Germany to Morocco, with a brief stop in Spain!

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by jbar28, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. Wal2

    Wal2 Been here awhile

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    brilliant ride and pics...........think i recognise Tonny from the UK Versys forum a couple of years back
    #81
  2. drisschoufa

    drisschoufa Adventurer

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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.
    #82
  3. tt100

    tt100 Been here awhile

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    ...guilty as charged. Glad to hear all is well. Battle scars are cool. I bet your girl digs it...
    #83
  4. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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

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    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.
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    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?
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    At one photo stop near the top these two guys on orange dirt bikes (KTM's?) came along.
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    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!
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    Something else that is near universal in Morocco is thousands of blowing plastic bags caught in desert scrub.
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    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.
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    But I did give the helmet a shower to wash some sand out. We'll see how it works.
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    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.
    #84
  5. jaumev

    jaumev Long timer

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    Great report!!

    Thanks!! :clap
    #85
  6. Frog uk

    Frog uk Been here awhile

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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.
    #86
  7. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    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. :huh

    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.
    #87
  8. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Hello Jim.

    Good to see that your adventure continues :norton

    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.

    Cheers
    Tonny
    #88
  9. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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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.

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    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.

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    Notice the GPS says unpaved road, but it's obviously nicely paved.
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    Mud huts with satellite dishes. Very common here.
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    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.

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    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. [​IMG]

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    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.

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

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    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.
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    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!"

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    Remember this picture from Sunday morning?
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    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.

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    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!

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

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    A man there ran a Gite (guest rooms for rent) and my Spanish companions decided to call it a day.
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    I went and had tea with them and thought about staying, but wanted to get somewhere I could let people know where I was.
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    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,

    http://www.kasbah-timdaf.com/en/

    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.
    #89
  10. peripateo

    peripateo Adventurer

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    Wow! Fascinating read!
    #90
  11. jaumev

    jaumev Long timer

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    Whow!! this is a good adventure.
    Shure this is going to be the part of your trip you are always remember!! :clap
    #91
  12. mart´n

    mart´n Adventurer

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    Incredible day! Reading your last post was like reading the best part of a good book! Wow I enjoyed it and felt terrible for the things you had to go through.

    But you survived and have a good story now to tell your mates once you get back:D

    Stay safe and thanks for the rr.

    ...oh yeah...would you please buy a skid plate for that strom as soon as possible! You have been seriously lucky not knocking the filter off or worse.
    #92
  13. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    My five hour trip today took six and a half hours. This seems about normal here. Sometimes traffic moves at the speed of a truck, sometimes at the speed of a donkey. Often a bit below the posted speed limit and almost never over it.

    Rode 300 km's to my friend Eric's house today, stopped once for fuel and water, took no pictures (other than a guy washing my bike... boring) and no gravel roads or detours. Going to Tangier Med port and the ferry tomorrow. Still a long way to go, but looking forward to being back in Europe.

    Bike seems to have survived yesterday's escapades with a somewhat inconsistent back brake but no other obvious damage.
    #93
  14. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    On my short list as soon as I get home. I never thought of getting one as I never intended to do what I've done with it. But I have to say that I'm so impressed with this bike and what it can do. I might get rid of it for one with ABS, but other than that, it's perfect.
    #94
  15. tt100

    tt100 Been here awhile

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    Don't buy a white one! We'd look dorky riding around together on matching bikes... (not that I have one yet, but I sure did like the pics of Tonny's though and there's a brand new 2012 white ABS leftover nearby for $6,999)
    #95
  16. drisschoufa

    drisschoufa Adventurer

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    I don't think you should consider a vstrom with ABS at all if you plan on doing any off roading for two reasons the first one is a 650 is a great bike but the ABS can't be turned off on them if you buy one that has it, The second is if you buy the 1000 it drinks more gas...way more gas and is heavy so you really can't use it offroad but it doesn't come with ABS.
    I think that if you like to travel in places like Morocco you need to look at KTM and I don't like them as I own two brand new ones and they were the worst reliable bikes I have ever purchased, BMW might be a choice but they are expensive, husqvarna is ok now new because they have had few years to work out the kinks out of it now that BMW owns them.
    A Yamaha 660 would be my first choice in that part of the world for all the reasons...cost, off road capability, reliability, parts availability and the most important thing is weight to power ratio.
    #96
  17. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    I should do a real post about Thursday, I guess. I woke up at 4am, unable to sleep, thinking about things that might have gone wrong the day before. It took me quite a while to stop myself from going down that path, not sure why. The kasbah that was my home for the night really was a perfect spot. Breakfast on the terrace and a walk through the garden were both wonderful. Some day I have to bring my wife back here, she'd love it.

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    Yan helped me drag my bags out to the bike after breakfast, saw my broken turn signal, and immediately produced a roll of duct tape and set to work.
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    He also had a wrench for bending my luggage mount back into shape.
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    See the dent in the bottom corner of the side case? Not bad for having been down on that corner at east 5 times, right? Maybe it'll buff out?

