Skeleton Rally – The long way round
Sandie and I joined the club in June 2018 having just bought our Harley. Although I have been riding since the age of 16 we have not done any day on day long rides due to Sandie’s back and hip operations. Three hours over a weekend was our experience and the trip to Lamberts Bay last year our distance trial.
We had heard about the 6000 km, 14 day “long way round’ trip via Botswana and Northern Namibia but it was fully booked and only of academic interest to us. Ten plus days of over 500km per day did not seem like our reality.
At the social about a month before the intrepid adventurers departed on the “long way round” it was announced that two of the participants could no longer make it and the question was asked “Is anyone interested?”
Sandie was at home that evening as she was not feeling well, but my “coffee” buddy Leon was going and we discussed the possibilities. I did not think that Sandie would go, albeit that she would love the experience, due to her back and hip challenges but I mentioned to Leon that I would discuss it with her when I got home.
Somewhat to my surprise Sandie said let’s do it. I was now probably more concerned about how she would be over the 14 days and agreed that we discuss it with “Tour Masters” Tony and Marie.
Around 23h00 that night Leon whatsapped me, informing that he had forwarded our potential interest to Marie and the next morning Tony contacted me. We met everyone going later that week and the rest is history.
So, what was it like?
A wonderful unique experience which met all our expectations and more. The organization was smooth and controlled (thanks Tony, Marie, Reon and others) and I was pleased to, for once, go with the flow and not concern myself about decision making (besides what to eat and drink).
Every person in the group is an individual with their own personality and preferences and it was therefore great to experience the maturity and tolerance shown by everyone in remaining part of the group even though at times they were probably exasperated and biting their tongue.
Sandie and I have come out of this experience with new friends and the knowledge that we can do long trips. So my bucket list item of riding through Europe or America or both is definitely on.
We are thankful that the trip was completed safely by everyone and we are happy to recommend the experience to anyone. One tip though is to leave your ego at home, be tolerant and enjoy the fun.
- Greg Gogh
Skeleton Coast Tour – Sandie’s Pillion Rider Perspective
Greg and I heard of the Skeleton Coast two week, 6 000+km tour and my first reaction was, “I will never be able to sit for that length of time”. I put it out of my mind until he came back from a meeting and said there were two places available. I thought about it and decided why not give it a go, you only live once. We had a back-up vehicle and if I got too sore or too tired I could always ride in the vehicle. As time went on I became more and more excited and decided I was going to try my best to complete the whole trip. At the start we were 9 bikes with two pillion riders which made a total of 12 people and one of the bikes was ridden all the way by a very special lady Marie. She amazed me with her endurance.
The morning we left everyone was excited and ready to go. By the time we got to the first stop everyone was shivering and cold. Thank goodness for hot coffee. Just about every stop was at a Wimpy and by the end of the trip I did not want to see another Wimpy but still wolfed down the food. For me it was exciting just sitting at the back and enjoying all the views.
Some of the roads through Botswana and Namibia were very long and straight resulting in me falling asleep quite a few times throughout the trip. Our communication system had a problem so after about two hours on the road I also didn’t have any music to keep me awake. I am probably the only pillion rider who did all those kilometers and only saw half of the scenery. I loved the long sweeping curves up the mountains and for us every town we went to was somewhere we had never been before. Every place we stayed at was a different experience. The group that we went with were such fun. I had to massage my jaw from laughing so much every night. The banter and stories kept us going. It was so nice getting to know all the people better as time went on.
All our accommodation was organized and booked by the organizers Tony and Marie and they did a great job so it was stress free for everyone. My only challenging experience was spending one night in a one bedroom apartment with an open plan living room and kitchen area. The living room was divided by a curtain with three beds and we all had to share one bathroom with paper thin walls. So I had a night with 4 men, I suppose not many people can say that. I had to keep sending Greg out of the bedroom to see if it was all clear for me to go to the bathroom. At the same place, which was right on the river about 50km outside Rundu, I also fell off our bike (when it was stationary) trying to get off. Can you believe it? Had a massive bruise on my left buttock and hit my head on the ground. Felt a bit fuzzy for a while but all came right. We had the opportunity to visit the Victoria Falls and took the helicopter ride which lived up to all our expectations. That evening we all went on a sunset cruise where the elephants, hippo and buffalo were right next to us chomping on the grass and playing in the water.
I did not have any problems spending so much time on the bike as we had put a sheepskin cover on the seats. It was a real lifesaver. Normally after about two hours my sciatica starts niggling. After 3 days some of the men were complaining of being sore and they could not believe that our ride was so comfortable.Our Ultra Limited gave us no trouble and is a great bike to tour with.
Would I do another motorbike tour? Absolutely. The scenery, the fun people, the laughter, the organisation and even the long straight roads were a real treat.
- Sandie Gogh