Long before his ignominious fall from grace, Lance Armstrong wrote a book entitled It’s Not About the Bike. Now, whatever your opinion of his “performance enhancing” ways, he does make a point that more cyclists should pay attention to: when it comes to cycling, it isn’t about the bike. At least, it’s not only about the bike.
Bike manufacturers are in the business of selling bikes, which is why they are forever coming up with new models that promise to be faster, lighter and easier to manage. If you are one of the top cyclists in the world, competing on an international level, an argument can certainly be made for investing in a bike that is 500g lighter than those of the competition. For most of us, though, investing in the latest and greatest the cycling world has to offer is really just a pointless pursuit of technology. It is absurd how many middle-aged men with bulging wallets and bulging waistlines will fork over a fortune for a lightweight bicycle when they could save themselves all that money by simply cutting down on a couple of after-dinner deserts. Why spend thousands on a lightweight bike if you are 10 or 20kg overweight yourself?
Of course, cyclists aren’t the only culprits. Photographers obsess over the latest cameras and lenses, debating their respective merits endlessly online, when they should really just get out there and take some good pictures.
Amateur cooks indulge in the latest stylish gadgets and gizmos endorsed by celebrity chefs, thinking that these items will somehow improve their cooking.
Technology has its place, and there is no denying that the right tool for the job can make things much easier, but passion and dedication are the true keys to success.
How does this relate to off-roading and overlanding fans? Well, we also have a tendency to focus way too much on the latest technology and gadgets.
Preparing for an overland trip need not be a long and costly exercise. Sure, if you have the money, investing in items such as roof racks, auxiliary fuel tanks, off-road tyres, replacement bull bars and roof-top tents will allow you to be more self sufficient and venture farther off the beaten path, but they are by no means all a necessity.
You also do not need a hardcore 4×4 with low-range gearing and multiple diff locks to travel north of our borders. Once again, a proper 4×4 will increase your travelling options, but you can explore Africa without one.
The “dark continent” isn’t as dark as it once was. It is becoming more accessible by the day. Roads are improving, shopping centres are popping up everywhere, fuel is readily available and there are plenty of wonderful places to stay, regardless of your budget.
Some overland fans keep putting off that “big trip”, promising themselves that they will go to Botswana or Namibia once they have purchased that new 4×4, fitted that replacement bull bar or finally splurged on that roof-top tent.
You don’t need a pukka 4×4 to travel overland in Africa. Yes, it helps, but your compact SUV is far more capable than you think. Those exquisite gravel roads and out-of-the-way places need not be the preserve of “proper” 4×4 owners.
Instead of spending money on items you probably won’t need, use it to finance an adventure. Pack your bags and see where the road takes you.
Inside this month’s issue you’ll find two inspirational articles. The first is a trip to Kasane in a Mercedes-Benz M-Class. The second is a drive through the Midlands Meander in a Kia Sportage.
Both these trips can be done in just about any vehicle. Should you wish, you need not even venture off tar at all. Hopefully these two articles will coax you into hitting the road.
It doesn’t matter what you drive. The Leisure Wheels lifestyle can be found around every corner.
So stop stalling! Hit the road!