Friday, October 9, 2015

3 Breakdowns and a Nun

[​IMG] Enjoying a coffee while taking in the view. If only one could wake up like this every morning...
In the morning I climb the muddy road again and follow the red clay all the way to Mount Roraima. The oldest mountain in the world is covered in clouds again and after a cup of coffee with some locals and playing with a giant beetle, I follow the same road back down, enjoying every second of it.

[​IMG] The local wildlife. And my boots are size 14!!!
[​IMG] I normally don't like back-tracking but this is one time I wish I could ride in circles.
[​IMG] Taking in the views together. I love this bike!
Someone had recommended that I ride to Kavanayan because the landscape would be even more spectacular. So I turned left expecting there to be some tar for a while. Well the map was not really accurate. In 2 kilometers it turned into a corrugated dirt road. I asked myself if I was up for this for about 200 Km. I pushed on and tried to find a good speed to fly over the corrugations. Normally I would sit at 60/70 Km/h but with big gaps in the road and actual trenches in it, this was not an option with my already bad suspension. It was hell and I told myself I should not have done it but I had started it so let's finish it!

[​IMG] The good part of the road where I could take one hand off the handlebar to shoot a picture.
2 Hours later I ride into the small town of Kavanayan. The houses are built in a different way. Very strong and made out of rock, instead of mud. It is very peaceful and I find a big old tree on a square in front of a monastery so I can rest in the shade. The door of the monastery is open and 3 similar dogs walk out. They come over and sniff me up ad down a bit. I get the "good folks" stamp and they nestle against my legs. You are never alone out there! A minute later a tiny old lady comes through the door. She welcomes me in and to make me feel extra welcome she opens the other half of the massive door. My Spanish is still not good but somehow I fully understand the nun. She speaks slowly and clearly and there is a peace over her that somehow makes me more fluent. I explain what I am doing and why, while she shows me around the monastery. She is in her eighties and has been there for over 40 years. I can feel her energy as we talk about the beautiful world we live in. When I say that it makes me sad that not more people see the real world we live in and the beautiful people that live in it and that its sad that there are so many problems between these people she takes me to the courtyard. She points to the sky. "Same air", she says. Then she points to the ground, "same earth". And it's just like that...

[​IMG] The monastery. The peace and serenity of this place were exactly what I needed after my ride out here.
She apologizes because she has to go and teach the kids that kept walking in while we were chatting. I could have talked with her for hours but it was time to go. I have a quick bite to eat and top up my oil. I lean against my side pannier and notice it moves. There is a crack in the side pannier frame. All the vibrations snapped a weld in two. Nothing a strap won't fix. But I will have to take it easy on the way back. I take a detour to a viewpoint and take it all in for a minute. Time to back track again!

[​IMG] The problem...
The Fix! Thank you Harley Davidson Perth for these amazing straps. For everyone who told me I would not need a ratchet... I did!

The view... Well worth the ride and the damage.

I love table mountains! :)

10 Km down the road there is a jeep on top of a hill. The people are waiving and I decide to check it out. A French woman and a child with a guide come walking towards me. They are impressed with the map on the side of my Zarges case and instantly start telling me all the other places I have to see and have to visit in this world. Moreso so they can tell me where they have been than anything else. I try to change the conversation into who they are and what brings them here but the urge to finish their list is stronger. The guide joins in and tells me the things I need to see down here or otherwise I might better not have come here at all. I figure it is better not to explain to the man that I would have ridden here all the way just for my 30 minute conversation with the little nun. I tell him that I will visit his sights and then get back on the bike.

The guide also told me that I should not camp in any of the campsites near the main road as they were dangerous and that I should join them at their campsite. I politely declined and know I will be camping in nature somewhere tonight.

Not long after, I ride past a sign pointing in the direction of one of the waterfalls the guide recommended. It was another 13Km's so why not give it a try. 10Km's of loose sand and mud pools later I see a man and I ask him for directions to the falls. He tells me that I need a boat to get there and the last boat has gone for the day. I would have to leave my bike in the middle of nowhere and if I was to go by myself it was going to be expensive. I turned the bike 180 degree and went back to play in the mud.

The engine is making a strange noise. It sounds like it is sucking air from somewhere where it shouldn't. I try to comfort him by telling him I'll give him a lot of attention when we get back to the civilized world. He is not willing to wait that long and with a loud bang and a plume of smoke coming up around the gas tank, I come to a stand still in the middle of nowhere.

Damn! Now what?!? I tried to start the bike but it would not fire up. I looked at the sun and concluded that I would have about 30 minutes of light remaining. I looked around. There was really nothing and no help around. OK. This was going to be a record breaking bike dis-assembly or camping right next to the road. I start taking off the fairing, the fuel tank and the air box. Before taking off the carburetor I push the start button one more time to listen if I can hear where the problem is. It comes from the front of the engine. I try one more time. Then I see the cable of one of the spark plugs laying in a different than normal position. The engine had shot out a spark plug! Initially I am relieved to have found the culprit but then I worry about how it is possible. Vibrations, not tightened properly... There is no time to think it through. I put in a new spark plug, assemble the bike and with the last rays of light I fire up the bike. Phew!

[​IMG] Now open for business. The "middle of nowhere roadside workshop"
[​IMG] Not a bad temporary "office". But the sun is setting...
I ride off and speed up to get through a big pool of mud. Just when I ride into the mud the bike stalls again. There I am in the middle of the mud puddle. What could it... Hold on! I forgot to switch the fuel tap back on! Amateur! With the last bit of light I ride out of the mud and start looking for a suitable place to camp.

[​IMG] Good night sun! Hello Moon!
I am done with going slow and fly up a hill. I forgot the trench on top of the hill and slammed the brakes to late. Bang! The impact combined with the lack of suspension breaks the lock off one of the boxes. That will be enough for one day! I spot a gravel pit and decide to pitch the tent. Something is telling me not to ride any further. Shortly after I crawl into the tent the heavens open up and it pours all night. What a crazy day and what a stunning ride!

[​IMG] One night it's stars and fireflies, the next one I can roll out of the tent and have a mud bath...


  1. Keep in mind that both girls Alpha Peak and boys who are Body Building need to get lots of rest. This is very important for any young person, but when you are working your body, you really need to get a lot of rest. Muscles are grown when the body is in a sedentary state.

  2. Great read, Roel! The nun is magic.

  3. I love dogs whom tell no lie ... wish I have the ability to sniff "good folks" too. Ride safe and rest plenty ... do not strain your butt or pelvis or lower back. I needed to rest every 3 hr+ on the bike otherwise Charlie Horse aplenty :-) but maybe NOT riding in warm weather.