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Not just another motorcycle riding day in Botswana

Season 5: Destination Unknown

1 September 2021

I’d forgotten how it felt to be on an absolute high. The feeling of excitement, the rush of adrenaline! I had that feeling when I started traveling the world on a motorcycle 2,5 years ago. And for a long time, I had that same feeling again and again when I entered a new country. But lately, motorcycle adventure travel has become the new normal to me. Riding all day, getting lost in the African bush, and arriving at a new destination, it has become a daily routine, just like others have their regular day in the office. 

Some people enjoy daily routines, I don’t. I like to be out of my comfort zone. I strongly believe that being out of your comfort zone pushes you to reach new heights. You will do things you never thought you’d be able to. It worried me, what if adventure traveling had become my new comfort zone? 

And then something unexpected happened in Botswana…

That day, I had planned to ride towards the Makhadikhadi salt pans. There were some famous big and old baobab trees to see, and I wanted to film these beauties. 

When I stopped on my way there to fly the drone for an impression of my surroundings, I suddenly saw a biker appear out of nowhere. He was even more surprised to see me than I was to see him. He kept on looking over his shoulder and in a matter of seconds, another biker and then a third biker popped up. ‘What are you doing here’, they exclaimed. The riders were all from Botswana and rode on their bikes all the time in this area, but they had never bumped into other riders before. Especially not here. 

It took me a few seconds before I realized that one of the riders was in fact James Alexander - who raced the Dakar Rally in 2020 in Saudi Arabia. I knew about this extremely impressive Dakar race. He entered the rally in the Malle Moto class and managed to finish the Dakar rally. I’d seen footage of him riding alone in the Saudi desert in the darkest hours of the night, when he was trying to finish the stage. What are the odds of running into this legend somewhere on a random track in Botswana! 

They told me they were riding to Kubu Island, a small rocky island full of baobab trees, surrounded by the Makhadikhadi salt flats. Kubu Island was already on my list to visit, but not today. The three guys were riding with another rider who was still in Gweta, together with their backup vehicle. ‘Why don’t you ride back to Gweta, put your luggage on the backup vehicle and join us to Kubu’, they said. 

Being a solo traveller, I wasn’t too stoked about riding in a group and having a backup vehicle nearby. But, riding with Dakar legend James Alexander on the salt-flats of Botswana, that was something I didn’t want to miss out on either!! 

And so I ploughed my way through thick sand, back to Gweta. My luggage was put in the backup vehicle and they loaded another ‘bedroll’ for me to sleep on at Kubu Island. There is no accommodation over there, so we were going camping. I set off with the fourth rider, Mark, and two vehicles. In a race against the clock to arrive at the same time on the island as the three previous riders I met earlier. It was an absolute nightmare. We kept on losing each other on the tracks, and one of the vehicles got a flat tyre to top it all off. I was either eating dust from the vehicle in front of me, or I was on my own, trying to find tyre tracks because I didn’t know where I was suppose to go. That is why I like to travel on my own, I kept thinking to myself. 

When we finally met up with the other riders at the saltpan, the sun was almost gone and it was still an hour to Kubu island. We decided to set up camp and ride to Kubu the next morning. This time, we were riding together. Now I wanted to try and keep up with James Alexander and his mates! My 250cc Savannah was of no match to a real Dakar bike though, nor were my riding skills! But that didn’t matter much. For the first time in a long time, I noticed that I was pushing all my limits. Not just the limits of my motorcycle, but also my mental and physical limits. Knowing there were riders in front of me and riders behind me, who were trying to catch up was an entire different feeling from riding alone with a fully loaded motorcycle! 

Then and there I knew it. This is what I want to do, I want to enter a Rally. It doesn’t have to be Dakar, which after all is the mother of all rallies. I just want to compete in a small rally one day. Learn how to read a roadbook, navigate through difficult terrain and push myself, and my bike to the limit. 

But for now, it will have some more regular days in the office, doing adventure motorcycle travel. And in the meantime, I will be preparing for my first rally!!

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Ciao Noraly. Ho visto un tuo video sul sito del Kalahari Rally. Ho letto la classifica. Complimenti! Se passi dall'Italia sarei felice di vederti e ospitarti.

MAURIZIO  | 

Your back in JoBurg and must be having the time of your life.
New adventures, new series, and with, your partner in crime, Savanna.
Meeting James Alexander (by fate or chance, who knows) was a spark and I wish you the best always Noraly.

Mike - P.  | 

Kubu island is one of my favourite episode. I would love to ride there, just as you did. Anyway, for now I enjoy riding in my home country of Slovakia. Here are still many roads that could surprise me and still many locations I would like to visit on bike.
I wish you all the best and stay safe Noraly!

