Some people really personify adventure riding. Sam Manicom is one of those people. Wanting to do something completely different, Sam Manicom decided he wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle. Three months later with only the skills he’d learned riding on pavement, he set off to ride the length of Africa. His planned one-year trip turned into an eight-year epic across 55 countries.
Sam has condensed his journeys into four separate books in the order on which his journey transpired:
Under Asian Skies
Tortillas To Totems
Each is a great fun read and I learned a lot about Sam, his traveling companion Birgit and the people and places they visited along the way. Do yourself a favor and pick up Sam’s books a learn a lot about riding the world and how Sam (and Birgit) shrunk the planet as they traveled its surface.
You can get a signed copy of Sam’s books by clicking here at Sam’s own web page, or you can get them through the R2ADV Gear Store found at the top of the page.
Ride2Adventure – Shrink The Planet One Ride At A Time
Having enjoyed hugely comfortable digs for a couple of days we were ready to make our way toward Esquel. We’d be traversing some mountain roads, but it was to be easy going with smooth pavement all the way. But we did have some nice twisties and a few nice stops with overlooks. We could tell that we were truly enjoying the trip since we were bypassing the opportunity to stop and take pictures at some pretty beautiful spots. It’s just that there were so many opportunities to see them, we had to force ourselves from becoming jaded to all that we were seeing and were still to see.
We breezed along the mountain roads swooping and gliding, powering up steep inclines and gliding down the backs. There was great joy in twisting the throttles and rolling the bikes side to side. Magic. Our bikes and our bodies flowed with the earth and easily followed its contours. It was as if the mountain had a giant magnet under its road and our bikes were magnetically bonded to the earth as were we to the bikes. We passed beautiful valleys hemmed in by great mountains and made few stops along the way.
By the way, if you don’t know, click on any one of the pictures in the gallery below and it will open that picture into a full size picture and then you can click your way through the remainder of the pictures in either direction in full size.
Because of this, our first stint of the day on the bikes was fairly long, we had lost track of the time. One such stop was for lunch. We often packed power bars and some fruit in our top boxes for an easy and quick snack. Kim remembered that she had stored a banana in her top box and was ready to eat it for her lunch’s dessert. But we’d done quite a bit of riding that day and the sun was beating down on us and the bikes. In addition, the banana had worked its way to the bottom of Kim’s top box where it had been bouncing about with all her other gear for most of the day. When she opened her top box and searched for her banana, she found on the bottom, a fine banana and dust puree a mixture. Eww!!!
So we cleaned up her top box and got to the business of eating lunch and taking a few pictures. There were some local flowers that we took a few photos of and before we knew it, we were back on the road. Once again there were few pictures taken as we zoomed our way to Esquel.
It was a fairly long day in the saddle but time really did zoom by. In fact, before we knew it, the sun was getting low on the horizon by the time we reached the border of Esquel. We were fairly tired by the time we reached our motel which was like a little hacienda at the outskirts of town. Complete with wooden rail fences and a central square area in the interior it was a great place to stop and catch 40 winks before we once again got back onto the rippio (gravel) on the famous Routa (Route) 40.
The following morning dawned nearly overcast, the few breaks overhead letting the sun’s warmth through occasionally. Our spirits however were on high since today we were going to ride the rippio of Routa 40, famous for making its way southward to Ushuia and also for the Patagonian winds that blow. We were about to find out what both were like on the first day our journey over its length.
Shortly after leaving Esquel, we made our way onto Routa 40 and the rippio. The towns gave way to large open plains of tall grasses. Some were populated with cattle and horses while others were empty and open for as far as the eye could see. About an hour into the ride, we spied a splash of color, pink color, not too far off the road. Two pink flamingos, not lawn ornaments, but the real things, stood as a pair, wading in a marshy area. I said to Kim over the intercom, that we weren’t in the States any more and there was the proof.
Shortly after we passed the flamingos, the wind began to pick up. Lightly at first, but then more steadily until it became intense. Severe is the word that comes to mind. A consistent 30 – 40 MPH wind that gusted even higher making the riding quite challenging. We would get accustomed to the steady wind leaning the bikes and our bodies into the wind causing the bike to take on a significant lean just in order to ride straight. A gusting of wind would require even more lean just to stay on course. Complicating things even more was when the gust would stop, we’d have to quickly take out the lean or risk falling off. It was quite an interesting and tiring riding situation. But after riding a few hours in these conditions we were becoming accustomed to it and riding became more easily to us.
About half way into the riding day, we came upon our first of many Gauchito Gil shrines. We would come to find that these shrines were all over Routa 40 and were filled with drinks, money, cigarettes, gifts, prayers and requests for help. The shrines in memory of Gaucho Gil and if you are interested, you can learn a bit about it here:
We stopped at several shrines and took some pictures and also took the time to get a measure of the wind. It’s difficult to explain the Patagonian winds. They’re really something you have to experience for yourself. Here’s a bit of a taste of how insistent they really are…
Back on the road, we made our way towards the town of Perito Moreno and our stop for the evening. We came upon this rather interesting sculpture. At first we couldn’t make out what it was, but when we referred to the drawing at its base, it became clear what it was. It was pretty cool now that we knew what to look for and we enjoyed finding it in the middle of what was pretty open and deserted spaces. After another couple of hours on the road, in the distance, we could make out Perito Moreno. Tomorrow we’d be heading for a working estancia (ranch) out on the plains with no communications to the outside world. It was a marvelous place and we’ll tell you all about it in Part 6.
Ride 2 Adventure – Shrink the Planet One Ride At A Time