Gravel Travel Adventure Motorcycling Podcast

Michnus&Elsebie Oliver Part 1

April 17, 2020 JJ le Roux Episode 1
Gravel Travel Adventure Motorcycling Podcast
Michnus&Elsebie Oliver Part 1
Gravel Travel Adventure Motorcycling Podcast
Michnus&Elsebie Oliver Part 1
Apr 17, 2020 Episode 1
JJ le Roux

                                                                 Part 1 of 2

Michnus and Elsebie(@Michnus&Elsebie) have been traveling around the world on motorcycles for the best part of 10 years. I chatted to them about life, the Covid virus and what it takes to tackle such an under taking

Get hold of them here:
Michnus email

Gravel Travel Contact:
[email protected]
facebook page

If you enjoy the podcast, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcast/iTunes? It takes less than 60 seconds, and it really makes a difference in helping to convince hard-to-get guests.

Podcast Music by: 7th Floor Tango by Silent Partner

Support the show (

Show Notes Transcript

                                                                 Part 1 of 2

Michnus and Elsebie(@Michnus&Elsebie) have been traveling around the world on motorcycles for the best part of 10 years. I chatted to them about life, the Covid virus and what it takes to tackle such an under taking

Get hold of them here:
Michnus email

Gravel Travel Contact:
[email protected]
facebook page

If you enjoy the podcast, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcast/iTunes? It takes less than 60 seconds, and it really makes a difference in helping to convince hard-to-get guests.

Podcast Music by: 7th Floor Tango by Silent Partner

Support the show (

spk_0:   0:14
way. Welcome to the first to be so off Gravel travel. I'm JJ Le Roux being based out of South Africa. It was an easy enough choice to find people in this case, a couple of local riders on a fascinating journey. Enjoy. Righty. So we are chatting to Michnus and Elsebie Olivier. I'm gonna ask you to go straight into it and just tell me a little bit about yourself.

spk_1:   0:51
Well, I mean, we live in East London, South Africa? For

spk_2:   0:55
we used to. Now we live

spk_1:   0:57
on the road. We've been travelling for the last nine years. First on often buy soup like semi permanent basis on we currently loved on a very strict super in Bolivia. They don't allow us to go out through the sitting and working, and 20 keep ourselves busy

spk_2:   1:17
playing the fool on. I'm Elsebie and ES says witnesses mentioned we don't a serial travel travellers, if you can call it that. I tried to convince my mom that it's actually a lifestyle now, but she keeps asking me, When are we stopping?

spk_0:   1:34
So I see she hasn't asked you when you're getting a real job. So I think

spk_2:   1:41
she got tired ofthe asking that now. E think it's

spk_0:   1:45
quite at Atma Robe at murder ball. When you get to a stage in your life where you you don't, you can you can take job out of your description. You know, when you want to tell people what you do, you don't have to put job in the

spk_1:   2:00
no wait. You have to say it's a logical of the unemployed

spk_0:   2:04
s o self unemployed.

spk_2:   2:07
So I think also we try to convince ourselves our job is actually just a hobby, because mentally it makes it. It makes you look at it differently.

spk_0:   2:17
Okay, good. That's one. That's one way of doing it. E. I want to start with where you are right now is and what's happening to you.

spk_2:   2:29
So we started riding from Paraguay to Bolivia and we were sort off under the goodness root. When the whole world started going in the Robert crazy. We ended up in you need, which is close to the beautiful assault Salar. Biggest salt flat in the world. And we spent about a week and 1/2 day and a friend off us in secret, which is the capital city off. Olivia phoned and said, You guys must come around. Come stay with us. And we were like Things are changing about Yes, we we coming to secrete and then we can see what is happening. So our friend here is a German will traveller. He's been living in secret now for about three or four years on and you're kind enough opened the door for us As we arrived, things started getting quite serious very quickly. Borders closed, the airport's closed and within a couple of days we couldn't even travel over a regional border to get to the mine. April if we wanted to fly back to South Africa, so way sort of decided to just sit it out quietly. Here in Bolivia

spk_0:   3:42
at this stage, I mean, you were quite what you were well, away off. What's going on, right? I mean, the virus is was encroaching.