    Yan said I should bring Sandy back for a relaxing stay, and he and I would rent some trail bikes and he'd show me around the back country the right way. Sounds like fun.

    Just down the hill was a gas station with a car wash, which Yan said would be 10 dirhams. The guy there said 20, but I was in no mood to argue over $1.20, so I had him clean up the bike. He blew it off with compressed air and dried it with a chamois, totally worth the price.
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    Much better.
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    Then I took off for the main road, 50km's away. I kept looking at the GPS to see "how much farther?" I was still in no mood for adventure, and took the main N13 road all the way to Ifrane. Which is actually nice riding once you get north of Ben Mallil. In fact some of my favorite kind of riding, winding two lane road through rolling countryside. Eventually I put my unease to bed and started to enjoy the trip again. I recognized the place Tonny and I had eaten lunch our first day riding together, the field of red poppies I had taken pictures of. In Azrou I stopped to zip up the vents in my jacket, as it was getting chilly at the high altitude.

    I made it to Ifane to Eric and Michelle's about 3:30. He welcomed me, along with his friends Joe and Wali. Eric's been wanting to introduce me to Joe, an American living in Morocco who's also a tinkerer and working on some interesting projets, so we went to take a look. He has a building up in the foothills of the Middle Atlas where he's building a rocket stove for heating, an interesting project. They burn more efficiently than a typical stove, and wood is hard to come by. Joe said fire wood there is valuable enough that when a tree is cut down for fire wood, they also dig up the stump and roots and use that to burn. When I heard this I recognized the wood I had been looking at that morning in my hotel room. By the wood stove was a basket of wood that I couldn't figure out why it was so twisted and gnarly. It was root pieces. Joe is hoping to help develop a heating system that can be built locally and heat efficiently.

    On the way back to Ifrane we got to talking about my trip, and Wali asked how much my hotel had been the one night I stayed at the Ibis. When I told him 800 dirhams, he was incredulous. Then we talked on, about my getting lost, and I told about the boy who was scared to rev the engine, the one I gave my whistle to, and about the one who was so happy to be given a ball-point pen. I said next time I come to Morocco I'm going to bring a big bag of pens to give away. Wali said I didn't have to bring them, I could get them at the market, but most rural people don't have any money to buy them. Then he leaned forward from the back seat, put his hand on my shoulder and said "Next time you come, you will stay at my home. I will give you a good dinner, and breakfast and lunch. You will be very comfortable. And you can take that money you would have spent for your hotel, go to the market, buy pens, and give them to children all over Morocco who don't have one."

    I think maybe he's on to something.
    #97
  18. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    166
    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    Over coffee Friday morning Eric handed me a plate and said "This should look familiar". It did.

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    Eric and Michelle had been at our house in Germany a month ago and we'd made these muffins, which they really liked. Michelle said they can't get baking vanilla or coconut extract in Morocco, so I'd brought some of each along when I came and left them last week. Michelle decided to make the muffins for my return, but couldn't get apple butter, one of the other ingredients. So she found a recipe on the web and made it one night, then made the muffins the next night. One bite was like being home, something I appreciated more than I could say.

    Filled up and fueled up, I hit the highway for the port. The road down from Ifrane to Meknes is lined with fields of onions, a pleasant smell in the morning. The farmers have taken the rocks from the fields and stacked them in rows. There's just too many to totally clear them.
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    Between Meknes and Rabat, along about 100km of highway, I passed by five police radar checkpoints. Don't speed there! I also saw this walk bridge over the highway. A cow-verpass?

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    Then I took a trunk road that bypasses Rabat and connects to the highway to Tangiers. Along the way came a police bike with lights on, waving traffic to move over. Behind him were about 30 men in Army uniforms, on identical white motocross bikes, wearing identical white helmets. Quite a sight. A training ride, I suppose. I gave them a salute as they went by. Also saw cork trees that have been harvested.

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    I got to the port about 1230 but the next available ferry was 4pm.
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    While I waited I got to talking with some guys who had driven up from Senegal in a Nissan mini-van. Their small amount of English and my horrible French somehow worked. One of them eventually asked me how many thousand my bike. I knew he meant the cost, not the mileage, and told him 6,000 Euros, kind of a compromise price between what one would cost in Europe and an exchange of what I paid for it in dollars in the US. He was amazed, I think that I had that much money to spend on a toy. When I told him that this was my first trip to Africa, that I wanted to see it to help me understand it, he said I should come to Senegal, to see it and understand it. Who knows, maybe I will. Paris-dakar, anyone? But not on a V-strom! These guys had bought some bread but no drinks for lunch. I had some left over dirhams so when I went to buy water, I got them a round of Cokes, a little bit of America.

