centre. And the price is more favourable than for two persons in a tent, a 15 $ room compared to 20 $ for camping. So, we packed our things and got on the road.

After a couple of kilometers happened something we should have gotten used to by now – we have a flat front tire.

Oh, how I do not want to deal with it again. Fortunately there’s a man about 10 meters away under a tree that repairs rubber things. So with the help of locals, we lifted the bike central fork and I took of the front wheel.

I took the tire completely off the rim to find out what’s the deal. The man under the tree cut patches from an old bicycle inner tube and glues them at the right spots. There are two holes. The pattern is the same. I found the same gash from the tire as previously. This time it’s a little longer.

I could no longer remember whether the whole tire was correctly checked over the last time, whether the gash could have been there the last time and just did not notice it or it was a new one. The whole thing with the front tire is like one big gray horror, I am no longer able to distinguish details. But life goes on. We also patch the gash and it should hold up at least until to the guesthouse. We’ve reached to the level that I don’t even have to tell Oksana what kind of tools are needed to pass or when to turn the compressor on. With the compressor doing its thing I put the tire back on the bike. We do not talk to each other this time. And this time I do not swear either. I do it wordlessly. Oksana, however, hears it. And she reprimands me, as always when my use of words is not proper. But she’s a smart girl and this time she does it without words. So, silently, we packed our tools rode on. The guest house should be only a few kilometres away. I did not remember exactly how far it was, but I remembered that it was on a street parallel to the main road leading to the city. And I remembered the place where I had to turn to the left.

 

We rode about 500 meters when the bike signalled that something was wrong. I checked the front tire, it was full. True, when installing it in a hurry a mistake was made, the direction of the rotation is wrong. But this is not a very big problem. Okay, I thought I just imagined everything. But after starting our journey again I realised that everything was not ok. We stopped again and this time the rear tire was empty. Really it was! We looked at each other and thought the same thing. Which god have we angered? We should light a candle. But to which one? All kinds of them are represented here … Hey Hey! It’s only a tire! Only a tire! A rubber tire! Rear tire! There aren’t any devils running around the bike!

I connected the compressor and hoped that I could get some kind of pressure to the tire so I could reach the guesthouse somehow. I would have time to deal with it there.

 

The sun was already low. But no, the gauge did not even move. There is no injury that can be seen from the outside. Ok. How bad could it can be. I tried to ride quietly, maybe we would find the guesthouse from right there on some side street. Oksana walked behind me. But I did not find the familiar place and the the side street turned out to be a dead end. I turned back from the houses to the main street. Fortunately, there was a smoother area where we could set up our own outdoor workshop. We needed to lighten the load so the entire load had to be removed from the bike.

I managed to get the inner tube out. It’s really damaged. There’s not just a hole. It’s shredded.

I wasn’t really worried since I had a spare. I slide my hand over the inside of the tire to check if there weren’t any nails in there but can’t feel anything. No, I did not trust myself. I could have been wrong. I took the tire completely of the rim and checked the insides.

And there it was. Diagonal, not very noticeable, big rusty nail. The nail has penetrated through the tire so that it could have been there for a long time before it made the hole.

Then, already empty, it moved on a rim and pulled out a large piece. Whatever, at least there was a specific reason. There was some messing around before I got the nail out. I couldn’t have done it without the clamps. New one on and just before dark we could get moving again.

Our new nest was about 5-6 kilometers away and we could not have managed it without further damage with a flat tire. So it was the right decision to try and fix it on the road. Fortunately, we have a warm shower, cold beer and a wide bed in the room waiting for us. We’ve arrived.

One of the longest 10 kilometers of this trip is finally over.

Dar Es Salam

Upon arriving to Dar, we stayed at a camp, located on the shore of the ocean.

The first thing to do, after swimming in the Indian Ocean, was to find out, where to find the little window that was lost from the brake pump. I had some information that there’s an ok KTM dealership in Dar. I wasn’t naive of course. I didn’t expect them to have such thing in stock ready for me. But since the front tire has taken a lot of damage and the inner tube has no unpatched spots left I decided to go and visit the dealership.

