Tunisia - offroad all the way down

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Ni3ous, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. Ni3ous

    Ni3ous Double Axle Rider

    Joined:
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    221
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    Slovenia
    Hello!

    Me and my friends just came back from great enduro adventure exploring Tunisia and I thought you might be interested what was going on....


    As much as I would like to skip all the ussual boring stuff with planning and packing before the actuall trip really begins, I still have to start the story with packing, where the first complications began...

    17. February 2012 - the day before starting our trip
    Its way below zero celsius outside (its winter here in Slovenia), so the idea is to take bikes 650 kilometres to ferry in Genova (Italy) with the car trailer. The bikes were packed on trailer few hours before leaving country when Peter on his Africa Twin noticed a major leak on his front (WP) fork seal. We did not have enough time to get spare seal and fix the leak, so we decided to just leave it for now and try to fix it in the following days somehow.

    Bikes loaded in Slovenia and ready to be transported to the ferry in Genova. WP fork on Africa is still leaking. We left Slovenia at 4AM with temperatures around minus 10 celsius, so too cold to make 650 kilometres in 8 hours on the bike and not feeze to the bones.
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    Refuelling somewhere in Italy and inspecting if the bikes are still firmly tied on the trailer. We dont wanna lose the bikes.
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    18. February 4.AM
    We start late, so we barely catch the ferry in Genova for Tunis. When we het to Tunis, we will have 11 days time explore Tunisia, before the ferry takes us back to Genova (Italy)
    Our plan had no plan acctually. We did none reservations, had no plan for the roads, we just wanted to do as much backroads and offroad as possible. My only goal was to reach the sahara in the south Tunisia and ride some serious dunes in the outback somewhere during this trip and thats it!

    I knew this expedition will be special, so I have made a surprise stickers for the companions for this trip, to stick them on our bikes.
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    Weee, we are on the ferry to Tunis already, the view behind is Genova, Italy, Europe. We were on the ship that weights 40 000 tons and has main engine power of 67200 KW !!!
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    Ferry takes 24 hour to get to Tunis, so plenty of time for us.
    Meanwhile I met Eddy Hau (ex Paris Dakar competitor) He was heading to Douz with his KTM to ride some dunes.
    He also gave me a hint how to fix the leaking fork seal on Peters Africa Twin.
    This is Seal Doctor, tool that goes between semmering and fork tube, to clean the area or straighten the seal and in some cases stops the leaks. But we did not have such tool available on a ferry or in Tunisia. Hmmm...
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    During this 24 hours on ferry we also met 3 Italians that are very familiar with Tunisian dunes, since they come here for the last 20 years almost every year. So they gave us a lot of great info about the trip and the maps...
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    We noticed their adventourous spirit and offroading desire, so new friendship was born and we decided to ride together to the south of Tunisia for a couple of days...
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    So after we came to Tunis, we found good hotel in the centre of the town for only 5€ with breakfast.
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    After a walk through city centre we went to fix bikes, that were parked inside hotel.
    Peter africa was fixed with random plastic part forced betwen seal (semering) and tube, and pushed around for a few times. This was meant to be some improvised Seal Doctor we were introduced from Eddy Hau. And happily it worked. The oil leak was stopped for now. Thats great, since in tunisia you cant get any spare parts for White Power KTM forks.
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    Mitja had some weird sounds and metal scrapes on front disc of his Tenere so we fixed that issue also the first evening in Tunis, before some serious riding next day.
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    #1
  2. stteve

    stteve Been here awhile

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    Nice, i was in Tunesia in 2007 ... brings back a lot of good memories
    #2
  3. SgtMike

    SgtMike facebook.com/mikeraces

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    Tunisia is on my SHORT list to ride - let's see it all!
    #3
  4. zandesiro

    zandesiro In rust we trust....

    Joined:
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    Polygyros, Greece...
    I'm in!:lurk:lurk
    #4
  5. BUMOT

    BUMOT Adventurer

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    Bulgaria
    I'm in.:lurk
    The begining of april is my time for Tunisia.
    #5
  6. diskow

    diskow Been here awhile

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    HA !
    NICE.
    I can add:
    I manage to repair my leaking semering with the plastic part - toothpick from my pocket Swiss knife.
    Didn't leak anymore for good!

    Keep it comin'
    #6
  7. Ni3ous

    Ni3ous Double Axle Rider

    Joined:
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    So next morning we were all fired up.
    Plan is to go towards Jedaida, and then follow the railway towards south to Mejez El Bab.

