Bring on The Logging Route!

Mamfe Travel Blog

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riding the sides... photos don’t do the route justice

Woke up this morning feeling very rough and sweating buckets, TMB (too many beers).  We left the other truck, they were removing the exhaust so it wouldn’t get ripped off going through the holes.  I couldn’t wear my goggles as they kept steaming up, my eyesight was bad enough without steaming up!

It was not long before we started hitting the deep ruts and holes but it was dry, in the wet season everything was transported by small Chinese bikes, no lorries, 4x4 or cars.  All the stories were true about this route and the scarring of the route proved it.  In places the route was impassable and people had cut down trees to make a new route around sections.  Riding in the deep ruts left by passing small lorries meant my side panniers scrapped the sides.

the dust cloud from a logging lorry
  Parts of the route was very tricky riding, standing on the pegs with lots of slow speed control then giving it throttle dipping the clutch on rough up hills as the front end going airborne.  Because of the weight on my back end I could feel it drifting into the sloping ruts, more than once on up hills my back end slid into one rut and my front in a different one and with the front end so light the bike would push forward at an angle as I gave it gas balancing with one foot on a peg to bring the bike in line again.  I had stalled in a rut going up a small up hill early that day and I had to push the bike back to make another run at it, now I tried my best to keep the bike moving up these larger sections looking for the firm ground trying to avoid the sandy patches.  The down hill sections could be even more difficult, water ruts adding to the ones created by the traffic.  The route carved its way through the jungle from village to village, had a fish and rice breakfast in the first one (this is where the truck camped the first night I was told later).

The route got better further on and neither of us managed to fall off until we passed a water truck that soaked the route.  Matt hit the sloping wet polished dirt and lost his front end, looked like he just hit ice and was off.  He was fine I was annoyed because I didn’t get my camera out!  Hahahaaha (I’m sure my time WILL come, it always does).

From Mamfe after lunch we headed directly south towards Kumba on another partly improved road instead of the longer tarred road.  Grant from the yellow truck had told us it was a nice route.  This route was also deeply rutted and it was clear no major traffic had been on it for a while.  On a local motorbike I saw a white girl on the back with a helmet on but her eyes were huge and wide open with shock, almost like a carton expression, I guess she was having fun out here how ever she had happen to be there, not many whites in these parts.  We filled up with 5liters of petrol sold in bottles by the side of the track, this route could take us longer than we originally thought.  Parts of the track was like the Logging Route but it was all passable. 

One part was a clincher though, a small wet and partly muddy valley lead up a very rough hill and the bike wheeled as I tried to keep my weight forward climbing a steep step dipping the clutch and on with the throttle again then I was faced with a deep muddy trench cut by traffic with vertical sides much taller than me.  I could see the local people used the banking on top of the left side of the trench.  Vertical drop into the mud on the right and a sharp slope down into the trees below on my left side leaving about 30cm width to navigate along.  Standing on the pegs elevated height even more but I had better control of my laden bike this way.  Riding up the top of the trench and weaving along it I told myself “DON’T LOOK DOWN, DON’T LOOK DOWN, KEEP YOUR HEAD UP!” (If I fell to the right I’d be planted in deep mud or sliding down the banking to my left).  Once cleared of it I stopped the bike with relief and got off waiting for Matt, he opted to sit giving foot dabbing control when needed but we had very different loads with him much lighter and I knew with my setup I had little chance of keeping the bike upright by putting the foot down and holding it, the throttle was my friend.     

The route opened up into smother fast graded dirt, then onto tar which went back to graded red dirt through the jungle and more friendly Cameroonian people.  Saw a huge dust bowl up ahead which turned out to be a logging truck with a few huge tree trunks.  The scenery was amazing and great way to turn the corner of West Africa to head south.  To say I was in a good mood was a massive understatement.  We did 260km to Kumba that day and covered in red dust I loved every meter of it.  I had just done the best riding ever and was fast asleep by 9pm.  

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riding the sides... photos don’t…
riding the sides... photos don’…
the dust cloud from a logging lorry
the dust cloud from a logging lorry
Mamfe
photo by: MrDuck