Sahara - XT500 - 1982

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Chris S, Nov 15, 2011.

  1. Grizzlyman

    Grizzlyman Been here awhile

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    Awesome thread!
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  2. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    Well seeing as I had my camera out and all, I may as well point it at myself. I can see a hose from an old washing machine jammed in there. That'll come in handy if I come across a nomad with a leaking Zanussi.

    This was about a 100 miles north of Tamanrasset and the new road was ripped up all the way down.
    Top to bottom, left to right, Tam is just about in the middle of the Sahara. The XT handled like a wet mattress of course but I'd need to get used to it - beyond Tam there was no tarmac for the 400-miles over the border to Niger.


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    #42
  3. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    1982 ? That was the year Mark Thatcher, Margaret Thatcher's son disappeared in the Sahara for three days during the Pari-Dakar Rally. Jan 11 - Jan 14.

    You didn't have anything to do with that by any chance?


    Also in the news in 1982:

    -Michael Jackson released Thriller
    - The Falklands War
    - Tottenham won the FA Cup
    - Carl Ripken plays his first game of his 2,632 record consecutive games
    - Italy wins The World Cup
    - I lose my cherry at the age of 16
    #43
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  4. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    I wish, Edmond, but to be fair he was probably only my age and I don't think he'd turned into a lizard yet.
    Back then it was common for rich slebs to have a bash at the Dakar - it was the 80s equivalent of being in a Ricky Gervais show.

    As it happens it did help 'raise awareness' for my ride and the Sahara in the UK. At least people knew where it was when I mentioned it.

    Are you really from the Chateau d'If? I remember passing it as the boat sailed out of Marseille. I always assumed Dumas had made it up.

    Chris

    PS: Congrats on getting laid! ;-)
    #44
  5. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    Back to the story. In Tam I had a chance to assess the carnage. A guy on a XL500 had flipped on the broken road north of Tam, and this XR500 Dakar racer was intact but missing a tank - I think the engine had blown.

    This was bike #54 - the racing plate at the top of this thread. I wonder who #54 was in the '82 Dakar?


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  6. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    These three French XT5s proved that the Yamaha could be set without looking like an earthquake in a coat hanger factory. By comparison my bike in the middle looks positively medieval. You can spot a Brit a mile away in the Sahara. Always scruffy!
    Most of what little desert biking know-how there was was in Europe at that time, especially in Germany. In the UK you just walked around hitting yourself on the head with a frying pan.

    That's a pair of Peugeot 504s in the background - a great 2WD desert car back then. Like Mercs today, European kids would buy them cheap and flog them for profit in West Africa where they became bush taxis. But some made the mistake of doing this in their summer hols, got lost in sandstorms and in some cases weren't found for years. Most people go missing and die in summer in the Sahara (usually poor locals) because the margin for survival is so much shorter once the water's gone. In winter it's never really hot. Back then in Tam there was only tap water for 2 hours at each end of the day.

    Behind the cinq cents is an FJ 40-series Tojo pick up - the classic do-it-all Saharan load-carrier and a great looking ute.

    And behind the ute's cab I just realised you can see the prominent volcanic plug of Iharen in the Hoggar foothills. You pass that on the way up to Assekrem.

    I don't know who the two guys are - perhaps they're with the band.


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  7. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    Not everyone rode XTs - this guy was coming back from the Congo on an Ossa 250 two-stroke. No wonder the tank was bigger than the bike and he carried another jerry behind the light. Nice racks, but!

    Apart from local mopeds, that must be the only 2-stroke I've ever seen in the Sahara.

    Anyway, enough of checking out other bikes, it was time to load up my own mule, fill up the jerry and head for the border. What could possibly go wrong?


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  8. Georgios

    Georgios Been here awhile

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    Just curious, why did you carry this hose with you?
    #48
  9. vander

    vander full-time dreamer

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    Michael Harteel, from Belgium. He was on his second of four Dakars.
    A very good website for old Dakar info is: www.dakardantan.com

    http://www.dakardantan.com/paris-dakar-1982/harteel,honda+xr+500,54.html

    Tried to find more about than OSSA but couldnt. Two works OSSA's took part in the Dakar that year, but they had another shape and smaller tank.
    http://www.dakardantan.com/paris-dakar-1982/porcar,ossa+enduro+310+cm3,38.html



    I am really liking your photos and for sure your writing. I am jealous of you for being able to travel the world in those innocent times (back then it was travellers time, we now live in tourism era).
    If your trip took longer than 5 months, I was born during it :D
    #49
  10. Mr.lien

    Mr.lien Behind the line

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    quote of the day, no mater any gear, any bike the need is passion, :D
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  11. Otis the Sasquatch

    Otis the Sasquatch Long timer

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    So True! :lol3
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    Your Fan Club says "Keep it coming, Mate!"

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    Otis
    #51
  12. SS in Vzla.

    SS in Vzla. Totally Normal? I'm not!

