Brighton to Cape Town Overland by Motorcycle
The first realisation I had was that I would need to gain some off-road riding experience before setting off on the trip. The majority of the route will have tarmac roads of one sort or another, but there will be a lot of dirt tracks and pistes in places like Western Sahara and Cameroon, and in war-wrecked Angola, the dirt roads are in very poor condition, and I'll be hitting them in rainy season...
With this in mind, I bought a lightweight 2-stroke enduro bike - the much respected Honda CRM250 - to learn a few skills on.
Before taking the CRM out, I took a few mates along with me to the Yamaha Off Road Experience held at Golding Barn Raceway, just up the road from my home in Sussex. That was a baptism of fire! The organiser, Barry, had cancelled the day as the conditions were so slippery. We convinced him to let us do it anyway, as we'd all kept that one day free to do it together. In the morning, I was unable to keep the bike rubber side down for a single complete lap! Whilst it was still fun, it was very tiring trying to keep the bike upright, and picking it up when dropped... However, in the afternoon the conditions got much easier and my "ability" improved, and I ended up having an absolute gas. Here I am "mastering" the tabletop ;o). Fat men can jump (just not with any kind of style or flair...).
After the Yamaha School, my next off road outing was to Wales to visit my friend Ade, who took me and my CRM out with some of his trail riding buddies around his home town of Newport. We had a mixed bag of Welsh weather, and I crashed repeatedly, managing to break my foot on a very pretty hillside quite early on in the morning.
Didn't stop me continuing though, and we rode a further 70-odd kilometres off road that day! An excellent day out despite the injuries to my foot and pride. :o)
The next outing for the CRM was a motocross practice day at Golding Barn - astonishingly I didn't drop the bike at all!
The next training event was the BMW off road school, also in South Wales. This was after Biggsy had decided to come along to Capetown, and in the end there were three of us that went. From left to right: me, Biggsy and Ollie Gilbert, my Brentwood flatmate.
I think all of us would recommend this course to anyone looking to try off road riding. I learned more and developed more confidence than I did from any of my other off road experiences. Certainly tackling some of the worst roads in Africa on a heavily laden Africa Twin now seems a little less daunting! Here's the boy Biggs exiting a water feature on an R1200GS:
And me on my way through the same pond on a G650 X-Challenge: