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Matt Snyman

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Matt Snyman last won the day on January 29 2015

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About Matt Snyman

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    South Africa
  1. South America is done and dusted! Ship leaves tomorrow for Panama!

    1. Eric Hall

      Eric Hall

      Finally in North America!

  2. Look! A Video! What is it like to talk an amazing amount of crap on a ride through Colombia? Well here is the first person experience, complete with the most unadulterated, monstrous amount of crap ever spoken on a motorcycle. The beautiful in-helmet intercom audio is all thanks to our Sena 20S intercom system and Sena's audio-pack for GoPro, we just wanted to do a little demonstration for you guys on this magical device, works like a charm - Enjoy! www.greatamericantrek.com
  3. Well, it's not ALL tunnels, but there are a lot of them in there - Canyon Del Pato in Peru
  4. Hey! We are two South African doctors busy riding from Argentina to Alaska (with Africa in the pipeline once we're done) Just put together a video of us blasting through Peru Have a gander!
  5. Waititng for parts AGAIN. This time in Colombia

    1. Eric Hall

      Eric Hall

      Gotta slow it down :)

    2. Matt Snyman

      Matt Snyman

      If I slow it down anymore Im going to have to start paying rent!

  6. Are you a real adventure biker or just a shameful, charlatan and pitiful fraud!? Recently there has been a generous amount of violent disagreement pertaining to the definition of adventure biking. What makes it ‘adventure biking’? Is it the type of bike? Is it where you ride it? Do you have to camp? Do you have to leave the country? Well good news is here! I can help! I have managed to define adventure biking, and I have decided to impart this ground-breaking knowledge unto you. The water is now clear and all is well in the jungle, ‘order’ has been restored. Through thorough, highly scientific, and precise collaboration, and under the influence of a range of substances, my carefully assembled dream-team of adventure bikers has managed to formulate a decisive list. This league of extra-ordinary gentleman (and gentle… women) originate from a host of different countries, and from all walks and crawls of life. “Home’ ranges from Africa, to Turkey, to Italy to ‘I’m pretty sure I’m from Arizona’ and many more. Washed and unwashed, veterans and rookies, holiday makers and hobos, even going so far as to include one Honda rider (but not two); all opinions were carefully considered and peer-reviewed. I present you with this new modern marvel, a first for world peace and what I hope to result in a Nobel prize: YOU ARE AN ADVENTURE BIKER IF! : You have said at least once: ‘I’m sure somebody will drive by soon’ You’ve put your bike on a boat (essential) You consider, with great deliberation, whether you really need a third pair of underwear Your motorcycle and the term ‘resale value’ are mutually exclusive You have caught yourself viciously bargaining with people over US$ 10c on repeated occasions You have a picture of yourself with some guy in military uniform and a floppy hat holding a massive automatic weapon (essential) You can tell the difference between 85 and 90 octane by smell A local has informed you that the road was completely flooded or a bridge had been washed away, but you still had to see for yourself… after trying to convince them otherwise Yeah, I think the bridge might be out... You have lost luggage off the back of your moving motorcycle It probably came off because you packed it like THIS You’ve been carrying the same 500g bag of rice 1 meter from your body for the past 3 months and will carry that same bag of rice for the next three months You have had to ride through herds of animals (essential) – extra points if they are wild animals Martin from TR15A rides past a herd of tarted-up alpacas You speak to other motorcycle travellers about buying tires like they are hardcore drugs e.g. ‘I heard you can get Pirelli’s really cheap from this guy Jorge in Medellin, he has the really good stuff’ A one-way street means NOTHING to you. Or a pedestrian-only market, those also mean nothing to you You have sneezed viciously and messily inside your helmet and just kept on riding Your GPS has repeatedly tried to take you up and down flights of stairs, and every time you still catch yourself looking up the flight thinking ‘I reckon I could pull it off…’ You have eaten something which is considered a pet in most developed countries Mich about to dive into some tasty guinea pig You hide valuables inside your boots because no sane human being with even the slightest stitch of self-respect would dare to venture near them You have packed you entire kit before realising you forgot some crucial item, after which you seriously consider just leaving it behind and buying a new one because its such a damned mission to pack They have had to wash the actual wash bay after cleaning your bike This was one of those times You can intimately describe over 20 different types