Camels, crashes, injuries and breakdowns in Morocco & Spain

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by pip_muenster, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    After three nights at Erg Chebbi it was time to get moving again and from here on we wanted to use as much dirt roads as possible, starting with route MS6 as described by Chris Scott. According to him it should offer 'nasty hummock scrub, dunelettes and feche-feche' - and be a struggle for big bikes. Cool, let's go.

    The first stop at the gas station reminded us that tourism is taking over. Within minutes someone came by to advertise his bike work shop / tour company and wanted to take a photo of us for his website. We filled up to the rim, as we were expecting 300km of offroad piste before the next pump.

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    Then we went into 'downtown' Merzouga to buy some food for the next days. The very first house looked like an abandoned police station, but more important, there was a red post box on its wall. The box hang from a wire on a hook and looked like it had fallen down more than once. That seemed like the perfect place to drop the postcards I had bought and written in the last days. We had no idea if this post box was still in service or how long it might take for the cards to even reach Fez or Marrakesh, so the cards would have their own little adventure.
    (Actually, when they finally arrived they showed a stamp from Marrakesh only 2 days later - and then took 2 more weeks to get to Europe or America. That's about the same time as for a card from the US to Europe.)
    In town the only shop we saw was about the size of a garage - in fact, I doubt that a car would fit in there. Space was so limited that customers had to stay outside on the road. We scanned the shelves, wondering what we could eat in the next days. Since choices were limited, we settled on cookies, some bread and canned tuna.

    Our route took us to Taouz where we left tarmac. We followed a great gravel road through the hills which allowed us to take up a bit of speed.

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    After a while we closed up on a cloud of dust from two BMW bikes. They on the other hand were riding in the dust of a 4x4, probably a tour guide who also carried their luggage. We had been approached by several people offering guidance on this road, and this was presumably one of them.
    I can't imagine having to stay in the dust of a 4x4 along such an interesting road and was very happy that we were on our own.

    We followed a bit trying to figure out how to overtake safely. One of the riders looked a bit insecure, and he probably never expected someone from behind. Luckily the road split into several parallel tracks and we passed about 100ft on his left side. The other rider looked much more confident and also looked back to his buddy frequently. He immediately moved to the side to let us go by.
    Now it was time to charge the 4x4. With the clout of dust he could barely see anything behind him, and additionally he expected some bikes there which were supposed not to overtake. So that thing was all over the place.
    I had no choice, but to go all 'Robby Gordon' on him, wishing that cars were obliged to have a Sentinel on board ... Actually bumping him was more or less out of discussion, so I moved as best as I could into the sight of his mirrors and flashed my lights, while at the same time squeezing the life out of my tiny, tiny horn.
    After what seemed kilometers he moved to the side and we shot by: 'beep, beep!'

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    (photo: maddin)

    Later the soil changed into a wide bonedry flat. The ground was hardened sand, except for the track itself which consists of very soft fine sand / silt. In a car, I would have preferred the smooth drive in the tracks, but on the bike it was much easier to ride over the bumpy hard soil than to stuggle with the soft sand. Sometimes however, it wasn't possible to avoid the sandy parts.

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    We reached a small settlement and stopped to check the gps. There was a waypoint somewhere here, but it was not entirely clear which way we had to take here - maybe because Chris traveled in the other direction when he wrote the guide book. While we stand there some kids came running and pointed us to the north, definitely not our direction. We thought about that, looked on the map and remembered the party we just had passed. That should be the easy route usually taken by travellers between Taouz and Zagora, so we went on straight east instead. The children followed us with a bicyle, maybe hoping to make some money by helping the stupid foreigners in the sand.

