A cold but brief coastal ride from Hentie's Bay and I arrived in Swakopmund to meet Evan and Jaakko for a beer or two, braai, and motorcycle maintenance.
Evan and Jaakko showed me how to bleed my brakes. Straight forward to do, but new to me. I'm keen to learn everything required to maintain and service my motorcycle myself. Here's Evan (bottom) and Jaakko (top) with Jaakko's Yamaha XT660R.
It was a Saturday and a German festival was in full swing on the street. The people of Swakopmund were very hospitable. Once we got chatting to people and revealed tales of our adventures in Western and Central Africa, numerous people bought drinks for us. Ended up at a nightclub in a warehouse on the edge of town. Good fun!
Having seen few tourists in Western and Central Africa, I noticed a distinct change in Namibia. There were people on holiday here and staying at the backpackers hostel.
I'd left a pannier on the ground next to my motorcycle ready to be secured the following morning. The next day, there was a strong smell of urine on the fabric bag. I suspect the resident cat.
Riding to from Swakopmund to Windhoek was exciting for me because I was riding with people again. The last time was Côte d'Ivoire. Stopping at a view point on top of a mountain pass, we met a group of overlanders in 4x4s who offered us cans and bottles of Coke!
Whilst enjoying braai and beer at a hostel in Windhoek, there was a sudden commotion at the main gate to the hostel. A car had pulled up and two ladies were mugged just before ringing the buzzer to enter the hostel. No one was hurt, and very unfortunate.
Having spent the previous week in two cities, I was raring to ride. We headed for Spreetshogte Pass, which was fantastic and another great viewing point.
Lots roads in Namibia are hard packed gravel. In the North, I saw trucks maintaining the gravel roads. The gravel roads can be a bit dusty/sandy and quite rough when riding on corrugations aka wash board. Vibrations rumble through every inch of the motorcycle and rider. Riding fast over that corrugations makes the motorcycle skate over the top, which lessens the harshness of the rumbles.
Sometimes, the handlebars can started to wobble/ oscillate while riding on corrugations. A very unnerving feeling. If it gets real bad, it's known as a tank slapper, or death wobble. Accelerating is the key to escape this because it lifts the front wheel up and reduces the wobble. It happened several times but only very mildly.
The wobble happened again. This time the wobble became progressively worse. I tried to accelerate but I was flat out in top gear and my twist of the wrist unleashed no more power. Over the 5 seconds, the oscillating handlebars become uncontrollable, and the back end had now started to snake left and right. Knew I was in trouble. Couldn't think of anything else to do.
I was doing about 50 mph and I think it was 40 mph when I came off. Didn't feel any serious pain.
I lifted the motorcycle. A quick inspection of the motorcycle and it looked fine. A huge relief. The top box had suffered a large crack in the plastic, but I plan to replace soon anyway.
Adrenaline wore off. It was now apparent that I wasn't badly hurt. Just some pain from my back and chest.
The real casualty was my food supply. Boiled eggs were cracked and spread across the dirt along with my sweating block of cheddar cheese. The eggs and cheese were laid to rest at the side of road, but the bread was salvaged.
Here's soon after the fall. Note the marks left on road from where the motorcycle hit the ground and dug in.
We weren't too far from Sesriem, so I gingerly rode to a campground there. That evening we ate boerewors cooked on the braai with the salvaged bread and a few beers. A relaxing end to the day except the bread was heavily soiled and the grit was very difficult to eat. We left most of the bread.
The next day's ride was met with apprehension about the same condition of road. No option other than to ride! Fortunately, I could feel very little pain when riding.
Some small changes to how I rode put me in a better situation to overcome wobbles in the handlebar. Dropped down a gear, so I can accelerate out of a wobble. Stood on the pegs more often (can be fatiguing) to lower centre of gravity. Within a few hours, I had regained my confidence and I felt safer on the gravel track.