of mud… by taste. This mud tasted like regret You have spent time editing high-level media on vastly inappropriate hardware in a ridiculous surroundings Megan editing RAW photos on a Macbook Air whilst stealing electricity from a street-light in an abandoned park, just another night on the road You’ve convoyed with cyclists for security reasons You’ve trusted someone to guard your bike who has an annual salary of less than a month’s gas money You’ve matched letter shapes with those on a map because you have so little clue of the native language You’ve convinced yourself that your GS actually handles really well on sand (mine actually does though) See? Perfectly capable in the sand You’ve listened to, and agreed with opinions contrary to the Geneva convention merely to satisfy your drunk host You can turn any conversation (including political or religious) into one about motorcycles in under 30s You have mastered the ability to eat any known food group through a full-face motorcycle helmet You can fart whilst riding sand and not shit your pants You haven’t seen an original official document in over 3 months Half the resale value of your bike (not saying much, see point no. 4) is hidden in the frame You have ruined a dorm room for all the other inhabitants And this is just me on my own in my own room, imagine two of us with five other people in here... You have become completely comfortable with your body odor after 5 days without a shower You have viciously panel-beaten a pair of expensive panniers with the back of an axe You have received the advice: ‘I think you should see a doctor about that’ You have waited out a bribe by dodgy police for over 40min because you were merely too stubborn or poor to just pay the bastards You’ve sat on a disgusting toilet seat thinking that’s its probably cleaner than you anyway At least 35% of your motorcycle’s dry weight is made up of cable ties and duct tape You have performed major surgery on your bike, in the middle of nowhere, possibly in the rain, with absolutely no trainingPeru... my faultChile - also my fault Because of the deplorable state of it, you have asked a local if you could please NOT use their toilet and use the garden instead. Which for one of the panel, resulted in them having to relieve themselves off a bridge. He felt you should know this… You have gotten into numerous very awkward situations because you don’t speak the language, this includes ordering ketchup for your french-fries and being presented with a beautiful bowl of hot tomato soup instead. You have crossed more than one international border with forged paperwork or a fake number plate My numberplate has taken a beating - still the original one at this stage, or what's left of it. It is now a laminated piece of paper that is impossible to read You have attached an over-sized, highly overboard weapon to your motorcycle Readying the weapons! Sharpening up for the jungle with newly acquired machetes A secret, well disguised, mutual hatred of backpackers You have provided smiles to numerous poverty stricken children by seating them on your still-running bike (essential) Mich takes a young'n for a joyride in the Selvas You have unsuccessfully fixed a puncture more than once Sweating like a champ to change an inner tube in the desert You have crossed an abnormally large body of water on your motorcycle without testing the depth beforehand You have contracted severe, life-changing diarrhoea on a big riding day or on the top of Machu Picchu You drop your bike at least once a week, and something breaks on it at least once a month This is a REALLY common sight MOST importantly of all, and the only absolutely essential item on this list: You are an adventure biker if you KNOW you are absolutely rad whenever you are on your bike, and wouldn't have it any other way Ladies and gentleman... Mr Ed Gill Now please people… this is a work (of ART!) in progress, so if you have anything to add, please let it be known in the comments section and it will be met with serious consideration to be added to the list. Although hard to believe, it is impossible for the panel to hit every mark the first time round Let us know what you think should be added! Thanks in advance – I am off to change my name in attempt to get off of Interpol’s watch list, which I am undoubtedly headlining after this article. Hey… at least I’m headlining something. Consider the floor OPEN! Thanks to our expert contributors: Matt Snyman Megan Snyman Martin Lampacher Mich the German Ed Gill Erdem Yucel Michnus Olivier Josh Smith Chris March Erich Rennspies And our various part-time consultants… A good few additions to the list were just put together by Jason and Lisa from Two Wheeled Nomad - give it a read! - 2 wheeled nomad
  7. Thanks for the kind words Bryan, we are blessed to able to follow this dream
  8. We teamed up with some other adventure riders to tackle a route through the Amazon in Peru - - - 2 weeks of madness ensued Just a short part of our trip from Argentina to Alaska Have a look at let us know what you think in the comments!
  9. On the road again! Blastin through Peru at the moment, next stop Cusco!

