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Old 04-20-2013, 06:49 PM   #76
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Jealouser and jealouser...

All I could manage today was a Bonnie that won't start and went to Clinton County to look at a VStrom exactly like Tonny's for a little less than $8,000. Ride on. I want a picture of you struggling to pick it up in the middle of Sahara sand... with a camel in the background...... and your new rug being chucked under the back tire for traction...... and a, and a....
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Old 04-20-2013, 09:35 PM   #77
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last bike

One of the Swiss guys In talked to in Fes said he read in a moto magazine there that the new 650 V-Strom was called 'the last bike you will ever need to buy'. Tonny has been riding for more than 20 years and he agrees. So watch out, if you bought one, what would you shop for?
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Old 04-21-2013, 11:59 AM   #78
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Originally Posted by tt100 View Post
I want a picture of you struggling to pick it up in the middle of Sahara sand... with a camel in the background...... and your new rug being chucked under the back tire for traction...... and a, and a....

I'm sorry, you have the wrong ride report.

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Old 04-21-2013, 03:08 PM   #79
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Tonny and I started what looked like an easy day heading up the Tizi-n-Tichka pass over the High Atlas, from our starting point at about 700 meters above sea level up to 2200 meters. The road is a heavily traveled 2-lane commercial road, and I had read that truck traffic often slows travel considerably. I had also read that blind curves and people overtaking dangerously were a real problem. As it turns out, we had almost none of these come up for us this Sunday morning. Of course in an Islamic country like Morocco Sunday isn't a religious day, that would be Friday, but for what ever reason traffic seemed light.

The road varies from a bit rough to pretty smooth, and is a real joy to ride when you aren't behind seven vans loaded with tourists on a guided tour. Of course we stopped for lots of pictures.

The road passes through several small towns, and in one it was market day. People walking here and there all over the road, walking out in front of traffic, it was a bit crazy.

But we finally got to the top. We pulled over on the way up for a good view at one of the few places there were no rock and fossil sellers, but one seemed to materialize out of nowhere.

This happens all the time in Morocco. There are people everywhere. And I don't mean huge crowds, but at least one or two people in the oddest places. Many times I've pulled over to the side of a road to take a picture, and suddenly notice that fifteen feet away is someone sitting in the shade of a tree. Or a goat herder walks around a rock and greets me hello. You also see people walking in what seems like a strange place. Today I saw a guy walking and carrying a plastic jug, either for water or gas, I suppose. He was at least a mile from any visible human structure in any direction, yet here he was, walking down the road, carrying his jug.

Anyway, at our stop we got to talking to Rico from Koln, Germany, and he snapped a team photo for us.

At the top of the pass we turned and took a small gravel road that leads to Ait Ben Haddou, a famous old Kasbah that has been used for many movies.

The road starts of pretty rough, but gets better and better as you go down.

Along the way you see dozens and dozens of old kasbahs. Most are ruins. I guess a mud brick building only lasts so long. I mentioned this to Tonny and he replied that at least you don't have to go very far to find materials to repair or replace it.

Only a handful of people in Ait Ben Haddou now, most of the people live in the new own across the river, and make a living catering to the buses of tourists that come. The funny thing to me is, that the new town is built of the same mud and straw bricks as the old town. It's a bit surreal to me to see a mud building with a solar panel and a satellite dish.

What stands out to me more than anything is the water. Where it doesn't exist, everything is red dust. Where the is water, everything is green. The contrast is very sharp.

We got to Ait Ben Haddou and parked in the shade of a tree, and spent about half an hour walking around the old town. Tonny bought me an ice cream, too.

These Coca-Cola guys are everywhere.

The first vehicle I saw after entering Morocco was a Coke delivery truck, and that truck or one like it has been everywhere I've been.

I finally got a picture of one of these, a moped kitted out with chrome crash guards and luggage rack. I've seen lots of them, mostly out on the open road. Do you suppose this is a Grand Moped, as opposed to the Petit Moped that is used in town?

East of Ouarzazate the road flatten out into a dry wasteland.

The wind here was fierce, coming down from the north at about perpendicular to our easterly route.

