Foray on RN3 in Gabon

· 262407139919 min read · gabon mud nature clutch

I'd heard of a fantastic place to camp on the RN3 with views into Lopé National Park, so I went on a foray to find it. En route to the start of RN3, I was in need of a cheap place to stay so I could wash properly. My first find in Ndjolé was way too expensive; however, they suggested trying the hospital. That's where I met Tom, the hospital's laboratory technician who lived on site. Tom was a dude! He let me camp outside his apartment. His wife offered to wash my clothes, which was very kind, but I explained they'd be dirty in a few hours once I was on the motorcycle!

The following morning, Tom wouldn't accept any money from me for staying. As I said goodbye, he was in the lab and explained his work. He gifted an HIV test kit, similar to pregnancy tests and the malaria kits that I have. A really nice guy.

Arriving at RN3, it was a spectacular start through dense forest.

RN3, Gabon. RN3, Gabon.

Rain had eroded the bank at the side of the track leaving a precarious gap eating into the track.

Rain eroded part of track on RN3, Gabon.

The track suddenly emerged onto grassy plains and hills. I wasn't expecting this! Very beautiful and a welcome relief from forest.

Grassy hills on RN3, Gabon. Grassy hills on RN3, Gabon. Grassy hills on RN3, Gabon. Grassy hills on RN3, Gabon.

The slightly moist track soon became muddy. No deep puddles like the RN5 though. As I was escaping a particularly muddy section, I could smell my clutch. Not a good sign at all. Immediately, my clutch was now slipping lots. Seems like the clutch was overheated.

Tightening the clutch cable can alleviate the problem a bit so it's usable, but I only had 1 mm of adjustment left. This means new clutch friction plates are needed.

I rode conservatively to the camp spot. It was just what I had hoped for! The view into Lopé National Park was stunning.

Camping outside Lopé National Park, RN3, Gabon. Camping outside Lopé National Park, RN3, Gabon. Camping outside Lopé National Park, RN3, Gabon.

As the sun was disappearing, I saw a very long diesel cargo train running along the perimeter of the park. Resting in my tent, I heard humming. A very small bird hovered inches from my tent. It came and went several times. Perhaps it was searching for a place to rest? Going to sleep that night, I could hear the gentle sound of the river, almost like feint white noise. Stars were visible by 7 pm.

Returning along the RN3, my goals were to ride conservatively and investigate costs of items to repair the clutch and courier rates. Less enjoyable riding with this on my mind but I was still in good spirits!

Camping outside Lopé National Park, RN3, Gabon.

I reached tarmac and took a look at the bike. It was caked in mud on the bash plate. Well over an inch thick in the middle!

Reaching tarmac at end of RN3, Gabon. Caked in mud after RN3, Gabon.

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