    1. Eric Hall

      Eric Hall

      ride safely on those new shocks

  10. So here is the first of many packing lists still to come. Lots of people have been requesting these, so we thought we would start with our “first-aid” kit – as two doctors, what we made is not really a first-aid kit, its slightly more, sort of a Frankensteiny resus kit. Important stuff to remember: You must take a script for all medications and include it in it’s associated zip-lock bag just in case. Very important, is how to package pills for a motorcycle trip, especially an off-road one. With all the moving and shaking all your tablets will turn to dust in 30min if you don’t package them tight. We put them into pill bottles and then filled the rest of the bottles tightly with foam, so nothing can move around, then sealed the top with insulation tape to prevent anything getting wet. This was a lesson learned through experience But anyhow, here you go, this is what two doctors think you should take on an extended motorcycle trip. Let us know if you have any questions or recommendations, maybe we forgot something – a medical kit is a constantly evolving thing: no medical kit is ever complete! Hospital in a bag Doxycycline 100mg dly (script needed but you can get one from any travel clinic if they know you are traveling to a malaria area) – Malaria prophylaxis – the cheapest, easiest way to prevent malaria, we are going to spending a lot of time near malaria, so we have a 3 month course each inside that little bottle. Luckily, its also the treatment for tick-bite fever, and if you’re that way inclined… STDs Adrenaline – 2 x 1ml vials: For dire emergencies involving anaphylaxis (allergic reactions) or shock. As a non-medical professional, you can get an epi-pen prescribed for you, its just crazy-expensive: an epi-pen is ±R1000 and a vial of adrenaline, which is exactly the same thing, is R1.. Probiotics (interflora – can buy over the counter): Essential when taking antibiotics to replace the ‘good bacteria’ in your gut to prevent associated diarrhoea and general crappyness – also good for normal diarrhoea Flagyl (Metronidazole – script needed) (4 courses): An antibiotic for bacteria that causes traveler’s diarrhoea Also flagyl (traveler’s diarrhoea is no joke people!) Alzam (20 tablets) (Xanax – definitely need a script): An anti-anxiety medication, for Meg’s fear of flying and any trouble falling asleep Inderal (6 tablets): Beta-blocker also used for anxiety (not essential for every medical kit and script needed) Prednisone 20 x 5mg tablets: For allergic reactions – (script needed) Augmentin 1g (4 courses) (amoxicillin + cluvanic acid – script needed): A broad spectrum antibiotic for a broad spectrum (duh) of infections and sicknesses Augmentin Augmentin Even more Augmentin Tweezers Mosquito forceps: Can be used to grasp and clamp off bleeding vessels in a bad injury, grab small foreign objects, and can even be used as a tool when working on the motorcycle engine with small parts Artery forceps: Can be used for the above, as well as for stitching to hold a needle Scissors: Cut stitches, clothes, bandages, etc etc. Thermometer: Used to diagnose a fever as well as monitor it’s response to antibiotics Gelofusin: An intra-venous fluid that is given via a drip to replace large volumes of blood loss. This might seem a little drastic, but as doctors on a motorcycle trip, we just don’t want to be without it. Not worth taking if you don’t know how to use it – can be dangerous if given incorrectly Lignocaine: local anaesthetic for sutures or any other owie that requires it – script needed Iliadin nasal spray: a bocked nose can be a real bitch (any decongestant spary can be bought over the counter) Tears natural: For dry or irritated eyes, or if your in a weed-legal state Swimmer’s ear drops: Clear water out of your ears Variety of pain killers, from mild to just below horse-tranquilizer – includes: Stilpayne (Codeine and paracetamol – script needed) Panado (Paracetamol – over the counter) Tramacet (Codeine and Paracetamol – script needed) Oxycontin (codeine – scedule 6-7, definitely needs script) NB: We haven’t included any Aspirin or anti-inflammatories here as I (Matthew) am severely allergic, otherwise a really good idea and can be purchased over the counter [*]Gaviscon tablets: For heartburn. Its bound to happen [*]Canestin cream (cotrimoxazole – over the counter): For a cookie-itch (thrush) [*]Burnshield 100×100 dressing: for all sorts of burns, with a hot exhaust around you can’t be without this! [*]Dressing pack: Plasters – variety, important for blister prevention / relief Sterile blades – variety of uses including cutting loose skin from wounds, draining