    Start in the morning from Hotel France in centre of Tunis.
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    But we followed the wrong railway from Jedaida and it took us back to Tunis.
    So it was already afternoon and we were still circulating around Tunis, figuring how to get out of that big city.
    What a hardcore enduro day a?

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    Later we reach edge of the city.
    We went through few hills of dumpyards and we finally got out of that "rush hour" - heavy traffic of the capitol city of Tunisia.

    We were happy to reach suburbs finally, and some nicer spots to take a nice relieving piss.
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    Yeah we are finally on some dirt backroads, so spirits are high again.
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    Nice place to have a quick snack, to regain some power.
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    This is what we were looking for.
    More dirt roads. We want to get to Douz-south of the country mainly on dirt roads, known here as pistas.
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    But as soon as we really started to enjoy, and the terrains were getting crazy fun, I had an accident.
    We were playing with crossings through wadi (dry river bed) and I hit an obstacle with my right foot and my ankle was heavily twisted around the foot peg and damaged my ankle and muscles.
    The pain was so bad that I got very sick imediately and I almost passed out from the amount of pain that lasted forever.
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    Looked like it was all over for me even before everything really started.
    I was there on the ground, couldnt move my leg, I was in a pain, so my friends got bored and started to play with some photoshooting...it was great scenario after all. :p
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    Why am I crying about my leg, the real problem actually is broken side stand on Honda that never breaks.
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    So they needed to make one more photo with that bike at that time.
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    Ok, since I lost all the attention in 20 minutes and photoshooting was over, I tryed to put the boot back on my injured leg and tried to ride, but I couldnt stand on my leg at all.
    There was still some nice pistas in front of us, so we went further, but decided to find a place to sleep in closest town called Le Kef, so my leg could get some rest.

    Pista that lead us back to the roads
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    But before getting to the Le Kef, we were caught with some afternoon showers and we imediatelly took cover in an abandoned building for half an hour.
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    #7
  8. inbred

    inbred Been here awhile

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    Great start. What kind of abandoned building was that by the way. The freaking walls are sixteen inches thick.
    #8
  9. diskow

    diskow Been here awhile

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    BRAVO Roman !
    Keep On, Keep On!
    #9
  10. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

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    Redondo Beach CA
    Great start! Now where's the rest! Keep it coming!

    Johnny
    #10
  11. zandesiro

    zandesiro In rust we trust....

    Joined:
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    Polygyros, Greece...
    :lurk
    #11
  12. Arek Kontrol

    Arek Kontrol Been here awhile

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    Ex-pat Poles in Adelaide Hills, South Australia
    Great ride report so far! :clap

    keep it coming!
    #12
  13. Ni3ous

    Ni3ous Double Axle Rider

    Joined:
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    So that night we stayed in Le Kef in a nice hotel up the hill in the town.
    One night sleep with braakfast was was priced with 8 EUR.
    That day Roberto also injured his leg while trying to start his Honda XR. Kickstart backfired with all compresion in his foot and that was enough big hit for him, so now there was two of us that couldnt walk at all. So we needed to take taxi to get to the restaurant where boys went to dinner in the city centre.
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    Next day Robertos leg was almost ok, but my leg was no better, and I couldnt put any weight on my right leg, so no walking for me. So that morning we went to pharmacie and bought strong compression bandages, some cooling gel to put on my foot and some strong painkillers.
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    After that, the only issue was to squeeze my leg in to the riding boot, and than I would be fine for riding, even do I couldnt walk.

    Now we are leaving this town, heading south, try to find some more pistas.
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    Soon we found some wadis to play around
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    There was also water in some off the river beds. That means extra playtime for us :)
    http://youtu.be/1MeBbDaX6ss


    Next wadi was several kilometers long, and very deep, so we had a hard time to cross it. We spread & separated here and deal with it as we know. In the end some took time and went around it.
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    So we found each other later and gathered from different roads back together.
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    We met in a small village, there were some abandoned houses.
    We felt sorry, because we made some damage driving on the wheat fields, trying to cross the wadi, but the farmer from that small willage didnt see that as a problem and he even gave us a lot of tasty fresh bread as a present.
    What a gesture! We were really thankfull for that.
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    We continued further to the south, and the land was getting dryer and less and less green, further south you go less rain it is, that means more desert looks.
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    By the evening we came to the town Kasserine, we could sleep in a really nice hotel, with bikes safely parked at the police station 200 metres away, for 10 EUR, but no.... we exepted the lottery and decided to take another hotel (there are only two in Kasserine) where bikes supposed to be parked in the hotel and it was even cheaper (8 EUR with breakfast).
    Later we found out that Kasserine is know as most savage/renegade style city of all Tunisia, and this hotel with surroundings was epicentre of it. Hotel rooms were not ugly but really very stinky shitholes and the place where our bikes were parked, was ilegall store for selling alcohol (beer). Lots of it! (remember this is muslim country, where alcohol is forbidden). So the place where our bikes were parked was nothing inside idea of a safe garage, because that place was a party place, where people drank alcohol and chill around hot coals, to get some warmth during cold night.

