An idiots guide to planning a solo adventure trip (part 2)

By Rowan Page | Published on 2020-12-16


An idiots guide to planning a solo adventure trip (part 2)

It’s about two months since since I first shared my initial plans for my upcoming adventure trip. Some plans have changed, but overall my preparations are coming along well and I am starting to get truly excited for my trip!

The route and navigation

The original plan was that we would spend Christmas with my wife‘s family in Port Elizabeth. Not wanting to ruin my riding plans, they were understandably nervous to ask if we could move our Christmas to Baviaanskloof. Little did they know, this area is something of an ‘adventure bike Mecca’ and this small adjustment will only improve my trip!

This leaves me with five legs to my journey and a total of 5 145 km. A combination of Google Maps and a paper version of the Tracks4Africa travelers map have been great tools in mapping out my route. In the end I managed to get just over 50% of the distance on dirt while still managing various time restrictions.

The longest day is around 635km from Colesberg to the Northern Free State, hugging closely along the border with Lesotho. The shortest day is around 100km, but this is over a ‘4x4 track’ in Baviaanskloof so promises to be interesting nonetheless!

My original plan for navigation is a sort of DIY roadbook in my tank bag showing towns, distances and planned routes. For example “Smithfield to Wepener - R701 - 81km - dirt”. This, combined with estimated travel times from Tracks4Africa is how I have planned my route. Quite a few evenings spent with maps spread out across the dining room table, but that is part of the fun!

Since completing this planning I have however had two offers to borrow GPS for the trip. From a safety perspective, a dedicated GPS will definitely be good. I tested my ‘DIY roadbook’ on a recent trip to Stillbaai, including quite a few smaller dirt roads. It worked well, but stated distances weren’t always accurate and during some moments of uncertainty the GPS on my phone did not prove reliable. I was still riding as the sun was setting and in reality things could have gotten problematic quite quickly if my planning hadn’t worked out exactly. No mobile signal and no GPS is a situation I want to avoid. I also believe that on some of the lesser known and potentially poorly marked routes routes in KZN and the Eastern Cape a GPS will be helpful in finding my way as planned.

Packed and ready to go.
Packed and ready to go.

Accommodation and points of interest

The biggest change from my original plan is my decision to camp. Using AirBnb I was able to find pretty decent accommodation for around R350/night on average. This includes some farmstays, BnB’s, lodges, dorms and ‘glamping’ at an old railway station.

This greatly simplifies what I need to pack and should also give me a lot more freedom to explore once I get to my destination for the night. I also want to explore small towns around the country and nice campsites are generally a decent distance from the nearest town.

Bike preparations

As far as I am concerned my F800GS came pretty well “ready to adventure”. I have only done two minor modifications: - A taller screen (GIVI 333DT) - A set of 50/50 dirt/tar tyres (Mitas E07+)

Luggage and gear

My luggage setup is pretty straightforward. For smaller, easily accessible items I have a tank bag fitted. This can accommodate phone, wallet, cameras, small tools, snacks, etc as is easily accessed and removed at stops. It also has a clear pouch on top where you can put a map, notes or cell phone. My main luggage is a 60l dry bag which I will strap to the luggage rack. My only complaint is that the stock straps are pathetic; one came off and melted on my exhaust pipe and the other unclipped onto my rear wheel and got launched into traffic going down the freeway. I have borrowed a set of Rok straps and I’m highly impressed. I will pack a spare set of ratchet straps but I doubt I will need them.

The dry bag and tank bag combination works well but makes getting on the bike a bit tricky!
The dry bag and tank bag combination works well but makes getting on the bike a bit tricky!

As for riding gear I am putting safety over style. Full motocross style boots, Kevlar lined riding jeans with knee pads, an adventure jacket with padding, a neck brace, gloves and obviously a bright luminescent yellow helmet. I also have a borrowed rain suit in case of a sudden downpour.

Tools and spares

I a fairly competent at motorcycle mechanics but the prospect of extensive roadside repairs does not excite me. Mechanical issues are best avoided in my opinion; that’s a big part of why I bought this specific bike. In its simplicity there is reliability. I know there will be ’air-cooled single-cylinder purists’ laughing at this, but the reality is these BMW parallel twin motors should be thought of like your car’s engine. If you buy right, service properly, and don’t do anything stupid then you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Let’s see how my theory holds up.

Basic tools and spares to cover most eventualities.
Basic tools and spares to cover most eventualities.

There are still a lot of ‘self-inflicted’ things that could go wrong. I hope to have most eventualities covered without carrying too much. This will include a first aid kit, tow rope, Pratley’s putty, spare fuses, a puncture repair kit and two spare tubes, tyre irons and spanners to remove the wheels, a leatherman, zip ties, electrical tape, a compressor and tyre pressure gauge, small socket spanners, Allen and torx head keys, an adjustable spanner, and a good sense of humor!

Months of planning finally in action!
Months of planning finally in action!


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