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Old 10-26-2013, 11:39 AM   #16
TemeculaRider
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Location: La Paz, Baja California Sur
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Old 10-27-2013, 02:35 PM   #17
Franck B OP
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Joined: Nov 2012
Location: French living in Munich, Germany
Oddometer: 114
Thumb The Bikes: Honda XR400

Now a few words about our bikes: 5 Honda XR400.

Our XR were stock XR modified with a 15liters IMS tank, 3-5 cm bar risers, renthal conical bars, hand guards and a case guard (my phone/GPS holder in the middle):


Well coming from my 12' KTM EXC500, I was not especially excited with the idea to spend 12 days on a bike designed in 1996. I have memories of my DR350, it was a very capable offroad bike, but was nothing to compare with the pleasure I found zipping through Morocco on my EXC 450.

The first thing I mentioned riding the XR what the lack of precision of the front end. After half a day it came clear that the XR likes to be steared by the feet, it´s very sensitive to that, and like to be leaned in the curves. Probably the steering angle, maybe a long bike. So the bar risers, allowing to stand on the bike for hours, were the perfect combination.
Also the XR is quite a tall bike. Taller than my EXC. But it is not heavy, it´s about the same work to pick it or an modern big bore competition enduro,
No magic button, but kick starting the bike worked fine when warm and was reasonably easy, so appropriate for this kind of trip.

The suspension lacked definition on small rocks and bumps, but the XR400 can take any abuse hitting big holes at high speed, and IT HAS A FANTASTIC ENGINE. I was puzzled how much elastic torque it has, my 500 EXC is a torquey bike, but the XR just hangs on gas at ANY RPM. Amazing.

The above qualities, combined with the fact that it can take car-quality oil, no oil change for 2000km, low quality gas, and I understand why so many riders were choosing this bike as first choice for finishing a Dakar Race.

Franck B screwed with this post 10-27-2013 at 02:38 PM Reason: typo
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Old 10-28-2013, 02:44 PM   #18
Franck B OP
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Location: French living in Munich, Germany
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Thumb Day 2: Nosy be - ankify - amaborano

Second day of the trip had several highlights we were looking forward to:
- Give the 24kg bag of gifts to the kids of Ankify Doany
- Put the bike on the boat to eventually ride of the "big Island"
- Our first night in a village out in the bush

We woke up 5:30 (it became our usual wake time, twilights) to pick the 7:00 boat.
15 km of Road to Hellville harbour, the rims of the 24kg bag was working its way through my shoulders. Marc was carrying my back pack.
The boat was loaded to the limit, they managed to bring a truck in after the bikes, the truck had a few cm only to the wall. We had nowhere to stand but on the already busy side railings.
We were happy on that boat. Somewhat we knew the real stuff was there, on the other side.
1:30 later we arrived at Ankify:


Still 5km of gravel road to Ankify Doany, we reached the school. A warm welcome from the kids. Their teacher Souadry gathered them in the classroom and the kids sang small songs in French to thank us. We remitted the 120 school bags, and offered us some presents we would pick when we return.

All kids gratified us with large smiles
When the time came to say goodbye, all the kids gathered in the yard to wish us farewell for our trip

We then headed north to Beramanja, 100km away. We reached a cross section where the trail to Amaborano started, it was time for lunch. The heat was on, and after the nice food from the gargotte, we fell into a deep summernation (the other extreme from hibernation) sleep.


So, up on the sandy trail, crossing numerous villages at the beginning, and progressively less


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Old 10-28-2013, 02:58 PM   #19
Franck B OP
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When we arrived, at was not yet 4 (bear in mind the sun sets at 5:30 PM). Leo, a young guy with perfect French (he studied at the French school of Diego Suarez, north extremity of Mada) welcomed us on his Chinese motorbike (it was pretty recent, what is the sign of a comfortable life there).
We had to leave our stuff at his pension 5mn away, a job for restless Marc, who carried our equipment in the mighty Zebu-Trailer offroad vehicle what an extreme multi-talented rider ...

we had time left for trying some refreshing times:


good try, but the water was body temperature, too much of a soup for me. But ideal for cleaning clothes or dishes... or for the local kids fun
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:08 AM   #20
Franck B OP
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After the relaxing time, time to go to the pension.
Leo welcomed us.. he presented us two gentle fellow who should become our next day´s lunch, since next day´s track would not cross much villages:

We then had a fantastic dinner. Highlight of the dinner was "Sarcelle" that Leo hunted. It is a species of small wild duck, cooked long time in a pot with spices.
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:38 AM   #21
Franck B OP
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Location: French living in Munich, Germany
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DAY 3 : AMABORANO - ANTSAVIBE "Chez Zoe"

At 6, we all had breakfast, ready to ride. The mountains we saw behind the yard were what we were heading for that day:

We drove back a few km to take a right into the forest. Tighter trial, humid, shallow water crossings, riding into water as well.


On a steep slippery rocky slope we climbed I was astonished to see Marc´s favourite offroader - Zebu with 2-wheel-cart - crossing our way, as well as a bicycle loaded with 50-100kg of rice:


After almost two hours of quite slow progression through this terrain, we made a break. It was to discover that Patrick had fever and was almost fainting. First we thought he's tired from the demanding track, the heat, the approximate digestion, the relative quality of sleep on a hot night. But he was KO. We had still 150km to do, we did only 30. Patrick had to go back. Mauro decided to accompany him to reach the road 60km away and then the town of Ambilobe to find a doc. So the group split here, we would contact him when we get close to Ambilobe, at the end of the day, there will be cell phone connection there. We then wished good luck to Patrick, hoping he will find a quick remedy and a convenient way to get there:
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:44 AM   #22
Franck B OP
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The way ahead had a few more river crossings. Marc stalled and dropped his bike when hitting a 1,5m step a few meters after a long river crossing. The combination of the river crossing - not the strength of the XR400 - and the drop resulting in a long kicking session
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Old 11-01-2013, 12:10 PM   #23
Franck B OP
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Soon, climbing up the high plateau, the landscape changed dramatically. All luxuriant vegetation gave place to arid tracks of dirt and white dust


until we reached the canyons of the Mahavavy river.



