African diaries (or When we were young)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Thomas B., Aug 17, 2020.

  1. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,076
    Location:
    Switzerland and around the globe
    Hi simondippenhall,

    Thanks, back is on a good way.
    Yeah you need that spark and if that´s your thing your on your way. I just needed that report in a bike magazin and I knew: That is what I want to do.
    I was following your journey every now and then. Really liked it. I was going to contact you later this year, as we were planning to do the same in the next couple of years. Going down the west in stages and I was looking for infos where you can leave the bike or bikes.
    Well, looks like that is not going to happen thanks to this damn virus that is messing up all our lives.

    Stay tuned, there is more to come. We are just at the beginning. The first trip.

    Cheers Thomas
    #21
  2. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,076
    Location:
    Switzerland and around the globe
    To finish the first trip completely, here is a map with the route marked. For those that are interested in where I am taking you.

    And just imagine: that is the only map we had of northern africa at the time - and a compass!
    And with that we would head off into the unknown hoping to come out at the right place on the other end. No GPS. Almost unbelievable today.

    [​IMG]
    #22
    Smidty, ScotsFire, forgorin and 6 others like this.
  3. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    337
    Location:
    Hampshire, England
    Inspiring! And hoping the world will improve next year so that you may again travel far
    #23
    Thomas B. likes this.
  4. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    684
    Location:
    Lowlands
    indeed completely unimaginable by today’s standards! Wasn’t that Michelin map something like 1:5.000.000?

    I suppose there aren’t that many roads across the Sahara, so finding the road was probably doable. But how did you plan for things like fuel, food and water?
    #24
  5. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,076
    Location:
    Switzerland and around the globe
    I think we are all hoping for that.
    #25
  6. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,076
    Location:
    Switzerland and around the globe
    Oh no, much bigger 1:4000000 :-)

    No there were not many roads or pistes, but you could ride where ever you wanted to. On big plains the "official" piste would often spread out over kilometers because everyone tried to avoid the corrugated main piste. That is where you had to be on your toes to not drift off into a wrong direction. One year I remember 6 people in cars died because exactly that happened to them and until they realised it and found there way back to the "real" piste, they ran out of fuel. Nobody came past them and could help. They even drank the water from engine cooling systems. They were found later after a search with a helicopter. Too late.
    For gas we asked around where there were gas stations and tried to carry fuel for at least 1.5 times the way so we could turn around pretty late in the trip and still make it back. But once beyond the "point of no return" it was only forward. At that time no one went on a piste alone so you could help each other in the case of trouble. There was no "spot or inreach".
    Years later we did a long piste with 5 bikes and a Land cruiser (but that was diesel so of no use to use). The first bike ran out of fuel just short of the next gas station, but we didn´t know how far it still was. We others were all running on fumes. We drained some tanks and filled one bike up and that took off with a jerry can to fill up. The rest had to wait. Turned out it was about 10 km.
    Food isn´t a very big problem. You can go pretty long with out food if you have to.
    Water is the limiting factor. In winter in the Sahara it is normally not very hot so you can live with 1 liter of water a day pretty good. in emergency with even less. I would always carry 10 liters of water for long streches.
    #26
  7. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,076
    Location:
    Switzerland and around the globe
    Because it is sunday you get the beginning of the next trip:

    The next winter (1987/88) I was back on the ferry heading for Africa again. From my experience the winter before, I had made a couple of changes to my setup. Got some tankbags to get more weight from the back to the front. That helped a lot for the handling in the sand. Had a bit less weight, which is always good and more confidence I could handle everything. Oh, the youth.

    This time I left home alone and hoped to find travel companions on the ferry or later on the way. I actually left the ferry with two other German guys that were heading in the direction I had in mind. We later teamed up with more bikers we met on the way. And then on the way to Djanet, an oasis in the southeast corner of Algeria, the rain set in. We managed to get the tents up before the downpour really started and got into them for a noisy night sleep. It rained quite a bit and when we got up the next morning we saw that we were trapped by two rivers. One in front and one behind us. There was no way we could cross them. Too deep and too fast flowing. There was nothing to do than sit it out. It was a cloudy day and it still rained every now and then, but not the amount from the night before. The following day we woke up to blue skies and beautiful sunshine. The water level in the river behind us (where we were camping) had dropped considerably so we packed up hoping we could get through the river in front of us and reach Djanet. Arriving at the river we saw that it was barely ankle deep and crossing no problem. There was another river and in that one a truck with fuel for the gas station in Djanet was stuck. It had tried to cross the river the day before during the high water and didn´t make it. Now it was sitting there with the rear set of wheels almost completely in the sand. On our further way another truck with a trailer and a bulldozer came towards us to dig the fuel truck out and we had to wait two days in the oasis for the fuel to arrive so we could fill up.