We arrived at our hotel in Boumaine Dades, at the base of the Dades gorge, much more tired than we anticipated. Our 250km route looked like nothing this morning, not even requiring a gas stop. But in the end it took us about six and a half hours and pretty much wore us out. We had planned on looking at both the Dades and Todra gorges today, but we decided to put it off until morning. Just too tired, feeling a bit sand blasted, and the wind blowing sand everywhere was making nice views obscured.

Our hotel is outside of the town, which we like. For whatever reason, I was thinking that this part of Morocco was pretty sparsely populated, which you can see is not the case.

I should have known better, that anywhere there was water, there would be everything else.

It's 20 years old but built of the same mud and straw mixture as the old buildings we've seen all day.

Will it last 400 years? Remains to be seen, I guess.

About an hour after we arrived, the BMW and KTM crowd showed up.

Tonny commented that with this many BMW's, there was sure to be a support van close behind. These guys had been off pavement a lot today and the contrast between their dusty riding gear and the stylish reception area of the hotel was humorous.

Dinner was served in high style but the food was just okay, not great. We both ordered beef, one tajine and one with couscous, and I'd guess between us we had enough beef to make a hamburger. But just a small one. Oh well, lots of veggies help make up for some of my eating the last few days at those road side restaurants.

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Old 04-22-2013, 03:39 PM   #80
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What's the oposite of an oasis? Jorf !

What a day. Gorgeous scenery, street demonstrations, crashes, camels, sandstorms, power outages… but I'm getting ahead of myself.

We decided on an early departure to try to get to the gorges before most of the other people. The staff told us breakfast started at 7am, but when Tonny arrived he was alone. No food.

It arrived shortly after and we were on the road by 8:00. It took about 45 minutes to go up the Dades gorge road to the famous hairpin turns. As with Passo Stelvio, I think the pictures are way better than the reality. The pictures you most often see make it look like this is the middle of nowhere. In reality it's just a mile up the road from the end of urban development, and there's a hotel restaurant at the top. We took a few pictures, and right at 9am as if on a schedule three vans of group tours showed up.

On to Toudra. The road between is more desolate desert, but gave a few picture opportunities.

Toudra is well known for a very narrow canyon section, which is only a few hundred meters long.

I didn't think much of this, but fortunately that's where almost all the traffic stops. If you go there, keep going up the road another 5 miles or so. It's beautiful and nearly empty.

Then off east again towards Erg Chebbi. On the way out of town I saw the three Swiss guys I had talked to in Fez a few days before. They were doing the same route but in reverse from us, it seems.

We planned to turn right at Tinejdad onto a smaller road, but there was a police checkpoint there and the officers told us it was closed. Not wanting to go around on the larger N-roads they told us to use, we pulled off the road and got out the map. The trouble was a road closure at Jofa, they said. While I was trying to think of how to ask if there was a small road we could take around Jofa, two German guys from Wurzberg on motorcycles came down that road from the direction we wanted to go. Notice the bikes they are riding. No big buck all-road wonders, just inexpensive bikes. It doesn't take much to go where we've been.

We talked with them, and they said something about some reconstruction but said they'd been routed around it OK, and that we should be able to make it, too. The policeman shrugged and said we could go if we wanted. I went to a gas station to fill up and get some water while Tonny had a smoke break. When I came back, he said "I'm not worried about a little demonstration. Let's go."

"What? I thought the said restoration, like road work or something?"

"No, they said demonstration. But I think it will be fine." And off he went.

Um… well, I guess we can always turn around, right?

The 40 km to Jorf were kind of slow, with lots of time to hope Tonny was right. Along the way I saw a herd of RV's pulled over, and a stopped to take a photo of a particularly unattractive way to see the world, in my opinion. A guy there kept crossing his forearms, like he was trying to tell me something. What? Don't take our picture? Like I've mentioned, I can be a bit slow on the uptake.