There actually is a KTM dealership here. It’s in the middle of a residential area in a private house. There’s an office in the front and a workshop at the back. It doesn’t deal with only KTM’s. It’s seems like the main thing is selling all kinds of Polaris machines – from ATVs to big buggys. Anyway, they have no stock at all. I couldn’t get any help with the brakes, since waiting for two weeks does not fit into our plans. The front tire will arrive pretty quickly. It will arrive in a couple of days. Unfortunately they asked 150 € for a Mitas E07. They found a couple of new front tires from the workshop, but they were meant more for asphalt and they were 180 €. The asking price of an inner tube was 50 €. By haggling, we settled for 30 €. I really needed it. It’s not fun to buy things at a double price. Has a bad effect on ones self-esteem. Do I really look that stupid that people can ask those prices? For comparison, I got a rear tire from the dealership in Windhoek at a perfectly reasonable price. Let’s leave it at that. By the way, they also have a couple of bikes, suitable for adventure riding for sale:

 

There are quite a number of simpler beach resorts/ lodges on the south side of the city of Dar. You can rent a room, camp and wash yourself. There’s also a restaurant. You can use public transport, either tuk-tuk or dala-dala, to commute. The last one is a minibus or a truck that has seats instead of the cargo box. You can also let a small motorbike driver give you a lift. If you find public transport unsuitable, you can drive yourself.

The traffic is for courageous people and needs getting used to but a light motorbike is the best way for getting around in the city. The traffic jams during rush hours are insane and they won’t move at all. There are working traffic lights but the traffic managers are usually out during rush hour. They are funny characters. Some just wave around, some runs along with the cars first in one direction, then in another. One even danced some sort of traffic control dance. Drivers don’t give them the time of day. They drive when it looks like they’ll fit through. There aren’t any rules for motorbikes, they move exactly the way they want.

Right in the centre of the town, next to the harbour, is a fish market. Some awesome fish there. Everything from tuna to barracuda. Oh, how I would like to buy and cook some myself. Unfortunately there aren’t any temporary living spaces with a kitchen available here (there have previously been camp sites that have had a kitchens). There are many eating facilities in the city. Lunch is served in buffet-style canteens, and dinner can be enjoyed behind tables with linens. True, the average level is rather modest. It is a shame because the choice of seafood is excellent in the sea and in the market.

 

The mystery of Livingstonia, the road to Dar and a technical update

We left the resort of the bugs, traveled a couple of hundred kilometers upstream and stopped at the Hakuna Matata campsite. It’s a very chill place. Master Willie bought some land at the edge of the lake, with an area of about a hectar, that cost 4000 dollars and is now quietly spending his old age there. There’s beer in cupboard, Martha’s cooking some dinner, what more to want. The couple of evenings spent there went fast. We discussed world events and turned out that we were on the same wavelength on some topics.

I decided to make a small offroad trip so sitting by the lake wouldn’t get too boring. I removed the cases and wrapped everything necessary so that I took only my tank bag with me. Willie, who used to make day trips to Livingstonia with his old Defender thought that the rise of 15 km should take me about 1,5 hours. To be safe, I took some water and bottle of brake fluid with me just in case. I doubted a little if the trip is worth taking. Didn’t want to risk my life and possible injuries (of the bike I mean). Eventually the desire to ride in the mountains with a lighter bike won.

The rise was difficult but not impossible. It took about 20 minutes and I was up. Since I hadn’t done much preliminary work, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean about Livingstonia as a settlement. Regardless of the fancy name, I thought that it would be just another village in the mountains. I wast really wrong either. There were some unexpected things too. The church for example. A very nice one, well taken care of and totally un-African. I’m sorry for my robust way of expressing, but African churches (talking about the building) are the bad looking. But the church there was a nice cathedral. The village itself has also somewhat more decent houses. On the central square, I saw a few buildings with the sign that said “University of Livingstonia”. At first it seemed funny, but then I ended up in the middle of a college campus. Even the students walked around. Quite surreal. I later learned, that it was supposed to be the best Malawi university. Who knows. There’s nothing else to do there but study, so it might actually be true…

I didn’t want to go back using the same road, so I decided to explore the mountain villages. It was fun! Got to see the local life and ride some interesting roads. I ended up riding a little under 100 km. And this time without technical difficulties.