    The track we had chosen passed between some fields and wire fences and was all fesh-fesh (bulldust) with deep ruts. Just when I thought I'd got the hang of it I got caught in a deeper rut and had my ankle pinched between the engine and the side of the rut. Luckily, I just went through with just a bit of pain from my foot.
    Maddin had less luck and fought hard to get through. So I rode a bit, waited for him to catch up, rode a bit more and so on. One time I saw him vanishing in a cloud of fesh-fesh and set my camera on video, waiting for the things to come. When the dust settled, I saw him lying underneath his bike.
    (About 2 months later I was sitting on my PC, reviewing the footage when - for the first time - I noticed, that he had actually been frantically waving at me for help. I called him and apologized for standing around dumb and videotaping him ...)
    :shog

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    The track opened up once we left the houses behind, but was still all deep soft sand. Sometimes it was possible to find harder ground next to it, but basically it was all sand.

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    When Maddin got stuck, it took me only one look onto his face to decide that I would dig it out for him - he looked totally exhausted. I shoveled enough sand away, so that we were able to lay the bike on its side. Then we refilled the hole and picked up the bike. Success!

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    It wasn't the last time, one of us got stuck ...

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    At some point we had to cross a dry riverbed which was especially sandy, with a steep incline on the other side. We made it and decided to have a longer break as there were trees providing shadow.

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    (photo: maddin)

    The road got a bit better, but not for long. This time, a few hundred meters of dunes lay before us. I went ahead, checked the route and waved Maddin on, when I found a way.

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    (photo: maddin)

    By the time we got through the sun was already low above the horizon. About here the GPS map (Olaf-map) showed a single Point-Of-Interest 'Bad dunes' and Maddin explained to me that we had made it through.
    I thought about some of the photos I had seen in other reports, thinking that 'bad dune' could be much, much worse. Maybe this had only been the beginning?

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    Anyway, we found a hidden spot behind a dune and set up camp. We both had small tents I know as 'Dackelgarage' - or sausagedog-garage, if you will. The canned tuna for dinner could have been better, but apart from that, this was a perfect spot.

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    It took me a while to fall asleep, wondering whether my foot would still hurt the next morning and whether this was the end or just the beginning of the 'bad dunes'.
    #21
  2. jmcg

    jmcg Turpinated..

    Joined:
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    Great pics.

    :thumb

    JM.
    #22
  3. jaumev

    jaumev Long timer

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    Nice!! keep going :clap

    Was the Tenere able to ride in the dunes?

    I was in Erg Chebbi with my Suzuki DRZ and was fantastic but perhaps the Tenere is too heavy??
    #23
  4. drisschoufa

    drisschoufa Adventurer

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    I agree the DRZ is lighter and in the sand the lighter the bike the easier it is to ride I am not a fun of BMW R1200GSA in the sand because every time I did I lost 10 pound per day riding the monster in the sandy areas. It takes away from the fun and it becomes work all the way and every mistake means you will have a chance of 640 pounds landing on top of you. Having said that the right tires and a steering damper make a huge difference in the sand especially with the big bikes.
    #24
  5. jaumev

    jaumev Long timer

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    I’ still having the DRZ and I just went to Morocco with a Super Tenere 1200. I enjoyed both trips a lot.
    With the DRZ had fun in the sand and the dunes but is uncomfortable and boring in the long and flat tracks and specially in the roads.
    The Super T allows me to do a longer trip, is really comfortable where the DRZ is not but horrible in sand.
    Next year I want to go for myself, so I'm thinking in the Tenere 660 as an intermediate in both but I don’t know how it works in sand, that’s why I asked.
    #25
  6. Maddin

    Maddin Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Hi,

    I am the one on the Ténéré.

    my expierience in deep Sand is more like drisschoufa described with his GS. Pip was able to ride on the dunes with his Xchallenge, but not me.

    I have to say, that I'm not that good sand-rider, maybe one with good sand riding skills could do this, but the bike is heavy in comparison to the XC or KTM 690 (~50kg).

    As tire i used the Heidenau K69 / K74. I dont think you can get a better tire for deep sand/mud for the Tenere. On the road these tires are ... well very "interesting". Dry and warm its ok, wet and cold like hell :lol3
    Since the rear rim has a width of 2,75", i was not able to put on a rim lock and can't reduce the pressure for deep sand :(:.