When we got to town, indeed there was a demonstration, totally blocking the main road. But the GPS showed a few side roads, and the police officer told us to follow a guy on a moto, he'd lead us through back streets and get us around it. Nobody was yelling or doing anything violent, they were just blocking the road, so we figured it would be OK. The guy on the moto turned right down a narrow alley, and we dove in behind. A quick left, and he went through a row of stones blocking most of the road. Stones about the size of concrete blocks, in all but one narrow space I thought we could squeeze through. Before Tonny or I could get through, a group of boys, about ages 10-15, jumped into the gap and held up their hands to stop. We did. Tonny had aimed for the sidewalk, trying to get around, but five or six boys were there and he stopped instead of running them over. I aimed for the gap, and a boy of a bout 12 jumped in front of me. I stopped, then revved my engine and started to roll forward. He held out his hand a put it on my windscreen, and straddled the front tire with his legs. He smiled, sure I wouldn't run him over. I wasn't so sure, but nobody had done anything violent or dumb yet, and I didn't want to be the first. One of the kids held up his hand and rubbed his fingers together, signaling he wanted money. We sat. They stood. For a few seconds nobody moved. Now what?

Then an older boy, maybe 16 or 17 came in, walked up the the boy blocking my way, and shoved him in the chest. A brief conversation ensued, with the older boy obviously not happy with the younger ones. The new boy kicked the stones out of my way, smiled at me, and waved his hand for me to move forward. We didn't hesitate. Once I saw the main road ahead, I shot past the guide on his moto and headed out of town. On the way, we passed maybe 100 young people, mostly wearing white shirts, walking out of town. Most were entering a school, and I'm guessing they had been at the demonstration earlier. Glad we hadn't arrived sooner. Somehow, in all the fun I forgot to take any pictures. But Tony did, and you can find his report here. Tonny said over dinner that he found the whole thing 'amusing', that obviously some kids had noticed a few bike riders getting around the demonstration and decided to set up an impromptu roadblock. He's right, looking back at it, but I didn't think it was funny at the time, not even a little bit.

With Jorf in our mirrors, we made it to Erfoud and Tonny got some gas. Our GPS guides had us going off the main N-road to get to our hotel, on the edge of the dunes at Erg Chebbi, north of Merzouga. We started down the road and it got rougher and rougher, but neither of us wanted to turn around. What fun!

We also went by an oasis or two.

Tonny and I had been talking about off-road techniques yesterday, as he rides off-road regularly and I don't. I followed his lead, tried to do what he did, and it was working.

Back on the main N13 briefly and then off onto hard-packed sand.

Washboard, soft spot, 14 km's to the hotel. 10km. 4km. Then we could see it, and the orange dunes of Erg Chebbi. It looks like someone spilled a billion jars of Tang, the color was just very surprising. Even in the wind and some blowing sand it was a sight to see.

If I hadn't stopped to take a picture I would have seen the retired couple in the little Romanian-made compact car that was following us go around the rise ahead and not over it. Does it take too much of the studly adventureness out of this to admit a compact car was cruising along the same off-road track? Oops, sorry.

Ahead I saw Tonny go over a slight rise and struggle in some sand, but he made it through. I knew it was coming and got ready, but I wasn't ready enough, I guess.

My front tire quit rolling and my bike kept going, and over I went. I got my right leg out of the way before the bike hit, and only rolled onto the very soft sand. No injuries.

The bike was almost spared, too. All but the Givi touring windscreen and the luggage mount on the right side.

This is the third time I've laid this bike down, the first time going more than a slow roll, and all three times on the right side.

Fortunately Tonny saw me laying on my side and came back to help right the bike. We looked it over, shrugged, and it started right up. I made it out of the sand and into the hotel.

We took a minute to check in and then I started looking at the bike. My homemade steel luggage rack adapter had bent, sparing the case from breaking. With the help of a pipe wrench one of the guys at the hotel produced, I managed to bend it back into place. The windscreen went in the trash, all three pieces. I guess it will be a windy ride home. Speaking of wind, it had really whipped up, and visibility was getting pretty low. Looking out of the gate, we could only see a few hundred meters.

We decided to enjoy the pool in spite of the increasing wind, but could only stay in a few minutes as it was really cold. Going back to the room for a hot shower, I flipped the light switch and nothing happened. I tried another one, and got nothing. Then Tonny noticed all the lights were out in the courtyard now.

Great. Hot water? How much, and for how long? We each took a quick shower, and while I waited for Tonny to go for our welcome tea, a man from the hotel came over to chat. He is Berber, and speaks French and a bit of German and English. We somehow communicated that the generator had been turned off during the sandstorm, but after it dies down there would be power again. And indeed there was.