The crossing from Malawi to Tanzania was pretty much stress-free (except another flat front tire). The visa cost 50 $ per person and that was it. We had set our sights to an accommodation located about 40 kilometers from the border so I tried to extend the agony. I stopped and pumped the tire after every 5-10 km and tried to reach the campsite that way. Unfortunately it turned out we also needed refueling so we needed to find a gas station for that. For some reason I hoped that you can pay with a card for the fuel in Tanzania. Well, you can’t. So we needed cash to refuel. To get cash we needed to find an ATM. So we went back and fourth. Rode for some kilometers, took out the compressor and pumped the tire, rode some more and did it all over again.

Eventually we got both cash and a full tank and were heading for the campsite. About 15 km from the border we had another flat tire. This time directly next to a police checkpoint. I was trying to stop and find a smoother place on the side of the road but … the clutch was not separating. And there’s no rear brake again. It was almost twilight already. I had to unload everything in order to get the bike to the center rack, otherwise it’s too heavy. Fortunately the Mosko casings come off easily. The front tire has been fixed so many times that I can do it with my eyes closed. It took about 15 minutes and everything was fine again.

After the tire was fixed I took on the clutch. It had shown problems during the day, so I had plenty of time to think of all sorts of thing. The work cylinder had been exchanged for about 20 000 km ago … Sigutech … who knows. Hoped that it was ok, it’s a piston with three seals after all. If the piston were to have a break, then we would be in trouble. The same, if something should be wrong with the gaskets. Fortunately I had my Magura bottle. The only problem was that it was located in a place where it’s difficult to reach without loosening some screws and bolts. It’s not overly hard, just time consuming. It turned out, after screwing off the lid, that the liquid was still there. That meant that the technical part was over, just needed to exchange the liquid. The old one really was dirty. And really hot. Anyway, I got rid of the old fluid and the clutch started working again.

The rear break. The little window that is on the side of the brake pump, had decided to stay in Africa. Oh, well. I taped it up and we continue on, now in the dark. As mentioned previously, the rear brake is a comfort brake, it’s not absolutely necessary. You can’t stop the bike with it, it’s needed for maneuvering and stopping on a slope. Or for descending at a slow speed. So no worries.

I decided to take a closer look in the morning. Everything looked clean, no injuries, just the glass window is missing. Why is the window there at all??!! I know if there’s no brakes. I wonder if there are people who look through those windows every time they go riding just to make sure every necessary fluid is there? There shouldn’t be any problems, if there aren’t any leakage. I hope that there are pumps without windows, because this one will be retiring in any case. I have brought a selection of bolts-nuts-washers with me so I thought about fixing the hole with some of them. I thought I could put a bolt through the hole, a rubber gasket on the washers, tighten and everything would be fine. Unfortunately the window is at a stupid place so it didn’t work. Since the container is just for holding the liquid supply, that means there’s no pressure inside it, I went for the simpler way. A double rubber patch (this is where some bicycle inner tube brought from home comes in handy 🙂 ), a pair of washers and tie it together with some cable ties. Looks awful. But authentic African stuff. After couple of days on the road, still no leakage.

 

 

The internet access is bad in Tanzania. It’s worse than it has been in the countries visited. You can’t pay with a card at the gas stations. You can find some ATM-s and you can even use your Master card to get money from them.

For various reasons, we decide to go directly to Dar es Salaam. For this, it takes us exactly three days from the border. The first half of the road is mostly being repaired. As usual, the front of the front tire falls flat in the evening. After some repairs we can continue.

It’s ok during the day because the visibility is good. The round-ways of the sections in repair are really though in the dark. The temporary roads are sprayed with water to prevent huge amounts of dust. This means that the roads are covered with a layer of liquid clay that is extremely slippery. In addition, you can’t see the holes underneath. Obviously not too much is spent on temporary roads and quite often there are large holes or slippery rocks underneath the dirt. The worst thing is the extremely tight traffic of huge trucks on these dangerous sections. In addition, these sections are either on slopes or on declines. Riding in the muddy clay, with a fully loaded bike, with two passengers, between trucks, in the dark … really bad, honestly. There was nowhere to stop and stay for the night. The first place was 140 km away, starting from the sunset. We ignored the prohibiting signs everywhere possible and rode on the sections being repaired. Some were pretty ok, covered in compact crushed stone. Some were even paved. There was a section that was covered with fresh tar. We could’ve probably been able to ride on a fresh new asphalt a day later. There were people still on the road on the last section that was being repaired. We were stopped by a man with a gun and in a rather decisive way, ordered us to turn back. Since it was not a AK 47, I made it look like I was doing just that, after turning half way, I turn back in the direction ahead and turn the gas. Fortunately nobody started to shoot at us. We arrived at the campsite quite happily and after some time, stay in a room again (actually a hut).

