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Old 11-01-2013, 03:37 PM   #31
Franck B OP
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Joined: Nov 2012
Location: French living in Munich, Germany
Oddometer: 114
the relaxing times under the tree shadows fixing stuntman´s puncture "Thierry: did you ride fast in the stones ? Marc: no I was cruising the whole time. Franck: yes, passed me in a cloud of dust. Antonio: yes, passed me in a cloud of dust"


We would not lack air any time for the rest of the day. Approaching the north extremity, the winds were getting from gusty to angry, blowing from the sea through the flat land:




until we reached the salt marshes of Diego Suarez


at the other side of the marshes, we raced up the hill that towers Diego and entered the city.

Franck B screwed with this post 11-02-2013 at 02:42 AM Reason: typo
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Old 11-02-2013, 03:11 AM   #32
Franck B OP
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Eh? Night 1 in Diego Suarez

Night 1 in Diego Suarez
Well, for that portion, there won´t be many pictures and a part of the story will be skipped. It´s classified top secret .

Diego Suarez (Antsiranana for locals) is the only actual city we were in. We spent overnight in the hotel "little paradise". It was a nice, local décor, hotel, and the first where we had showers since the night at Andrea´s place.

We were pleased to meet Patrick there. After his night in Ambilobe, he basically slept again the whole day in the pick-up truck. The antibiotics were effective, fever was gone, and he assured he would ride next day with us: GOOD NEWS !!

On that night we met biker friends of Thierry. All white expats or spending regular long holiday in Mada. They joined us at the hotel for aperitif. The exuberance of the troop, specialist in fiesta, caipirinha and other local delights contrasted with the kind, humble and tranquil temper of Roland.
All offroaders. Nico had had a very bad bike injury one year ago, almost lost his foot after crash with a car, riding in flip-flops on a "bakery" ride, but was right back on saddle.

We then moved to the nice restaurant "la Bodega". On that evening, I was set on a bowl of rice, although the food looked very appealing. Could be that the sudden change from local gastronomy to oil-sardine-sandwich for lunch was not perfect match for my stomach.

At the restaurant, a 4th, 5th.. round of Caipirinhas. Thanks to my stomach, I stayed sober. One of the friend pulled out a gun out of his pocket, removed the bullet magazine, and handed out to the friends. So we had a group of now quite drunk excited bikers playing around and pointing at each other with a gun. WTF. I hoped no bullet stayed in the barrel. Well nothing special I guess if you come from texas, but as a European citizen, that was a new slice of exotics.

The rest of the evening is classified. We were all appointed at the hotel for next day´s ride at 8AM. I took a taxi back, the others had a further drink and a bit of night life.

Franck B screwed with this post 11-02-2013 at 05:20 AM Reason: chronology
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Old 11-02-2013, 04:39 AM   #33
Franck B OP
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Joined: Nov 2012
Location: French living in Munich, Germany
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DAY 5 : DIEGO-DIEGO, the 3 bays

On that morning we woke up around 7:00-7:30, so 2 hours later than usual.

At 8, from the whole troup, only Roland was there. Roland is actually a guide for offroad tours on quad and motorbike for the area, so he was the perfect person to guide us around.

On the pic, Mauro, Roland, Antonio, myself, stunt man Marc, Patrick and Mr. and Mrs. Baobab in the background


We headed north of Diego (no track on the general map of the ride). The red "laterite" earth changed to sand track, sometimes fluid sand, white sand, black stones, all with permanent ocean scenery.
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Old 11-02-2013, 04:54 AM   #34
Franck B OP
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Location: French living in Munich, Germany
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one irrigation canal crossing where our stunt man got some hesitations; eventually we chose a safer option.

farmer´s land

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Old 11-02-2013, 04:59 AM   #35
Franck B OP
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we first rode tight single trails to go up for the scenery, then on farmer´s ground from the pics above, then took fluid sand trails that led us to a beach



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Old 11-02-2013, 05:03 AM   #36
Franck B OP
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nice place for a small break and a few fresh mangos
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Old 11-02-2013, 05:16 AM   #37
Franck B OP
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we rode long stretches of fast narrow sand trails, where it was necessary to keep up sustained speed to reach a minimum of stability, so the freshest and fastest stayed in front. Thierry volunteered to stay behind should help be needed, not too bad for him, he still was quite tired from partying with his friends, so Roland, stunt man and I enjoyed the track a lot, where Antonio struggled when the track got deeper sand in combination with deeper holes, but he almost always managed with help from above to stay on 2 wheels. Mauro took it easy too with Thierry, and so did Patrick, first day back with us, riding just the pace to make it through without much fatigue.