Miloš  | 

Noraly, I have been following you since you first posted your vlogs in India. Your travels thus far are inspiring but I must say I have enjoyed your African travels the most, in particular Namibia; what amazing geography! Your new desire to run a rally raid is an interesting turn of events. I know you will succeed as you always do when you set your mind on something. With over 800,000 followers I imagine there would be many who would certainly like to volunteer as ground crew for you! :) Continued success and safe travels in Africa and may the world get back to normal so your travels can proceed unimpeded. (We in Canada and our American cousins look forward to you one day resuming your journey to Alaska.)

Thumper1  | 

Really enjoyed your ride with the other bikers - a superb variation to your more usual brilliant content. I think you would do very well in an off-road rally and I suggest you research the Andalucia Rally which I think is like a primer for the Dakar...
Take care
lord flinty

lord flinty  | 

Look up South African 'Desert Rose' Taye Perry for some inspiration.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzYFfpqtQXM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VA025d2-js

MarkD  | 

Noraly, great write up. I really enjoyed the episode. Having done long riding trips alone and then you come upon a rider or a couple of riders and you are going the same way, you are reminded how nice it is to have companions and human interaction at times. In short you didn't realize you were a little lonely. It is amazing how the experience recharges your batteries so once you part ways it's with a fresh new start. Keep smiling and posting.

BruceG  | 

Well said Bruce G!

Noraly  | 

Hello Itchy Boots team.
Please allow review before posting so that we can correct our mistakes, typos, etc. There should be an option to delete a post for that user. Also allow option to give feedback on existing posts. Currently there is no way to respond or give feedback to any blog post.
Thank ;you and regards.

Mo Husain  | 

Hi Mo, you still can give comments on a blogpost as you noticed ;-) but you need to login before you can do so. And before submitting your comment, you can always reread it and make corrections if needed. Best, Noraly

Noraly  | 

Hi Itchy. Dakar episode was awesome. Your riding posture and style was at par with pro rally riders. The other day I suggested you sign up for Dakar and you liked the idea, but I had no clue as to how costly it is. As for funds, I'm sure you can get many sponsors or run a "FUND ME for Dakar" campaign and you WILL raise more than enough for the event.
aka Mo Husain (youtube)
ps. The old blog allowed feedbacks, dont know if this one does!! And, dont know if I will be able to review before posting.

Mo Husain  | 

You should get in contact with Lyndon Poskitt, who has also completed many rallies including Dakar many times, and try and have a go at his new rally school in Spain using the rally bikes he built for the Africa eco rally and maybe even take part in that. It is as close to the original Dakar that you can still do and Lyndon is a world of information and experience.

The Badger  | 

And you would kick ass in a rally! Just saying…😏

cynzylla  | 

Your ride with James and his friends was awesome! The drone shot of you all riding on the pan gave us chills watching it! Thank you for sharing your “daily routine” with us. We look forward to each episode! 🏍

cynzylla  | 

It was so exciting to watch your excitement as you pushed yourself to keep up and prove to yourself…another challenge conquered. Never lose that spirit…it will keep you young forever🙌🏻 Always look forward to what new challenge you find and your thought process through it. Have fun always 🏍🇺🇸

Debbie R.  | 

Looking forward to your rally participation when that happens. 😊 Till then safe riding.

IBFan  | 

Ciao Noraly!
I am always impressed with the determination with which you eat regional dishes. Have you never had any problems with that?

Mario  | 

Well, there are some dishes that I found very challenging to eat... and I always make sure food is fresh and well-cooked before eating. ;-)

Noraly  | 

Ciao Noraly!
I am happy about every video of you and would like to go with you. The journey to South Africa alone seems to me to be a major obstacle. So I am happy that you share your impressions with me and wish you a safe journey and great experiences.
Your Mario (www.motorradkopf.at).

Mario  | 

Thanks Noraly for your documentaries entertaining and interesting! Baring in mind I'm someone in my '60's I'll be happy to actually do finally do parts of Europe on a bike lol ! My wife and I are planning once borders are open properly! ( She'd prefer to be sat on a sun soaked steamer chair somewhere at sea lol.)
But finally agreed a trip thru Europe to Italy to show my Multistrada where it was born ha ha!

DaveM  | 

Hi you, your the legend to all your fans. Another day at the office! Some office! All of us at home wherever, (me, UK) just wait each day for your our next adventure. I can't see you getting bored with your 'Day Job' for a good while yet. Enduro/Rally, when I did enduro 20 odd years ago, it was the most exiting time. Mates who have done Rumaniacs have to go back time and time again. Proper motorcycling is a drug. Head down arse up bikers don't know what they miss, hurtling down main roads to get to the next cafe and strutt about in their shiny leathers. Not for me. Or you either. Travelling on your own, no one else to worry about.
You go for it girl and laugh all the way, despite the aches and pains you will suffer. It's the best thing you could ever do.
Meanwhile keep travelling.

Jim Payne  | 

I will Jim!