As breakfast is not offered in the camping are, we went to the nearest town to grab something. With sleeping late, it takes some time to get on the move. We were half way on Dar es Salaam and wanted to get there that day. The GPS showed that it was 560 km away so it was highly unlikely. We had another flat tire that afternoon. There was still a couple of hours of light left so I decided to see what’s going on. It’s unreal. How can a front tire break so many times??!! I’ve just pulled the inner tube out from the side and patched it up every time before that, so I decided to take the tire off completely and find out what’s going on. I was really ma. At the same time, Victor from France came on his old African Twin, on his way to the Cape Town. Together we discovered a strange crack inside the tire.

 

Sharp and deep. Just at the place where the latest injuries have been. Even the shape and angle matches. The crack or split is not through and through. From the outside, the tire is fine. Since there were no better options at the moment, I put several layers of gray tape on the crack and hope that the inner tube will stay ok for at least as long as I can find a new one.

As the tire exchange took a couple of hours, we didn’t go into Dar just yet. We stayed at a local guest house at the side of the road. It was a nice place and a room for two cost only 6 $. It even had hot water.

There are all kinds of stories going around about Dar. The robbing of the tourists on the streets was supposed to be a normal event. So we put our more valuable stuff at the bottom of the trunk and leave a big lever out from a bags lock. Good to have on hand if someone should attack from somewhere. I even prepared myself mentally for any sharper moments so there wouldn’t be any hesitations, I will not give anything away without a fight.

The traffic jams started about 60 km before the city and there was quite a lot of zig-zagging between the cars. A local biker, on some kind of older Honda enduro bike, rode ahead, so racing with him, we traveled toward the capital. We had to cross a larger national park where giraffes and antelopes were walking alongside the road. About 40 km before reaching Dar we had another flat tire. Luckily we were right next to a workshop. It turned out that the tape had moved and the inner tube had the same shape hole again. This workshop had the necessary tools for vulcanization. It took some time because of the power outages. But on the positive side, even the crack in the tire gets a vulcanized patch this time.

The inner tube has no scatheless spot. And despite the fact that I had brought plenty of patches, they are now almost gone. There are only three left.

We reached Kepepeo beach, about 15 km from the capital, by the evening. Kepepeo means butterfly. That was our goal and we will be staying here for couple of days. It’s like any other southern city. The lever was not needed after all. It reminds me South-East Asian metropolises, although Dar doesn’t seem to be very big. In general there is a similarity between Asian/Arab cities. Street food, all kinds of services right on the roadside etc.

Finally, the Indian Ocean white sand and light blue water you can see through!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The poorest countries in the world

It seems that there is a race between Malawi and Zambia in which is the poorest country in the world … 🙂 . Many people in Zambia were convinced that theirs is the poorest. The same is with Malawi. For some reason, I imagined that the living is slightly better in Malawi. I do not know why. They live near a lake lake, etc. 🙂

The exit from Zambia was fast. Get a stamp in the passport and go. Entering Malawi was a bit more complicated but we managed. It took about an hour 🙂 It turned out that if you have a Russian passport you have to go to an embassy in Lusaka and apply for a visa there  not at the border. Damn. I really didn’t want to go back to Lusaka for the third time. We actually couldn’t go either because we didn’t have a valid Zambian visa anymore. Fortunately they didn’t say that we had to apply for a Zambian visa again, go back and then apply for the Malawian visa again 🙂 In the back rooms of the border crossing point even Oksana’s passport got stamped with a Malawian visa and we were allowed to enter to another poorest country in the word. Without any bribes.

The negros are a fun race. If you manage to make them laugh a couple of times then everything is fine. Even though they are trained to be tough and rigor officials, they remain these friendly helpful people.

Let the things with poverty be as they are, Malawi welcomed us with countless ovens for burning bricks, masses of people on the roads, high fuel and accommodation prices, sugar cane and with a lake with its beautiful white sandy beach. The roads here are largely paved, which was done a long time ago. They are occasionally ok, sometimes a little bumpy. The bad part is, that the roads are sometimes long and narrow. Right at the edge of the asphalt has a 30 cm strip and then come the part of the road where people usually sell something. Whether it is corn, tomatoes, chicken or rubber bands cut from old tires. There are so many people on the side of the roads. You do not have to be in a city or village at all. People are just everywhere. However, fuel is quite rare. The next station is about 60 km from the current location and I’m already using the spare tank. The station’s supposed to have fuel and if it has electricity we can even refuel.