    You can do a lot with the Tenere when the ground is harder. There it works very well for it's wheight. But my experience in deep sand is, that it's hard work to get through. Maybe with better riding skills, a "not so bendy fork" (I will change to WP48) and rim locks it's better. Steering damper could also help, but I don't have experience with these.

    Martin
    #26
  7. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    I have some minor experience with a 1150GS in soft sand which convinced me on buying the much lighter XC - and I don't regret it, as it allows me to go anywhere I want with what limited offroad experience and expertise I have.

    Check out this report for some more dune riding on a XT660Z Tenere:

    #27
  8. jaumev

    jaumev Long timer

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    Thanks guys... we'll see. I like the XC but I want a new bike. Unfortunately now there is only two bikes they can be ok to this kind of trip, the Tenere 660 and the KTM 690 but I prefer the japanese reliability. :beer
    #28
  9. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    People in the XC threads start discussing about the Husquarna TR650 which is in the same weight range and has basically the same engine as the XC. As the others it's missing a luggage system and a big tank. I guess the main drawback is the lack of aftermarket parts.

    For me, the small tenere is the best off-the-shelf adventure bike on the market, if you don't want a heavy bike. Lots of small things like the replaceable crash pads, the strong subframe, the GPS bar above the instrument cluster show that people have thought it through.
    #29
  10. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    The new day started with a blue sky, but not coffee. I got out of my tent and found a nice place to enjoy the sun while I was waiting for Maddin to wake up.

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    (photo: maddin)

    We refilled our camelbags with the last water and got going. It seemed we had in fact left the 'bad dunes' behind. The road got better and even showed first signs of civilization.

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    Then it got sandy again. It was mostly hard packed sand, but the tracks themselves and some smaller patches were filled with fesh-fesh, sand so fine that the wheels sink like in water. We usually stayed beside the tracks and circled around these patches when we saw them. But it didn't tool long and I saw Maddin again disappearing in a cloud of dust, right in front of me.
    This time he had been faster and landed hard. So hard that this time I first got of my bike and asked if he was ok. Only then I took the photo.

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    It turned out that he had torn his knee, injuring the ligaments. He was in pain and could barely walk.
    No damage whatsoever to the bike was good news. And once he was back on the bike he could also ride it. All was fine, as long as he didn't had to stand on the pegs or jump off the bike.

    [ x ] camels
    [ x ] crashes
    [ x ] injuries
    [ ] breakdowns

    We continued, determined to rest at the next cafe and have breakfast. We had already passed a few places, some of them abandoned, some inhabited.

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    After breakfast and the obligatory Thé à la Menthe we were back on the road which turned into another smooth plain to speed up to triple digits.

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    There was a little shock for Maddin when we saw more dunes ahead. Not being able to walk properly or use his feet standing on the bike, there was no way he would make it across dunes.
    With that in mind I was about to leave the track to see if there was a way around them, when I saw that they had created a paved road throught the sand using rocks.

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    From here it was all easy and fast going.

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    (photo: maddin)

    Our first stop in Zagora was the famous '52 jours' sign. Zagora had once been the start of a camel carawane route to Timbuktu (or Tombouctou), and the picture is supposed to originate in those times. There is a text explaining it, also mentioning that the sign was no longer at it's original location, but had been moved at some time. It says nothing about the fact, that older photos of the sign show the arrow pointing in the other direction ...

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    We played a bit with the sign and our cameras. I thought it might be fun sending a photo back to my boss, explaining that I wouldn't come back to work anytime soon ...

    Of course, someone on a moped showed up and explained to us that we absolutely had to follow him to his famous dakar garage. He gave us some stickers and wanted to have a photo of the bikes for their wall. We agreed, mostly because we thought they could point us to a nice and cheap hotel.
    So we had our photo taken and were pointed to a hotel across the street. We started with another Thé à la Menthe in their beautiful backyard and asked to see the rooms.
    Maddin was still in pain from his knee, so we wanted a nice place for a restday or two. In the end, we left and went to the largest hotel we could find in town. Time for some luxury.