While I've been editing photos and writing this, Tonny went outside for another smoke break and came back in to tell me that I want to see the sunset to come outside "now". So I did, and it was really neat.

Tomorrow Tonny and I both head north but separately, he back towards Denmark at a brisk pace, and me back to Ifrane for a couple days with my friends there before getting on the ferry to Spain. I'll miss riding with him. I think we've both enjoyed our three days together and I hope we get a chance to do something like this together again. You just never know, right?

I may never see another sunset over the Sahara. If it took a street demonstration and a crash and a busted windscreen and a sandstorm to get me here for it, then I'm OK with that.

Now, where's the idiot that asked for a picture of my bike crashed in front of some camels?

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Old 04-22-2013, 04:02 PM   #81
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brilliant ride and pics...........think i recognise Tonny from the UK Versys forum a couple of years back
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Old 04-22-2013, 05:56 PM   #82
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Excellent reporting and pictures I think the main reason you crashed was your tires and not your lack of off road experience as I am assuming Tonny told you to stand on the pegs, pull the front handle bar a little towards you and hit the throttle until you are off the sand part.
I ride regularly off road both my small DRZ and the monster GSA and I can tell you with the tires you have on the bike right now anyone can make anyone crash in the sand.
if you ever plan a trip to morocco or anywhere adventurous in the future even if does not involve going off road put some knobbies on TKC-80 tires (my number one choice) some people use D606's. If it's not for sand and bad terrain they will help you going through bad roads especially on a bike with no spoke wheels.
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Old 04-22-2013, 06:30 PM   #83
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Over here...

Originally Posted by jbar28 View Post
Now, where's the idiot that asked for a picture of my bike crashed in front of some camels?
...guilty as charged. Glad to hear all is well. Battle scars are cool. I bet your girl digs it...
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Old 04-23-2013, 11:41 PM   #84
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As usual I was up early and waiting for breakfast to start. I was still undecided about what to do. I'm not ashamed to admit I wanted Tonny's company over the rough stuff getting out of Erg Chebbi, if for no other reason than to have someone help me pick up the bike again. But the weather was clearing and I wanted to go for a walk in the dunes. In the end I wished Tonny a good trip and went walking.

Then on to face the sand demons. I made it out go very slowly and carefully to a hard gravel road Tonny and I had crossed on the way in, only 4 km from the hotel. They told us we could indeed take it north and meet up with the N-road. If that saved me 10km of off-road today I would be happy. It looked like heaven.

Then it turned to this. Think someone doesn't want this road used?

And then this

My GPS said continue 21km to the main road. I did some looking and found a track labeled 4wd trail about 1km back, so went to look.

Just what I wanted. Somewhere along here I figured out that sand accumulates in other people's tracks, so if you stay out of their road and on fresh dirt, it's usually much better. I can't tell you how happy I was to reach the tarmac.

I had decided to head back to Ouarzazate via the N12, a more southern route than Tonny and I had taken. I could have gone north from Rissani like Tonny did, but that would put me in Ifrane a day early and why not spend that day looking somewhere new? And roads over the High Atlas are few, so it was pretty much either go around north or go around south if I wanted to stay on tarmac. Which I did. The road doesn't look like much on a map, but it's got enough scenery and a few twists that kept me entertained.

Along the way there are road markers every kilometer, and some gave the distance to Zagora. Was that along my route? I punch it in as a waypoint and my arrival time only change a small amount, so I left the GPS set that way. Cool, I kind of wanted to see Zagora. What I didn't know is that the GPS had routed me along a road that turns to gravel or worse for about 45 km's. I assumed that since I was on the N12, it was a good paved road, but down there it's not. Not knowing this, I rode into a fierce wind, with sand swirling and blowing from all sides. The internal sunshade on my Nolan N103 helmet quit working because of sand in the slider mechanism, and the latch for the flip up portion started to get problematic.

About this time I rode into Taghbalte, and the place just gave me the creeps. I don't know exactly why, it wasn't much different than many other small towns, but I was very uncomfortable there. Two boys walking along the road from school turned to watch me go by, one waving with a smile, the other making a face and giving me a thumbs down. Why? Other people along the way looked pretty unfriendly, too. I felt like Gary Cooper walking into town at High Noon. Boy was glad to get through there. Then I got to the end of the pavement, checked the map, and figured out my mistake.