The first “supermarket free” country on our trip. True,we haven’t been in larger cities yet. The price level tends to be slightly higher than in previous countries. The average fee for a camping spot is 10 $, and yesterday they thought that dinner should cost 20 $ per person. I have no idea why lower standard in living almost always means higher prices.

The lake is beautiful. The main road between the south and north direction runs parallel to the lake shore, relatively far from the water however. You can’t really see the water from the road. We are currently staying somewhere in the middle part of the lake. The nature is nice here. There are a lot of different campsites. You can see the lights from the opposite shore during the night. The shore is not visible during the day.

As in many other African freshwater areas, Lake Malawi is at risk of being infected with Bilharzia’s parasite. Quite a nasty thing with a long hiding period. However, it’s easy to cure. According to the locals, it’s not found in the middle of the lake; the greater chance of getting infected is in the south of the lake. The water in this place is moving, but the parasites love stagnant water. But there’s always a chance, it’s all one big lake after all. In any case, I took a dip in it when we arrived. Today one of my hands is swollen and itchy.

There are all sorts of bugs in the dry land as well. Since there is a lot ow sweating, we’ve come to a habit of washing our underwear when taking a shower in the evenings. The tent cords are suitable for hanging clothes. When putting on my underwear in the morning I felt something biting my delicate parts. It must have been a funny sight for the locals – me running around naked trying to shake of the ants that had gathered in the clothes during the night. I wouldn’t mind watching that movie myself 😀 . There are mosquito like bugs in the air too. There’s on kind that travels with wind in huge swarms.

For example, you sitting on the terrace with your omelette, drinking coffee and suddenly your eyes, chest hair and coffee are full of insects. Such gentle and ineffectual, don’t bite or anything. There’s just a lot of them.

The front tire is still a problem. I don’t know how many times I’ve patched it already. Yesterday the tire went empty in the middle of the densest crowd. I was overwhelmed with the courtesy taught by the Western world. Hellõu! Hau aar juu?  Without waiting for the answer (I often don’t even want to answer), they answer the question themselves with aim fain is to and immediately all the rest of the english learned in school comes out of them. Ver juu from? Veer juu from boss/söör/mister? Aa/ee/oo/mööö  …Australia, veri kuud söör/mister/boss. How the fuck do you think I feel if I, once again have a flat front tire and one hundred of your relatives ask the same question, and ther wether is 34 `C? But I can only think that. Look at another person asking the same question, see the open and sincere smile, and you respond  as always, aim fain. It’s not his fault that I came to his street and punctured my tire.

While searching for a campsite I met a Dutch woman. She’s living here, shared a lot of interesting information and asked us over for a drink tomorrow. There’s nothing else but Fanta to bring with us … 😀 . From the information shared by the woman I found myself a challenge, the city of Livingston.

The city itself is not a big deal, rather a village with a fancy name. But the road there should be something that might suit me. Google map is also promising, a chance to expect something interesting. If you are interested, look it up from the map yourself 🙂. I will try to enjoy it in real life.

By the way, the previous serpentines in the northern part of the South Luangwa National Park have proved to be quite legendary. In various conversations it has become clear that even with 4×4 SUVs, the road is taken on with several machines and winches. Surprisingly, many know where they are and talk about how an acquaintance or a friend’s friend has been in trouble there. A famous place

Finally, a picture of Mr Happyman:

 

Another overview of technical stuff

Firstly, the brake fluid started to boil in the mountains. I have had that happening before but not with this bike. I changed the liquid before the trip and still it somehow overheated too quickly. After descending for only about 100 m and before the harder part even begun. There is little need for the rear break in general. I hardly ever use it on the highways, it slightly balances things on gravel and sometimes I need it while maneuvering in the city. One of the reasons for overheating was fully-loaded bike. But on the other hand, loads at high speeds are sometimes even bigger …

DOT-4 was easy to find. The second place we went to the day after reaching asphalt had it. All it took was to add some oil and air it out. Fortunately, the cuffs of the pump are all intact and there’s no sign of leakage. I exchanged the pads to be on the safe side even though they are still in good condition. Kept the old ones as a spare.