spk_1:   3:49
We were in Brazil end of last year when this whole thing started to creep up and we were on the universe to go into Paula Garden into into Bolivar. So we knew we sort of kept trying. Keep track of the every day to to know what is going on with Russia. to make a plan. I mean, is this thing escalates quickly? Way we're going to set the paragraph. No, she will not go back to regard Cobra's over Argentina because I need your place to ship out of what this is bonuses. So we kept on keeping trying to keep up tight and it sort of looked like China's got it under control. But that time were in Portugal. Then we saw that Karol this trunk, anything to Bolivia because forgetting to Bolivar, that's we're getting in any case, that that's a place. Let's see it to believe and see what they need. If you really need you, we need to try and get to a big city. That's that. You mind mind, things get to a big city. By the time we got into Bolivia, we'd be realised this thing, things are not. It might in a very bad, very quick and we got into unique because within 1000 kilometres, offered in in goodness where there's no five days six days off, no indication one black and by the time I got into union, there was a four day designing fangled, all of us, I mean, we've never met him. WeII spoken on me, said, You know, we would love to host us for a few days or so one. Well, it's not five weeks

spk_0:   5:12
thinking I was framed way

spk_1:   5:18
Flynn was actually to start to ride around the liver because it's these other things. So this is a large weight are not gonna take two boxes a lot because after that, we can. Justice will see them, and they were gonna be buggered, so we don't want to do that. We wanted to have a little bit mourning the things that relate. To get serious with thoughtful. There's no that which you need to get to Frank. And if they can help us enough, you'll tell whatever we become managed to stop. When we wrote into Sucre that day, the local authority started to close the schools, schools and stuff, and in within four days after that, it just both. And then we try and get information from the South African government, which was absolutely non existent, and not to help us to get back out, because what's the reason to go back out there sitting with two bucks? We can't just ship the matter feet. It's impossible. So just two dragon information on what does they know? More than what we know, you know, and stuff and it just absolutely non existence. So

spk_2:   6:12
yeah, reducible. There is no embassy here in Bolivia, so we have to work through the embassy in Lima. And, of course, that's where the first challenge started. It took them about a week to just answer the first email. And of course, the guy just came back and said, You know, you've got the wrong contact number. I can't help you not even giving us another number. But that Zo

spk_0:   6:33
I mean, at the state you've made, the decision was made, right? You not coming? I'm referring to the fact that you are coming home

spk_1:   6:40
with that decision we already made because we've got on. But that's also difficult thing, you know, if it if it's, um, closed for September, we consider to September. I mean, well, we can be supposed to have to bet it all Everything changes so suddenly they close the borders, too. You can't We can drive back to become right back to when it is to shut the box from there. Then the airline started to close that. So everything happened so fast that there was not. Even if you wanted, you really wanted to. There was no one of

spk_2:   7:14
our biggest challenges, not really visas for ourselves. For Bolivia's South Africans. You need to apply for a visa before you enter, which we don't do way. We're fortunate enough that when we were in, you need the hotel where we stayed at. The people were very friendly to us and I said, Let's help you and then you apply for a work visa. So we managed to get a stream and work visa for ourselves. So in essence, even now, the government has given a later out. It's easy if you're a tourist in Bolivia, no problem. We understand your visas will extend it after the crisis is over. But our problem is the motorcycles. So Bolivia's one of the strictest countries as forest foreign vehicles. This concern when you enter, you get 90 days for your vehicle and they're after you need to get the vehicle out or they can impound it. So because problems just like yeah, it's our biggest problem was due now to just get some authority to say Don't worry, your motorcycles will be okay. That's why making us refer to Uruguay. Uruguay, when you enter, give you a year visa for your for your vehicle as you enter. So that would have been preferable for us. But as we see it as we got into Bolivia, I think a good thing I reacted really, really quickly. First secular schools and universities. Then I close their regional borders and the airports and gained. I went into full lock down and we've bean in lock down. Official locked down for about three weeks already. Weigh ourselves has bean is being for four weeks.