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    #30
  11. 05wingz

    05wingz n00b

    Joined:
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    a+

    #31
  12. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    Thanks!

    I was a bit disappointed when I made it, as I couldn't get any closer. Not on the bike, not on foot. So I had to walk back and zoom back in to get both the camel and maddin in frame.

    Normally you can get pretty close to camels in the desert, but not so in Morocco. Somewhere in the Arabian desert this girl came to 'bath' in a spot of soft sand, not minding that we were working right next to it. What do they do in Morocco to make them so afraid of humans?
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    #32
  13. zandesiro

    zandesiro In rust we trust....

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Polygyros, Greece...
    This photo is like been taken 200 years ago!!!There is nothing new....

    Thank you for this thread...
    #33
  14. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    We had already noticed that there was a Russian rally team staying in the same hotel, but unfortunately they didn't speak much English. One of them explained to me that they were involved in the Dakar which sounded strange to me: The Dakar Rally would start in about 4 or 5 weeks in South America, so to make it to the start line in time, it should probably be already on a ship. Later when I googled it, I realized that this was a factory Kamaz rally truck - and there are several identical looking trucks out there. If you look at the red rings around the aux lights on the front: they were black on those in South America.

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    With Maddin being stuck in the hotel I looked on the map for a short route which could be done in a day. There was one route in my gps which was supposed to be quite nice and easy, named the MS1. I would ride north through the valley for about 50km and then loop back through the mountains. The first part through the valley was all asphalt, with the cliff on the left and palm trees on the right.

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    There are many small villages, all of them in the Kasbah style: Build like a fort with clay houses wall to wall and few windows. Some of them were deserted and collapsing, some where brand new and inhabited. You could see masons working on wooded scaffolding, using tools that looked like being centuries old. And of course the inevitable cell phone. In fact, this road leading from Marrakesh to Zagora is part of the 'Route of 1000 Kasbahs'. Here's one:

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    The route into the mountains started somewhere in a small village and it was kind of fun trying to find the right way through the houses and gardens.
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    There were some spectacular views, I especially like the colors on this one:

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    One thing I noticed on riding alone was that I started having fun riding faster and faster. That escalated when I got some air and almost flew into some larger rocks beneath the road at some point. Not a good idea to crash on the first day alone, so I dialed it down a bit.

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    The last bit back to Zagora was a road in construction through a sandy plain. Parts of the road already were hard gravel, parts were soft and showed ruts from heavy trucks. Traffic either drove on it or next to it, as it suited the drivers. My speed when up again and I had a terrifying moment when I oversaw a patch of fesh-fesh going 100+. That would have ended quite badly if I had been on the heavy GS.
    :eek1

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    #34
  15. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    Maddin had spend the day at the pool and by the end of the day it was clear that there were no more dirt tracks for him in the near future. So he made the decision to ride back to Spain and fly home to get checked by a specialist.
    That meant riding over the Atlas mountains towards Marrakesh, from where it was all highway to the ferry port in Tanger.

    The first part was the same route as I had been riding the day before. Palm trees and Kasbahs.

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    Then we went higher and higher into the Atlas and it got a bit chilly, though were was no snow yet.

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    As soon as we reached the north side or the mountains the weather changed and we were basically riding through the clouds. It was foggy, wet and miserable. On top of that my engine warning light came on.
    :eek1

    It turned out that I was low on coolant and we topped it up with water. Hours later, just when the sun set we rolled into the suburbs of Marrakesh. The GPS lead us to an Ibis hotel in the north, so it would be easy to find the highway the next morning.

