Camouflage??? Playing with the traffic...
Leaving Ibadan took longer than I though, this place sprawls! And the traffic was intense and my filtering skills got better even with the panniers on. Leaving along one narrow bustling street with cars parked on each side with the one way system a single bumper to bumper lane, I saw a group of young lads up ahead with dirty yellow high-vis vests on. I took them by surprise as I filtered up the outside and the guy that tried to stop me shouted “PARK!, PARK!!, PARK!!!...” his voice went so high pitch that only the local dogs and cats could hear him after that.
The route I was taking north was, unknown to me, also the route that every lorry in west Nigeria was taking, the first 70km was slow noise to tail! Forget your image of lorries and think more like a place where they come to die but have been resurrected to last another 20-30years, plus newer ones among them.
Some run on diesel, some on pure crud oil straight from the ground the way they totally block your view with thick black smoke, some run on pure luck, some run on prayers and others should not running at all. Riding past them you hear the metal frame work creak and moan under the huge stress of the weight and road conditions. By the road side (on the road or the middle of the road also) are the ones broken down with the nearest big stone under the wheels to stop it from rolling, driver and his mate busy ripping it to bits while others lay on mats under there wagon waiting for spares or extra help. There was quite a few wrecks mixed in, lorries over turned and of course the head on smashes. The vast majority of these lorries on the road where oil tankers so that meant smashes with tankers, you could see the rip on the side of the tanker in the charcoaled remains of both lorries… One lorry I was slowly following had a clear liquid dribbling out the back of its dull red tanker, vehicle safety or checks does not exist in the Africa I’ve seen so far. This is some of the slogans I’ve seen, “Time will tell”, “God is with me”, “Why”, “Your last day”….
One of the funny wrecks, drive was asleep on the other side of the truck
Progress was sloooooow… in 3hours I done 120km. Where Might Is Right a biker needs to keep an eye up ahead, a couple of times I opted to beat a hasty retreat and go off road, kamikaze drivers don’t leave much choice. Parts of the road looked like deep tarred ruts from the mass of lorries, potholes everywhere and no tar in other rough dusty sections. The bike could handle this well providing you could see the route ahead rather than sat behind close behind a vehicle, the two wheeled bike only looks for a single path for its wheels. So as the lorries and vans crossed to the left for a better path I could undertake them but you really had to watch out for these deep potholes so it was heavy on the back brake squatting the bikes rear down for a quick turn or weave. Something I’ve noticed is I preferred the wrong side of the road as it all ways looked better to me, less tarred ruts, potholes and there is a simple reason for this I worked out, riding north it’s taking the max+++ fuel/goods inland and coming south they are mostly lighter or empty so don’t cause as much road damage. Further north the road was a mass of potholes with sections where cars/vans/lorries weaved erratically in each direction not paying much attention to each other for their best route through, it look like a busy ski slope but instead of skiers and snowboarders it was vehicles and these were going in both directions. I think you get the idea…
I stopped at a place 430km from Abuja (the capital and my next destination for visas) for fuel, the fuel station had a large queue. I had tried a few other stations but there was no petrol. It was getting late in the day so I asked a local in a car about a hotel and he pushed me to the front of the queue and everybody’s eye’s were on me, a white face in these parts gets a lot of attention (mind you I looked as black as them from the smokey lorries and traffic dust), I didn’t need much as I was keeping it topped up due to the shortages so I agree to push in. Push in being the optimum words! I had been charging my netbook in the pannier for the first time plus I opted to having full lights on in the traffic smog, blowing my loud 20Amp horn regularly and in the intense concentration I’d forgot to keep an eye on the battery, it was now dead. A push from the locals got me going again so I went in search of a hotel. Found one nearby with secure parking and went inside to book/pay for a room leaving Katie running to charge the battery. I didn’t want to do the whole signing in thing then as I wanted to take the bike on a 10km run to put charge back in the battery and she was getting hot. I sharply explained I would return shortly after the usual African questions, I need to cool the bike down and they now had my money… I went back outside with the guys following me and I explained AGAIN I’d be back soon, no problem! As if right on queue (or maybe Katie heard me?) Problem. The hose for the water pipe blow off again in a cloud of steam. OK, now I can finish signing into your hotel. I made a quick call back to Ian at Sideways using a locals mobile (my KTM guy in UK), it was late Saturday afternoon so I could just catch him before they close. Thankfully he didn’t give me any bad news why this should happen twice to this model of KTM, just give it a dam good tighten this time and with a new longer handled screw driver I bought I did. Had to push start the bike again (need to get used to the kick start), let her heat up, fan came on (good) and just watched here idle getting hotter and hotter but no pipes blew off and all the pipes were hot meaning the water was circulating (groovy!).