During the 1990s a civil war in northern Algeria, and Tuareg rebellions further south made visiting the central Sahara risky. But trade and travel routes are like rivers or columns of ants: when they meet a blockage they back up and then find another way round. And so by the late 1990s for the first time in decades, you could ride down through the Western Sahara along the Atlantic Route to Mauritania (as I did last year on my Africa Twin; see sig RR). The Polisario War was on ceasefire and in Dakhla, the last town in Moroccan-controlled territory, you joined a twice-weekly army convoy which raced off the last few 100kms to a short, mined section of No Man's Land and the Mauritanian border. We did that in '97 in an old Mercedes when flogging somewhat stolen or no longer roadworthy cars was the thing to do. The 'river' was pushing through on the other side of the main trans-Sahara routes, too. It was said it was now possible to visit Libya, back then only just shaking off its status as a pariah, terrorist-sponsoring state on a par with Iran. I didn't know anyone who had been desert biking in Libya. The idea seemed rather out there but it was now time to try something new and visit the Land of our Brother Leader.