About 200 km before Lusaka, after taking a small break, the engine kept acting up. Playing with accelerator made it possible to get the speed up, but it was hard work. There was a road repair on a long strip of road when entering Lusaka from the north. Dusty roads, deadlocks and with a protesting engine – the ride was almost as hard as the one in the mountains a couple of days ago. The engine had sounded weirdly a couple of times before that, the neutral has gone missing and the bike has tied. At first I thought that fuel was the problem but it turned out to be the filters.

So I took on the task of changing the filters:

I managed to bend to get the crashbars back into decent shape using the help of some stairs, not as complicated as it had seemed at the beginning.

The front tire has gotten quite a few punctures or nails or something like that. The rear one has had nothing at all. It’s usually the other way around.

The front left brake disc has started to clatter  https://www.youtube.com/watch? That makes me a little anxious. I haven’t been able to come up with a good solution so far. Trying to go over the rivets in the next couple of days, maybe it will work.

Besides the problems mentioned, everything else overall works. Oh, I side bag was slightly damaged during a fall in the mountains. Fortunately the bag itself is fine but it has a flap on the side which now has a hole in it. And I no longer have any air filter oil.

Offroading and other adventures

When we left Mufalir, we had an ambitious plan of traveling through the South Luangwa National Park to Mozambique/Malawi. It took about two days to get to the park. We arrived on the evening of the second day. We turned off Great North Road exactly at 15.20. The road to the last village before the border was about 45 km away and we covered the distance pretty quickly. A gravel road, it had it’s good parts and also not so good ones, nothing special. A steep descent started after passing the last village. Like really, the steepest descent of my life. After the first 100 m we lost the rear breaks. The break fluid started boiling and even sprayed out from time to time. The temperature outside was 32 `C. I stopped to think what to do next.

Only a couple of minutes after that some angry men from the last village caught up to us and claimed that I had ridden through the checkpoint. Well, I didn’t notice one, but so be it. The last rainy season had washed away a street and while looking for a road I just didn’t notice it. At first they threatened to arrest us, but 10 minutes later we left as friends. They left to be exact. I remained, thinking a way to get down the hill without rear breaks.

GPS showed that there still was a good way to go down. As Oksana had already been walking down the hill some time ago, i decided to continue as well. The front break was no use. As soon as I started breaking I fell over. Then I tried to go town the hill with the engine off, clutch down and the bike in first gear. It worked somehow. Just had to get used to that the bike started braking when I let the clutch out not when I pushed it down like it does when using the front brake. So I continued going town the hill very slowly, falling several more times. These falls were partly deliberate, the incline was so sharp and there was no other way to control the bike. The rocks, the size of a head of a small child, made everything even more difficult.

It took about two hours to get down. It was already dark when we arrived. We knew that a campsite was about 15 km away. That was our goal. We were now in the territory of the National Park. The tracks of elephants and their sometimes very fresh droppings were a silent reminders of that fact. The path continued in soft sand. I was tired and knowing that if we were to meet an elephant, things would not be good, made it worse. I wouldn’t be able to turn the bike around quickly enough in this deep soft sand. It wouldn’t help either because I wouldn’t be able to ride fast enough in the sand anyway. There were thin bushes everywhere so nowhere to hide. All that was left to do was to hope that the noise of the engine kept the tuskers away.

Riding in the sand tires quickly. The descent itself had already been hard. The morale was going down. At one point a SUV came up. I tried to find out how far we were and what the road ahead is like. The poor negro was so frightened to see us that he but the truck in reverse, backed up a dozen or so metres, turned off the sandy road and drove with a wide arc, partly through bushes, around us. He didn’t even open a window. Damn native.

The bike kept on falling more and more. The engine overheated and the red light was on. After about the tenth fall we decided to put up a camp. There was no energy left. It was about 19.30 and we’d been messing around in the dark for over an hour and a half. We left the bike in the middle of the sandy road and put up the tent on the edge of it. Fortunately there was enough water in the tank under the saddle so we could drink as much as we wanted and rinse off our armpits. The water was hot though but still good we had any. We didn’t have any food with us but we didn’t want any either. To reduce the fear of the wild animals around us, we emptied half a bottle of wine that was left over from the night before. It was good and too bad that there wasn’t any more. I had time to think that I wouldn’t dare to go peeing outside in the middle of the night and then I fell asleep.

