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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by FechFech, May 28, 2012.
Today is the longest stage of the entire rally-raid. It starts in the desert in Erfoud, crosses the High Atlas mountains, and ends in Midelt. This is the tracklog:
The first 120 kilometers are typical Moroccan desert pistes, with the usual mix of rocks and sand. Then follows a short stretch on a paved road. I make a stupid navigation mistake on the paved road, and I still don't know why. The roadbook indicates a sharp left on the paved road. Straight ahead is an (unpaved) piste, not to be followed. I do just that - follow the piste, rather than staying on the paved road, even though I've highlighted the left turn in the roadbook. Some psychologist will have an explanation for this, probably along the lines that the subconcious part of my mind wanted to avoid pavement and somehow overruled the conscious part which clearly said "stay on the paved road"....
The mistake is visible on the tracklog as a dead end going off to the right of the main track. I realized my mistake only after about 20 kilometers, when no other riders followed and the GPS pointed me to another direction. I had to turn around and ride all the way back where I made the wrong turn. At least the piste was fun to ride...
At Gourrama we leave the paved road, and the next 25 kilometers lead through Qued Guir:
Qued Guir is a dry riverbed, there is no road or piste, just a few tracks from 4x4 vehicles. Since there is only very little water in the Qued, riding on the lightweight 350 is fairly easy and a lot of fun. The next highlight after Qued Guir are the High Atlas mountains. We cross the main range of the High Atlas on a windy and steep dirtroad, which isn't shown on any map (it is on Openstreetmap now, because I added it). The dirtroad leads over a pass at about 2'200 meters. I couldn't find the name of this pass, so I called it the "Trial Pass", because parts of the dirtroad up to the pass reminded me of trials riding...
On top of Trial Pass we make a short break, the tricky sections are behind us:
View to the north from Trial Pass:
The road down the north side of Trial Pass. Compared to the road up the south side, this is like the Autobahn:
View from Trial Pass, further down:
The road down the north side of Trial Pass:
I made this video while riding down Trial Pass. At the end of the video, I meet some local kids and give them a few super-magnets to play with. I carried a bunch of these with me to give away to kids:
<iframe width="720" height="540" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/LRsOgC7QUF0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
About 30 kilometers after Trial Pass we ride through another canyon. This one is about 8 kilometers long, starts near Ait Alou and ends near Bou Redine. The walls of the canyon are vertical rocks most of the time:
This - rather long - video shows the entire ride through the canyon:
<iframe width="720" height="540" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/HPT-1zQGOaQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
After the canyon it's another 20 kilometers on dirt roads, followed by about 25 kilometers on paved roads, then we arrive in Midelt. We stay at the Hotel "Taddart", which is very nice:
In the evening, the local Berber dancing group gives it's best:
So does the kitchen, by preparing a fantastic meal of - you guess it - couscous and tagine.
By now I am really tired, 8 days in the saddle in a row take their toll on my 50+ years old body. Next to riding, the best thing of rallies is that I sleep really well, simply because of being exhaustet...
Thanks for the great report, brings back good memories and I am even thinking of getting an Enduro bike myself. How did the 350 perform, any issues?
The bike worked flawlessly, no issues at all. All I did is clean the air filter and check oil and water every day (it didn't need any). The bike has more than enough power (at least for my riding abilities), about 46 HP. Combined with the low weight - about 125 kg with a full tank - I never felt that I needed more power. In deep sand it needs to be revved a lot, which is however not a problem for the bike, as it is designed to rev up to 12'000 RPM.
I did a similar rally-raid last year on a KTM 690 Enduro. I liked the 350 a lot more, because it is lighter and has better suspension. The 690 (or a similar bike) is more comfortable on pavement and smooth gravel roads, but everything else is a lot easier on the 350. The perfect bike for this kind of rally is probably the KTM 450 EXC, because it has more torque than the 350, which helps in deep sand. The reason I bought the 350 and not the 450 is that I want to use the bike also for more technical enduro riding. If you are looking for a bike for rally-raids only, I'd go for a 450 or 500.
Todays stage starts and ends at the Hotel "Taddart" in Midelt. The first part of the stage leads through the Cirque de Jaffar, the second part to Aouli, an old mining town in the mountains west of Midelt. Here is the tracklog:
The first challenge today is the ride down to the bottom of the Gorge de Jaffar. On my 350 this is no problem, but the cars have to take another route because this one is too narrow and to dangerous for them:
Here is a video from my helmet camera of the ride down to the bottom of the gorge:
<iframe width="720" height="540" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/7JVdOOBC6AQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Once at the bottom, we ride through the gorge proper. Of all the riverbeds and canyons we rode this one was the best:
I made this video of the ride through the narrow section of the Gorge de Jaffar:
<iframe width="720" height="540" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/7JVdOOBC6AQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
At the end of the gorge is the first checkpoint of the day:
Later in the day the route takes us close to the artificial lake created by Hassan II dam, with the High Atlas mountains in the background:
These abandoned mining buildings near Aouli, built by the French, are now the home of a Berber family. Look for the satellite dish between the two buildings at the right:
Aouli was once a busy mining town, operated by the French. They mined lead (I think) until the early 1980s and then abandoned the place. The houses of the workers are decaying since then:
Aouli is built along Qued Moulouya, one of the longest rivers in Morocco:
The buildings of the mining operation are still there:
And so is the mining railroad:
The old part of Aouli is still inhabited by locals. I fool around with some local kids and give them the last candy I have:
After Aouli it's a short ride of 30 kilometers back to Midelt. This exciting bridge is shortly after Aouli:
Back at the Hotel, the daily ritual starts: fetching rally-box, air filter maintenance, checking oil, water and tires, checking all important bolts, checking spokes, checking wheel and steering head bearings, and so on. This is how the rally-boxes are transported from stage to stage:
Todays stage is the last one that counts for ranking. The award ceremony is held tonight at the hotel. Yves Chaumard, principal organizer of the Raid Passion Desert Maroc, announces the winners. I am (positively) surprised that I made it # 18 overall, because I never payed much attention to the number of kilometers I rode on a day.