I could go back 45 km's on pavement, or I could go forward 45km's on gravel. In the time I as stopped (about 3 minutes), not one car or truck went by. The thought of getting stuck somehow out here was even more uncomfortable than going back, so I turned around. Nothing bad happened, just the same eery feeling and unfriendly looks. When I got near the end of town, I stopped to take this picture of the sign so I could remember where this was. See the boys on the bridge head of me?

I'm still not sure if one of them threw a rock at me, or if he was just playing around making a very convincing throwing motion, which I saw in my mirror after I went by. Another one acted like he was going to stand in the middle of the road, but then didn't. I think I wouldn't have stopped today.

I finally got back to the main road and headed west, in a terrible mood. What the heck was I doing here? Why wasn't I at home, or at least someplace I can talk to people and understand what people are saying. What was I doing in Africa anyway? I was feeling pretty low and not in the mood for any sort of adventure. I needed something to eat, but came up with something negative with every place I saw and didn't stop.

But the road was just too pretty to stay upset.

Water, palms, kasbahs, it was beautiful. I stopped to take a lot more pictures. Near Tamnougalt I stopped to take this picture, and a guy literally walked out of the bushes and came my way.

I'm telling you, this happens in the strangest places here in Morocco. He had little palm leaf baskets full of fresh dates. He had crawled out of a palm grove. Had he been picking and weaving? Or did he get these at the market? I don't know, the basket was made of really fresh palm leaves. (By the next morning the basket had started to dry and warp, so I'm pretty sure he had just made it.) We struck a deal for 18 dirhams (about $2.50) and he posed for a photo with his wares. His name is Mustafa.

I rode a kilometer down the road to a scenic overlook and pulled over. I washed the dates with a bit of my water, ate most of them, drank some water, enjoyed the sun and the view, and the only person that approached me was a guy driving by on an old moped who honked three times to get me to look at him, and then gave me a big grin and a wave. An little food and a little friendliness really helped restore my mood.

Feeling much better, I headed west again and found the best road in Morocco. Yeah, Tizi-n-Tichka is famous and photogenic, but this road is FUN! Almost no traffic, smooth pavement, great scenery, and almost no vegetation so you can see who is coming two or three turns ahead and plan passes accordingly. It was so much fun I turned around and went back to do some parts a second time.

At one photo stop near the top these two guys on orange dirt bikes (KTM's?) came along.

One went by as I was getting back on the road, and I got in front of the second one. Two turns later I was closing in on the first guy as he was setting up to pass a truck. The road ahead was back and forth like a snake, but visible the whole way, and there was no oncoming traffic. The dirt bike went by the truck and so did I. I gave a toot of my horn, downshifted, gave the throttle all it had, and shot by that dirt bike, engine screaming and echoing off the rock wall. I don't know if he thought it was his buddy behind him or what, but he gave a bit of a jump as I went by. It was so fun after the frustration of riding sand on a loaded bike with street tires to FINALLY have the right bike on the right tires.

I'm telling you, if you come to Morocco to ride and want to go from Ouarzazate to Erg Chebbi like everyone seems to do, skip Dades Gorge, skip Toudra Gorge, and go the N9 / N12 route. Dades and Toudra look just like the pictures you've already seen and are less interesting than you think they will be, and not much fun to ride. Tizi-n-Tinififft doesn't even have a sign at the top, but it's a blast!

Something else that is near universal in Morocco is thousands of blowing plastic bags caught in desert scrub.

I think it's from a garbage dump, and there just isn't enough dirt to bury it properly, so eventually this happens. I've sen it a lot.

I ended up at my hotel in time to get in a quick dip in the pool. I was in a hurry this morning when I booked the room, and with the wifi connection at the last place being so slow, I didn't even check that they HAD a pool, but these places outside of town all do. Well, they will, but so far... just a hole in the ground. My fault.

But I did give the helmet a shower to wash some sand out. We'll see how it works.

