Celeb-spot­ting in the Namib­ian desert

From celebrity friends to the soli­tary

RiDE (UK) - - Contents - STEPH JEAV­ONS Writes her col­umn ex­clu­sively for RIDE

WAK­ING UP IN my tent just out­side Spring­bok, I jumped out of bed, made the cof­fee, and shared an en­ergy bar with the ex­ot­i­cally yel­low birds who had come to prey on my good mood! I sat watch­ing the sun move across the ad­ja­cent hill, slowly work­ing its way to­wards me. My de­par­ture time was all down to how quickly its rays could reach me and dry the dew from my tent. I smiled and savoured the mo­ment, com­pletely sub­mis­sive to the con­trol that na­ture had over my day. To­day I would leave South Africa and head into the Namib­ian desert. Here I planned to meet up with Charley Boor­man and his crew, who were lead­ing 15 rid­ers from Cape Town to Vic­to­ria Falls on a three­coun­try ride with Com­pass Ex­pe­di­tions.

It wasn’t long be­fore the ad­ven­ture started. 90 per cent of the roads in Namibia are made up of sand and gravel, with oc­ca­sional sharp, rocky sec­tions on the trails. Blast­ing along them, I was quickly re­minded of what I love about the desert. The space and lack of peo­ple al­ways gives me a sense of free­dom. There’s a beau­ti­ful sim­plic­ity in this un­prej­u­diced land­scape that will swal­low any bush or beast that does not fol­low a few ba­sic rules of sur­vival. It is a lev­eller and I find a cer­tain com­fort in that.

I suf­fered a punc­ture en route to my first camp­ing spot and spent an hour fix­ing it with the desert sun burn­ing down on me. As I was wrestling with get­ting the back tyre back in place (all at a funny an­gle as I have no cen­tre­stand), a lo­cal guy turned up and parked his truck so it threw shadow over me, then gave me an or­ange and an ex­tra pair of hands while I en­sured spac­ers, brake pads and chain were aligned.

Meet­ing up with Charley and the gang the next day at Fish River Canyon was a real treat. Hav­ing a bunch of rid­ing bud­dies was a con­trast but one I thor­oughly en­joyed. The guys were do­ing well on their big bikes. Some had very lit­tle off-road ex­pe­ri­ence but, with guid­ance and a sup­port truck on hand, they were get­ting on with it and en­joy­ing the chal­lenge. Rhonda the Honda and I main­tained our usual ‘Keep Calm and Pot­ter On’ ap­proach. I en­vied the smooth speed of the big bikes on the long stretches but the ta­bles were turned on the softer, more tech­ni­cal bits.

I was with them long enough to miss them when they left and I was back to my solo life of rough­ing it, cook­ing din­ner for one on my lit­tle gas stove. Spend­ing time with fel­low bik­ers had been thor­oughly recharg­ing for me. Now though, I was ready to go back to what I knew and I smiled as I set up my tent in the silent desert once more. Life is good.

STEPH JEAV­ONS is near­ing the end of her solo, three-year, round-the-world trip on a Honda CRF250L, tak­ing in all seven con­ti­nents. Steph writes this col­umn ex­clu­sively for RIDE ev­ery month but you can also fol­low her One Steph

Beyond blog. She’s cur­rently work­ing her way across Africa.

This month sees Steph leave South Africa and head into the Namib­ian desert

Hang­ing out with other bik­ers is good but Steph rel­ishes the soli­tude

Funny who you bump into in the Namib­ian desert – in Steph’s case, Charley Boor­man

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