Lets go Thataway!

Having finally gotten my Angolan visa it was time to head north.  The trip up from Cape Town was pleasant, with CitrusDal and The Cederburg Mountains being special highlights.  As I started to get closer to Namibia the land started to remind me more and more that The Kalahari Desert wasn’t too far off…

On my first stop in Namibia I had one of those ‘I’m the tourist attraction’ things happen.  Fairly regularly someone will approach me (usually guys) and ask about the trip and take some pics.  This time, when I stopped for petrol, an ‘active seniors’ overland truck was stopped for a break.  It seemed to be about 75% women and they were certainly no shrinking violets!  Almost all of them wanted a picture with me and the bike and seemed disturbingly taken with my rather scruffy look.  “Oh, you look like a wild one!”  “My husband would have never approved of you…”  “Well, they certainly know how to raise ’em in Canada” etc, etc.  It was all really rather disconcerting, not that I don’t enjoy a good ego boost, but this was so… Predatory.

Extracting myself from my predicament it took a while to get myself back in the groove on the road, but a quick turn down a gravel track that looked to head towards Ai-Ais put me firmly back in the saddle.  Firmly for the first 100km or so, when my low fuel light blinked on- saying I had about 75km of fuel left.  That couldn’t be right- I’d only done about 300km since the last stop and should still have at least another 300km on the tank!  I stopped and checked the bike for a leak or anything I could see, started it back up and ran up the revs in neutral to see if I was smoking somewhere (hard to tell when riding on a sandy gravel road)and- nothing, everything seemed just fine.  Okay, it must be the gauge that’s stuck or something- I’ll start up again and see if riding it a bit rough and bouncing it will loosing things up.  5 minutes later my gauge read at just over 30km left.  So, the gauge is going down, so it can’t be stuck.  Which means, for whatever reason, it may be right.  Stopping again I opened the tank and tried to get an idea of where it was at.  The problem is that the tank is huge and oddly shaped, so I don’t really know how the fuel pools once it’s gotten below the fat top bit (technical term).  Well, at least I wasn’t in the middle of nowhere…

Riding slowly I checked my GPS and saw that once I hit the junction to Ai-Ais the road was almost completely downhill for 26km.  That mean’t I just had to make my couple of litres of fuel last about 70km…  And it did.  It never dropped below 30km left and when I finally got to Ai-Ais and fuel I still had about half a tank left.  My only guess is that since the gauge is electronic it got itself in a tizzy (another technical term).  Once I filled the tank it read fine, but it reminded me again that I can’t just ride and hope for the best.  I need to keep on top of what my bike is doing and keep checking things while I ride.  My guess is that the gauge had been going down for a while, but I didn’t notice until the light went on since I had left the monitor on tire pressure and hadn’t been switching back and forth like I should be.

A good, cheap lesson before I really start getting back into the wilds!

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