spk_1:   8:48
But then also, the other little problem is that the locals here perceived any foreigners a surge of violence. S O doesn't know what has been naughty. Tow us. People have been really great to us, even even locals. When we get a nice, um, street next to us with this stuff to bother, get moving. But the local house of advice is not to not even trying. But

spk_2:   9:15
if you think that Africans strick here, we can buy alcohol. But here's the trick. You've got s for your passport number or your i d card. The ending off the number you've only got from eight o'clock to 12 o'clock. One week, one day a week to go shopping

spk_0:   9:31
war. Okay, so you have to

spk_2:   9:33
say it's a bit of

spk_0:   9:34
a bit of a planet. Yeah. There's a lot of this quite a bit of planning involved, you know, Kristin, time e. Think Booth. I tell you, it's a It's a big problem in South Africa at the moment, you know, I don't know. You obviously have enough contact with the outside world, you know, with family and friends to know what that situation is like. I mean, I can understand exactly why they're doing it completely. You know, people don't want, you know, you shouldn't spend. You should spend the little money that you have on the right things and not on cigarettes. And also so

spk_2:   10:14
yeah, I just I like

spk_1:   10:15
that. I just don't like it that they that they make decisions for us.

spk_2:   10:19
Yeah, they regulate it a little bit too much. Yeah.

spk_1:   10:22
If you're big enough to vote, they begin to make that kind of decision.

spk_0:   10:26
Let's backtrack a little bit. I want to know. How did this all come about? How did wind in your life. Do you make a decision that you're going to jump on a motorcycle or you want to use motorcycle as a form off transport? And what did you say? 10 years later? Used you stole at it. You're still travelling?

spk_1:   10:46
Yeah, Almost there, man. Let me go. Way We're back where we started. Both corporate jobs we started. You know, Eun Isa studied also softened the brutal stuff running, but but right. We never get to meet with sort of my decision consultation with American kids because it is anything different. Lost island we had all these families is reaching in kids and just decided that it might be It's like we can do our likely foot. You know, I have this tendency to Teo. Yeah. No, we're good with dogs. So and then, you know, as you go as you go. You working stuff? We just figured it, man, this thing about working for 30 years, then retired didn't die That I'm gonna work for us, that that's just I don't know that we have to do something and let me decided that maybe don't buy the iPhone is done by, they'll actually stuff, and I'm going to go on a date that's trying to save as much as possible issue if you can do that. And if a bit of luck, we bought a bit of assets and and I started to do, do do well for us and they need In 94 we did a four by four trip into Namibia for a month and we did and that money we did in that time. But we sort of wrangle that to do that month and the bug that as bad and we really like that kind of stuff. The only difference on the former fourth thing is also we were sitting the bull shaping board. I'm driving, I'm having the fun and she's just shaking around todo eso way. Always always a bike, always the biking thing, but buy expensive. I mean, back in those back in the nineties that the queen is the bottle is actually quite expensive if you're just a normal salary and you know alright, already sounded cheaper. They want that according to what your income. So we lived in the motorcycle thing because it was expensive,

spk_2:   12:39
but also I didn't grow up with motorcycles, really, So for me, it wasa unknown. So we gradually went from four by fours. Two quarts, which wass a beautiful pain in the butt I clothe by luck. Well, I call it by luck. Some friend of the family decided to take me on a quick, a 1,000,000,000 ride to introduce me to motorcycles. And I absolutely hated it. And I see two meekness. No, no, no, no. If we're gonna try the motorcycle, think I need to try it on my own. And I think once I hopped on and realised the fun and the freedom Yeah, that was it. The choice of mode Wass decided

spk_0:   13:26
what it is. But if you said the choice of mode was decided that at that stage in your life you didn't pillion with it was just I'm gonna Rodman borrowing

spk_1:   13:34
it. You know, I don't think we've pulling for

spk_2:   13:37
now. I leave Well, you know No, I need to go to town quickly if we all to go and buy a space for a motorcycle. But luckily also