    So we stick with them, party and drink beer, while they (like by the way) sell alcohol in black platic bags over the barred window on to the street.
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    One guy wanted us to switch the clothes, so why not...
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    It was getting late, so we went in our headquarters (hotel corridor) to make some plans for tomorrow.
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    We have put some coordinates in GPS for next day, so orientating should be easy and progress good.
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    We were really excited, because tomorrow we should come south enough to find some serious desert terrain.
    We are closer and closer to the real stuff!
    #13
  14. diskow

    diskow Been here awhile

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    Those Wadis were great. Very hard to cross them but exeptional relaxing when driving most of the offroad straight fast tracks.
    More will follow soon.
    #14
  15. Ni3ous

    Ni3ous Double Axle Rider

    Joined:
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    Before you continue to read:
    Open this link in another sleeve to make a background music, during reading further this report.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-gSMULNanI&feature=BFa&list=PLE75699C804E0A261&lf=BFp

    If you dont do that, this thread will be deleted on your IP.

    Just kidding, only trying to make your mind closer to the feelings we were in in Tunisia.
    Belgacem Bouguenna is great Tunisian musician we were listening there in Tunisia and brings good memories on our adventure.
    --

    Seriously! What a dream today!

    I woke up 3 times this night and saw a mirage through the room window.... dunes, dunes, dunes everywhere!
    What a pleasant dream. I was so sure there are sand dunes outside in the midle of my town Ljubljana, that I even woke up my girlfriend to let her see those dunes!

    In the morning I realised it was only a dream, and only thing I really can see through the home window is concrete.

    ---
    So let me continue with the adventure in Tunisia.

    It was morning in this outlaw town Kasserine, and we wanted to get out of it as soon as possible. I sure wont miss that stinky room I slept in last night at all. We really wanted to do some good pistas that day and head south - closer to the dunes.

    Leaving Kasserine in the morning. Every third car in this town is Taxi
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    There are a lot french Peugeot cars, this black one is quite old model and exceptionaly in good shape
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    Biker in Kasserine
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    Before this trip I have uploaded topographical map of Tunisia on my GPS. And that was a fine thing.
    Our progress that day was good, we found great pistas thanks to Garmin.
    I have set it the way he thinks we are on a bicycles, so GPS show me more minor and back dirt roads than ussual setting for cars or motorcycles.
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    We soon went over a mountain pass...and continued further into the desert
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    After a few hour of riding a stop is needed to take a rest and a snack. It was quite cold day and wind was blowing, so any shelter is a great thing to find in a desert.
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    First town after aprox 100 kilometres... Kids found us interesting, and nice wheelie makes them a day :)
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    Nice building to make a photo with the bike. In Tunisia it is very often you find windows and doors painted in blue. It is believed in this country that blue color around building openings discourages evil ghosts to enter in the building.
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    We decided (Garmin topo map) to take shortcut over this mountain, and higher we went the more this pista was turning into a goat track. It was hard, but we loved it :)
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    Betwen two mountains we again had some shelter from wind, so nice place to replenish ourselves with some Johnny Walker and homemade smoked salami we brought from Slovenia
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    You have to use nature to help yourselve with one basic element against another. Very convenient.
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    We made it to get on another side of the mountain. We are back in the walley again.
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    I ran out of fuel in the midle of nowhere. I had a small plastic pipe, so we were able to lend each other fuel. We were also in a middle of trashyard, so finding plastic bottle was no problem. You can see the plastic pipe and bottle on a box, taking fuel out from one Tenere for another. With preparation, there is solution for everything.
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    #15
  16. diskow

    diskow Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2008
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    251
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    Guess what we found just here, 20 m back to the junkyard.
    I way to heaven.
    #16
  17. tokenboy

    tokenboy Gnirly Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2003
    Oddometer:
    470
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    I love seeing riders go through Tunisia.

    I live in Carthage just up from the the port at La Goulette.

    A few things, Tunisia is a Muslim country, but alcohol is not forbidden. The major chain stores have dedicated alcohol sections and most touristic type hotels and restaurants readily serve alcohol.