We woke really early the next morning. It was 5 and everything was quiet. It was unusual because so far there had been all kinds of noise in the national parks we’d been before. We spent another couple of hours in the tent, just in case (the big cats were supposed to be hunting in the mornings 🙂 ). We discussed what to do next. We knew what was behind us but had no idea what was to come ahead. I remembered the sandy paths of Okawang Delta and the current one looked the same. We considered different options. The only concrete information from our electronic devices and from our own experience was that the fist settlement, a camping of the National Park, was 80 km away. We only had the word of mouth from the last village that there was supposed to be a campsite about 5 km away. The map didn’t confirm that. Going forward, there was going to be 80 km of all sorts of wild animals, going back – about 10 km of sandy roads and a steep and hard rise.

We made a decision to turn around and to go back. Since we had risen early we had the hole day to get back up the hill. Well rested, the mood was better and so was the outlook. The road was full of fresh elephant tracks. It was evident that they had been walking around about 10-15 m from our tent during night. Fortunately, we did not meet any of them. The rise was exactly as difficult as I imagined it. Without a rear brake, it was almost impossible to stop. At one moment I discovered the instant stop button. If I wanted to stop, I simply pushed it and the engine stopped. The bike was in first gear anyway. I kept going up about 100-150 m at a time. Fell. Pushed the bike back up and rested. Waited for Oksana to reach my location, drank some water and tried to get moving again. Getting moving again was extremely complicated because of all the loose stones or because the front of the bike wanted to come off the ground. If you managed to get moving, all you had to do was to try with all your might to stay on the bike and push the front down until the next fall. It took about 4 hours to get back up the hill. One fall was a bit more serious. I fell on top of some sharp rocks. Fortunately the drop bar happened to be in the right place and took the bigger hit. It bent out of place about 10 cm but everything important stayed safe. I was not hurt.

Too bad that the pictures don’t show the actual tilt, and it seems like the road is fairly straight. The actual slope was so steep that I slipped and fell on my but a couple of times while walking down.

Finally, we managed to get back up somehow and the losses weren’t very big. The biggest damage was done to the camera. I dropped it in the sand from my tired fingers and some sand got into it. Fortunately the zoom and shutter started moving again after some cleaning. The guys from the check-point said that the good road had been only a kilometer away. The sand was supposed to end there and a good paved road was supposed to go on from there. The campsite had been about 3 km away. I will go back at some point and finish what we started. Some regret left there.

Since we didn’t want to ride all the way (about 600 km) back to Lusaka, we decided to reach the border of Mazambique through the Nort Luangwa National Park. The maps showed some roads and people around confirmed their existence. We arrived at the northern gate of North Luangwa in the evening. We gathered information on the road ahead. Wanted to know if we were able to get through the park and how the road conditions were. The answer was pretty encouraging but we were warned about some “challenges”. They promised to fill us in in the morning.

There was only option – staying in the campsite right behind the gates of the National Park. The only feedback we had about the place were strong recommendations of not staying there. We had no choice. There were nothing in the campsite. Just a dusty area to put a tent up. No electricity, no water, nothing. We didn’t mind though. We sat by the campfire and enjoyed a cool evening. We were the only visitors. There were two about 20 year old boys who warmed us some water that they brought from the river, poured it in some sort of drum overhead so we even managed to have some sort of shower. It was nice. This nice feeling came to an end in the morning when we received a bill of 40 $ for this grandiosity. The most expensive campsite so far had cost us 10 $. We had usually stayed at places that were about 7-8 $ and included a shower, a toilet, a restaurant, a bar, electricity, internet (which is usually bad and allows you to read only the headings of the e-mails), sockets for loading any kind of equipment, kitchen with pots and pans, grills, etc. 20 $ per person on a dusty square seemed just funny. Obviously, we did not intend to be subjected to such extortion. The boys shrugged, saying the manager had given them that a sum, the manager is not here at the moment and there is no one to argue with.

Ok, so with nothing else to do, we quietly put the camp together. I discovered that the front tired had gone flat during the night and I changed it. While the compressor was doing its thing I looked around a bit. There was a small road along the river that went straight to the big road. The entrance to the campsite was about a 100 meters away. We took it and got away from that place. The only regret I have is that I would have liked to pay the boys for the warm water they provided us the night before. But 40 $ seems too much and since there was nobody to argue with, then so be it.

