Crossing Africa on a Vespa
Words: Jayde Coombes
Just a man, his Vespa and the open road. It’s this simple appeal that inspired Johannesburg resident, Mike Strauss, to undertake a solo journey on his faithful Vespa GTS 300 Super Sport all the way from SA to Milan, Italy.
Strauss and ‘Victoria’ the Vespa set off on 1 May 2014 and rode straight into seven months of stunning encounters with nature, challenging roads and refreshing solitude. “Just the idea of such a trip is astonishing to most, but Mike and his Vespa made it an epic reality,” says Managing Director of Vespa SA, Andy Reid.
For Strauss, one of the defining factors of the trip was the spirit of humanity as countless helping hands were selflessly extended to him throughout the journey. Starting with a send-off by the local Vespa community where about 60 riders turned up to accompany Strauss on the ride out of town. “This is where the spirit of Vespa really comes alive,” says Reid. “A Vespa gives the rider the opportunity to journey alone with only nature and the open road for company, but simultaneously brings the rider into the fold of a tight-knit community that shares a passion for riding.”
Apart from the camaraderie with Vespa riders, Victoria gave Strauss the opportunity to meet interesting people across the continent. He was overwhelmed by the generosity of complete strangers who helped with repairs at no charge, offered him free lodging, or gave him and Victoria a hand in the middle of the night.
Prior to his departure, Strauss worked with engineers to modify Victoria to carry supplies and essentials for several months – weighing in at 50kg. Vespa SA Director, Louw du Toit, worked closely with Strauss to prepare his Vespa for the long journey and to give Strauss a working understanding of the mechanics involved in keeping Victoria going for the long haul – and she really held her own.
It took Strauss 189 days to cover 23 530 kilometres and 13 border crossings – including some very rough terrain. Amazingly, he managed the whole trip without a single puncture and just one hiccup with a disintegrated ball bearing that was repaired in less than three hours. It took an impressive 15 030 kilometres for Victoria’s rear tyre to lose its grip, and by the end of the journey the front tyre was still going strong. Strauss changed the oil filter three times on the journey, the engine oil four times, the transmission oil once, and the spark plugs twice.
Journey of a lifetime
On his incredible journey, Strauss discovered that Ethiopia has the best coffee of all, that Sudan has the cheapest fuel and that ‘No Vespa No Life’ is now a motto he lives by. His trusted Vespa gave him the experience of a lifetime – taking him to places he’d never experienced before. He discovered the beauty of Vespa ownership, in both its freedom and solitude. His Vespa was not just a mode of transport, but his sole and trusted companion for the entire journey.
For more about Strauss’ epic journey, visit www.soloscooterist.com. To learn more about the Vespa lifestyle and to join the burgeoning rider community, check out Vespa SA on Facebook or visit www.vespa.co.za to book a test ride.
Source: DO IT NOW