Today was about great bike riding on mountain roads and on jungle tracks, falling off a ferry into a river, seeing fantastic wildlife, breakdowns and hospitality in a remote jungle village. It is going to be a long blog. ..
After leaving Maumau in Guinea I was on some of the best sports bike riding I have seen. Long sweeping bends on good tarmac through spectacular mountain scenery. The bike steering was still an issue so I was not confident to go too fast but then, seeing some of the wreckages of previous accidents at the roadside, that was a good thing.
I had to decide whether to take the smaller road into Sierra Leone which was a shorter route or take the longer and better road down toward Conakry. I am on an adventure bike. .. No contest really!
After several checkpoints I was out of Guinnea and into Sierra Leone. I felt like the first tourist to pass this way for years, and probably was. The road ended up as a track through jungle. I saw baboons swinging through the trees, some fantasticly coloured birds, and what I could best describe as puddles of blue butterflies. These were generally near water and I am assuming there was a female butterfly in the middle of male suiters.
I eventually reached a ferry crossing which was one pulled across by hand along a wire strung across. I had to get the bike up a narrow plank onto the ferry platform. I made it…. halfway! Then lost my balance and… splosh. I was in the river and the bike was half on the ramp and half in the river, nearly upside down. Between me and the ferry handlers we got it back on the barge. It would not start and I could see the water pump to radiator hose was split. We got the bike off the other side and up the bank to level ground. I was soaked as was half my kit, but I was still smiling. I soldier on that bank went into military mode (ott) and created a cordon aground my bike and bravely kept the kids at bay.
After a brief rest and removal of my wet booking gear I moved the bike under shade to look at it. First the leaking hose. That was easy, the split was at the end so I cut off the bad bit and reattached. Coolant leaked out so i topped off the header talk with water (Pete.. spot the mistake! ). Next i checked the fuses because the engine turned over but would not fire. Fuses ok so i brought the manual up on my phone. Check cutoff switch. .. oops.. Switch in off position, change to on and hey presto she fired up.
It was now about 3.30pm so looking a bit tight for time to reach my destination Makina. In the next village was a police check point and James, the policeman, offered me some palm wine. I was tempted but time was getting on so declined and went on.
About 500 meters after the village, the temperature warning came on. To continue would be madness and could destroy the engine. I went back to the police check point and asked for somewhere safe to camp overnight.
James asked me to wait, when he came back he took me to his sons house where they let me have a room with a bed. He then showed me the school that his son was head teacher for, James had donated the land for the school. Now this next bit I find incredible. …
Remember the charity Street Child I am supporting… THEY HELPED BUILD THE SCHOOL. Coincidence, fate, guidance by a higher power? Some strange set of circumstances led me to stop there that night!
I decided to leave the bike until the morning. I had a suspicious there was an air lock meaning causing the overheat.
I finished the day sat chatting to local teenagers and watching dozens of fire flies dancing in nearby bushes. A firework display African style.