abscesses, shaving hair around wounds etc. Steri-strips – stitchless wound closure for small wounds, or for those who can not suture wounds Variety of sutures – for those who can Opsite – basically medical clingwrap: to cover exposed wounds to keep them clean or to secure an iv line etc etc [*]Jagermeister: Why WOULDN’T you carry Jagermeister!? – no script needed [*]Burnshield gel tube and lamisil: Burnshield once again, this time in a gel form, so you can apply to wound and cover with a different bandage Lamisil (Terbinafine ointment) in case of any athlete’s foot picked up in dodgy bathrooms [*]Variety pack: Burnshield 25×50 dressing 2 x sachets of vital protection (washed in with clothes to offer 3 months of mosquito-repellant clothing) Rehydrate – important to combat dehydration, drink when experiencing diarrhoea or vomiting, Condoms (variety of uses apart from the obvious very important use) [*]Syringe and needle pack: 1 x 10ml syringe (for diluting adrenaline) 2 x 2ml syringes (for administering lignocaine) Various needles (also useful for removing splinters etc. Gelcos in various sizes (for inserting iv lines) [*]Vital protection spray – mosquito repellant, also lasts for 3 months after applied to clothes and tent [*]Variety pack 2: Chloromycetin eye ointment (chloramphenicol – script needed): for eye infections Vermox 500mg stat (Mebendazole – over the counter): for, you guessed it… worms (and other parasites) Augmentin 375mg – milder course of Augmentin Ciprobay (3 courses) (ciprofloxacin – script needed)- antibiotic for urinary tract infections, and travelers diarrhoea [*]Anusol: For haemorrhoids. It happens, and its even less fun when you have to ride a motorcycle for days on end [*]Savlon: General antiseptic solution [*]Variety pack 3: Tampon: also a variety of uses, including stopping severe nose bleeds, whilst inducing hysterical laughter in those around at the time. Can also be used to plug a large, bleeding puncture wound Dental floss: Used as floss, emergency suture material, or as thread to sew on loos buttons etc – very strong Ear buds: Remove foreign objects from eyes and wounds and for applying ointments Toothpick – because it doesn’t take up any space and Megan wanted it – use pending… Bandage clips x 6 Safety pins x 10 [*]Plastic zip-lock bags: the uses for these are infinite, a vital thing to take [*]IVI line – for putting up a drip [*]Variety pack: Betadine antiseptic ointment Water for injection x 2 – to dilute adrenaline Alcohol swabs – also infinite uses, including cleaning a site before injection or lancing, cleaning a small wound, cleaning skin before applying a plaster etc etc etc. Primapore : Wound dressing Gelonet: wound dressing for wounds where there is a danger of the gauze of the dressing sticking to the wound (burns, grazes) [*]Malaria kit : 2 x rapid test kits (can be bought at a travel clinic) Instructions Co-artem tablets 200mg (artemether/lumefantrine – script needed) for malaria treatment before you get to a hospital [*]CPR barrier device: For giving CPR to a stranger [*]Rubber gloves: For working on people and bikes, keeps off blood as well as grease [*]Crepe bandages [*]Variety pack : The tummy stuff: Immodium (Loperamide – over the counter) x 24 tablets: Diarrhoea + motorcycles = not cool Buscopan (Butylscopolamine – over the counter) x 20 tablets: Stomach cramps Desolex x 20: Antihistamine with no side-effects of drowsiness Valoid (cyclizine – over the counter) x 10: Vomiting, nausea, and motion sickness Maxalon (Metoclopramide – over the counter) x 20: Vomiting and nausea Motilium (Domperidone – over the counter) x 10: Also for nausea, vomiting or bloating [*]Sterile gauze: for dressing wounds [*]Elastoplast [*]Compression dressing (self-adherent): for strapping sprained joints and sore muscles, stopping bleeding, and securing bandages [*]Corenza Para C (I’m allergic to aspirin remember): For colds and flu [*]Space blanket: For hypothermia and shock [*]Sanitary pads: highly absorbent wound dressing for bleeding wounds [*]Movicol (Macrogol – over the counter): Because constipation is arguably worse than diarrhoea [*]Dettol wet wipes: For general hygiene and cleaning your dirty paws [*]Another crepe bandage (75mm) Not included in the picture (but also important): Antihistamine ointment Citrus soda sachets (for urinary tract infections or heartburn) Flammazine ointment (for continued treatment of burns ie. from 24 hours and after burnshield has been used in the immediate treatment) Although the above seems like a lot, its really really important, and only packs up to: So it all packs up pretty small Once again: let us know in the comments if you have any questions, recommendations or advice ~Matthew