    I had used the time to make up my mind about the future trip. Tomorrow, Maddin would head back to Spain. It was all highway and should hopefully be straight forward for him. I could accompany him and enjoy the rest of my vacation time exploring the south of Spain and maybe Portugal. But I had already done that a few years ago, and winter was closing in. So I decided to let him go and head back south alone.
    #35
  16. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    After saying good by to Maddin I heaed back up the mountains. And where there had been only fog and rain the day before, was now sunshine and great scenery. I stopped several times to take some photos, so I could show later to Maddin where he had been.
    :lol3

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    Unfortunately I had somehow lost track of my gas consumption and distance since the last fuel pump and the fuel warning light came on. With almost 20 liter fuel capacity and around 25km per liter that was a first on this trip. No problem according to my map, as there was a fuel station marked in the next village. Here's what I found:

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    The good weather stayed with me on the south side. To see something new I turned east somewhere before Quarzazate and headed towards Foum Zguid.

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    I don't really remember when it started, but when I arrived at the hostel in
    Foum Zguid I knew the problem wasn't solved. A longer telephone call to my mechanic back home followed and I had a plan for a road-side repair the next morning.

    [​IMG]

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    #36
  17. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    We suspected the demon to sit in a blocked thermostat. Take it out and with an open cooling circuit there should be no more overheating. Wrenching and a test run took a while, but around noon it seemed the problem was fixed.

    There was another biker from Switzerland at the hostel who was waiting for his buddy. That guy had just flown into Marrakesh that morning and was now coming here, so they could explore the dirt roads in the south together. We soon agreed to join up.
    One of their rental bikes was fun, he had his socks zip-tied around a fork seal to keep the fork oil from dripping all other the brake disk.

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    The route left the asphalt around 300m out of the village and followed a nice and fast gravel road. Our fun however was short-lived: Maybe I had hit a rock or should have checked my tire pressure, the outcome was a nice snake-bite on the front.

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    Wrestling with the tire to change the tube took a while, and we would run out of daylight if we were to follow the piste this day. So the two of them decided to take the asphalt road instead and ride to Zagora. I turned around and checked back into the same hostel as the night before. And to round the day up, my overheating problem re-occured. Great.
    #37
  18. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    So here I was alone again and with a faulty cooling system on the bike. There was pressure in the system and the fan worked, but it seemed the coolant couldn't circulate well enough to - well - cool. It was however possibe to ride if I topped it up every now and then. Hym, the last full service had been right before the trip, and everything seemed alright back then, including all the piping etc.

    I considered my options, and for some reason I was not very fond of riding the road to Marrakesh a 3rd time. Heavy offroading was also off the table under these circumstances. So I decided to head slowly back north and get the bike back to Spain. Hana could get me in contact with a trustworth workshop and I could then spend the rest of my vacation exploring Andalusia.

    The road from Foum Zguid was for most parts gravel with long stretches being under construction. There were some detours here and there which made me question if I still was on the right road. The camels on this photo are coming down from the new road bed to the old gravel road. (I love these shots with dust or fog in backlighting!)

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    Getting closer to Zagora I was stopped by an oncoming Landcruiser. Wondering how I could be of any help to him, I took off my helmet. He explained he owned a garage in Zagora and I really had to come and see it, and he would love to take a photo of me for his wall. I declined kindly, it didn't seem like he had much experience with bikes or any more maintenaince than maybe an oilchange or topping up the washer fluid on a car ... He did make a photo of me for his wall before I left.

    Nothing new in Zagora. I bought bread, water, extra water and filled up the gas tank. Then I left through the valley for the 3rd time. I took the same turn east following the MS1 into the moutains, only this time I headed towards Nekob. From here route MH4 on my GPS would take me to the Dades and Todra gorges.

    The piste was rocky and bumpy and climbed up into the mountains. I was surprised when I met a couple two-up on a bike. Not the typical adventure type like a GS or KTM, but something more road oriented (I don't remember what it was.). They had probably bottomed out here and there and were going very slowly, but they made it through. According to the guidebook the route was doable without a 4x4 from north to south, but quite difficult in the opposide direction. I was going north.