Noraly  | 

What a beautiful adventure. We r following u with huge excitement

Unsal  | 

You are truly remarkable for living your dream. An inspiration to many. I've been riding motorcycles for most of my life and I have never seen anyone laugh off having a flat tire like you did, much less while being out in the middle of a desert. Love your positive attitude. "Such is Life", I believe you said. I was impressed with Mr. Alexanders GPS system and am wondering if you would describe it to us. I'm thinking that it might be something you could use.
Best regards and ride safely.

Freebreezin  | 

Somehow you have to film a rally if you ride in it. Drone? I'll watch for sure! There's nothing that you can't try and you will accomplish a lot of it!! YOU GO GIRL!!!!

CCh255  | 

While you are inspired by riding with James Alexander to enter a rally, I wonder if you know how much you inspire others? I want to accompany my boyfriend on a motorcycle trip through the mountains of India (and not ride pillion). So I recently learned to ride a motorcycle (at age 56) because you inspired me to do so.
Thank you for your wonderful videos, your infectious smile, and your love of life.

BetteOfTheCleve  | 

Hi Bette, Hope you will enjoy your trip through India once it is possible again!

Noraly  | 

Great you had a day or 2 riding with rally racers, so fun to ride fast but safe enough to finish... if you don't make the finish line you don't get a time. Just a DNF.
Where they hold local rally events you can ride past tracks, there is most often some difficult parts, so you know you are capable of completing the event. At many of the larger events, the track are so hard that even experts fail to finish and just a few others finish.

Just as in following your adventures, much of the enjoyment is the people you meet...
Thank you for having your channel and allowing you to get to know you and your travels. Fantastic!!!

JFS SV1000  | 

Ha! Seeing Noraly riding with others was very unusual - definitely outside your normal comfort zone, I'd say. On the other hand, it is quite normal for you to take on a new challenge. Well done! Yes, a rally will be a challenge but nothing compared to what you already have accomplished. Best wishes from California.

MarkO  | 

It's no surprise that you want to participate in a rally. I think you will do well. Can't wait to see that. I'll be rooting for you.

Drider  | 

You enjoyed it that’s the main thing and was good to watch, do you thing it seems to turn out entertaining ride safe my friend.

Recklesseric59  | 

Hi Noraly. They say it's a small world, well you've just proved that, I mean what's the chances of you meeting those guy's. You certainly had a full day riding. Well Done. You might have to change your bike for a kTM if you want to Rally.

Les moore  | 

Noraly, Not that I am remotely qualified judge anyone's riding prowess, but it appears your riding skills have improved dramatically since getting Savanna. Your skill and speed on the sand specifically are very impressive. Part of me thinks that little Savanna is better suited to your style and type of riding than the Himalayan sisters. I also think that you are traveling with both a lighter total weight and a lower center of gravity. (I just rewatched your Oops Compilation video last night). But I know your riding skills are light years from Season 1.
A little training and conditioning and you could be ready in no time. Thanks for taking me along and showing me the world. There are 2 living people that I most want to share a meal with. You and Mike Rowe. You both have fascinating stories to tell! Anyway, safe travels and to quote that famous philosopher Rocky Balboa, go for it!

Shneadz  | 

Thanks Shneadz!

Noraly  | 

AND THE ITCH BECOMES BIGGER.........................
For some people riding around the world will be a challenge big enough to itself, but NORALY's ITCH for bigger adventures will not be satiated by one big adventure, what she says about getting out of one's comfort zone is so true because only then does a person realizes the true potential of human life.
She's constantly evolving into a person who will be long remembered for her adventurous feats. Watching her go through life no matter what obstacles stand in her way is really inspirational.
I bet people at RED BULL will consider her for rally participation because she will definitely give her 100% while training for the same.

RISHABH GAUR  | 

Good things happen to Good People. The mile-wide smile and wonderful gleam in your eye after riding with the guys tells all. After watching (and enjoying) all of your episodes and seeing your ever-increasing riding skills, I know you will be very well prepared when you ride a rally. It is obvious that you work extremely hard at all the aspects of your travels (route planning, bike maintenance, accommodations, filming and editing videos, visas, areal history, etc.) and will do the same for a Rally. Wishing you many more Happy Trails!

TxBagman  | 

I have a hard time sleeping in a strange bed. You do it every day which is amazing in it self.
Like you said Noraly your at work with the whole world as your office.
I'm glad you have an exciting goal and challenge to look forward too.
The girl on a bike (utube) with bad hip and sholder raced red bull Romaniac hard enduro (57 out of 91 iron class).
So I know and look forward to you accomplishing it.
This was one heck of a read. Thank You!

Mike - P.  | 

These Boots are made for riding.

Armando Tavares  | 

Another day, another adventure! I know that fun will be had and you will share it with us, we are the lucky ones...I read your blog, we watch all your videos and out the door we go. It is a wonderful world out there to enjoy! Have two wheel fun! RT

Rex Rides  | 

Seems like your shiny smile and sparkling eyes at the end of S5 E71 had already given an outlook to your future rally adventures.

Toto Arriba  | 
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