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Old 11-15-2011, 05:51 PM   #1
Chris S OP
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Sahara - XT500 - 1982

Greetings A Riders.

Let me tell you how it was back in the day, before the inch-thick Touratech catalog, when you sent postcards not texts (and usually beat them home), when you made your gear out of scrap metal you found in skips, and when you navigated with a rosary, not a GPS. This is the story of my first big motorcycling adventure; a plan to ride across the Sahara to the Ivory Coast on an XT 500 in 1982.
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Old 11-15-2011, 05:54 PM   #2
Chris S OP
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Preparing the bike

Southern England, 1982. Like a lot of you I was dirt bike crazy, ate US Dirt Bike Magazine in one sitting and spent every spare hour bouncing my bikes off the scenery just for kicks. Here, after a brilliant day on a Cornish beach we got caught by the tide, rode out over the dunes but found ourselves trapped inside an army camp. The only way out was to do a Steve McQueen and jump the gate.
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Chris S screwed with this post 11-16-2011 at 11:35 AM
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Old 11-15-2011, 05:56 PM   #3
Chris S OP
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Man cannot live by jumps alone

But man cannot live by jumps alone - he needs an adventure but in the UK we have no Nevadas, no Utahs or Arizonas. We don’t even have a Colorado! We have Welsh bogs. Apart from Doncaster, the nearest bit of wilderness was the Arctic or the Sahara in North Africa. I didn’t know anyone who’d been to the Sahara but figured it must be humanly possible and the Ivory Coast sounded like a nice place to end up. The Sahara Handbook had a lot on Kombis, Range Rovers and Land Cruisers, but just a page and a half on motorcycles: get an XT 500 it said, or get a BMW. They got shaft drive you know.
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Old 11-15-2011, 05:57 PM   #4
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So I got an XT

So I got an XT (that one I jumped wasn’t mine) and spent weeks preparing it. A mate crashed it into a bus one night so I got some RM forks and a 19” wheel as compensation. A bloke took a month to make an alloy tank that didn’t quite fit. I put on an oil cooler from a Citroen or some such. The rack was made of Dexion industrial shelving, the panniers were sacks and chemical tins with the tops sawn off and hinges put on. When the big day came it was snowing but there was no turning back. I piled on the heaps of junk.
Like so many first timers before and since, I was massively overloaded but hugely under-equipped.
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Old 11-15-2011, 05:59 PM   #5
Chris S OP
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Ugly

Here's another shot of the XT so you can be sure how ugly it is.
I didn't feel that confident, but what can you do? Set off and hope you get over it.

'Where you gowin on that thing?' a kid sneered at a fuel station on the way to Portsmouth.
'Afrika, my lad.'
'No yer not!'
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:03 PM   #6
Chris S OP
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Rallye, rallye, rallye!

Camping somewhere in France with my trusty Vango tent which tripled in weight when wet and stayed that way for days. Notice how I use a karrimat and duct tape to protect the jerries. A tip from Mr Know-It-All; you wouldn’t want to scratch them.
All the way down people were waving and shouting 'Rallye, rallye, rallye'. What rally? I'd never heard of the Paris-Dakar Rally back then, but in those days the Frenchies were mad for it and actually thought I was a front runner!
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:05 PM   #7
Chris S OP
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Do they still make them in steel?

The idea of staying in a hotel was patently absurd. Here I’m camping in the hills near Cassis, just out of Marseille. I’d been on the road for all of 3 or 4 days and had run out of money already to pay for the ferry to Algiers. This travelling game; it just wasn’t like being at home.
Nice Alpine Stars. Do they still make them in steel?

Next stop - Algeria...
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:10 PM   #8
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this is great
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:12 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by benjava View Post
this is great

+1
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:15 PM   #10
poolman
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Old School

Chris S,

Amazing, Africa without Touratech? Got to love Old School. Looking forward to the rest!
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Old 11-15-2011, 07:02 PM   #11
aiMhi
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Old's cool, keeping scaning those pic's This looks cool.

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Old 11-15-2011, 08:43 PM   #12
Otis the Sasquatch
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You had me at "XT500"!

In!!!
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:19 PM   #13
Frey Bentos
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Brilliant. Why havn't you posted this before?????????
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:38 PM   #14
deadbird
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Africa!

Keep it coming. Great stuff.
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:43 PM   #15
pirate63
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Awesome awesome
Xt500, my first love
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