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Old 04-08-2013, 08:47 AM   #37
jaumev OP
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Joined: Jun 2011
Location: Barcelona
Oddometer: 1,520
Stage 3: Merzouga - M'Hamid

Despite the hard day in the sand we had yesterday, this morning I can easily get up, today’s stage is very nice, especially the beautiful end with arrival to M'Hamid red dunes. What most concerns us all is the Ramlia pass and its fes fes ... David is the only in the group that has not crossing the Ramlia before and our comments made him to have nightmares .... look his face in the picture having breakfast in the hotel…

We left towards a lake near the dunes of Merzouga whith beautiful pink flamingos. Too bad the bike’s noise fright tem without time to have some pics.
We pass next to the fantastic dunes of Erg Chebbi ... pity with the big cows we can’t cross thru it as I did few years ago with the DRZ… it was a great fun!! Next time I must come with a lighter bike…

Then we started to have very fast tracks, in here I don’t miss the Suzuki. I remember how uncomfortable it was riding without wind protection and the uncomfortable seat such a lot of time… In contrast the Yamaha is super comfortable both, standing up or seating in this sofa…
We arrived to a huge dry lake, the bike ask me to open the throttle… I saw the score at 140km / h ... we're crazy ...
Suddenly sand appear again ... the dreaded Ramlia approaches. The Ramlia is a sand river surrounded by an area of small dunes with very fine and soft sand where the bike sinks. Also if you are unfortunate enough to go after a rally as we where, the cars and trucks generated a lot of fes fes-which is a very fine powder that seems talc, will not let you see anything and gets everywhere.
We arrived at a small town that seems expressly build before the sand starts, we always stop there to have a Coke before the hell begins. How can you have a cold Coca Cola in the remotest parts of Morocco??.

I remember three years ago when I stopped there with the GSA. I bought the bike recently and I didn’t know how to ride it in sand. A couple of years ago I crossed the Ramlia with the DRZ and it was hard already... with the BMW could be hell ... I was obsessed, and there were only two guys… I imagine me leaving my beloved bike buried in the sand.
I was in the same bar when a group of Spanish riders came in the opposite direction, they already crossed the sand and where exhausts, they ride some enduro bikes and very prepared KTM 690. When they saw me with the BMW the first thing they said was: You don’t want to go there with this cow, don’t you? ... They where so sure about how impossible could be that they gave me their phones, so I could call them before die... I was more and more worried.
I don’t know how we did it but it was easier than we expected, even more than with the Suzuki…
This year we struggled quite a lot, I think we've taken a different path than I did with the GSA or perhaps because I'm older... we spent almost two hours. But the worst is to see the locals flying in the sand with their old Mobylettes. I can imagine them laughing under the turban about these foreigners with big expensive bikes who stay glued in the sand…
After lot of falls with consequent laughter and photos for the souvenir, at last we crossed the Ramlia. I don’t know if there is a lot of crazy people they cross it whit this kind of bikes... another story to remember drinking a beer ...

We move through vast plains driving in parallel, the videos are great with images that seem the Paris Dakar. Then a couple of pretty rocky mountain cols. The landscape is infinite.

Then it was a funny track with lots of jumps ideal for tuning suspensions! (See video part 2 minute 3).
We reached the village of Tagounite and suddenly everything is green, the contrasts are brutal. A stretch of road and reach the red dunes of M'Hamid, a magical setting in sunset light. This is the third time I pass by there but still amaze with that landscape and those colours.

Sandy begins again but I have already been getting the hang of, for the first time on the trip it doesn’t be Joan or Enric that hooked me out of the sand, it will be me who's remove them .... I begin to have fun in the sand!
The firsts days in the sand I was slow and in low gears, I think the trick is to go in high gears at low revs, the bike pulls more. Put the weight on the back and GAS!. Your brain tells you this is not the way but don’t make any notice… more gas. The bike shakes, moves but you musn’t cut throttle or brake. : More gas! Two things can happen, you cross the sand tired, stressed but with a big smile or you fall. I did the two ways but when it was better was when I applied this technique ...
Eventually we reached the beautiful hotel in M'Hamid, one of the best. Arriving at the parking we see some very well equipped 4x4. There is the Rally des Gazelles, hundres of women crossing Morocco in an organized rally ... we rub our hands ... but no big deal, at least the ones in our hotel weren’t our type... so, off we go to sleep after a nice Moroccan dinner.

Tomorrow we expect the queen stage across the enormous dunes of Erg Chegaga and beyond the lake Iriki: the real desert begins!
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