A short travel note. For the third night in a row I'm at a hotel that gets great reviews on the web catering to primarily European tourists. It's nice enough for a night or two, but here's what you get: a nice firm bed, clean sheets and towels, a bit of sand on the floor because it's just everywhere here, extremely slow wifi in the public area, no wifi at all in the room, a single electrical outlet in the room, and a mediocre dinner. Tonight I was served what I'm sure was soup from a can. Meanwhile, a group of students across the courtyard got the full-oh deluxe dinner. Guess I should have booked more than 8 hours ahead?

I know this isn't Europe. I know things are different here, and what I would normally expect as a given is a huge luxury for many, and I don't have to have those things to be happy. Even running water is hardly universal here. I get all that. I've never done my laundry in a creek, but I've seen it here every single day many times over. I'm not saying I have to have every luxury and get it for $60 a night. Just that it would seem wise to adjust expectations accordingly to avoid disappointment. I think I'll eat a big lunch and skip dinner, or eat outside the hotel, from now on.

I'm enjoying riding without the windscreen so far. I have a short little screen that's not much more than what Tonny uses that I ride with around home, and I like it, but I thought for long trips I needed more wind protection. Yesterday I liked it. Not sure how I'll feel when it rains.

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Old 04-24-2013, 12:37 AM   #85
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Great report!!

Bikes, trips and farkling at

Yamaha Super Ténéré off road modifications:
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:15 PM   #86
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Great report, a few of us did Marocco last year and many of the feelings you are describing affected us at different times. It is a wildly contrasting country, we went through a few towns in the Rif mountains where it was very clear that if you stopped, you may well not leave again. Others where the kids shouted fuck off as you rode by and threatened to throw rocks. In other places all full of smiles, and high fiveing as you go by.

As far as food and acommadation goes you do really need to lower your expectations, it is Africa after all, but everywhere we stayed was acceptable.

At first it felt like everyone was trying to scam us, but in reality I think it just feels like that, and most where just trying to scratch a living offering what they could for a bit of cash. I found if they wer'nt to pleasant when they approached you, you could quite fairly tell them to piss off with a generally fed up/bored attitude, which they generally took without taking offence. The nicer ones would usually accept a polite no with a smile.

By the time we left I think we had just about adjusted to Marocco and had developed more of a what will be will be attitude.

Keep the report coming, really nice hearing your experiences.
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:39 PM   #87
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Get over it.

Way too tired for a real report tonight. Worst / best day of travel ever. Got lost, then even more lost, then stuck in a village where the road just ended, couldn't go back, was about to shoot the bike and walk home all 3000 miles when the Spanish Armada showed up on a fleet of KTM's and rescued me, and quite literally pulled me 10 kilometers and nine or ten river crossings back to tarmac.

And Mom, if you're reading this, I made all that up.

I'm safe in a kasbah hotel run by a French couple, eating lamb, drinking wine, all safe and sound. I've been where I can assure you no V-strom has ever been or will ever go.

Photos in the next post, except for you, Mom. It would be better if you don't see all the details.
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:46 PM   #88
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Hello Jim.

Good to see that your adventure continues

I enjoyed riding with you and hope to see you again in the future - I'll stay tuned on this thread to see you home safely.

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Old 04-25-2013, 01:10 AM   #89
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For some reason I got to looing at the map over breakfast and noticed there were a couple of small roads over the mountains that were paved and marked scenic in places with some cascades and gorges labeled. I had plenty of time to get to Eric's in Ifrane, and I should be able to go the scenic route. That was the plan.

My GPS said to turn north at Skoru, following R307, a nice paved road. It was pretty scenic, and this wasn't even marked as such.

Notice the GPS says unpaved road, but it's obviously nicely paved.

Mud huts with satellite dishes. Very common here.

Eventually I came to a village and the pavement ended and turned to gravel. Oh… I really didn't feel like going off-road today, even on gravel. My GPS was somewhat helpful but the free open source map I'm using doesn't really show towns when you zoom out. And in Morocco, unless it's a pretty good sized town, there aren't signs telling you where you are. I stopped and talked with a couple of men and they told me the road to the town I was looking for was 8 kilometers back, and turn right. OK, I had sen that road, and it was also gravel. I went to the turn and stopped, thinking about whether I should go that way or just go back and go the long way around on the N-roads. I'd already been that way a few days earlier with Tonny, and the gravel didn't look bad, and it seemed like it couldn't be far to the paved R307, so I went that way.

