Just as the sun was rising over the mountains and the morning mist started to clear, Mike had his regulator off his motorcycle and and in a backpack. With a quick kiss goodbye he takes off towards South Africa on my motorcycle. Its an odd feeling to be left behind alone for the first time in ages, wheel-less and thinking about how far away my motorcycle is going be from me, in fact its going to be in another country! Mikes heading to the nearest city in South Africa called Bethlehem in search for a new or secondhand regulator, while I spend the day hand washing our clothes in the bathroom sink.
Just as I was ringing out our last basin full of clothes, a cleaner called out to me. “Come, come, quick! There is a phone call for you” I rush up to the reception of the hotel which is a good block away from the rooms and wait for Mike to call me back. When he does the line is terrible, I piece together that the part will take a week to get to the motorcycle shop, and that he is going to hire a car and leave my bike in Bethlehem. I said ok, at least now we will be a bit more flexible about where we can go as my bike can only carry one person.
Mike comes back and we spend another night in the hotel. The following day, we pack up our stuff, leave Mike’s bike standing in the carpark and we cross back into South Africa. We head to a small tourist village near Bethlehem called Clarens. There’s nothing to see and do there but somehow the locals have made it a weekend getaway location, full of art and crafts and some good restaurants. We pitch our tent at a weird but wonderfully relaxed camping ground. Mike did the run with the hire car back to the city to retrieve my bike. There was no need for a car in this town, everything was walking distance away.
The first few nights we were all alone at the camp site, until two cyclist showed up. Matthew from New Zealand and Daniel from Sweden. Matthew came to South Africa to celebrate his brother’s achievement of riding from Cairo to Cape Town, after which he decided that was a pretty good idea so he took his brothers gear and started cycling. When he met us, he was wondering about changing up a gear or five and was asking us questions about motorcycle travelling. We discover later, he bought a KTM in Johannesburg and ended up travelling around Southern / Eastern Africa. Daniel started in Alexandria, Egypt and travelled down the length of Africa on his bicycle and finished his trip a month after we met him in Johannesburg and flew home to be with a girl he was crazy about.
Our new home for the week, while we wait for the parts to arrive.
A wildebeest just outside of Clarens.
As the only guests in the entire place and we had never met the owner, we took over the whole place. Between working on our computers, playing card games and cooking interesting meals together, we had a great time. But after a couple of days the guys left us, still waiting for Mike’s part to arrive. When the bike shop did finally call, Mike once again took my bike and headed back into Bethlehem. We decided to hire the car once again so we can bring Mike’s bike back with us to South Africa to test the bike and if need be take it into the mechanic.
The sign says “Welcome to Clarens, go ahead and talk Afrikaans its your right!”
Back in Lesotho and at the hotel, we both breathe a sigh of relief when we see his bike still in the car park. Mike fits the regulator on and turns the bike over, nothing happens. Pushing the bike up a small hill it gives us the momentum to jump start the bike. That sweet sound when a bike starts up after some mechanical issues, is such a joy. Mike grinning takes it for a spin around the block. He is happy and feels comfortable about riding it back to our campsite. We thank the manager of the hotel and cross the border for the second time that day, fifth time in a week for Mike. Time to make plans for our next leg in Lesotho, hopefully it’s as much fun as the Sani Pass ride without the motorcycle issues.
The new regulator!