After hurrying away from the campsite we were once again in front of the gates of the National Park. They wouldn’t open the gate and were led to the courtyard where we were supposed to pay a fee for staying in the park. 84 $ for two people. For sleeping on the other side of the gates on a dusty lot. I still had adrenaline rush from escaping the campsite. There was a sparse brush next to the barrier and hard soil. We fit through and the ditch next to the road was also shallow. The noise behind us went quieter with every passing second. I kept looking in the rear view mirror for the next dozen or so kilometers but nobody followed us. There were no other choices left. Tanzania on the right and Lusaka on the left. It was still too early to go to Tanzania so we headed for Lusaka once again. We got a room for 30 $. I should say a house even 🙂 . We stayed for two days 🙂 .

 

9000 km: some technical issues

There’s about 9000 km and two months since the start of our journey.

I’ve decided to replace the shabby rear tire with the Mitas E07 bought from Windhoek. The current one gave out after the first 3000 km but since the roads have been dry, I decided to ride with it for as far as it would go. The last couple of thousand kilometers were asphalt and I had a spare, so there was no fear of staying helplessly on the road.

While I was changing the tire I noticed that the plastic protective plate under the Rade tank had moved forward about 5 cm. At one point, when we were in Namibia, we were a bit careless and the rear wheel got some of the heat. Apparently it was bad enough to move the protective plate. Because both the protective plate and the tank itself have a so-called wheel dent, the displacement also brought the protective plate down. It’s a hassle. A part of the plate is also broken, the part near the place where the tank’s fastenings are. It’s not a life-or-death kind of issue, it’s just a distraction when you know that everything isn’t in order. In order to correct the matter properly, it would be necessary to disassemble the entire rear end. That would mean some broken or over-turned bolts, and it’s likely that the task would be stopped at that anyway. So I solved the matter in a simpler way, and hope it will work in the long run. The test ride was ok, how it will be when there’s two of us on the bike, remains to bee seen. I adjusted the rear shock suspension so it would be stiffer, maybe this helps too. By the way, the pre-load valve or lever or whatever it’s called, of the rear shock suspension is stuck again. It’s in the worst place. It’s not like I need to use it at the moment, but I couldn’t if I wanted to anyway.

Since the tank under the seat has not been used for fuel so far, I decided to use it for water. We’ve been able to get water everywhere on the road so far, but it has sometimes run out while camping at night. There’s no faucet and I closed the tube with a 6 mm bolt. Well there’s a faucet but it’s for gasoline and the opening is too fine and water runs through it too slowly. On the other hand, can’t say that it’s not working.

The brake pads are still about 30% on the back and 50% in front. According to memory, the same situation was at home. Backups are on hand, so no worries there.

There was a small problem with the Scottoiler and the chain got some more pain then I wanted to. The hose went through between the back tray and side leg (I changed the side legs position). I helped to push a tire of the rim of a fellow roadie and the hose of the chain lubrication system got pressed together. I used a tape as a temporary fix, but some air got caught in it and the oiling system didn’t work properly. I got a piece of pipe with the necessary diameter from the water tanks airing hose and put it over the oil hose. It wasn’t leaking anymore but the air bubble was still caught inside. So I had to dismantle it one more time and cut out a damaged piece. It’s finally working again as it should.

The fastening for the changing of the side legs location that I ordered from the United States turned out to be a surprisingly soft metal. For the reason described above, it bent so much that the bike was almost on the ground. I took it of at one of the campsites and managed to bend it with a slightly larger hammer. It bent with every hit. I assumed that it was made of proper steel but was disappointed. The small diagonal connection on the inner side was also disconnected from the welding. This is something ordered from CJ Design.

Complaints must be sent both to Rade’s about the tank guard plate and to CJ Design’s for the side-leg attachment. But, on a larger scale, there have been very small and third-rate problems.

By the way, while changing the oil (some time ago) I was really surprised. The oil was clean, didn’t even dirty the hands.I would have poured it back from just looking at it 🙂.

The tent has become a great friend to us and I no longer remember when was the last time we slept under a stationary roof somewhere. The debate about finding the best tent that took place in a forum on Biker.ee was very helpful. Fast installation, fast compression, very voluminous, good ventilation, suitable dimensions when packed … I dare to recommend it. It has not been tested in the rain yet, hopefully it wont be either 🙂