  11. They say adventure is only glamorous in retrospect… The sky was overcast and ominous as I headed away from Sani Pass. I could already feel butterflies in my stomach at the prospect of heading into the unknown all alone. Sani Pass and its lodge, bar and backpackers are still very civilised, very well known, and very close to the South African border. I had heard lots and lots of stories about Sani and seen millions of pics, but now, the trip was actually starting, and I could feel it strongly. Happy, but nervous to be on the bike again I made my way into great wide open, now with a pathological fear of having another puncture. Heading away from Sani with the weather coming in The weather started to worsen, the thermometer on the bike showed 0.0 degrees C, with a grey sky that was quickly darkening, and light that was fading. Then it started to rain, soon with increasing intensity on an already waterlogged, mud road. With the rain also came a cold mountain wind. Slipping and sliding over the wide, muddy roads, and steadily beginning to feel the cold, I made my way further up the mountain, gaining altitude as I went. When I look back at the GoPro footage I had taken from the helmet-cam, it had already been noticeably snowing for some time already, but I only realised later when I saw it against my black glove. To see the snow was very unexpected for me, it would be my first time riding though snow and I was really excited (oh the irony). I saw the snow as a blessing, and when combined with a beautiful view and a great rainbow I was overcome with relief and felt crazy-chuffed with myself for overcoming the hard morning I was having (Pffft! Hahaha!). Noticing the snow for the first time, I was still excited about it at this stage… Beautiful view and a rainbow before it all went to hell And now for a phrase I’ve been waiting to type most of my life: LITTLE DID HE KNOW the unsuspecting biker had completed the relaxing, warm, dry, morning stage of the ride. And up I went. The weather got infinitely worse, and so did the road. Freezing temperatures, driving rain, snow, sleet, and hail (yup, that’s right: hail) made the ride unbearably uncomfortable, and to add to this, not only had I not attached my winter or wet layers into my gear, but my both my phones were useless. I had absolutely no reception and no-one knew where I was. This would prove to be one of the hardest parts of the journey mentally, which came as quite a surprise to me. The greatest source of my stress throughout the ride would be the idea of what my wife and mother might be going through back home after not hearing from me after I had promised to check-in with them daily. This theme played through my head for the majority of the ride, and I think the mountains taught me a great deal about the effects our decisions and our well-being have on our loved ones, and seeing things from their point of view. It taught me to worry about my safety not for my sake, but for theirs. Anyway, enough with the touchy-feely fluff and back to the ride. The road was a bloody disaster and I was colder than a well-diggers arse, it had gone from a wide, muddy, dirt highway to an uneven, narrow, rocky pass, with very slippery mud and a sheer drop on one side. All then while the weather continued. In one clear, God-given few minutes, the weather held up to a drizzle, and after psyching myself up, I pounced off the bike, took of my jacket and my pants (not at the same time obviously- that would be insane) and zipped the waterproof and warm layers into them, shivering violently. In this period I even managed to put on a dry shirt and swap my gloves out for a dry pair with some glove liners underneath, whilst this was happening, two local girls walked past me and shared a very awkward moment with a half-naked, pasty-white South African in panic-mode. The last shot before my battery died, it only got worse from here on By now, the weather had started up again, it was becoming so foul that it became dark, and the sun ‘set’ at about 16:30. It was soon pitch dark, made worse by the weather, the road, my lack of cell coverage, the massive mountain and the fact that I was alone and no-one on Earth knew where I was. I was beside myself with a whirlwind of worry, and no matter how I rode, my destination didn’t seem to get any closer. I pushed into the night, counting kilometer by kilometer through the muck and the cold, never before have I had to work so hard to motivate myself to keep on going, even though stopping was not even a vaguely an option. So I carried on following my orange headlight through the night through kilometer upon kilometer of windy mountain roads. Soon, in the absolute middle of nowhere, I came upon a massive half-constructed highway overpass, very odd since the only nearby road was the crappy little one I was on, which went under the bridge. It made a very impressive scene, which was very post-apocalyptic in nature when viewed with a bit of imagination. As I rode under the huge concrete bridge I noticed that it provided amazing shelter from the rain as well as the wind, so for a moment I shared a thought with my own brain: ‘are you thinking what I’m thinking?’