Rides, Rallies and Events Recap
Jeff Hower

Jeff Hower

November 1, 2013

Trans-Labrador Highway

Tom and I arrive at Baie-Comeau Canada located on the Fleuve St. Laurent (St. Lawrence Seaway) in late afternoon, mid-June 2013, where we were to meet up with Dave and Blair to ride the Trans-Labrador Highway. This highway is roughly 1000 miles of a combination of new asphalt to potholed gravel and everything in between. It is in the process of being all paved so this will be one of the last years in its current rough state.

Another cold early morning start as we follow the Colorado River on its westward route. The vistas are what you’d expect from this canyon--grand. Ignoring the signs, Tom climbs over the fence so he can pose precariously on the edge cliff with a big fearless ground squirrel that is perched there. Hwy 64 takes us south out of the park to Williams. We head west on I-40 for about 25 miles then jump off on Route 66 which turns out to be a very worthwhile detour. At Peach Springs we pause for lunch and there is another group of bikes there from France who are in the US following the famous Route 66.

In April I received a phone call from Tom, who I met on a previous trip, asking if I wanted to do a 3-week bike trip. Two weeks later I’m up early ready to go but it’s still dark out and raining. Watching the weather radar on the TV I finally decide to make a run for it shortly after the sun rises behind a sky filled with dark foreboding clouds and drizzle. It is 59°F as I leave and I run into and out of light rain as I travel east across Missouri on Highway 36. Hunkered down and cold, I don’t stop until I’ve traveled 250 miles and need fuel and a stretch.

Day 24 finds us continuing our westward trek to the Atlantic coast. We are in what is known as the Caprivi Strip, a narrow passage in Namibia sandwiched between Angola on the north and Botswana on the south. Reports are this region seems to be in ongoing conflict of one sort or another. Part of this area is in the Chobe National Park as is evident by several signs cautioning us to watch out for elephants and a speed limit of 80 km/hr. The paved road is straight and flat, and the temperature climbs to a sweltering 104°F. I put in my earphones and plug into some music I had loaded into my GPS to ward off this boring section of road.

This is supposed to be one of our longest days as we are to go 413 miles from Tzaneen South Africa to Francistown Botswana. Debbie and I are the second ones out the gate at 6 a.m. save for Sterling who has gone ahead to do some filming. It’s a cool 68°F and cloudy as we leave town. The paved road is traveling through some low mountains and valleys when it comes into a small town that seems to have some sort of traffic tie-up ahead. It turns out that a semi loaded with cases of bottled beer has just dumped its load and we have our first beer crossing as all the spilled beer runs across and down the road. Since the route has gained in elevation it is getting colder requiring a stop to put on some more clothes and fuel up the bike. At the filling stations they all seem to have both leaded and unleaded gasoline, which sells for around $4.00-$4.50 US per gallon.

It was late July the last time I saw my bike in Seattle where I had dropped it off awaiting our next adventure. Now it’s October 13 and I’m in Cape Town South Africa at the shipping yard reconnecting the battery and checking the bike out getting it ready for our next trek. We’re here with a group of 15 other bikes on a GlobeRiders Tour of southern Africa. The tour consists of a 6000-mile counterclockwise loop going through six different countries and ending up back in Cape Town 36 days later.