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    :lurk

    Thanks for taking the time Chris. You should start posting more of your adventures around here. :evil
    #52
  13. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    Your interest and kind comments are much appreciated. I'm having fun too!

    Georgios, I can only assume it was for syphoning fuel or whipping the XT, but I had an oversize funnel for fuel in one pic and the jerries could pour. So it was just another one of the many things I had but did not need instead of a few things I could have used but did not have - mostly experience!

    Well done Vander, I knew someone would track him down. Shame, no pic of his bike on that website.

    The Ossa wasn't in the Dakar. He was a doctor or engineer coming back from a posting in the Congo. I don't think an Ossa would have lasted the day in the Dakar. Incidentally I see from the route in 82 that it was relatively sane and closely matched a trip I was to do in 85/86 - one of my best rides out there.

    I lost interest in the Dak when for me it lost it's way in the 90s and ended up going down the Western Sahara over and over. To be fair it's because the central Sahara was no longer safe, but I recommend anyone who digs it to check out dvds of the Dak from the mid-80s - anything that went Algeria - Niger - Mali. Rothmans Porches and 'Africa Twins', Marlboro BMWs, Gauloise Teneres (XT600Z) and the Lucky Strike Cagivas - is it any wonder they banned smoking!
    Perhaps it's because I could relate to some of the places, but the vids from that era are something else. Some will know that clip of Auriol launching his Cag off a dune in the Tenere Desert while WFO...

    Those pics made me chuckle, Otis. Can you imagine Rommel's crew turning up for work like that?

    C

    PS, I found a better shot of #54. I did London Bridge to Chessington in 29 minutes once on an XR5 for a bet. Great bike but it was never the same after that - kind of like #54

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    #53
  14. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    Right then, where were we?
    Ahh yes, setting off to cross the Sahara alone. You can just imagine how that's going to end...

    They said there was fuel at the border, In Guezzam, 250 miles away, so with my 6-gallon tank (7.2 US) I didn't even need a jerry, let alone the other two I'd bought from the UK. But the XT was not as economical as it could have been (luggage 3 feet wide didn't help) so I filled one anyway - just as well...
    I'd also left the UK with a month of food thinking well, it's the Sahara after all, there'll be nothing out there. The fact was, I was following a road, and where there is a road there are towns and people and fuel and food and tyre repairs and barbers. Maybe not with the frequency and range we are used to back home, but all the essentials are there at intervals rarely more than 250 miles.

    So a two fifty-mile ride over a flat desert in good visibility doesn't sound such a big deal: Barstow to Vegas and halfway back. But as conch on the SR500 from '79 will recall, it's quite unnerving to head out into a void with thin, intermittent tracks, irregular markers often miles apart, and the first landmark being a low outcrop some 200 miles away. It was a bit like setting sail - you got to hold on to a bearing - 180°, follow the main tracks where present, and keep your nerve.

    The road ended a short distance south of Tam; I was let loose on the piste and fell off almost straight away. I'm not sure I knew it then, but pre-GPS, keeping track of your odometre was vital. Only then could you anticipate landmarks and fuel reserves and hope that at around the 250 mark the outpost of In Guezzam would rise like a mirage. My 4 million-scale Michelin map was about as much use as a map of Uzbekistan.


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    #54
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  15. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    Another shot of the XT, slimmed down and ready for action.


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  16. Rick1

    Rick1 Dreamer from NY

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    Awesome thread!
    Glad I finally registered to this site and can join in on showing my appreciation for these reads.

    I've been eying the XT500's for a while and this thread is making it that much more tempting...
    Only wish I had the time to take on epic rides like these though...
    #56
  17. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    Is that the time already? Crikey, must take another picture of myself in the Sahara - after all there's a post, you don't see those very often.
    The pole was a good sign, it meant I was on track. On top, a sand-blasted stencil indicated 'TAM 150' and on the other side 'IGZ 250'. Less than half way.

    The XT almost looks flat-track cool, but now was the beginning of the end. Walking back with my camera I noticed a stain in the sand - my tank was leaking and had been for some time. I flipped open the cap: not enough to go on to the border, but did I have enough to get back to Tam?

    PS: Welcome to Advworld, Rick1 ;-)

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    #57
  18. Marco Moto

    Marco Moto Voyager

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    :ear
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  19. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    I remounted and tore off - the animal impulse was to act and look for shelter, but shelter - out here - I don't think so.
    But there it was - the shell of an old green BMW 2002 with every possible lose fitting removed. I felt safe now, protected.

    I pulled off the tank and applied some glue I'd only taken with me as an after-thought. Once dried I tested it, still leaking so I squeezed out the remains - wherever that crack was, I was going to smother it!

    Was I goofing about or actually worried in the photo? Probably the former trying to mask the latter but you gotta ask yourself - where did all that lovely hair go over the years...?

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  20. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

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    As the glue hardened the sun was setting on my trans-Saharan adventure. I slept in the car with a family of gerbils.


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