In the search for sand

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Thomas B., Aug 29, 2012.

  1. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
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    Hi everyone,
    here is a report about a trip Sandra and I did "In the search for sand".
    We are desert-addicts and since the north of Africa became pretty uninteresting (no really free travelling anymore in most countries due to regulations and security) we looked for other options.
    And we found one.
    Oman became our next goal.
    We found a touroperator who does organized biketours in Oman who was willing to take our bikes with him without ordering a tour.
    And then it was Christmas day when we boarded the train to the airport with all our bags.
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    Here is Sandra on our way to Geneva to the airport. Look at the white landscape outside the window.

    Hours later we arrived in Muscat. And our bags didn't. Shi...
    It was hot and since we were traveling in our riding gear with motocross boots on walking around wasn't too much fun. So one of the first things we did is by some cheap flipflops on the market.

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    Here is Sandra happy withher new shoes.

    We picked up our bikes but still didn't have our bags.
    Then they finally arrived and we went to the airport to pick them up and get going.

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    Strapping the bags to the bikes at the airport.

    Then a quick download of some tracks to the GPS in a cafe

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    and off we went into the mountains.

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    This was the beginning of this trip. More to come.
    See you
    Thomas
    #1
  2. Eddy Nicolay

    Eddy Nicolay Pizza Boy

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    Cool stuff, bring it on! Looks fabulous already!
    #2
  3. playharder

    playharder Just a rider

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    Subscribed.

    John
    #3
  4. RiaanGSA

    RiaanGSA Adventurer

    Joined:
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    South Africa
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    Check the South African flag on the knee. Are you from here? Waiting for the rest of the Ride Report.
    #4
  5. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Hi RiaanGSA,
    we´re not from SA. We live in Switzerland. That flag on Sandras knee is from a trip we did some years ago. We went through Africa down the east coast and by the time we reached SA Sandras pants were getting a hole at the knee. So she looked for something appropriate to fix it and found this patch with the SA flag on it.
    We are actually planning to come to SA next winter. At the moment I´m looking for an affordable transport for two of our bikes and a place to leave them after our trip for a couple of months for a further trip.
    Thomas
    #5
  6. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
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    After some more riding in the Hajar al Sharqiyah mountains we came down to the coast to the town of Sur and dicided after some nights in the tent a shower would be nice. So we looked for a hotel.

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    Heading for the coast.

    The hotel manager said it was not good to let the bikes outside and showed us a place underneath the stairs to park the bikes for the night. So we pushed them through the hotel hall past the reception under the stairs.

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    Nice secure parking.

    The next morning we had a look at the Dhow „Fatah al Khair“. The restored dhow Fatah Al Khair is preserved at an outdoor museum in Sur. One of the last ocean-going passenger dhows, it is a ghanjah and is estimated to be around 300 tonnes and over 20 metres long.

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    We spend the morning with a detour into Wadi Tiwi.

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    before we headed back into the mountains. The whole north of Oman is mountainous while the southern part is more desert.

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    Still seeing the ocean behind us we took the partly steep gravel road to a pass
    #6
  7. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
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    It was a nice ride with good views.

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    And only at one place Sandra stopped an said: you can drive my bike up this part.
    It was steep with loose stones in powdery sand. A 4WD past us as we were standing there and needed 3 goes to get through. With all wheels spinning. (thats the reason for the state of that stretch)

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    Here's me taking Sandra's bike up.

    But that was the only part my girl didn't want to do.
    Soon we reached the top of the pass and had spectacular views on the mountains around.

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    There were some old watchtowers dotted along the top of the mountains.

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    It was late in the afternoon already and the air was becoming cold up here so we tried to get into the next valley and find a place for the night.

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    After a very quiet night (you could hear the blood running through your ears) I had some work to do in the morning.
    We allready had two problems. One on the carburetor of each KTM. But its no adventure without some technical problems.
    My KTM would only go up to around 80 Km/h and then beginn to stutter as if the fuel was running out. As long as we were on gravel tracks where you are mostly just rolling along and don't need much power I could live with that. But our next plan was to go to the Whahiba Sands and there I would need the power so I had to fix that before we went there.
    Sandra's KTM had a different problem. As soon as she would stop and the engine was still running the carburetor would start dripping out of the overflow. This was pretty annoying. I took the carburetor out and partly took it apart but couldn't find the problem. So Sandra always turned off the engine as soon as we stopped for more than a couple of seconds.

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    Me getting my hands dirty in the early morning.
    #7
  8. RiaanGSA

    RiaanGSA Adventurer

    Joined:
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    I am very impressed that you got the flag the right side up and around.:clap If ever you guys are in South Africa again, PM me and we can ride together or at least make contact or organise something for you.
    #8
  9. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Hello RiaanGSA, might come back on that later this year. Where in SA do you live?
    See you Thomas
    #9
  10. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    After reassembling the KTM we carried on to the Wadi Khabbah were the piste crossed a river several times.

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    Some crossings were shallow others a bit deeper.

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    Sandra draining the water from her boots.

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    But too early. Another deeper crossing came.

    Finally we left the Wadi and headed to the town of Ibra through the mountains.

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    Since we were south of the mountains now and wanted to get into the sand the next day it was time to look after my carbureter. So we checked into a hotel.

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    Taking out the carb on the street infront of the Hotel.

    After taking the carb apart I had a close look at the inside parts and found that the housing of the float needle valve had come out of the carb housing a bit because the o-ring that seals the valve had somehow become bigger. That kept the valve from opening completely and let enough fuel through. On travels like this I always have quit a bit of spare parts with me and so I had a look at my parts bag and fortunatlly found the right ring. After putting everything together again I took the bike for a test ride. I went out of town, sped up to 140 km/h, and waited a while. The bike ran fine, problem solved. Sand here I come, YEPY!!!
    #10
  11. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Since we still had some time that day we dicided to do some sightseeing and rode to the old town of Al Mudaybi.