A couple of kilometers down the road I stopped and asked a shepherd if I was going the right way, and he said the town was up this road. OK, I kept going.

But asking directions to Tamzerit might get you pointed towards Tamezrit. It's not the same place, not even close. Look on the map just to the right of my finger for one, and a bit to the left of my finger for the other. My finger is pointing where I eventually got, and the river going west is my fate.

The road kept going, climbing higher, getting a little rough in spots.

But every so often a big Mercedes 15 passenger van would be coming the other way, and I was pretty sure I could go anywhere he could go, so I kept on.

The R307 just HAD to be right around the corner. But eventually I came to a village where, after climbing a very steep road about 100 meters up in very loose rocks the size of plums, I stopped. I was pretty much the center of attention.

Eventually a man in his late 20's came by, told the kids to step back (which they did) and introduced himself as the school teacher, and asked if I needed any help. He explained the road ahead was "très difficile", that motorcycles sometimes go that way but not a moto like mine. I asked if I should go back, and he said that would also be ""très difficile". I was thinking the same thing. There were a couple of very rough patches on the way down from the pass that I was glad to be going down, not up. I wasn't sure that was a workable plan. I decided to continue on, and the school teacher told me it was about 2 hours down river to the road.

The road was indeed difficult, and I had my first spill of the day, again on the right side. So far I'd laid the bike down four times since buying it, always to the right. I managed to right it by myself (first time) because I had to.

Then I spilled it to the left. And stopped taking pictures of spills. I eventually came to a village where the road just ended. It had taken me half an hour to go four kilometers. Houses, small trails, a few tracks in the river, but no road. A man wearing a western-style suit (a sport-coat, not a cowboy vest) came over and told me the road was in the river. I thought I must not be understanding him. As at every village I went through, young boys came out and wanted to interact. One of them said there was a "bon route" through the village and he would show me. It was a goat track, not wide enough for my bike with luggage. I went back to the bike and some of the boys were poking and touching, very curious. I shoo'd them away and went down to the river to take a look. Wading across the knee deep water, I didn't see any tire tracks, and I had seen another one of those vans coming from this village while I was at the last one, so I thought there MUST be a way. Eventually I agreed to follow one of the boys on the goat path, and he led me to the village school, which was just letting out. The school teacher, again a young man in his late 20's, spoke a bit of English, and after I produced my map (lots of oohs and ash at that, I think the kids had never seen one, and maybe the adults, too) the teacher clarified where I was. He also said it was 26 km's down the river to the paved road. He wasn't sure how much of it was actually IN the river, but he knew of at least four or five river crossings.

I knew that was out of the question. I'd never done anything like that. I guess I was stuck and had to go back. By now it was getting close to 1pm, and I knew I'd never make it to Eric's by nightfall. I was more worried about getting out of the mountains by nightfall and letting someone know where I was, but no phone signal in spite of the number of people I saw with phones. Maybe from a certain hilltop there is a signal.

When I got back to the bike it was laying on it's side, the right front turn signal and some of the clutch lever broken off. Some of the boys had been climbing on it and over it went. I was too tired and worried to really care, as long as it ran, which it did. Maybe more importantly my only bottle of water was gone.

I decided that if I turned around, at least I had seen a number of vans, and that I wasn't likely to die of exposure in the mountains. But I thought I might not be able to ride back the way I came, and I might end up hitching a ride on a van and abandoning the bike. I knelt and said a very sincere prayer of desperation, not sure if God would really take pity on my chain of stupid decisions, but hoping for anything, anything at all. I wasn't really fearful for my life or anything like that, but I was pretty sure I had gotten myself into one of those situations in life where everything doesn't come out OK.

I put on my jacket, strapped on my helmet, took a few deep breaths, and started back. I made it about 2 kilometers when I ran into traffic. Two guys on KTM motocross bikes. Then three, four, and five. I couldn't believe it. We stopped to talk, and one of them said "The Americano!"

Remember this picture from Sunday morning?