Soon after, we made a stop to eat Leo´s chickens. We then followed the shore for 80km. High plateau landscape



and sometimes the vicinity of the water meant more green



with heat, effort, lunch, a few breaks, not so much was left from the 3 liters of water we each had. We were happy in the afternoon, when we reached the first village



we found there the only western product that can be found in any village out there: sodas from the Coca-Cola company



Antonio was so much in need of sugar and drinks that he drunk about two liters of warm soda - including the famous "bonbon anglais". Was not enough: he filled his camel bag with some more:


From there we had only about 20km to Ambilobe. The track conditions were getting better, lots of villages again. Approaching Ambilobe, the river bed was broadening:



Soon after we reached Ambilobe. We called Mauro. Him and Patrick were still on their way, but it was looking good. They managed to ride the 60 km of track back to the road in survival modus. There, they found a pick-up truck to transport Patrick and his bike.
At least they´d catch up. At the latest the next evening in Diego Suarez, should Patrick still be KO the next day.

A broad sand track that big trucks use for sugar cane transport lead us to our destination:



Looks nice and cosy.. and yes it was.. but keep in mind: no electricity, no gas; water for washing was the Kapok, a kind od sauce pan, to pour water from a rain water barrel onto your head. The standard in Madagascar.

Later on, we could speak to Patrick and Mauro. Patrick had received antibiotics, he would be out next day too. A pick-up truck to Diego was arranged for him and his bike next morning. He was still too weak to join us for the night 20km of track away, but Mauro, after the arrangements were finalised, would soon join us for dinner and also on the track next day.

We received the visit of Laurent, a local guide, who explained us how to get through some stretches we had planned for day 6, and gave us GPS points of river crossings.

Thanks to a well equipped kitchen Zoe cooked us a (again) fantastic dinner (it´s wood burning under the stoves)




Franck B screwed with this post 11-02-2013 at 04:44 AM Reason: typo
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Old 11-01-2013, 02:17 PM   #24
Franck B OP
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Cool2 Day 4 : Antsavibe - antsiranana (diego)

Again 5:30 up, alive and kicking. One early morning guest to tell us goodbye



First air filter cleaning was done yesterday during Zoe´s cooking. We just need to mount the filters back. That´s all the maintenance we had to do after 3 days of ride.

Zoe´s daughter was there that morning. She studies in a Muslim university and carries muslim-style clothes. Muslims get increasing influence in Madagascar, although most of the population is Christian.

Bye to Zoe´s family and we headed on the broad sand track directly to the tsingis. These are mountains eroded by rain water, from which only limestone blades remain. Quite unique.



(water crossing, tsingis in the background)
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Old 11-01-2013, 02:24 PM   #25
Franck B OP
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quite a dry landscape that reminded me of north African sahel, with now and then, some less dry spots tough:


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Old 11-01-2013, 02:40 PM   #26
Dr LC8
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Location: Manchester...but from Rome!
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Very different from the Madagascar I have been riding through!

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Old 11-01-2013, 02:44 PM   #27
Franck B OP
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The trucks track was now hours away, the track deteriorated a lot. At places, the main track was covered by a thick layer of dust (called fesh-fesh in north Africa) hiding stones and holes while making bike handling more challenging. For safety, we took large distance from each other, 200-300m. In a speedy section, Antonio crashed, forming an impressive cloud of dust that I saw 200m ahead of me. When I arrived, he was actually all ok.. and ...well .. decorated like a real adventurer... dust all over the place.


Not only the dust: the track was getting more and more rutted, some ruts, deep like canyons, forming through the track.
At a wood bridge, my front wheel fell between two logs. It took us 2mn to me and Mauro to pull the wheel out and continue. But when we joined the group, Antonio was absent.
So we lost Antonio. And at that place there was only the main track to follow, Final dot.

It took Thierry 30mn to find Antonio: he got swallowed into one of the canyons, fought as he could to get out of it. This is how he looked when Thierry found him:


We all laughed to death when Thierry and Antonio joined us and Thierry explained what happened, showing the pic on his cam. Antonio was fine, no even a scratch from his 2 crashes.
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Old 11-01-2013, 03:02 PM   #28
Franck B OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr LC8 View Post
Very different from the Madagascar I have been riding through!

Nic
Looks like you had a very nice trip in Madagascar too. Honey moon trip... also some riding involved in my honey moon trip in Indonesia, bests memories.
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Old 11-01-2013, 03:16 PM   #29
Franck B OP
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A few more broken bridges


a bit more of wide landscape... volcanos in the background


Then the trail led us back into a forest, climbing up a volcano. The trail was an old lava flow through the forest. A few km of steps and lava boulders, quite some work.

.. so we deserved a nice lunch break in the shadow of a friendly village. This time not too much gastronomy, Zoe did not sacrifice her chickens. So a dose of sardines and white bread.


under the inquisitive tough amused looks of local kids


This is Bobakilandy village, where we had a mission: deliver remote post to Mrs Alima. There is no postman walking to such remote villages, so people organise their own system. When Zoe knew we were visiting her and where we were heading for, she transferred some post to us. Mission accomplished !

Franck B screwed with this post 11-04-2013 at 01:13 AM Reason: lava...
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Old 11-01-2013, 03:23 PM   #30
Franck B OP
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A few more dry yet nice landscapes in the afternoon




the rivers were there too...


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