We know that, given the chance, you could show those rally riders how it’s REALLY done out in the vast, dune-strewn wastes of the African mega-deserts, but it’s such a pain to enter all those run-up races, line up sponsorship, ship your specially prepped bike all over the world, and so on. If only there was an easier way to exercise your sand-riding chops.
Of course, for a price, there is. For several years now, 11-time ex-Dakar rider and Spanish Air Force jet pilot Miguel Puertas has been shepherding riders between Granada, Spain and across the Mediterranean to the dune paradise of the Merzouga Desert in Morocco, and then back to Granada, through his 1000 Dunas expeditions.
And really, for what you get and where you get to go, the price, about $4,200USD or 3,600Euro (not including a kitted bike and getting you and it to the ride itself), is reasonable.
Puertas has set up a rolling convoy of Bedouin tents along multiple routes that fit a wide range of riding abilities, which he divides into classes ranging from Classic to Trail, Hard Trail, Endurance, Pro, and Pro Elite. The week-long rides range in length from 1,500km to 2,500km. You get the idea: Classic = maybe easy while Pro Elite = difficult AF. Your skill set may fall somewhere in between. No matter which level you choose, count on doing 90% no-road riding across the Dune Sea in Northern Africa, according to the Dunas site.
The routes are NOT timed (Reminder: This is NOT a race) and now that Triumph has signed on as a partner, those of us that don’t have dune-prepped bikes ready to load into an aircraft cargo containers can instead dial in a Tiger 900 or 1200 for the trip. It doesn’t appear that you can rent the bikes for the ride, so you’ll have to invest in a new Triumph for the journey, but you do get to keep it and every time you ride it, you will remember your time cresting monster sand dunes for days on end. Seems worth it. I suggest the 900 Tiger Rally Pro.
Worried about getting lost? Fear not, as riders are tracked using Stella III EVO transponders. Routes are loaded into ridebook devices on the bikes, so you’ll know where to turn at that next oasis. Fuel stops, food, EMS care, border crossing help and so on are all provided along the way. If you have a mechanical problem while riding, it looks like you’re on your own or will need to wait for transport. Bring tools.
Sound cushy? Maybe, but in a video on the site (and below), Puertas says riders will be challenged at every level, including physical stamina, navigation prowess and mental toughness, not to mention riding skill. However, you will not be mixing it up with cars and trucks on the route as in a true rally race. It’s a bikes-only outting.
Ready to give it a go? It looks like the summer raid rides are underway at this time, so the next slate opens in November. Maybe it’ll be cooler then in the desert. Maybe. Check out all the details at the Dunas 1000 website.