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March 21st, 2011 | Asia

Fixes and Surprises…!!

By 5.45am, GB was on the job...!! Back wheel and exhaust came off first...

The Ohlins shock that Debbie had smuggled into Turkey, six months ago...

Bleary-eyed, I stumbled downstairs and into the covered parking on the ground floor of the hotel…

It was 5.30 am, and it was still dark outside…

The ladies who arrived to set up the breakfast buffet stopped and stared at me in surprise, then greeted me in unison…

“Sabai Di, Mister Biker…!! Why awake so early…?? You check out today…??”

“Maybe…maybe not…!!”

I wasn’t sure if I would ride out today or not, and did not want them to book my room out to somebody else, in case I decided to stay another day…

I pushed the Big Fella out of his slot next to Simon and Lisa’s bikes and into an empty bay under a light…

I had done this all before in Dodoma, so I had no problem with getting started before Simon came down to help…

Within minutes I had taken the back wheel and the exhaust off, and then set about removing the two bolts that held the shock absorber…

The old and the new... Considering that the BMW shock had carried a big load for the majority of the 60 000km I had traveled, I was not too unhappy with its performance...

I thought back to the many people who had told me the BMW shock normally gave up after about 75 000 km under NORMAL conditions, and under the load I would be carrying might even give in sooner…!!

Assuming the doomsayers were correct, then this shock had done far more than they would have expected…!!

By 6.00 am I had the Ohlins in place, and was preparing to put the back wheel on… Still no Simon…!!

I was man-handling the exhaust back into place when he arrived, stretching and yawning as he came towards me…

“Almost done…!!” I said… “I know you guys want to ride today, so I didn’t wait for you…!!”

“Shweet…!!” he said, using a common South African term, along with the “lekker”(nice) he had surprised me with the day we met…!!

We got my panniers clamped and tied on, to load the bike as much as possible so that he could help me with the damping and load setting on the shock…

Then he hopped on and took a few turns around the parking lot on the Big Fella…

I watched his face as he rode up and down, frowning as he passed me…

Eventually he stopped next to me and grinned…

Simon took the Big Fella for a short ride and gave the repair job the thumbs up...

“What a difference…!! The bike feels even better than it did yesterday…!!”

“You sure…??”

“Sure, I’m sure…!! Take it for a spin and see for yourself…!!”

I rode around in circles for a while and rode out into the deserted street and up and over a pavement or two to feel the rebound of the shock…

I had to admit that it felt great…!! And very different…!! But in a good way…!!

The Big Fella also stood a few inches taller, and looked even more impressive than he usually did, if that was possible…

He made a few more small adjustments to the pre-loading to take into consideration that there was still about thirty kilograms of kit up in my room that still needed to be loaded, and then pronounced himself satisfied…

Then we checked the tyre pressures on all three bikes and found that they all needed more air…

I hauled out my compressor and plugged it into the Big Fella’s control panel…

The staff that gathered around were very impressed that we were able to pump our tyres without having to venture out to a service station…!!

We had the three bikes parked next to each other, and Simon and Lisa began carrying their kit out to load up their bikes…

I have to admit that the sight of the bikes, ready to hit the road, made me smile…

I love my “job”…!!

You guys have to try it sometime…!!

We prepped the bikes and got the tyres pressures up to where we wanted them...

Simon and Lisa Thomas, travelers and adventurers extraordinaire...!!

We went inside to have a final breakfast together and while we ate, Lisa and Simon gave me more info on the places they had come from, which would make finding them easier for me…

The evening before Simon had also given me a copy of all the GPS co-ordinates of every single spot they had visited in the last eight years…!!

It is difficult to describe how valuable this information is to somebody who is traveling around the world on their own…

I am eternally grateful for the information they shared and had enjoyed the few short days we had spent together…

I stand in awe of some of their achievements to date, and hope they continue to enjoy their travels together…

I published the link to their website in the previous posting and urge you to read about their adventures in as far flung places as Mongolia and the Amazon jungle, where Simon crashed his bike and broke his neck…

He rode through the jungle for three weeks before he was able to get medical attention that saved his life…

I watched their video of this ordeal, and had to walk away when I saw the images of an unconscious Simon, lying flat on his back, the grim reaper hovering in the background…

It brought into perspective the dangers or riding a big bike in the more remote areas of the planet, and made me glad that I had chosen a more well worn path to make my own journey around the world…!!

You will also see some of the most amazing photographs of the indigenous people they have met and stayed with, and of course, the world’s wild places they have visited… And I don’t mean Bangkok…!!

Before they left, we said our goodbyes, and wished each other well…

Then Simon mounted his GS 1150 with it’s monster 42 litre tank, and Lisa swung into the saddle of her GS650 with it’s THREE tanks totaling 33 litres…!!

With a roar they rode out of the parking lot and headed north for Vang Vieng, where they were due to spend the night, before going on to Oudon Xai and crossing back into Thailand where Willi and I had entered the week before…

Three world travelers pose with their trusty BMW'S....

I went back to my room, to get my helmet, and then  rode to Fuark’s workshop to see how long it would take for him to get a set of brake pads for me…

He was busy chatting to an Australian who was planning to ride his KTM up through China and into the ‘Stans… They stopped talking when I rode up on the fully kitted Big Fella… I explained my problem, and Fuark got down to see if the situation was as bad as I said it was…

Fuark removed the rear brake pads to see how badly they were worn...

“Blake’s finis…!!” he said getting up and banging his head on the bottom of my pannier as he did so… He stood rubbing his head with one hand while looking down at the two badly worn pads he held in his other…

He went back into his workshop and reappeared minutes later holding a set of brake pads that matched mine exactly…!!

I could not believe what I was seeing….!! This was Vientiane, Laos, for goodness sake…!! Miles from the “back of beyond”…!!

Fitting them proved to hold him up for a few minutes and then, using a long nosed pair of  pliers, he fished a piece of cloth out of the caliphers… He held it up for me to see… The Australian biker looked on in amazement…

“How the hell did that get in there, Mate…??”

“Must have picked it up on these bloody roads….!!”

I could now see why my brake pads had worn down so quickly… The cloth had been jammed near the one edge of the pad, causing it to wear down much more quickly on the other…

Ten minutes later, we were good to go...!! Fuark is your man to see if you have bike problems in Vientiane...!!

I left Fuark after handing over the princely sum of 150 000 Kip (about R135.00) I did not care what brand of pads they were, or if he had made them up himself in a back room somewhere…

Fact was they fitted, and would get me to Bangkok…!!

I watched this elderly lady going door to door, selling snacks...

I rode into town to buy some supplies (you know, Snickers, Kit-Kats etc…) and then went back to the hotel to relax in my room… I figured I could spare the extra day, as I had believed that I might be stuck in Vientiane for at least another full day anyway…

As it turned out, one day turned into two…!!

©GBWT 2011

3 comments to Fixes and Surprises…!!

  • Carnivore

    Eish..! This is SUCH a lekker story. I enjoyed this little interlude with Simon and Lisa… stirs me to read of a Couple who do this together.
    So, BF is in somewhat better fettle than he was afore ya rode inta town…

    Hamba gashle, ‘mfundin..

  • Mark Behr

    Great to see you less stressed about deadlines and just enjoying your ride.

  • Good to hear from the meat eater again…!! Hope you guys are all well down there in P.E….!! Take care my friend…. R.

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