Riding your own ride takes on a new perspective when you’re riding through remote Botswana and Namibia, as Dan and Margaret Wing did on Renedian’s Waterfalls and Wildlife tour. Even though they were part of a small group, each rider’s experience was unique.
Used to riding with only Dan and friend Fred, Margaret found the group experience a highlight of the trip.
The Edmonton, Alberta area couple had planned a trip to Kenya and Tanzania five years earlier, before Margaret learned to ride, but Dan’s ruptured Achilles tendon hijacked their plans. A road trip to visit their parents in Peace River opened new possibilities. That’s when Margaret’s sighting of two women riding motorcycles inspired her to learn to ride. Dan, who’d begun riding as a youngster, concurred. They’d ride to Ecuador with their friend Fred, he thought.
Determined, Margaret wasted no time and took lessons in the summer of 2016. She and Dan shopped for weeks before purchasing a Yamaha FZ07. While she rode around developing her skills and confidence, he followed in the car. The next winter they met Rene at the motorcycle show and learned they could experience Africa by motorcycle. Conditional upon her commitment to go to Africa, Dan, who’d was still bikeless, bought his own.
“I knew Africa was a stretch but after Dan got his bike, we rode all around British Columbia and Alberta. The next year we rode down the coast with Fred and I was ready.”
“Once in Africa, I quickly adjusted to the BMW GS700 with lowered seat and suspension. I could get my feet on the ground and didn’t feel like I had too much bike.
“We were always having different experiences on the same ride,” says Margaret. “The bikes aren’t always in the same place at the same time so half the group would see something the other half missed. Someone at the front might startle an animal that moved away by the time those at the back reached that spot. Or front riders might have unknowingly startled a guinea fowl that only those at the back spotted.
“In Africa, we regularly experienced something very different and very new. On safari, it would be the surprise of seeing an exotic animal in the wild. Or crossing a landscape to twenty different species all together and it’s so surreal. At home, we lack day-to-day opportunities that create these types of bonding experiences with other people.
“We don’t have herds of animals running along the road beside us in Alberta. It’s so exciting, unpredictable, and inexpressible. How do you describe what it’s like to have sand infiltrate your clothing as you’re riding?
“The whole trip was like that because there was such a nice daily variety. Every morning we’d ride; every afternoon would be a unique experience. One day you’d be on safari; the next you’d be meeting people in the community.
“We were always amazed at how we could have different memories on the same ride. Those become bonding experiences when we talk about them at the end of the day.
“The highlight is always having a great common experience with people you enjoy being around and all the silly fun you end up having together. We were a small group but you get to meet new people and share those experiences with them.
“Dan and I will continue to travel but there will never be a trip that can top this. I’ve been to a small part of Africa and now I understand. It’s pretty amazing and I feel very fortunate to have been there.”
Photo credits: Dan and Margaret Wing