. I was desperate for shelter and rest, it was now about 20:00 and my destination was still a long way off. I would have to put up the tent again, it would be very cold. With the bike stopped I looked around, it was deadly quiet, and pitch dark, no workers, offices or any signs of life. This place looked completely deserted, had I made a wrong turn? Where was I? I suddenly had an intrusive, unwelcome thought about the movie “The hills have eyes”. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. We ride on! Immediately! And so I pushed on, it felt like forever, but before long I saw lights, lots of lights. This had to be Thaba Tseka, the town before Katse Dam, and I have never in my life been so happy for my tyres to hit tarmac – I even did a little dance and accidentally ran a stop-street to celebrate. The thought of pushing on further to Katse dam seemed ridiculous at this point, a bad idea. And as I was thinking this, I saw a sign. The illuminated words ‘lodge’ were an absolute God-send, I rode in without delay. Met with a large, sopping wet man in full motorcycle gear, shivering, with red eyes and a filthy face filled with panic, the staff looked at me like an alien had just walked through the door. They were the most amazing people, immediately I had a room, the manager let me use her own cellphone to call my very relieved wife and organised me dinner when I was ready. For Thaba Tseka this is extremely impressive and was very unexpected. I didn’t even realise how cold I had gotten, it had gotten to the point where it could have become very dangerous medically. This became apparent when, after peeling off my mud-soaked gear, I was still freezing cold and shivering after 15 minutes in a boiling hot bath. I warmed up, I ate, I drank hot-chocolate, and I slept in a warm, dry bed, where I could remember the idea of the overpass without regret. Buggered… finally in Thaba Tseka My Thaba Tseka room didn’t know what hit it… In the morning I missioned off to the local PEP store and bought myself a sim-card with a Lesotho number – I was back in the loop and back on the radar. The benefit with being so close to Katse Dam was that I could take my time that morning, and really enjoy the ride. When I started the ride again it became apparent to me what I must have missed the previous day by riding in the dark and the ‘hell-on-earth’, I must admit, I was a bit sad about it, and still am. The ride consisted of windy, open gravel road, every turn had a better view than the last. It felt like a massive luxury to have the sun on my back, and be able to stop for a drink here and there, play with kids in the villages, and be near-assaulted for “sweeties”. Life was damn good again. This is Thaba Tseka – All of it. Majestically introducing scenery – one of my many talents This is the pass that I rode to Thaba Tseka: it’s much more relaxing from afar The sweetie monsters Most were very camera shy – not this guy Before long, the beautiful ride led to Katse Dam, absolutely beautiful, and now I could see it properly. That night I ate like a king at Katse lodge’s restaurant with fancy 4x4ing families and followed it up with a dinner of junk-food in bed reading Jupiter’s travels – amazing. At Katse lodge I stayed in a dorm, I was the only person in a massive, echoey dorm, with communal bathrooms and a good creep-factor, luckily I couldn’t be bothered this time round and I had a blast, I did my washing and my room even had a powerful heater that managed to dry all my gear and even scorch one riding sock, what a win. The GPS was being really helpful all the way to Katse Dam And finally, I made it – Katse Dam wall My dorm at Katse, not even slightly creepy. This was the view from the dorm window – too cool My awesome turbo-heater, doing a great job of drying out the gear Coming up in Part 4 (The last one): Some of the best, and most satisfying riding ever, an amazing African ski resort and an unpleasant encounter with a taxi to bring to ride to an abrupt end – For more on The Great Amertican Trek visit: www.greatamericantrek.com
  12. Stranded in Sucre, Bolivia with revoltingly slow internet waiting for a new rear shock. Cant wait to get moving again!

