Our plan for Praia de Bilene was to chill out with some beers and seafood, catch up on the blog and wait for our buddy Mark who had been kidnapped in Swaziland. We had planned to meet up in Maputo and ride north together into Malawi but Mark got hassled into the back of a car by some bikers and driven to Cape Town (about two thousand kilometers one way) for a week of parties and motorbikes. So we had a few days of waiting to do for him to catch up, which was fine as we had stuff to catch up on as well.
One of the many sellers on the beach
Day 1 went perfectly to plan sitting on the beach drinking a few beers tapping away on the laptop in the cool sea breeze. Day 2 was mostly ok too, starting in the same vein with some productive blog writing but finishing a fair way off the rails. When we arrived at the campground we got talking to 2 couples who lived near the Kruger NP in South Africa, and they invited us up to their holiday cabin for some prawns and a drink or two.
Chilling on the beach like a nerd
On the way into town to buy some prawns and rum, we got to meet our camp neighbours for the first time. Walking back and forth from our camp to the beach we had noticed a few bikes there but we had never been in the same place at the same time, until now. There was about 6 bikes and a 4×4, and serious collection of empties of the rum and brandy variety. We got chatting for while before walking into town for supplies, where we met a cranky old prawn seller who got quite upset when I tried to put a 1 litre bottle of water on her scales because I was convinced she and her scales were completely full of shit. When she suggested that a kilo of prawns weighs less then a kilo of water, that observation was confirmed…
Check out the spectacular moonrise over the lagoon!
With her refusing to weigh the water and with us having no other option for prawns as the sun was setting and everyone else had gone home, we haggled harder and bought ”2.5kg” of large sized prawns for about $20, which we later confirmed to be about $12 a kilo (a bit more than the price for large prawns in the Maputo Fish Market) after we got the package accurately weighed at 1.75kg, so it wasn’t so bad in the end. Tan still went back to her and gave her a piece of her mind in Portuguese though, and we bought our seafood supplies elsewhere from then on.
The ladies cooked up a storm
Even though the prawns cost a bit more than we would have liked, they still tasted great. Sarlette and Jackie expertly cooked them while Obars, Andrew and I drank a fair amount of South African Brandy and Mozambican Rum. So much so that struggling through the next day was really quite an issue, although it was worth it as Obars’ President Zuma impressions got better and better as the night wore on. “Listen, Listen!!”
Someone’s got a camera! Quick! Look serious!
Yeah, alcohol will do that to you. Obars the JZ impersonator on the left and Andrew on the right.
Tan with Sarlette and Jackie. Their end of the verandah was much more civilised.
After our recovery day, we caught up with our neighbours again who were always seated around their braai with spirits and mixers safely within arms reach. I mentioned I would be keen for a ride and they were keen for a beer, so we rode over to a bar on the other side of the lagoon through plenty of soft sand for a sundowner, about 13km one way but a good ride fun ride and made the beer worthwhile. That afternoon, and especially the evening, started a bit of a routine where we would sleep in our tent in our allotted camp site but hang around our neighbour’s braai drinking cheap Mozambican rum (about US$5 per bottle) and eating meat generously supplied in carnivorous proportions.
The bikes on the edge of the lagoon while we have a beer.
Quiet time together on the beach at sunset. Very romantic.
A 4WD came down the track onto the lagoon edge just as I was coming up, so I had to quickly pull over. Just as well, I noticed that John and his HP2 weren’t behind me anymore so turned around and went back looking…
And found this, John took an alternative route through a stream and it was deeper than he was expecting. The HP2 has a very very low air inlet, so he stopped and waited for a hand to turn his bike around rather than risk drowning his beauty. Of course, I got a photo first.