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    I don't have photos of the more difficult parts of the track, as I couldn't stop there. Occasionally the base rock became the road surface and it had broken along its natural structure into a kind of steps. It was like riding up stairways for hundreds of meters at a time.

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    At the top were a few guesthouses and other tourist traps as there was another easier road leading here from the other side. I passed them and reflected happily that I just had road up a mountain in 2nd and 3rd gear for hours without any overheating.
    The last bit was asphalt and due to the height also a bit cold. A few minutes later the engine warning light came back on.
    :huh

    My map told me that I could either head west to the Dades gorge or east towards Todra. With the dark clouds hanging over Dades I opted for Todra.

    [​IMG]

    I was freezing cold when I got there and had a hard time negotiating the room price as he could see me shivering. He showed me 2 rooms and advertised the air condition in one of them. Air condition? I'm freezing already what do I need an AC for?
    Now where I live people never need AC, so it took me a while to understand that the AC unit could also be used as a heater. Great, I take it. The hotel was build in the style of a Kasbah and therefore poorly isolated. I put the AC on max. power and choose the bed next to it. Even hours later the other bed a meter away was still freezing cold ...

    One funny side note: The hotel did have a locked parking lot with a night guard, but they asked me to park the bike in front of the entrance for the evening. This way it could be seen from the street and attract other guests.. Smart advertising. For the night we brought it back in under the roof.
    #38
  19. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    After a good breakfast I got on the bike and headed up the Todra gorge. It was still early and all the tourist booths were still closed. The sky was blue and I was in a good mood, but as soon as I had left the gorge behind I saw the first snow flakes falling down. What?!

    The valley widened and I could see that the sky was now blue behind me and white everywhere else. Right now the snow melted the second it touched the ground, but higher in the mountains I would for sure have to deal with snow on the ground and I was not yet ready for that. I came to Morocco to flee the winter at home.

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    So I turned around and took the main road to Errachidia, chased by the coulds. It was very windy and at times like riding through a sand storm.

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    By now I had figured out that I could keep the bike from overheating if I kept the speed below 80kph. There was a larger front sprocket zip-tied to my bash guard somewhere, and I thought I could improve the situation as it would lower the engine revs a bit. All I had to do was borrow a matching Allen key somewhere. I found a small scooter repair shop and with a bit of pointing, gesturing and the few words of French I knew I got the messsage over. There were happy to help me and soon I had 3 generations of mechanics nearby to give a helping hand. I offered some money for their service, but they refused to take any. Instead I was now confronted with an invitation to stay with their family and have lunch.

    Here's what I love about that: When you travel in a group, you spend most of the time talking to your friends, and there may be someone who knows the language and does all the talking with the locals for you. But if you're on your own, you can't hide. Also, you're less intimidating and people come over to say hello and ask questions.

    Then there is the difference between the larger cities or touristic areas and the more remote small towns. The first people you encounter in Morocco are beggars and other people specialized in extracting money from tourists. But here, you could see the true hospitality and friendliness which can be found in Morocco. I've seen the same in many other - mostly Islamic - countries. Even if it may sometimes just be because hospitality to travelers is advocated by their religion, I like it. With these guys here, it was true friendliness. They were bikers after all.
    :clap

    Before I left they asked me for my plans and I took out the map, pointing at the route to Midelt and then Fez. They shook their heads and gestured that this road was blocked, indicating something falling from the sky and pointing to a place somewhere between here and Midelt. A closer look showed that there were a couple of rivers to cross, so I figured one of the bridges may have recently been washed away. Great, if I can't have any more offroading or pistes, I may at least have a nice river crossing!

    I started questioning my interpretation when I came to Midelt without incidents, but kept on going. The road climbed up the eastern Atlas and it got colder and colder. I stopped and managed to get into my rain coverall which helped to keep me from freezing.

