Dakar 2013 – Day 0

It was an early start today as I woke around 3:00 am. After a quick and very welcome coffee from a very attentive wife it was off to the airport at 4am. Our flights were from Johannesburg at 9:30 am and so the first leg was a 5:45 departure to Johannesburg for the connecting flight.

Everyone was very excited as we met at the airport and checked in without a hitch. Security was only a bit more complicated as Neil forgot that a pair of pliers is a security threat even if it is only to repair a KTM!

The flight was uneventful and relatively short made all the more relaxing by the fact that there were a number empty seats allowing us to spread out.


After a meal and a short sleep Gus arrived with a few miniature bottles of wine. We started sharing a few stories and laughs as the hours passed. Before too long we saw the mouth of river Plate and for the first time I caught a glimpse of South America.


Meyer kindly took the initiative by creating T shirts for all of us. Each T shirt carried our flag and the name of each of the riders.
Clearing passport control and customs was a painless operation but collecting luggage proved a challenge. Gus waited until all luggage was cleared from the conveyer but no kit arrived for him. His riding kit had been packed into a golf bag which, due to its size, had to be separately packed and this proved to be too much for SAA. After some negotiation we arranged to get his luggage in Buenos Aires by Friday. We will hold thumbs.

We all drew Argentine Pesos from an airport ATM and then found a taxi large enough to carry 5 riders plus all of the luggage. Next stop was Hotel Olma Dorado and the big City of BA.


Dakar 2013 – Time for farewell

As the departure day draws near both Gus and Meyer have organized farewell drinks. Meyer had his at is home over a small barbecue while Gus invited friends and family to the Rose Bar at the Alphen Hotel.

A small group of family and friends turned up at the Rose Bar to wish us riders well on our journey. It turned out to be a lovely warm summer evening under the oak trees of Alphen and was a good opportunity for socializing before heading off. The bar was a hive of activity with good music playing in the background as the guests took time to share stories and to catch up. While I am sure that we will find equally fine bars in BA or Santiago the language and company won’t be the same. I’m not quite sure what we’ll find along the way though, as we plan to travel through some very small towns and some rural countryside – but that’s all part of the adventure.

Among the guests were Ollie and Herman. Both had completed the previous Cape to Cairo trip. Ollie had hoped to join us in South America but circumstances had prevented that from happening while Herman had only recently returned from his own great adventure covering both North and South America. Herman and his son had started their travels in Anchorage Alaska and ended up immediately experiencing the heaviest summer rainfall that northern Canada had experienced in years with rods being washed away in all directions. They then took a meandering route down to Ushuaia in Argentina (the southern most tip of South America). The 5 month long trip on BMW 800 GS bikes had been a real adventure for them and included Las Vegas, Galapagos and Hawaii. Please see their blog at Steyns Travel for more details.

The evening ended fairly early and we all went home for final packing. The start tomorrow morning will be bright and early with Meyer rallying the troops to be at the import by 4:45 am.



Dakar 2013 – Preparations

It was March 2010 and a number of us were enjoying a cold beer after a invigorating ride to the Katse Dam high in the Maloti mountains of Lesotho. The sun was setting and, as is usually the case after a long day in the saddle, attention turned to our biker dreams. Some wanted to do Africa and some had done Africa. Some wanted to ride Eastern Europe while others hoped to ride Alaska.

For me, while Africa is inviting, South America is more appealing. My wealth of experience comes only from what I have learned from others by reading their books but Patagonia, the Andes and Colombia seemed to be destinations with great roads, great scenery and manageable challenges. It was while we were sharing these stories that the idea of ridding in Argentina was borne.

The Dakar Rally has been running from its home basis in Paris to Dakar in western Africa for many years. Unfortunately political troubles and civil wars have necessitated that the organizers move the event to South America some years ago. However, this worked in our favor as we decided to coincide our trip with the running of the 2013 Dakar. The opportunity of seeing some of the best bikers in the world in a raid event alongside crazy true drivers, quads and other off road vehicles was just too appealing.

Unfortunately the practicalities of every day life also meant that of the seven or eight riders that we had originally planned the trip with only five were finally able to relies this dream.

Along the way we had to get to know each other a little better and so we planned a few rides and social events just for that purpose. To be honest, the planning was minimal and the reminiscing and socializing was far more the order of the day. But, sharing a few beers over a fire while repeating war stories always makes it easier to get to know one another and, when all is said and done, it’s always about the people.

By the middle of 2012 the air tickets had been booked and paid for. Now things were getting serious and it was time to take stock of fitness – both personally and for our bikes. Routes had to be planned, containers booked and kit sorted. In many respects the preparation for a trip is just as much fun as the trip itself. Those who had travelled Africa together shared their experiences so that we would all be better prepared for South America.

A ride was planned for August and Neil hosted number of meetings at his offices as we tested whether or not our bikes would fit into a 20′ container and discussed the route. All of these sessions were adequately lubricated with the soft drink of ones choice and with each meeting the excitement built.

The final meeting was held early in December. Finally we were ready and the container would arrive the following week to load the bikes. No more backing out!


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Some DVD’s we’d recommend

Motorcycles have long evoked a sense of freedom, rebellion and adventure. Here are a few movies and DVD’s we’d recommend for your entertainment. Some of them carry a deeper message while others are simply listed for your enjoyment.

  1. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) – This movie is based on the life and times of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara as documented in his book. It is a fun, humorous and moving drama and well worth the english subtitles (unfortunately the movie is recordedin Spanish). Highly recommended.
  2. Wild Hogs (2007) – A comedy about four middle aged men looking for adventure during their mid-life  crises. A fun light-hearted movie. (Wild Hogs 2 is due to be released in 2009). 
  3. Long Way Round (2004) – The first long distance adventure tour for movie actors Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman. Terrific scenery and significant challenges for these two city slickers as the make their way from London to New York the long way round. Their trip takes them through Europe, Russia, Mongolia, Alaska and the USA. It also shows how reliable their trusty BMW GS 1150’s were. Highly recommended. 
  4. Long Way Down (2007) – A documentary covering the north-to-south road trip of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman. A must see for any adventure rider but not as good as Long Way Round. 
  5. Race to Dakar (2006) – Yet another documentary. This time Charlie Boorman goes it alone as he prepares to enter the Paris Dakar Rallye. Not an epic by any means but certainly entertaining enough to have on the shelf for those rainy days. 
  6. On Any Sunday (1971) – This unltimate DVD is ageing a little now and has been re-released in 2004. While the bikes are very dated the footage is still as exciting as ever. 
  7. Easy Rider (1969)
  8. Evil Knievel Stunts (2005)
  9. Dorsland
  10. Ghost Rider (2007) – Hmm.. No comment
  11. Ride Like the Wind (1993)

If you have seen others that we have missed please let us know.

Why GS FreeRider?

Riding a motorcycle evokes a sense of freedom, a sense of connectedness, a sense of exhilaration – just being alive!

No other mode of transportation quite compares to it. In a car or a train one is merely a spectator, viewing the passing environment as an uninvolved observer. On a motorcycle one becomes a particpant. The smell of the fields or newly cut grass, the damp from the morning dew or afternoon shower, the cold of the morning or the heat of mid day – all of these may be experienced in a single trip.

This site is dedicated to the enjoyment and freedom of motrcycle riding. Whether you choice is cross country (“Gelände” in German) or winding back roads (“Strasse” in German), each journey is a new adventure just waiting for you you.

If this is your kind of thrill, join us in sharing the experiences and pleasures our world has to offer by participating on this site and by inviting others along for the ride.