Blog 2 by Tan
After a wonderful nights stay in the palatial honeymoon suite (complete with double open air showers and the most scenic of views afforded from a toilet seat I have ever come across), we reluctantly moved on to experience some more fantastic dirt road riding through mountainous Zulu country. I managed to survive some tricky descents without the aid of a rear break which Mick went on to fix the next day after I suggested leaving me with no rear break was his attempt to turn this trip into a free wheeling bachelor adventure. The riding was world class and the views got better and better around each bend. Unfortunately the better the view and the better the riding, the less chance of taking the time to take photos so you’ll just have to trust us that the views were a notch above epic.
Just as we got on to the tar road approaching the famous Zulu battlefields we had our first mechanical misadventure of the trip. My bike started to hesitate, which I later learnt to be the correct terminology for the problem when the bike starves for fuel. My first attempts to describe the fault to Mick where met with befuddlement; apparently my description of the bike “going like ‘rrrehhhh then like ruuurrghhh’ and it pulls back” didn’t quite cut it. We suspected a fuel issue (or at least Mick did, I suspected gremlins or voodoo), so off came the luggage, sides, and tank. Upon seeing a quite loose spark plug, Mick thought that might be leading the motor to lose compression and be the cause of the problem. So that was tightened and everything went back on and the bike started again.
The time lost on the side of the road had us hightailing it back to Stuart’s house in Peitermeritzberg, but not without my bike protesting within about 20 minutes with the same symptoms. It came to a stop in Tugela Ferry, unfortunately not the best place for an impromptu visit. Once again everything came off and the carb, fuel lines and fuel filter were drained and the source of our woes revealed itself. Water in the fuel was to blame and we were on our way again.
We spent the next two nights with our trusty guide Stuart where he and his family treated us with wonderful hospitality. For Stuart’s last day of motorbiking freedom before heading back to work we decided on a unencumbered blast up Sani Pass. With all our luggage sitting in Stu’s garage we were able to enjoy the riding to its fullest. The road up to the highest pub in Africa is rough and fun but not crazy and winds steadily up through the southern Drakensberg Mountains, aptly named for the resemblance to the spine of a dragon. The views were astounding and only improved the higher you went.
Thankfully there was no ice or snow on the road which can be common in winter (thanks, global warming!), but we still had to negotiate some very loose, tight and steep (never a good combination) switchbacks towards the very top of the pass. Mick ate them up for lunch. I did not enjoy them quite as much, especially on the way down where I demonstrated my displeasure by momentarily overheating my newly functioning rear brake. I should mention that Mick valiantly rode my bike the rest of the way down so I had the security of both functioning brakes – my hero!
After a fond farewell to Stuart we headed back to Zingela Safari Lodge to pick up some gear that we had inadvertently left there. Naturally we were happy to return to stay with Linda and Mark whose kindness was only exceeded by their incredible story telling ability. It was that evening that I succumbed to the most wicked of flus, which saw us staying at the park for another 6 days. We were spoilt rotten during this time and I spent most of my days sleeping, coughing and taking baths in a divine claw foot bathtub overlooking the river. No, it was not all bad.
Once I was feeling up to the challenging riding required to leave the game park we were on our way, though it must be said it was hard to tear ourselves away from our little oasis and second home. Sadly, after a 100% giraffe spotting success rate anytime we got on a bike at Zingela, we were snubbed by the giraffes on our way out of the park. Oh well, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad.
After a quick snoop about the Anglo-Zulu battlefields of Isandlwana and Rourkes Drift (that was for you Dad), plus lunch and a look at the museum at Dundee where we were surrounded 3 or 4 deep by local school kids gawking at us and the bikes, we made our way to Howick to stay with Charlie and his lovely family. A fellow traveller and motorbiker, Charlie contacted us through HU with the offer of a bed and access to a well-stocked shed, which we were in dire need of as Mick’s bike had recently stopped charging. Some quick investigation revealed that the stator had come loose after its modification in Aus. There was damage to the stator by the flywheel, but was fixed with some dexterous soldering and extra epoxy. Hopefully it holds up.
The highlight of our time here by far was been introducing a friendly group of South Africans to the joy and wonders of a mean Sticky Date Pudding whilst they recalled their favourite quotes from the classic Australian movie, “The Castle”. We certainly approve of these South Africans! Next up on our travels, we are going to Bonny Doon! No no, unfortunately not, but we will head back for a much better look through the Drakensburg and into Lesotho where I am sure we’ll enjoy the serenity… “Ahhh the serenity”.