    [​IMG]

    Riding becomes dreary and tiring if you have to ride over cold plains at 80kph. The further I got, the more snow was on the ground. Eventually the snow also took over the road and the two-lane road morphed effectively into a one-lane road as there were now only two tire tracks clear off snow. I realized that this was leading nowhere: this was the main connection to Fez and should be busy with traffic, but there were no more trucks. I decided to continue to the next village, just for fun. The last meters I drew my own tire marks in the snow and then I came to a closed barrier across the road, complete with a burning oil barrel and a handful of men warming their hands.
    I was told to go back to the gorges and head for Marrakesh or take the route via Missour in the east. Both alternatives were a few hundred kilometers detour. So the mechanics had been talking about snow, not rain.

    [​IMG]

    I jumped on the bike and went back as fast as I could. It was getting dark and staying somewhere here for the night seemed like a bad idea: What if it started snowing over the night? The fact that my cooling system was now very low on anti-frost and running on almost pure water didn't help either.

    I found a hotel in Midelt and checked that the room had a heater. The night guard would watch my bike. Perfect. I turned it up to the max and headed for the city to get dinner. It was already quite late, but the streets were still busy with people selling dates and - from the smell of it - some variations of weed. I opted for a kebab from one of the small booths. No warm water for a shower, so I just crawed under the sheets and fell asleep.
    #39
  20. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    592
    Location:
    Karlsruhe, Germany
    I woke up shivering. They had switched off the central heating in the middle of the night and the room was freezing cold. There was nothing, but a thin blanket and my sleeping bag was with on my bike somewhere. After putting on more clothes and covered by my jacket I made it through the night. With a coffee and some bread and jam for breakfast I got going again. Slowly, the Atlas mountains disappeared behind me.

    I don't remember much of this day, in my memory I had been following the N15 going straight north all day. Although I never went faster than 80kph, almost no one ever passed me. Most traffic was slower. There was one older Merc taxi which overtook me a few times that afternoon, only so that I could pass it while it stopped to pick up passengers here and there.

    Mellila was a bit of a shock for me. I hadn't been aware that it's a Spanish enclave and was expecting a ferry port like Tangier. Instead it was 4 or 5 packed lanes of cars pushing and honking to get to the border. I didn't feel well and wasn't in the mood for lane splitting, so I just kept my spot, although people encoraged me to go ahead. I had all the time in the world, why bother. According to the GPS it took me 75min to cross the border, it had felt like more. Not too bad.
    Of course there was a man who wanted my money to give guidance through the border process. The same reasons which kept me from lane splitting kept me from accepting his offer. He spoke 3 or 4 languages, including German, and explained that I would actually need his help, he had a big family to feed, and quite a large part of it was to bribe the officer anyway, but I wasn't in the mood for this.
    Ii turned out that he was actually a very nice man when he run after me to let me know that I had forgotten to get the export stamp for the bike in my passport. There was some bewilderment on his side noticing a KSA visa in it: 'Wow, you've been on a hadj?!' (No, they would have never let me into Mekkah - but I didn't comment on that.) He guided me to the right officer (no bribery here), proposing that I could just give him money afterwards, if I felt so.
    Then we said farewell and I gave him all the Moroccan money I had left to me. Coincidentally it was exactly half of his original quote.

    I rolled into the city and checked on the ferry to Malaga. There was a ferry the next morning, so I would need a hotel for the night. After looking for a cheap one without much success, I just asked my GPS to give me directions to the nearest one. My first question was about heating, then I asked for the price. I had a look at the room which had a nice clean bath tub and wasn't too expensive, so I got off my luggage and parked my bike in an underground car park nearby. The hot bath was perfect.
    The WiFi was down, so I went downstairs and asked the receptionist for a nearby internet cafe as I wanted to book the ferry. One of the two girls behind the counter offered to take me there and spend the evening / night with me: 'Why not, don't you have money?' I couldn't believe that a normal hotel, right in the city center, would have hookers at the front desk!

    So I walked the streets alone and had some pizza and a last
    Thé à la Menthe. No luck with WiFi.
    #40