A last goodbye hug to Mr. Baobab...


and some 30mn later we reached our lunch break destination, a gargotte on the beach.


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Old 11-02-2013, 06:34 AM   #38
Franck B OP
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scenic afternoon

the afternoon got more scenic. Climbing up the top of the "mount of the French". Steep hills, no track. The strong wind made it difficult to put the bike on stand.


then astonishing terrain mixing small dunes of white dust and green grass




and then again orange sandy tracks....


and red earth...


until we reached again Diego


following a track directly on the heights of Diego downtown..
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Old 11-02-2013, 08:08 AM   #39
Franck B OP
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Second evening in Diego

Back at the hotel, Antonio and Thierry were relaxed. Antonio went for a massage in the afternoon, Thierry and Mauro had a siesta.
After s shower, we gathered our clean clothes and were all up for another night.

Dinner was excellent. "Chez Jean-Pierre". Jean-Pierre is a retired French from Marseille who is cooking as a hobby. He has only 5 tables on his own patio in a backyard, to limit the amount of work. Menu excellent and refined, mixture of French and local tastes, and excellent prices too.. a MUST should you go to Diego.

After that we went to a bar with live local music. Quite OK.
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Old 11-02-2013, 08:17 AM   #40
Franck B OP
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Thumb DAY 6: DIEGO - ANTSAVIBE "Chez Zoe"

Back to the original rhythm, we left at 6:00.

First part lead us on tracks we rode the day before to leave the town. Then East to the ocean, we stopped at a fisher village to watch the usual overcast east coast skies

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Old 11-02-2013, 08:34 AM   #41
Franck B OP
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Talking ..the red tsingis..

we headed south and after 1 hour or so of sandy and red earth trails, we arrived at the red tsingis.
Dramatic drop into a canyon of washed out red earth


from which emerge huge limestone blades


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Old 11-02-2013, 08:42 AM   #42
Franck B OP
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it was about lunch time when we reached the river crossing Laurent indicated us two days before


two stretches of knee-deep water. Yet the algae covered boulders gave us more work than we initially thought it would, we eventually had to power walk the bikes through there... Thierry slipped on his way and dropped his XR. Not deep, but deep enough to drawn the bike ...
So bike vertical, kick to get water out of pipe and cylinder, remove a dry plug, remove a dry air filter...


we all had time for an improvised lunch break
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Old 11-02-2013, 08:59 AM   #43
Franck B OP
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traffic jam on the river crossing.. another off-road vehicle queuing on our workshop


and little son very amused and satisfied by the unexpected show

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Old 11-02-2013, 09:18 AM   #44
Franck B OP
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So working our way through farmer´s land.. they use fire to clean and "regenerate" the ground, but agronomy specialist would explain you this method has very low efficiency. Lots of black shades of landscape on our way






Next river crossing came mid-afternoon... same problem... algae on boulders, big boulders. Noticed the green leaves on the water surface ? That time all quite careful through...

only Antonio figured out he may do it... and did it . Stunt man Marc did not, and we were up for another fix.... water out, etc.

Franck B screwed with this post 11-02-2013 at 09:19 AM Reason: forgot pic
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Old 11-02-2013, 10:25 AM   #45
Franck B OP
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finally we passed some village, got closer to more densely populated areas.. OK not really NY-city either... notice the manual mill cereal grinding tool on the right



Other sign of approaching town: some "road" workers in action. It looks minimalistic, but in fact, with these simple tools to break the edges, these man turn a trail completely broken by the rain season into a trail suitable for zebu-trailers combo.



It was almost 4PM when we reached the town of Anivorano... time to take some gas and proper food.
The asphalted road goes from Diego to the south crosses this town. Being the first town after a more than 2 hours ride, it´s a popular stop for the "taxi brousse". Of course, this town has gas stations equipped with a market to buy food and refreshments.
A taxi brousse:


A gas station with food market; left in the yellow cans, the gas. We took both from that one. Again these delicious zebu skewers: one piece of meat, one piece of hump, one piece of meat.

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