    First dunes, I just love it

    [​IMG]

    and first night "out there"

    [​IMG]

    on the way to Djanet we had to cross the Fadnoun-Plateau, a slow bumpy ride. I heard it is paved by now.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    not much space for camping there, so if you found something you would have to move together

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    getting off the plateau sky was grey allready

    [​IMG]

    by the way - here you can see my new setup quite well. Not much on the back anymore, but tankbags on the sides to get the weight more balanced. Worked well.
    I cannot believe I still had that rediculously large tankbag on that second trip.

    [​IMG]
    #27
    wera917, Smidty, rudy4pl and 9 others like this.
  8. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    25,287
    Location:
    Burbank CA
    awesome job preserving those pictures and remembering them all.

    don’t think i will have the opportunity you had. reading this and your previous right report is a great way to see many places. thanks tb.
    #28
  9. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,429
    Location:
    GTA, ON, CDA
    Well, it's Sunday where you are!
    Great stuff...
    #29
  10. lilgman

    lilgman n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Lesotho, Africa
    I've enjoyed this report! Thank you for taking time to share!
    #30
  11. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,543
    Location:
    Okie near Muskogee
    I’ve got to dig out some of my old film and digitize then from working in Algeria In the late 1990’s. I crossed some of the same areas over landing on my last trip out to Algiers. Amazing country down in the Southeast.

    Down in In Amenas I remember seeing a Landcruiser overloaded to the hilt with a motorbike hitched up by the front wheel only to the rear bumper just thinking those guys were hard core! Long before I was even into bikes, wish I would have gotten the picture of the setup.

    Thanks for sharing the real Sahara!
    #31
    squadraquota and simondippenhall like this.
  12. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,116
    Location:
    north vancouver bc
    nice!
    wishing you a speedy recovery
    #32
  13. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,076
    Location:
    Switzerland and around the globe
    Yeah, Sandra once got a profesional slide scanner and digitalized most of my and our old slides. I am astonished how much you can get out of them with a little work and a modern photo program. Most work is to erase most of the dust that was scanned too.
    Well the traveling is what we do. Its our life. But I am jelous of you guys in the states and all the possibilities you have to explore the backcountry, especially in the west.
    Hang in there and you´ll get to see more of Africa.
    And your welcome. I am having fun doing this.

    Thanks!!

    Oh, even Africa is watching. Your welcome and a special hello to you down there.

    Wait till you see our setup a little later. It was similar to what you saw. Not saying more now.
    Keep watching we´re not past the Sahara yet.

    It was, definitly!
    thanks, its on a good way
    #33
  14. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,076
    Location:
    Switzerland and around the globe
    Our camp spot for the wet night and day. You can see the water in the distance. That is the way we had come from.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It was a windy day too. That is a sleeping bag hanging on that tree. One guy tent leaked and he was drying that bag.

    [​IMG]
    #34
    Smidty, bomose, Burro driver and 2 others like this.
  15. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,076
    Location:
    Switzerland and around the globe
    Does anyone know why I only see my last post when I am logged in.
    If I don´t log in its not there?
    Strange
    #35
  16. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,076
    Location:
    Switzerland and around the globe
    Forgett that - now its there.
    #36
  17. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,076
    Location:
    Switzerland and around the globe
    The next morning most of the water had drained into the desert. There was hardly anything left of the rivers.

    h

    [​IMG]

    The truck that had lost against the water and the one we had to wait for

    [​IMG]

    on the way to Djanet

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Going off to play in the sand

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    at the outskirts of Djanet there was one more obstacal to cross and we were in the oasis

    [​IMG]

    Djanet

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #37
  18. BCBackRoads

    BCBackRoads Travels with Gumby

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Oddometer:
    631
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC
    My God that is a huge tank bag! Great report. I'm so glad you dredged this one up from the past. So nice to get a glimpse of adventure riding back in the day. Thanks, Wayne
    #38
  19. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,076
    Location:
    Switzerland and around the globe
    Yes, it was enormous. I promise, the next trip it is gone.
    And yes Wayne, sometimes I look at old fotos - remembering my youth. ( Oh , that sounds so pathetic)
    And at the moment I have all the time in the world, because the doc said I should take it easy.
    Back in the day it was not adventure riding. We just did it.:D
    Cheers Thomas
    #39
    James59 and squadraquota like this.
  20. BCBackRoads

    BCBackRoads Travels with Gumby

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Oddometer:
    631
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC
    I can sympathize with the healing, being patient and having all the time in the world. I'm sitting here with a broken leg waiting out the best of the riding season and at 65 the bones don't heal as quickly as they used to. Yes, I managed to drop my GS on the leg while taking it up a road I had no right to be on. I'm such a Lemming!

    Anyway, thanks again for dredging up the old photos.
    Cheers, Wayne
    #40
    James59 likes this.