    I have my 990 Adeventure here in Tunis and generally get out for weekend rides. I've got an assortment of interesting GPS tracks in the north (and south).

    If you have a gpx from your trip please pass it along if you don't mind.
    #17
  18. diskow

    diskow Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    #18
  19. Ni3ous

    Ni3ous Double Axle Rider

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    221
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    Slovenia
    So while refuelling empty Tenere, Peter found famous Rommel piste on his Garmin Quest. The turn for that piste is only a minute back from where we were, and than up the hill to the piste!
    What a coincidence, we were actually happy I ran out of fuel, otherwise we would miss Rommel piste.

    Climbing to the top of the pass of Rommel piste. The road was build in World War and its made of concrete
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    View opened from the top of the pass, on the flatlands on the other side of the mountain
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    Somewhere in the middle of descend on the other side, we met a dog in one corner of the road.
    Looks like he actually lives here
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    We didnt have much with us, but Peter and Mitja gave him all their food, and the dog was gratefull.
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    So if any of you plan driving this road, remember to have some food with you, because you will probably meet this nice dog on the way.

    This descent over the concrete road was really scenic, so all off us turned the bikes off, and rode them down the mountain in silence.

    Bridge destroyed from floods last year, on the south side of the Rommel piste.
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    The view is spectacular.
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    In the back there are mountains where Rommel piste leads.
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    After that we had one hour of really fast riding over the bumpy track and night was catching us.
    So we had to find road fast, before the dark.
    GPS showed one road 6 kilometres on the right, so we had to cross desert straight for a few kilometres off road through difficult and soft terrain to make it before dark. Progress was slow and we needed more than 30 minutes.

    We made it. We found road just before sunset and there was a small sand storm coming...
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    Than we only had smooth asphalt for 20 kilometres in the dark to reach Tozeur and find a sleep there.

    Day was long and exhausting, but spirits are high!
    #19
  20. Ni3ous

    Ni3ous Double Axle Rider

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2009
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    You know the drill, use this link for background music while reading further this RR.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6TM...04E0A261&lf=bf_play&playnext=2&shuffle=848395


    That night we slept in Tozeur. It is a nice small town. As ussually (thanks to the Italian team) we managed to find nice cheap hotel for less than 10€ per person, per night with breakfast and garage. We again had a great dinner in one of the restaurants in this town. The dinner was actually the same every evening, there is not much culinary choice around here.
    But the food was great!
    Lots of salads, tuna fish, olives, spicy sauces, beans broths, and main meal was ussually french fries and mixed grilled meat. For around 5-8 € you also get coca cola, water and tea with all of this. So plenty of everything for not too big price. We were happy.
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    Looks like Matteo (in the background) likes native girls here :)

    After a great sleep in the hotel, plan for the next day was Tozeur-El Hamma-Douz, heading through pistas close to the base of the mountain chain stretching all the way to El Hamma.
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    Half a day there was mountain chain on our lef side all the way to El Hamma
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    The road to El Hamma
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    After a few hours of dusty pista riding and some dangerous parts (hidden damaged parts of the road from water erosion) we needed a break and a snack
    So we stop here in the midle of nothing
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    After a snack, we managed to get a nice short cosy sleep in the desert sun, so it was time to do some more pistas.
    Today we wanna get to Douz, to the gate of Sahara and to see some real dunes!

    So lets go ,we still have a lot of hours to ride in the dust.
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    Left of right?
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    Does no matter as long as we keep away from the asphalt
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    After we left El Hamma, we passed by school and kids started to throw stones in to us!??
    Shit, Peter was hit and his shoulder injured badly. Luckily he did not fell of the bike.
    We still do not understand that kind of behaviour, because that happened before once or twice, but we had luck until now.

    After a while Peter was in such pain, we needed to stop again and take a rest here
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    And another stop so Peter used some cooling gel on his shoulder, the one I used every day for my injured ankle.
    I was still on painkillers and barely walking. Leg is not heallig well.
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    After a whole day of dirt riding, we are finally in Douz. We only need to get on another side of the town, where the gates are.
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    Finally! After a one week of persistance riding, various problems and injuries we reached The gate to Sahara!
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    It is really just like that, when you enter through this gate, soon real Sahara begins.
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    We made it!
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    Just before sunset
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    Tonight we stay in Douz. Its a nice and easy going town.

    Tomorrow is going to be a great day! We are headed to the oasis of Ksar Ghilane, partly throuhg pistas, and partly straight over the dunes!
    #20