    1. Bryan Bosch

      Bryan Bosch

      Did you make it out????

    2. Matt Snyman

      Matt Snyman

      Still waiting, luckily Touratech Peru have a shock, but expensive and time consuming getting it sent to Bolivia- holding thumbs we can get it here soon and without bankruptcy!

  13. Matt Snyman

    Northen Chile

    Our Northern Chile leg - on our trip from Ushuaia to Alaska
  14. Yup. Sani Pass. But we’ll get to that later… What a great feeling… Having forgotten where you were and where you had lain your head, to wake up and realise you are on holiday, alone with your motorcycle, with days of awesome riding and adventure ahead of you and Sani Pass to climb after some brekkie. I was as happy as a pig in sh*t. Once I had overslept, and arrived at the breakfast table I decided that, seeing today I was crossing a border, it would be a good time to try and organise international roaming, permission from insurance, a letter from BMW, change my daily withdrawal limit so I could withdraw all the cash I needed for the next week, and buy a toothbrush, which I had left at home. The joys of traveling without a woman to organise your life.Amazingly, most of the above worked out OK, and I couldn’t be bothered about the ones that didn’t, the mood was just too good. So I waxed the chain, filled up the tank, popped on the GoPro and whipped off down the road to tackle the great Sani Pass, that I had heard so much about. Waxing the chain: not as rad as gleaming the cube The tar road to Sani Pass is a work of art. With no sarcasm it is literally one of the best tar roads I have ever ridden. It is in beautiful condition, brand-spanking new and is made up of an awesome set of twisties – made for a motorcycle. After a short bit of scenic dirt road I reached the border, disappointed to not see my friend there from the previous night, according to the other official he had called into work ‘sick’. The tar road to Sani – smooth as a baby’s bottom and nearly as wide as Kim’s Finally, the dirt has arrived After the mandatory touristy ‘look where I was’ photos, I hit the road with my serious-face on ready for the gnarly stuff. Now I don’t know who of you reading this article have ridden up Sani Pass, but I spent the whole trip waiting for the technical stuff. Now, it is steep, but maybe it used to be worse? Maybe all the Chinese contracting companies have ironed out most of the kinks? I’m not sure, but I like my dirt roads a little bit ‘kinky’. If anything makes Sani Pass a difficult road to ride, it is the sheer beauty of your surroundings. The need to stop and take it all in hits you every 100m, it hurts to keep on riding sometimes, past some of the views it throws at you, and we all know how dangerous staring at a beautiful view can be when trying to ride a heavily-laden adventure bike up a steep dirt incline on the edge of a cliff. It is really, really breathtakingly beautiful, and so refreshing to finally feel like you are on your way to leaving the beaten-track. Granted: The road did get worse after this… Touristy photo number 1 – Ya gotta do it though! Touristy photo no. 2 – You HAVE to! A tight turn: You have to place the camera on a tripod, turn around on a steep gravel incline, ride past, turn around again, ride back, and pack everything up again, for. every. single. shot. Evidence of road works: not great constantly having to overtake these guys only to have them pass you again at every scenic spot. Trucks, trucks, trucks. On the way up the Sani pass, it is really beautiful As you go up it just starts getting better, some of the most magnificent views I’ve ever seen And there’s the valley you come out of At the top of Sani Pass is the Lesotho border post, as you see it, you will instantly realise “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas (South Africa) anymore.”. I will never get tired of that feeling: a mixture of panic, pleasure and new things. And this is the Lesotho side. This is why people do adventure-biking. I cheerfully got my passport stamped and headed over to “The Highest Pub in Africa” at Sani Mountain Lodge for a pint, albeit a mighty-expensive one. This one beer turned into two, which turned into three, which turned into lunch. By this time I thought to myself that it might be a better idea to camp here, than to push, it was already past 13h00 and I wasnt in the mood to rush through a beautiful landscape and amazing riding. I wanted to take it all in as it should be. After trying to convince myself I was doing the right thing, yet still feeling heavily defeated, lazy, and soft, I set up my tent in an open area of the mountain and lay down for nap. What a lazy bastard. Everyone’s heard of ‘helmet hair’, here’s your chance to see ‘helmet beard’ Sani top: ‘highest’ pub in Africa (excluding Afriski – sshhh) Spot the sticker! We made it onto the bar— The entertainment at Sani Top: They’re no Deep Purple, but they’ll do Setting up a tent alone in the wind, you gotta have skills My camp spot – all done (sneak