    The ferry finally came, and we left 2 hours behind schedule. Goodbye, Africa.
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    Spain by sunset cruise.
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    By the time we got to Spain, with the time change (2 hours ahead) it was 9:30pm local time. I rode up the coast to the same hotel I'd stayed at the night before I left for Africa. The same guy was there and welcomed me back, even gave me overnight parking in the garage for free. He said I should hurry if I wanted to find food before things closed, as it was 1030 and this isn't a hopping lively town. I walked down the beach to the same little family pizza place, had the same pizza, same beer, and watched the full moon rise over the ocean.
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    I thought about Morocco, somewhere over that water. About what I'd seen there. The good rides, the boy who flipped me off as I rode by on the freeway today. About the five Spaniards and the way they played with the kids in the village at the end of the road. About the value of a ball-point pen. I thought about why I was so attracted to the familiar right now, the same hotel, the same dinner. I'm not usually like this. conchscooter was right on when he posted a few days ago and said "don't beleive this is the trip of your lifetime. These journeys have a way of altering our inner compasses... you will be different". I am different. I'm sitting at the same table, but in a different chair, looking out towards Africa and knowing some of what is over there. Some of it I like, some of it bothers me, some of it scares me. If you have the opportunity to experience it, I urge you to do so. But be aware that unless you're very insensitive, you will encounter things that will change you. And that's probably a good thing.
    #98
  19. Wal2

    Wal2 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2011
    Oddometer:
    150
    Location:
    UK Northumberland
    really good,... .....thanks for the effort and for speaking out on your fears, gives a realistic view.



    BTW, ive ridden past Bitburg a few times, have friends in Zeltingen Rachtig, nice part of Germany

    Wal
    #99
  20. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    166
    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    My hotel doesn't serve breakfast so I went to the cafe down the street, which mistook my order as breakfast for two, I think.
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    It wasn't as good as it looked, but OK. Then hit the road, going east along the coast on the A-7 (no toll, AP-7 has toll) as far as Malaga. It was really hazy and I couldn't see much except the dark clouds to my left up in the hills. I had thought about trying to make it to Ronda last night but was glad not to be there. But I did go by this.
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    Quite a change from Morocco! In fact after three days in Morocco, walking into the courtyard of our tourist hotel and seeing a woman in a bikini by the pool was a bit of a startling experience. I've heard people say that the people who go to "naturist" places are often the ones you'd least like to see there, and if the parking lot crowd was a representative sample, this is probably true.

    At Malaga I turned north heading to Cordoba. I've wanted to see the Mezquita there, and this would likely be my last chance in a long time.

    I'd read someplace that the reason Spain has such diverse culture is the mountains separating the various parts of it, and that was evident today. From Malaga you head up a pass 800 meters high before descending into a fertile valley.
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    In Cordoba I parked in the local bike park area
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    Sure wish these were available in the US, it's the perfect bike for my wife, who is 5'2" and struggles with seat height on most bikes.
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    The Mezquita is one of the most interesting places I've seen.
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    The 800+ columns are reused Roman pieces from all over, and are of varying height, so some are raised on bases while some are sunk into the floor.
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    The famous and beautiful double arches are a way to raise the ceiling height on the columns, which are not tall enough on their own.
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    Old carved roof beams hung like the artwork they are.
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    As in Sevilla, a courtyard of orange trees.
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    In a way the feeling in the courtyard echos the columns of the interior.
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    My guide book said the 15th century Christians had 'ruined' one of the most perfect rooms in the world by building a church in the middle of he Muslim prayer room, which I thought was a bit judgmental way to say it, but after seeing it I have to agree.
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    But it's also true that the Muslims who built it destroyed a church on the same site to do it. Seems each culture destroys the last one. Here are some mosaics from the 6th century church.
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    I like the old town area of Cordoba. Walking around town I saw this, one of the few BMW's that could tempt me.
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    Nice to see it out on the sidewalk as someone's regular transportation rather than in a heated garage and only used once a month. (I could be wrong about that, maybe today was the once a month.)

    Also ran into this craft beer place, but with 4 hours of riding left, didn't sample.
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    I took the N-420 north through a nature park. Would have been a great road at 120km/hr but not so interesting at the 80-90 limit.
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    From Cordoba to Toledo the route is over high hills and plains, mostly 700-800 meters, and it was COLD! Heated grips, jacket liner, and still shivering without my windscreen, which I miss very much on the highway. I finally made it to Toledo in time for 'sunset' but just scattered rain and dramatic cloud skipping over the mountain tops.
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    The hotel I'd quickly booked this morning has a heated parking garage and great views of Toledo but is on the south side of the gorge, so it's a 30 minute walk into town. I asked if the hotel had an umbrella (no) but headed out walking anyway.
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    Before I got to town there was a bar on the side of the gorge with a nice view from the patio. Food was not very good, should have seen the locals were all drinking but not eating. But not such a long walk back and great views.
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    By the time I walked home, things had changed.
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    I waited 'til it let up a bit and made it home only slightly damp. The weather for Sunday looks dubious as well, I've been planning to go on the Mediterranean side of the Pyrenees but it's 90% chance of rain there and only 10% chance on the Atlantic side, so that's my new route. I should have come down the Med side, and avoided the rain I had the third day. Oh well.. Might make it to Bordeaux and Saint Emilion, where I should have stopped on the way down.