Antonie and his 1200GSA. He knew how to handle this big beast in the sand…
We spent the following afternoon driving down to the beach through the dunes in one of the guy’s Toyota before Mark finally caught up with us the that evening. Mark was instantly taken in like Tan and I were and we were showered with a mountain of meat skillfully braai’ed and all washed down with “R and Rs”, rum mixed with raspberry soda. Basically alcohol, sugar, red colouring and lots more sugar. I found myself reverting back to rum and coke as it was nowhere near as sweet, and that’s saying something.
Talking shit around the braai. Quite a lot of this happened.
The Hilux in the dunes on the way to the beach.
Tan and I in civvies and in a photo together. A pretty rare occurrence.
Me and the fellas.
More talking of shit.
Cocktails. They were drunk.
A big piece of rump nearly ready to be marinaded. Mmmm.
Braai master Leon and his creation just coming off the grill. This was some damn tasty moo cow.
Mark made it just in time for a proper “out-ride”. While Tanya stayed behind as her right shoulder was still recovering from her donkey prang and not near strong enough for a beach ride, Mark and I got up pretty early, let down our tyres and headed north on soft and sandy twin-track. About 40km later we made it to a lighthouse looking over the mouth of the Limpopo River where it empties into the Indian Ocean, a massive river which originates thousands of kilometers inland and marks the border firstly between South Africa and Botswana and then South Africa and Zimbabwe, before entering Mozambique and making its way to the ocean.
John and his HP2 on the way to the lighthouse.
Just arrived at the lighthouse where we would meet Antonie and Herman on the 1200GS’s
The view from the top. The bat guano smell to get up the tower to the top was pretty intense.
Meanwhile, Tan was in the Hilux on their way to the beach to meet us. Got two hands? That’s wasted capacity unless you’ve got two beers!
Mark and I rode with Leon and Johan on a pair of BMW HP2’s, and later Antonie and Herman caught up with us on a pair of BMW R1200GS’s after taking a less sandy route north to the river mouth. We snuck our way to the beach and stopped to regroup before starting to head south. Technically it’s illegal to ride on the beach in Mozambique and if caught by the authorities they can confiscate your bike, so we all agreed to immediately chuck a u-bomb (translation for non-Aussies: to complete a U-turn) and fang it (translation for non-Aussies: to drive a motorized vehicle swiftly) if we spotted anyone wearing anything remotely resembling a uniform.
Regroup before hitting the beach. “If you see any flashing lights, leg it!!”
I had started the day with 12psi in the front tyre and 14psi in the rear, which in the past has generally worked pretty well in soft sand. About halfway to the lighthouse I let 2psi out of the rear as it wasn’t hooking up, and now as we were about to get on the beach I let out another 2psi as it was still spinning. I wasn’t liking the Heidenau K60 Scout very much at all at this point it must be said. My MT21 front at 12psi was behaving nicely, in my opinion it’s a great do-it-all road legal knobby, but the K60 rear in the sand was highly disappointing, even for a 50/50 tyre. I was hoping that now down to 10psi it might go a bit better.
Mark and Rosie
The DR and the two HP2’s. You can see how low in the sand the K60 was digging, and this was just on the beach. We hadn’t even got to the dunes yet.
It didn’t. But it didn’t matter so much as we were having a great time screaming down the beach at 90-100kph. I took the DR up and played on the edge of some of the dunes and was weaving down the beach when I spotted a very large mound made by a surf rip. Problem was I spotted it just as I crested it at probably 90-95kph. This mound was pretty damn large, maybe 1.5m tall or maybe taller even, and the bike and I flew. Far. Very far. Because I was goofing off weaving from right to left I hit the crest of the mound at an angle so I landed all crossed up. But I managed to hang on, probably more due to the quality suspension then me, and backed off just a whisker to let my heart rate recover slightly. It was an arse puckering moment. Mark was just behind me as it all happened and by all accounts it was pretty spectacular.
