Overland by Motorcycle 2005 & 2006
In 2005 and 2006 I undertook two long-distance motorcycling expeditions. The first was an 8000-mile ride from Kathmandu to Paris on a 1965 Royal Enfield. The second a lightening-fast 23,000-mile trip from France to South Africa and back on an unmodified KTM640 - far more bike than I could manage!
Mechanical problems, Republic of Congo
Heading through an isolated part of the Republic of Congo, my rear brake pads suddenly fused to the tire rim and I skidded to an unceremonious stop. None of the tools I had would unjam the offending brake. After hours of waiting for passing traffic that might be able to help, I began to get a little worried.
Eventually, a young man came cycling by; he would be the only person I would see all day. He was carrying one thing - quite incredibly, the very hacksaw I needed. We sawed off the fused brake-pads and for the next 6000 miles I rode with front brakes only.
Stopped for speeding in the early morning outskirts of Quetta en route to the Pakistan-Iran border. Not the most auspicious start for a leg of the journey about which I was already very nervous.
I'm also not sure how it was possible that I was speeding. My Royal Enfield if driven flatout, downhill and with a following wind could just about reach 50 mph; here we were on an open road with no marked speed limit.
Anyway, we shared a cup of tea - in wonderfully delicate porcelain cups - and the policeman let me off with a warning. We parted friends.
Go find where the road ends
Angola. Great people, tough roads.
An Indian farewell
My friends and colleagues at the Himalayan Adventure Institute see me off on the second leg of my journey back to France. I had had a smooth, if at times terrifying, ride from Nepal. Having only learned how to ride a motorbike a week before leaving Kathmandu, confronting Nepali and Indian traffic was a baptism of fire.
Four days after this photo was taken, on the outskirts of the city of Amritsar on the Indian-Pakistan border, I was hit - sideswiped - by a bus and went headlong over my handlebars. With a couple of dislocated fingers, a few gashes and heavily ruffled pride, I didn't have a lot of choice except to patch myself up and carry on.
Night stop near Quetta, Pakistan
The budgets for both these expeditions were miniscule. For approximately 60% of each trip I would sleep rough, typically in the bush a couple hundred yards from the road. Sometimes, if there was somewhere cheap and quiet, it would be a simple charpoi, like in this photo taken near Quetta in west Pakistan.
If I was sleeping rough I would typically wait until just before dark, turn off my headlight then drive sharply away from the road. Without using a torch, I would lay out my sleeping bag, eat a packet of biscuits and wash. I would sleep well, knowing that no-one would know where I was.
Cape Point, South Africa
Standing at Cape Point looking out to sea, reflecting on my ride from Europe, through the Middle East and down Eastern Africa to the southerly tip of the continent. This, I knew, had been the easy stretch of the trip. Much harder was to come on my return journey through West Africa. I couldn't wait.
Near Dolisie, Republic of Congo
I mistimed my trip a little and ended up driving through Central and West Africa in the rainy season. Almost every day, typically in the later afternoon, heavy storm clouds would build up. Sometimes it would rain, sometimes not. Often there would be a spectacular lightening show.
When it did rain, the tiny tent I had bought in South Africa proved no match for the tropical deluge and I spent most nights soaked. When I drove north through Cameroon I eventually left the tropical zone behind and entered the Sahel Belt. I have never been so glad to be dry.
THIS IS WHERE I NEED TO PIUT SOME COPY