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    The gate that leads into town.

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    Crumbling old walls.

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    Beautifull doors.

    The next day we packed our bags, filled the tanks with fuel, filled our locally bought canisters with water and headed for the Wahiba Sands.

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    Nice ride through a palm garden.

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    Another old town on the way.

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    Cameltransport at the petrol station.

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    Getting ready for the sand.
    #11
  12. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Then we had lunch and waited for the midday heat to pass before we entered the Wahiba Sands. This is a large sandy area in northern Oman just south of the mountains and to cross them is one of the highlights of an offroad orientated Oman trip.

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    In the beginning there are a lot of tracks when you enter from the north because there are a couple of dersert camps where tourists are brought to by local tour jeeps.

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    Once you pass the last camp the tracks become smaller.

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    Our camping spot for the night.

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    Sitting on a dune watching the sun set.
    #12
  13. Saeed

    Saeed Life-long learner

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    subscribed
    #13
  14. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    The next day started warm and soon became hot. The two of us were on our own the whole day. We didn't see anyone else. It was nice riding with the sand being firm in some parts and very soft in others. In some of the uphill sections I needed two or three goes to find a place where I could make it to the top.

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    Sandra plowing past me.

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    And what is Sandra doing there?
    Well we found a temporary solution for the dripping carb problem of her bike.

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    We tied an small water bottle to the frame of the KTM an lead the hose that is attached to the leaking overflow into it. With this solution we didn't loose any fuel and just had to empty the bottle every once in a while into the tank.

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    To get some speed that lets you drive on the sand there is often some wheelspinning involved when you get started.

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    only a few old tracks to follow.

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    One tired girl. Sandra having a rest while we wait for our engine oil to cool down a bit. Althought the fan was running constantly the oil got too hot. The reason was that we had the wind in our backs and nothing would blow the heat away from the engines and radiators.

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    In the afternoon all of a sudden the air became a little cooler. Shortly later we knew why. In the distanz we could see the ocean. The dunes actually run all the way to the water. It is an amazing site.

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    #14
  15. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    After leaving the Wahiba Sands we headed south to Salalah.

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    It was hard surface offroad again.

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    Don't come close to these bushes. The thorns go through every tire.

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    Just before reaching Salalah you come across something Oman was famous for in former times. Frankincense.
    Here is Sandra checking out if the bush smells, but it didn't.

    In Salalah we took a day of. After finding a nice hotel directly on the beach we walked around town a bit the next day.

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    Mum coconut

    Leaving Salalah we did a detour to the Taqah Fort and the ancient port of Samhuram from were frankincense used to be shipped al over the world.

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    Taqah Fort

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    At the port of Samhuram.

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    Even in the desert there are flowers.

    We then dicided to go all the way down to the border with Yemen before turning west in order to get to the Rub Al Khali.

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    On our way we had a look at Wadi Hinna.

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    Later we ended up on the road along the coast.

    And then Sandra stopped and said the bike wasn't running good at all. And we saw that her "leeking bottle" was full again and that within a couple of minutes.

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    So it was back to work again. After taking the carburetor out and taking of the float chamber the housing of the float needle valve just fell out. That souldn't happen. The same o-ring that failed in my carb was making problems here too. Only that on my bike it grew and on Sandras bike it shrunk. So back into my parts bag again and how lucky are we today. I had another of these o-rings with me. Put it in place and reassemble everything again. And the KTM is back to life and running fine. No more leaking anymore. All problems solved.
    #15
  16. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Getting closer to Yemen the road was twisted as it was close to the coast.
    Passing some houses I was wondering what the uniformed guys were doing on the porch in some sort of yard the road went through. After the buildings there was a big sign saying: Welcome to Yemen. I hit the brakes. Shi... Those weren't just some houses. That was the border and I just drove through it. I turned around and was expecting trouble but the guys were easy about the whole matter. After I explained where we actually wanted to go they gave us directions, smiled, and said good bye.

    Leaving the coast we headed west to one of our main goals. We left the asphalt behind and followed the piste.

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    In the last village (I cannot remember the name at the moment) we filled up our tanks from jerry cans using a handpump and then headed into the Rub Al Khali.

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    The Rub Al Khali is the largest sand desert in the world. Mainly being in Saudi Arabia it reaches over the boarder into Oman.

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    Really strange!!
    In other times there must have been alot of traffic (with overtaking) but on a different level.

    We headed in quit a bit and looked for a nice place to spend the night. That's where I threw off most of my gear and played around in the dunes for a while.

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    Racing up a big dune. The picture dosen't show how steep it gets but I couldn't get any higher. Turning around the rear wheel started to slip down already.

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    #16
  17. drikko

    drikko Been here awhile

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    subbed
    #17
  18. Louisdut

    Louisdut Been here awhile

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    Thank's for taking the time to post your report & pictures :thumb

    Please keep it coming

    Cheers

    Louis
    #18
  19. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Hope your not sick of sand yet but there's nothing better than sittig on the top of a high dune and watch the sun set.
    The colors change constantly and your camera memory fills up fast.
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    Our place for the show.

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    Sandra enjoying the views around.

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    Enough of the sand now. This was our spot for the night. You can hardly feel more alone. Just great.
    #19
  20. Saeed

    Saeed Life-long learner

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    Great ride report &Great pics
    I’ll continue to follow your adventures<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    Thanks for taking us along
    #20