Paul and I flew down to Johannesburg on Monday and spent some time helping prepare for when the team arrived. We looked for mechanics shops for all the vehicles, I had some meetings and Paul prepared for Maker Faire.
Now we get to join the guys as we dash back up to Nairobi! I have wanted to do such a trip since I was a high schooler in Nairobi and Paul has also had visions of taking a motor bike across Africa. So we were both very excited to have this opportunity. And we still are… but today didn’t start off the way we would have chosen.
This Mark and I went to check on how the Land Rover was fairing. The mechanic was already there, trying to get us on the road as early as possible. Unfortunately it didn’t have an indicator console, a steering wheel, a passenger door panel, nor any wheels on when we arrived. Johannesburg has been suffering from load shedding for a while now and we got to feel the pain yesterday. Without electricity, the tire shop was unable to get the tires ready yesterday. So while he went to get the tires Mark and I got to installing a GPS tracker that our friends at Inmarsat had generously loaned us. It didn’t take to long to give it power and arrange the antennas, unfortunately the truck was inside the shop so the GPS was unable to connect.
By about 12:30 the truck had a brand new set of wheels, things were settled with the mechanic and we were on the road. Unfortunately that lasted about 10 min. Coming up to a stop light something started squeaking and 100m later the truck screeched to a halt; a wheel had seized up. We were not able to call the mechanic so I quickly just jogged back to the shop, which luckily was less than a mile back. The mechanic had to make a couple of trips back to the shop so in the mean time I figured, hey, I wonder if the GPS is working. So on the side of the road I booted up my computer, got online (we are BRCK after all!) and sure enough, there we were sitting on Malibongwe Drive! We are currently looking into feeding that data live to our other feeds so stay tuned!
It turns out the rear stub axle had seized. We were able to let the affected wheel coast and drive back to the shop. By 4:30 we had removed the bad axle, cannibalized a good one from another Defender 11o and were back on the road.
Meanwhile back at the guest house the guys had simply had to wait for us. As soon as we rolled in the driveway they were tossing gear up on the roof rack and filling up the back. And at 5:30, about 9 hours after our ideal departure time, we were on the road up to Zimbabwe.
Fortunately the roads in South Africa are amazing and the traffic very organized. We made excellent time until 8pm. Then we hit a weather system which included heavy rain and some incredible wind. The bikers got soaked so we stopped around 9pm so they could change and we could get some food. But the system passed us while we were stopped so we had to get through it again. After running it twice the bikers were just frozen so we called it a day, found a hotel to get a decent nights sleep.
To make up for the lost time we need to be on the road again in about 4 hours! But that’s OK, as always told my campers years ago, “It’s not an adventure if everything goes as planned!”