It’s the 28th of December and we are having dinner at a Jozi spot. We’ve just spent the entire day packing everything from our two bedroomed apartments in Fourways onto the back of a van and into a storage container. We are tired, elated and anxious all at once because what lies ahead of us is nothing short of the longest journey of our lives. We spend the rest of the evening surrounded by family and friends chatting about the challenges that await us on the road.
The next day we wake up later than planned – hungover and hungry, deep inside both asking ourselves how the hell we got to this moment. What is this moment you ask? Well for the last few months we have basically been setting ourselves up to move from Jozi to Nairobi. We have done this trip a myriad times over the last few years, always by airplane, never by road, never mind that this time we are attempting it specifically on a motorbike. Ahead of us lies over 4000km of hard riding.
My cousin helps with breakfast to get us energized. We say our goodbyes and he says:
“ntwana when you change your mind, you are welcome back here, until you get a flight”.
With these words in mind, we go buy some last minute gear on our way out of Jozi. We buy the following;
⁃ a spare pair of riding gloves.
⁃ a helmet intercom system. So we can communicate inside our helmets.
⁃ a summer riding jacket because it’s the middle of summer in the southern hemisphere.
At around 1 pm we make phone calls to our families and set off. The idea was to leave at 9 am…
The weather is glorious, a bright sunny day, no wind, not a single cloud in the sky. The love of my life closely nuzzled against me, our minimal belongings squeezed into the recently mounted top box and a few items of clothing folded into tiny parcels in our saddle bags. The machine of choice is a Kawasaki KLR 650cc. We quickly joined the N1 highway heading towards Pretoria with the plan to cross the Botswana border before the sun sets.
Two hours into the ride we see some ominous looking clouds circling ahead. Within 30 minutes those clouds are right above us. The heavens open up and it begins to POUR! We reckon if we hit the gas we should clear this highveld thunderstorm within 20 odd minutes. Enough time to dry up, get warm under the summer sun rays and quickly find ourselves through the small town of Mokopane and off to the Groblersdal border gate. We soon realize that this storm is no passing event, instead, it’s a massive hailstorm that will have us change our path after we realize we are no longer going to make it to the Groblersdal border before it closes for the day. So we instead head straight to Polokwane. We have been on the road for only 5 hours but we have been riding in the worst rain storm I’ve seen in the 4 years since I began riding bikes. What was to be a trip of a lifetime has quickly become a NIGHTMARE! We are soaked from head to toe. The storm is so intense I’m struggling to see 20m in front of the bike. So without admitting it, I’m genuinely scared. Not only for my own safety but that of my precious cargo on the pillion seat. As we pass under an overhead bridge, I switch on the helmet comms and ask my Ride Or Die:
“Hey. Scheme we should pull over and stop?” She responds: “If we stop will we get any less wet and cold?” ….
Writer: Mnikelo Qubu Part 2