a look at that rear tyre) And my view from bed Sani Summit – that’s Sani Mountain Lodge on the far right (the one with the pub) After setting up my tent and putting on some jeans I went to meet and greet some the passers by in the backpackers and the camp-site. This is another great advantage to traveling alone. When traveling in a couple, or with friends, I find one tends to make fewer new connections, and meet fewer new friends. The social bubble of our familiars is a comfort and sense of security, but at the same time it is limiting what you take in and who you meet. Among the people I met were three hikers, who had been hiking for 11 days through Lesotho, and camping in the wild with 3 days left to go, an awesome bunch of people (and absolutely nuts, they made my solo bike trip look like a Sunday drive). There was also a group of Afrikaans ministers and preachers doing a 4×4 trip, and a large group of bikers who had come to ride Sani Pass. The majority of the bikers were doing their first trip on the dirt and having their first camping experience, and they were loving it. Being on my own and probably looking like a bit of a sorry sight, the guys took pity on me, they fed me, boozed me, and entertained me to no end. I was very thankful not to have to subject myself to lonely baked beans on the camping-gaz in the cold that night, a braai, a fire, and a beer would do just fine. My “windswept’ pose – had to put this late in the post in case it gives people a fright and they stop reading Before I hit the hay, one of the guys noticed that my rear tyre was completely flat. After a torrent of foul-language topped with a ‘whatever, its future-Poodle’s problem’, I decided to wake up at the crack-o’-dawn and deal with the problem then. Below freezing in the middle of the night on soft soil, filled with beer are no conditions in which to fix a tyre. I was up at 05h00. I got the bike to hard, flat ground, and started to work. Initially nervous about doing this on my own, I was surprised at how easily I managed in the beginning and my confidence was up (oh just you wait!). After repairing the puncture and feeling inside the tyre for any protruding nastiness I replaced the tube, wrestled the tyre back over the rim with valuable help from one of the hikers, who had spent time leading overland truck tours through Africa. As it turns out, Sunlight dish-washing liquid is a winner in this department. After getting the wheel back to the bike and hooking up the compressor, I quickly realised there was still a leak. So back to the start I went. What had happened was a thorn had lodged itself in the tyre in such a way that it only protruded when the tube was pumped up against it. By now, everyone was awake, people were keen to get involved or just watch the escalating scene I was causing. The scene was getting progressively more embarrassing too. It took 30-45 minutes to get the stubborn thorn out of the tyre, after which the new leak also had to be patched. Once hooked up to the compressor, I realised there was still a leak, the new patch hadn’t taken completely. By now the black powder-coat on the rim was scratched from the tyre-levers, my tools were everywhere, I was hungry, gatvol and fast approaching the “Lord, why have you forsaken me” stage, after having left the “what the hell was I thinking” stage behind me. Thankfully, and to my huge relief, the new patch worked. After about seven hours (yes, seven hours) of struggle, my bike was once again ready to roll. I have learned to look at these sorts of difficulties in a positive light. With The Great American Trek rapidly approaching, I now see these experiences as learning opportunities, they make me better, and they prepare me more thoroughly. At least I would have been there already when this happens to me in the middle of a foreign continent. Not only this, but I think it also strengthens ones resolve. Especially on your own, this sort of struggle will do wonders for your mental strength if you manage to solve the problem, which you will, you have to… The ‘men-of-God’ who had been staying at the backpackers were kind enough to share their cooked breakfast with me and make me some fresh coffee, so after some chatting with the hikers, some cheering up and calming down, I took to the road once again. My technical difficulties had resulted in my departure time being delayed to somewhere around 12;30, but the weather had warmed up a bit and the Sun was shining, so I didn’t zip my waterproof and warm layers into my riding gear (rookie move!). I headed out in good spirits on the muddy road away from Sani and through the mountains. I was oblivious to the fact that what awaited me was the hardest day I would ever experience on two wheels. A little taste of Part 3 – hardest ride I have ever done to date Part 3 to follow shortly.
  15. Lying in wait - patiently biding my time in Chile unti we get to ride into the Atacama to watch the Dakar Rally!

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