It was the guys with the dirt bikes from our hotel back near Marrakesh. We'd spent about 10 minutes chatting back on Sunday, about travel, Spain, and stuff. I'd agreed with them that Spain is the best country for riding. To say they were surprised to see me here was a huge understatement, and I was about as surprised to see them. They told me they didn't think going back was a good idea, and I told them I thought I had to, the road ahead went in the river and had four or five crossings. They encouraged me to turn around again, and I said one of the hardest things a grown man ever says. "Can you help me?"

"Yes, yes, of course. We'll all go together, we'll make sure you get there, no problem."

I can't tell you how relieved I was. So I turned around again. With a few guides in front of me and a few behind, we went back to the end of the road.

We went down the river / road like this. At each crossing, they would go over, a couple of them would park their bikes and wade into the river to help me. They thought it would be "very bad" if I tipped the bike over in the water, and I agreed!

The kids ran along side all the way. The Spanish guys were great with the kids, playing and joking with them. I started to relax and look for the fun in all this. One of the guys said to me two or three times "A beautiful place, no?" I might not have noticed if he hadn't pointed it out.

They were fascinated with the simplest things. One boy asked if I had a pen, so I gave him mine. Another boy who was mostly hanging back in the group kept looking at the bike, so I invited him over to give the throttle a twist and rev the engine. He took quite a lot of coaxing, but eventually did and squealed with delight. I eventually gave him my rescue whistle, an old British army issue.

Through water that got the tops of my knees soaked, through mud puddle nearly a foot deep, more water, rocks, gravel. I stopped counting how many times the bike went down, at least four. By the time we got to the seventh or eighth river crossing I was believing this might actually end and almost having fun.

Except when I felt the bike bottom out, very conscious of the low placement of the oil cooler and oil filter. The exhaust is also down there but I can ride with a bent exhaust. Not with a leaking oil system.

Four hours later, we came to the road that was 26km's away. I sat down on the road, unable to stand with the exhaustion and relief. One of the guys grabbed my camera and took my photo.

My rescuers. Fran, me, Zalo, Casto, Antonio, and Billy.

A man there ran a Gite (guest rooms for rent) and my Spanish companions decided to call it a day.

I went and had tea with them and thought about staying, but wanted to get somewhere I could let people know where I was.

They refused all offers of money, letting me pay for the dinner, or other form of gratuity beside my sincere thanks. "Today we do it for you, maybe tomorrow someone does it for us." They even said they thought I was kind of "hero, like John Wayne" for riding that bike through that path. I think the word is fool, not hero. Eventually I'm sure the video's they took of some of the river crossings will show up, and I'll link them here if they do.

I rode another hour, all on paved roads, and came to a gas station, where I filled up. The only hotel listed nearby on the GPS was the Kasbah Timdaf in Demnate,

So I headed there, hoping for a room and not caring what it cost. It was luxurious even by European standards, and I was very conscious of walking into a very nice hotel with polished floors, wool rugs, and beautiful furnishings, with me wearing wet, muddy, and dirty motorcycle gear. The owners came out and spoke in English Yes they had a room, with dinner it would be 70 Euros. They said it was too late for a tagging, but they could grill me some lamb, if that would be OK. As grilled lamb is one of my favorite foods, it would be more than OK. They are French, so of course a glass or two of red wine with dinner would be available, too. After a hot shower and a fabulous dinner, Yan the owner (with his wife) came over and wanted to talk bikes. He's been a bike rider since the day he moved out of his parents house at 18, and has been riding for more than 40 years. He was actually glad to see me come in dressed in dirty biker clothes, and really enjoyed putting me back in a good mood. He pulled up a chair at my table, poured himself a glass of wine, and said "You look like a man with a story to tell."

At some point in the day I was reminded of the deputy from the old Dukes of Hazzard show, Enos Straight, who used to say "The Good Lord watches out for fools and drunks, and I don't drink!" Yeah, no doubt I was a fool today. And no doubt my prayers were answered. I'll never say another bad word about KTM, the guys who ride them, and might even name my next dog KTM. And I might have to get one of those, it sure looks like a lot more fun doing all that on the right bike, with the right tires.

jbar28 screwed with this post 03-02-2015 at 06:07 PM Reason: Add names
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Old 04-25-2013, 04:37 AM   #90
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Location: Tri-Cities, TN
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Wow! Fascinating read!
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