Brighton2capetown - UK

Brighton to Cape Town Overland by Motorcycle

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20th August 2007

After our successful photo shoot in a very sunny Brighton on 12th August, we had a shakedown run up to a very damp field in Yorkshire on August 18th/19th. 

The original expectation was for a dry run, but with the UK summer of 2007 continuing as we've now come to expect, we found ourselves being pretty accurately prepared for the tropical rainy season we'll hit in the middle of our trip - do they have horses in the Congo...?

We'd hoped to be able to take everything we will take to Africa, but there are some items still on order so there were a few omissions - notably the riding kit we're planning to wear which neither of us have yet got sorted.  However, everything we did have worked as expected, and the only addition to the kit list as a result of the trip was an umbrella each.

We arrived and started setting up camp, still wearing our waterproofs because it was raining...

Horse shown actual size next to the bikes.

 

 

First up was the tarp shelter, a trick learnt at the Horizons Unlimited travellers meeting...

 

This then gave us somewhere dry to pitch the tents, so the inners didn't get soaked before the outers went on...

... a strategy which worked a treat.  The shelter also gave us somewhere to sit and cook in the dry, and as we'd already found at the Horizons meet, our panniers make perfect seats.

One thing that didn't work was the bald road tyres on mud - they really didn't work at all and the fully laden bikes were all over the place!  My strategy has been to let the current consumables on the bike get thoroughly warn out, so that I don't have to buy anything until I change everything just before we leave.  These tyres should still be legal (and OK for road use at least) the week before we go, but my bike is now grounded until its new chain arrives.

5th October 2007

The last minute preparation? In a word, "underestimated". 

There were a number of jobs we'd planned to do on the bikes, and at the time we'd planned them they seemed adequate. But when faced with a bike in front of you, a spanner in your hand and the knowledge that this is the last time the bike will see your cosy garage for five months and probably 14,000 gruelling miles, there are a lot more things that creep on to the to-do list.  In fairness, the suspension upgrades being delayed by three weeks did not help, and in the end, their arrival was what defined our leaving date.  We had over-optimistically booked our Dover-Calais crossing months in advance and pegged our leaving date as Monday 24th September, leaving ourselves just one week to get ready after we both finished work on Friday 14th.  This served to focus our minds, but didn't speed up our suppliers any.  Our rear shock units arrived on Friday 21st, allowing us to fit them after our first aid course on Saturday.  The front springs were the last component of all to arrive, turning up on Tuesday 25th.  We were out in the garage fitting them until 11.30pm that night, which left Wednesday for the last of the electrical preparation on Ed's machine, packing and last minute errands on Thursday and a leaving date of Friday 28th September.

So, we finally managed to set off, only four days late.  Day one saw a truly horrible trip on the M23, M25 and M20 to Dover - high winds, drizzle becoming torrential rain and lots of spray.  We arrived in Dover cold, wet and in a hurry, and proceeded to struggle to find the Travelex counter to pick up our currency.  Once we were on the boat however, we would be able to relax.  That, after all, was our last deadline for some time to come, and the journey had begun - we were on our way to France