spk_1:   13:45
that time that the though the movement grew a little bit more about adventure bikey thing. So my brother No, Eric is he actually was just one of the first of your normal knows guys, that's really going to the into the thing. And, yes, it was a really different kind of, I mean, not a venture ourselves, the African man they might feature, you know. So the whole thing started to grow a little bit, And Cal are in 2004 was about 50,000 bucks with something just a little bit more affordable. Certificate. Wasn't doing that bad economically. So I think the whole thing started to grow from there, and it just it got good, nicer and nicer. And I mean, we always love to forward 40 we stole. I mean, we've been in the news, Go. We'll still play. For what? For what? For me to keep on going. But the way

spk_0:   14:30
to soothe you, Teo And in them Yeah,

spk_1:   14:44
well, I think a some states, we had a little bit more freedom to go on our 1st 6 months for Africa. That was a deaf. Now that that was the nail in the coffin. And just when we go back to the first time was like this, we need to do more because this disease you need to experience life a little bit. You cannot work your entire life, retire and live for years like that's not snow. Just no, not on first. So it just grew from the

spk_0:   15:09
So when I met my wife, my girlfriend, Then I found a one day and I said, Look, I'm in Cape Town. I'll pay for your ticket. Why don't you come down and ride back from Cape Town to Joe Book on a motorcycle? And she's like, What? I've never been on a bike in my life before so that that was the morning, the Friday, the Friday afternoon I picked up from the airport. The next day, we drove 1200 case on a BMW 1200 venture from Texas along. She absolutely fell in love with it. We did various trips together, but I changed motorcycle, so we'll just leave it there. I changed the motorcycle. I went home offensive. This idea ofthe owning Katie M. 6 90 What I didn't take into consideration was the fact that you can't pillion on a 6 90 There's just no space. There's a little a little There's a little breather pipe that comes out the fuel tape after the filler cap and she said. To me, the sting just kept on going where it's not supposed to do next day she's going to work Next day she went to work and the riding by the people, but he complaining about Why don't you get your own bike? Four weeks later, I'm not joking. She had a learner's anti border on Motor Theo's 8 400 which was great. Not too long after that. We went in a movie on a trip. And this is only this is where I want to know from you. I was worried sick all the time. We got to achieve your anger, I think about 3.5 weeks later on our way to a top because we were about to cross along the Capri, the Strip and I go through Zambia into Malawi and I stopped next to the road. And I say to you know what? I'm really, really sorry. I'm not enjoying this. Yeah, I I'm so busy looking out for you all the time that I'm I keep forgetting to look out for things next to the road. I keep I keep forgetting to enjoy myself. I don't know how you feel insisted to meet. I'm sorry. I didn't want to say to you, but I'm really, really nervous. So I said, Okay, I'm gonna make a corner. We're going back home. Were driving straight from here to friend. Took to keep mum to up. And two nights later we won't get mum to up and she started crying. And she said, I feel so bad for you. I feel so bad that I have to end the strip year because off my inability to write properly. Now I'm gonna leave that day, but I want to know from you. Make this. Don't you feel responsible? You know? How did you handle that? And how do you handle that now?

spk_1:   17:52
It's beginning at once. Yes, I know exactly what I know what you're feeling. In the beginning, it was like that because women, they say there's two things that happened for women falls afford enough. She will never give my bike again. And the other thing is that you do for responsible. You do fit flipping else. Taste. You know she's bitten the dust. Cosby's done quite a few times, you know. How bad is it? Well, just kind of things in the beginning. The first year, at least it was like that. But I can tell you this. We went for a lot of training, and even to this day, if we can do the official course, we do that because you get to play a little bit. But that does the only thing that got me lace lace feeling that mansion can go teach. I know she can enter the cell phone chip in when we get into a real bad situations, you to other back off completely and we'll make another plan or about your Children herself. And over time that that got better way better. But like now, I don't mind it. I know exactly where we can go with the Congo on now, when we really need to stop and push your bike fruit or than try and write a thing. So in the beginning, it was like that 1%. I mean by my friend because he got nausea from his wife running in front of me good and handle that stuff. He took them a long time to get over that fear that she might get off so badly that he that he's hurt for for, you know, like really better. It took him a long time to get over. But the one thing that really helped us was training, training, training, training, training all the time. Go to canteen ties, go to gusto. We spend a lot of money with them doing that, and I'm in a fight off me. It's the best. It's like a a print. But you just buys off to do this kind of thing. So the better they get in it, you know, the nicer the better than writing