The two GS’s catching up
Where we were going; South
It wasn’t long before we had finished the 20kms or so of beach riding to where we would have to make our way up over the dunes and around the lagoon back to the campground, via the pub of course. The guys wanted to get their Beemers up on top of the tallest dune so we all proceeded to have a go. The HP2’s had plenty of power to motor straight up, and even Antonie on his GS (on knobbies) got on top. Mark and I on our underpowered 650’s both fell short and bogged on our first attempts, so we went back and changed tact slightly and came at it from a slightly different angle.
Me trying to back the bike down to turn around. Mark, full of optimism, was still trying to get his piggy to the top
The KLR. Half tractor, half trench digger.
I got the DR around and was ready to head down and have another crack
Mark’s KLR was a fair bit harder to turn around from its starting position deep in a hole
Downwards we go
My second attempt ended with more trenching digging and eventual bogging, so I went back down and let out more pressure from the rear. I attacked that bloody dune every way I could imagine but just could not translate enough of the DR’s meager power reserves into traction. I let out more pressure. And more pressure. But it didn’t help, the K60 is just too hard and the tread pattern too compromised, and it just spun. I either needed more power with the limited amount of traction I had, or more traction with the limited amount of power I had. But with 43hp and no traction, it just wouldn’t go. Mark made it with a bit of pushing from the guys at the top of the dune and his relatively new T63’s supplying plenty of grip, but the K60 just couldn’t manage it. I kept letting that tyre down and down to the point where I wasn’t brave enough to let it down any more, but it just never hooked up. Frustrated, I went to the pub. A few days later when I went to inflate it, I found that I’d let it down to 5.5psi.
Me throwing the bike at another dune as a tester
Mark having another go at the big dune
Heading down the beach for another run up
Trying a highline
It was easier to just push the bike over, drag the front around and then stand it back up
From there the day went essentially to script. We drank cocktails out of buckets. We went back to the camp. We sat around the braai. We were treated a variety of meaty goodies. And we drank too much. There was more and more of the same the next day. Over the previous 3 or 4 days we had been treated to lamb ribs, seasoned rump, beef sosaties (kebabs), prawns, and a variety of other bits of pieces all braai’ed to perfection. But the issue now was that our diet was consisting entirely of meat and alcohol. The train derailment which was now my intestinal tract was suffering badly. It was time to go.
Catch up on the beach
Too much chit chat and a big wave broke. Ah shit
Final attempt. Get up into 3rd gear on the beach then turn sharply inland
Hit the high water mark and get a heap of air. Shame we didn’t get a photo.
Land it and get on the gas again.
Get on the gas hard. Screaming in 3rd gear here, the bike is all crossed up but you gotta stay on it
There was a stretch of hard sand where the tyre would hook up and the bike would put a lot of power down. The front wheel is actually in the air here
Still hard on the gas with lots more dune to go…… The bike is in soft sand by now and the rear tyre is just spinning.
and more and more dune to go. No hope.
The fellas got up early the next day and were all packed up and gone by 8am sharp as they had claimed the night previous, their military training and discipline was obvious. We on the other hand faffed about until lunch time then hit the road north. It would take a few more days yet for our digestive systems to recover from such an intense protein diet. These guys lived by the rule that the only things worth consuming were the following 5 foods, and they were beef, lamb, pork, prawns, and spirits; usually brandy but rum was an acceptable substitute when holidaying in Mozambique. If you need a salad someone could always bbq some chicken; that is if you are that way inclined.
Mark at the pub
Being a reputable establishment there was an outdoor strippers pole. Something was wrong with the stripper though
Rum and raspberry served in a bucket. What could go wrong?
The group on the sauce
This fresh water crossing was a nice place to wash off some of that salt
Mark nearly drowned his bike and himself after going in way too fast.
Bikes heading home
The local industry, the people here make anything that might sell. These models of cars are quite good, with working doors, suspension and steering
Dirt bike made out of wire, fake leather, and the tyres and tightly wrapped black plastic bag
Deboned lamb rack. OMG this was good…
Mark talking shit and being given a penalty shot by Leon.
The guys all packed up
The gang. See ya fellas! Awesome riding with you!