The motorcycle started to feel unstable and like jelly, so I pulled over just North of Bartendu. Sure enough, it was a puncture. I set to and started to change the inner tube to discover the rim lock was damaged and four metal pins had pierced the inner tube. See the bottom of the rim lock in the photo.
A local man was watching and offering help and advice, whilst a group of children sat on the roots of a tree protruding from the ground. Once finished, I bought some food and the chap invited me to eat the food in his house.
Saying goodbye to his family, I got back on the road. An hour later, the unstable and jelly like wobble re-appeared on the rear wheel. Couldn't believe it. Very frustrating! My repair to the inner tube had failed. It was 1630 and would be dark by 1900. Knowing that the previous inner tube change took 1 hour 30 and I also need to find a place to camp, I pushed my motorcycle off the road and setup camp out of sight from the traffic.
I had two rear inner tubes with punctures, so I worked until 2100 as one required multiple patches and the patches wouldn't stick to the other tube. I finally repaired one tube then pinched a new hole whilst putting the tyre onto the rim with the tyre levers. That was the point I decided to get some rest and continue the following day!
The next morning, I mended both inner tubes. However, whilst fixing the punctures, I pulled out a tyre lever wedged between the rim and tyre and it smacked my mouth. Hitting my lip and gum, it narrowly missed my teeth. Drew a small amount of blood, but nothing serious! Alas, back on the road again.
Later that day, I had another puncture. The repair hadn't worked, and the inner tube deflated. I had removed the damaged rim lock, because it had caused a previous puncture, and now that had caused the tyre and inner tube to move around the rim that resulted in the valve being ripped out of the inner tube. A catastrophic puncture as I don't think the valve can be repaired! I now only have one rear inner tube with no spare. The good thing is I was super quick this time and it took just one hour from getting off the motorcycle to getting back on again after replacing the inner tube.
Arriving in Macenta, I was soon stopped by a policeman who asked to see my passport and vehicle registration. He looked stern and the muscles across his cheeks and jaw were tight and tense. He talked in French and I soon figured out he was demanding a cash penalty for riding the wrong way through a one-way road. The policemen held my passport and vehicle registration to ransom. I said sorry as I didn't know. He pointed to an obscured traffic sign. My observation that it was obfuscated wasn't noted. He kept mentioning his commander, so I took photos of the sign, and was ready to speak to his commander! Whilst engaged with the policeman, a group of about 50 people had amassed around us to watch the events unfolding. Can you see the red sign with a white bar through it in these photos?!
A gentleman arrives and shows me his police ID. His rank sounded high. He spoke slowly and simply, and I learnt there was a one-way system around the town centre. He said I could leave without paying the penalty and my documents were returned. I heard him he say tourist to the other policeman, which is what I am and it was a genuine mistake.
Before leaving Macenta, I checked my rear tyre pressure. It was low. My heart sank because this means another puncture and I have no spare inner tubes. Adding more air somehow reduced the tyre pressure, so I decided to find a hotel and resolve the puncture problems properly. A moto taxi appeared next to me, and after explaining my predicament, he offered to show me a nearby hotel.
I jumped on his motorcycle and the first hotel was under construction. The next was too expensive; however, we got chatting to a couple nearby and they said I could pitch my tent for free. Fantastic! Francoise and his wife even fed me that evening with his family and friends.
Francoise asked if I liked beer... it soon transpired that he owns a nightclub and I was camped 15 metres from it. He showed me the nightclub, which could accommodate 60-70, had a very loud sound system, and was stocked with beer, gin, and whisky. Sleeping opposite wasn't too bad with noise. A neighbour's generator fired up each evening and drowned out some of the music, and I also had ear plugs.
The following day, I met lots more people who were intrigued by what I was doing. These two young boys helped me fix the inner tube and purchase new inner tubes from a local shop.
I managed to pinch an inner tube when levering the tyre back onto the rim, which resulted in an instant puncture. Frustrating, but easily done. I returned to the shop and sheepishly asked for a new one. Of course, they asked why, so I explained and they simply smiled.
On our walk back, I decided to have someone repair the inner tube. A local moto tyre repair shop created a patch from an old tube and repaired the inner tube. Fascinating to see an elderly man set to action because he was clearly experienced and skilled at this.
It was a relief to have fixed the puncture and have spares ready too.
After all work was complete with the puncture saga, new kids were hanging around and were very intrigued by me and my tent. We had a laugh whilst I was repairing holes in my tent.
I finally left the campsite/nightclub on Christmas morning and headed towards the Ivory Coast border.