Friday, November 15, 2019

It's inevitable... (9743)

Falling off
We finally did it yesterday. Together once, then me, solo. Left side, right side - for symmetry.

We were told, and repeated to ourselves, that we weren't going get through Africa without a tumble, but I wasn't planning on it yesterday. Although the run to Diama contains a notorious unpaved section, our experience in no-man's-land at the Morocco/Mauri border had made me feel cautiously optimistic about negotiating this road.

From the support vehicle
And, in the event, it wasn't the unpaved that did it. I managed that quite well, sometimes standing on the bike foot pegs for extra balance, as I was taught in my offroad training*. No, what took us off was sand.

On the way to our rendezvous with the scammers (see below), we came to a road works. We were diverted for about 200 metres onto dirt, rocks and sand.

'Be bold on soft, piled sand', they say. I tried, the front wheel became as if possessed by the sand demons and off we went.

Sadly, Angelika's foot broke the bike's fall and it hurt.

As we were gathering ourselves, we had a piece of good fortune that may have transformed the day from a struggle to something manageable. Minutes earlier we had passed the first British vehicle we had seen for weeks, a Beford van towing a trailer. Chris and Sue stopped to see how we were (as did every other driver that passed) and offered to take Angelika, who was clearly in discomfort, to the border - since they were going the same way as us.

It was a great kindness.

The lift was doubly beneficial. Angelika got a ride when she'd have been uncomfortable on the bike, and I was relieved of responsibly for her when I'd have been nervous about this on the difficult 'piste' to the border. The bike being lighter, too, was very helpful.

The 'piste' to Diama
The actual unsurfaced ride I mostly enjoyed. But its length and the heat got to me in the end. Because of the fall, we didn't get to take a break, so it was around five or six hours into the day before I had a rest. That's too long. And I managed to find one more pile of sand to lie the bike in - and that's tiring, too.

But we arrived in the end - in Senegal, proper sub-Saharan Africa. And we're looking after Angelika's foot.

Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

At the junction that takes you from the Rosso border road (scams, corruption, delays) to Diama (quick, legitimate), a group of crooks wait. They tell travellers they can't go the Diama way, that it's closed, that it's dangerous, etc, etc.

Along the preferred road is a small town on the edge of a nature reserve, Keur-Macene. I thanked the conman for his advice, told him we were visiting the town and reserve for a couple of days and that we'd be going to Rosso after this. He smiled and wished me well. His expression reminded me of the snake, Kaa, in the Jungle Book.

The lad at our hotel found me two local mechanics who bent our luggage rack back into shape today. I probably shouldn't have watched - it made me wince. They even stuck one part of the geometry into a fork in a tree and leaned on it to 'adjust' it.

But we can now get the panniers on the bike, despite the effects of the falls and being rear-ended in No-Man's Land crossing from Western Sahara into Mauritania.

Now we're resting up here for a few days.

* As per my pre-trip birthday treat training-day curated my son Joe. Thanks!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Simon, Angelika. Good to hear you got through there mostly okay. Hope the ankle fixes itself quickly, and you don't have to resort to the same treatment as for the panniers. Martin


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