spk_0:   19:32
them or enjoy it. So you

spk_1:   19:34
more enjoyable? Yeah. So we still do a lot ofthe technical stuff, but we know we know sort ofthe way to go way to rather, you know, take it calm. You don't just bulldoze everything. And we know that Aussie coupled that was Molly's for a long time. They got into bikes, no training. She ended the trip in The shire always stole thing broken. You know, just

spk_0:   20:00
way. Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm saying women can't ride. It's just that because and it's that natural position that you disposition, you know, you you feel responsible and you you want to make sure that your your body, your wife is fine.

spk_1:   20:18
Well, if they're not fine, you go. So it's imperative that they have fun. Even if you do a day trip, we do a week. You say they need to be fun. And the more they read his other thing, we've got a friend that only Raj once a month, forget it. Get off the bike. You consulted back. You're not gonna evil in anything and you forget where you are but what you've learned. So we're riding every day, even if it's just around the block just to keep that thing going. So all the other friends that the women, the women that we know now that we've made in the over lands or people that that does it constantly, often they you know that so they're getting more comfortable. They know how to do an emergency stop in all this kind of stuff.

spk_2:   20:56
I think when friends of us say less than my wife wants to ride, do you have any advice? That's the first thing we say is one you must remember. Most ladies don't get exposed to motorcycles from school. You know where you guys in high school already have fifties and you go around and you go to farms and urine scramblers way don't necessarily get that exposure. And unless you grew up on a form s so the first thing they say is to remember the skill is not safe for them. You need to go for training. You need to. Especially for me. It was important in the beginning not only the training, but to just go for a ride on my own, go to a parking lot and practise and practise and use my bike to go to work every day to get comfortable with it. To sort of understand the bike a little bit better, because I think a lot of lady still, you know, think I want a ride motorcycle. But they don't make it a lifestyle so over a week. And if this time they will maybe take the bike out for a quick coffee shop ride or something, that's that is the worst thing you can do. It's not enough. You need to get training and it comes back that it's not only for the good of you but also for your writing partner. I mean, I experienced what makes this experience? I mean, I see May have a serious accident in front of me. It's not. You're always gonna have that fear. Even if we in some situations, just that see, worry about me, I worry about he must. Well, that dead won't go away. But at least if you keep yourself in, trainee, both off you, you sort of have more confidence, and you sort of feel a little bit better. And then also meekness helped me a lot by just pushing me a little bit every time we in unusual circumstances, just showing me that override your fear, you know, just have a little bit more confidence, so use it. It's not easy, buff. It's hard work for both but the Joyce you get iss remarkable.

spk_0:   22:53
It obviously give gets a hell of a lot easier. And it should be quite almost want to use the word natural. After what, 10 years now?

spk_2:   23:00

spk_1:   23:01
You're absolutely No, no, no, no, no. We know what we do is very comfortable

spk_2:   23:06
with Max and the two of us.

spk_1:   23:08
And the other thing is that I'm really generalising. We see this a lot. The guy writes bike. He wants his wife to write. She likes to go there, go for one course that they're walking to BMW. They say we want to bite. What do you think they'd notice is by 50 GS He forces himself into pieces the first weekend. You know, starting a little bit slow, starting on smaller bikes. You can wish l the biking. By noon, you can keep the damn thing. You just grow into the thing. And I think it's a problem that a lot off couples don't grow in. The wife doesn't grow into into the thing she writes. Maybe 4 to 3 weekends aside. You know, way had friends that I don't want to write together because I say, Well, what if about first get cute? Well, I don't know. I mean, what what if both of you and our family is in the garden to get you two minutes? Is that that fears it is because of training. We've got such good training, a Carribean scientific about it. If you could go once and you never see them again.

spk_0:   24:05
One thing is for certain. Why don't you join a skinny for another episode of gravel travel when we continue this journey with thing to find out? What was the tipping point