What could be a better end of the day than this rainbow right in front of the hotel:
Right, there is something better: couscous and tagine for dinner...
Today is the last stage of the Raid Passion Desert Maroc 2012, from Midelt to Fez. As always, first the tracklog:
Once more, conditions are perfect today - sunny, with temperatures around 24 degrees celsius. The first part of the stage leads through the Middle Atlas mountains with some great views:
Near Ifrane I had to stop and snap a picture of the cabin of the local ski club. I was there 20 years ago on my old R80G/S, with my then girlfriend, now wife, on the back:
A little bit later, near Azrou, we stop at a place notorious for naughty berber monkies. The monkies are used to humans and are not shy at all. On the contrary, the somehow seem to think they are tollkeepers and demand payment in form of candy or bananas:
Having payed my obolus to the local monkey boss, I ride on towards Fez:
My trusty 350 in Fez. It ran for 2500 kilometers without giving any problems. From Fez the bikes are trucked back to France:
So this is the end of another great ride in Morocco. There will be a Ride Passion Desert Maroc 2013, and I hope I will be able to make it.
Fantastic report, thank you so much for taking the time to post it!
Bravo!!!! amazing ride desert ....
So, for whom is this rally-raid ?
If your top three priorities are
2) ride, and
then the Raid Passion Desert Maroc is for you. If your priority is to spend as much time with locals as possible, or to explore the local culture, or just enjoy the scenery and stop and stay wherever you like, then you are better off riding on your own.
Of course there are plenty of opportunities to get in touch with locals, but there is a start and a finish every day, with a roadbook to follow. Riding times per day were on average 6 hours, plus time for breaks and unplanned stops along the way (the 6 hours are "moving time" measured by the GPS). Add to that the time to maintain the bike every day, the time to prepare the roadbook for the next day, the time for dinner and breakfast at the hotels, then there is not much time left for anything else.
Also, 10 stages in a row without a rest day are tiring. I found the last three stages the hardest, simply because after 6 or 7 stages exhaustion sets in. Riding a little 350 helped a lot, though.
What is the ideal bike for this kind of rally-raid ? Probably a KTM 450 or 500 EXC, or a Yamaha WR450. A 450 has a bit more torque, which is a plus in deep sand. The reason I bought a 350 is that I want to use the bike also for more technical riding back home, which is easier on a 350 than on a 450.
Would I do the same rally-raid again on the same bike ? You bet !
Great ride report. Thank you for sharing.
Fantastic stuff, well done!
I enjoyed this report immensely! Thank you for taking the time to share it.
awsome!! living the dream i wanna ride some place with monekys
Bump for an really great thread, pics and narrative, top-notch! Wish I could do this event!
The next instance of the "Raid Passion Desert Maroc" will be from April 29 to May 9, 2013, see:
I'm aware that Morocco isn't exactly around the corner from Austin, Texas ;-) But I'm sure there is great riding in Texas, too ! Btw, Morocco is as safe as it gets in Africa, in case anyone is really thinking of going there.
This was awesome! I missed seeing it the first time 'round.
Tangine and couscous
This years edition of the "Raid Passion Desert Maroc" was from April 29 to May 9. It went from Ifrane in the Middle Atlas mountains to Agadir on the Atlantic coast, covering 3'000 kilometers of mountain and desert pistes in 11 days.
I participated on my KTM 350 EXC-F again. The 2013 edition was tougher than last year for a number of reasons. First, the distance was about 500 kilometers longer. Second, there were 11 days of riding without a rest day (last year there were only 10 days). Third, the weather was a bit crazy. The first three days in the Atlas mountains were very cold with temperatures between 0 and 6 degrees celsius. The later stages in the desert were very hot, with 42 degrees and no shade at all in the open desert. On one day there was a sand storm for several hours with visibility down to 50 meters. On the last day there was thick fog on the coast with equally bad visibility.
For me the highlights were crossing the dunes of Erg Chebbi and Erg Chegaga, each one about 20 to 25 kilometers of sand dunes. Another highlight was riding the full length of Plage Blanche. Plage Blanche is 35 kilometers of completely flat sand beach on the Atlantic ocean. I never thought that riding in a straight line can be this much fun.
This year there were about 50 riders from (mostly) France, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, and one guy from Kuwait. All in all another great experience that led us to corners of Morocco that would be next to impossible to find on a solo trip.
Here are some pictures of this years ride.
View from my office while crossing the dunes of Erg Chegaga:
Riding on Plage Blanche:
View from the 2900 meter high Tizi-n-Ouano pass towards the canyon of the Dades river:
I'm not planning to write a full ride report for this years RPDM, as it would be just more of the same of the 2012 edition. However, for those who are interested, here are my pictures from this years raid:
AWESOME pictures and RR! Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for the nice pictures and the write up. Very inspiring