The Moroccan Shakedown

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Colebatch, Sep 20, 2011.

  1. Tony P

    Tony P Doddery Old Fart

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    Yep - he clearly prefers to have a front wheel to sell than an old luggage frame that needed much attention.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Boy - that sand:eek1 !!
    #81
  2. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Not that i know of.

    Unless Naima is a Scorpion that likes sleeping in peoples jackets ... in which case I have some good video of Roman meeting it - with more than a subtle amount of surprise, shall we say.
    #82
  3. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Tom, I have put some pics and detail on the luggage rack here mate:

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?p=16947516#post16947516
    #83
  4. Ed Teach

    Ed Teach Been here awhile

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    When I met her she was not a scorpion and as far as I know she hasn't suffered that kind of transformation :lol3:lol3:lol3

    Have a nice trip and keep posting about it for our enjoyment :thumb
    #84
  5. freefallen

    freefallen down with gravity

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    oh boy! "no trips this year, still preparing for adventurous rides for the next year"
    like my friend said: this is a walk in a park for you :lol3
    glad to see you back, Walter!
    #85
  6. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    This was meant to be a light day of fooling around in the dunes, but the heat and the sand got the better or us. After a couple of hours in the sand in 40 degree heat, we were out of energy, and it was showing in our riding. While the first hour was just a playful hoot around in the dunes, but when you are hot and exhausted, your riding gets sloppy and as time went on we began picking the bikes up out of the sand a few times. The show came to an end when Igor’s throttle got jammed when sand entered his throttle cable assembly effectively denying him control of his engine. Grom rode back to summon a rescue crew, while I stayed with Igor, sheltered in the shade of a rare tree in the dunes. I noticed while waiting here in the shade that the sore and tender chest / right armpit area, that I thought was bruised in my first fall, barely an hour into the first piste, not only wasn’t showing any bruising, but was very painful when there was muscle movement in the area. The most intense pain of all came when I coughed or sneezed. I now realised I cracked or broke a rib in that fall.

    Here is Igor's bike being rescued:

    [​IMG]

    And an odd sight on the way back ... buried in the hot sand ... apparently a cure for rheumatism

    [​IMG]
    #86
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  7. freefallen

    freefallen down with gravity

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    or maybe he just signed life insurance:eek1
    #87
  8. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    By the time we got back to Merzouga it was well and truly lunchtime and I noticed the highly dodgy subframe bolt repair from yesterday had not held. It came apart somewhere in the dunes. It would need to be repaired again. We went for what we thought would be a relaxing lunch in town.

    As we were finishing our lamb tajine on the outdoor patio, a couple of european backpacker girls walked nervously across the street towards us. One of them was crying. They came directly to us and asked us to help. Soon after an angry, seemingly drunk, local followed them in and began trying to hassle the girls. We told them to sit behind us and tried to calm down the local, who was by now quite dramatic and erratic. The management came out and asked him to leave. He refused, and started throwing tables and chairs about. It was becoming quite a dramatic lunchtime. The girls explained that he had claimed to be a tour guide, was hassling them and even began trying to touch them. The manager of the restaurant, who was already on the verge of calling in the gendarme, did so once he saw the mad guy kicking his chairs and throwing his tables around. The gendarme showed up after a pretty long 30 – 40 minutes and began trying to talk to the guy. After they either realised he was drunk or decided he was a bit psycho, they cuffed him and bundled him into the back of the cop car. The girls left with the cops and I left Grom and Igor to try and sort out my subframe bolt.

    It took about 90 minutes to get the 2nd snapped bolt out. Instead of trying to drill it out like the bloke yesterday, this bodgy mechanic spent over an hour trying to weld a rod to the snapped bolt (snapped at least 5mm inside the bolt hole). Eventually, on about the 7th attempt, it took, and he was able to twist out the bolt stub of the crappy bolt that was installed yesterday. A new 6mm bolt was fitted (the hole by now was no longer a 6mm bolt hole) and we all hoped for the best. I rejoined the boys, still mulling over the crazy day we had experienced so far at the lunch spot.

    By 5pm, we took the 1km ride back to our hotel. On arrival I found out just how crap the subframe bolt “repair” had been. The bolt we just screwed in was gone. The upside was there was no bolt stub in there. It didn’t snap off. It meant we could actually effect our own repair - to our own quality standards. We decided to try and bolt through the butchered bolt hole rather than to try and get a thread to take in it. It meant removing the wheel, unbolting the shock, jacking the bike up etc etc etc. Dinner came in the middle of the operation. It was almost 10pm by the time we were satisfied with the repair. It was truly a crazy old day.
    #88
  9. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    A full Dakar Piste day … from Merzouga we were headed for Tagounite, across the edge of the Sahara. It began with everyone at our hotel telling us its not recommended for motorcycles because of the Fesh Fesh section about a third of the way along. The edge of the Sahara is full of sand, but the sand in Morocco is pretty consistent, granular orange pieces. The Fesh Fesh is different. It's like fine dust, the consistency of well milled flour. There was a 5km section along a riverbed, about 80 km from Merzouga. We were constantly told it’s very difficult for large motorcycles. Each time we heard that, we were determined to do it. We decided to ride to the edge of the Fesh Fesh, check it out and make our minds up then.

    I had my own decision to make. The chest pain caused by the cracked / broken rib was not getting any better. If anything it was getting more obvious. I couldn’t even blow my nose without considerable pain. Pushing the bike around the parking lot was difficult (it seems you need two arms and some degree of co-ordination between them to make that happen – and that wasn’t happening for my right arm). Riding the bike would be no problem. The weight of the arm is not held up by chest muscles but by the handlebars. If I did the piste, I would have to make sure I stayed upright. A fall could mean further damage to the chest and I would annoy the hell out of the other guys having to pick my bike up. Faced with the possibility of returning by asphalt and not doing this piste, I decided to risk it, take it a little carefully and make sure I finished the piste upright.

    [​IMG]

    We refuelled and left Merzouga about 8:30, loaded up with over 6 litres of water each, and reached the end of the asphalt 25 km later at the village of Taouz, where we were again told that it would be impossible on our motorcycles without a vehicle escort to pull us out of trouble. I hadnt quite worked out whether that was good advice, or soliciting for a guide with a 4WD. In any case, we ignored them and continued on.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #89
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  10. PilbaraGoat

    PilbaraGoat Been here awhile

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    Dammit...now I'm hanging, I WANT TO SEE THE FESH FESH!!
    #90
  11. KL__07

    KL__07 ride your own way

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    fully agree, show us the way to handle the fesh fesh, tried it 2008 on a Moto Guzzi Quoata, that was :eek1!

    So how did the 990 and your BMW/KTM mix deal with that special sand?

    love it.
    Thanks.

    Klaus
    #91
  12. freefallen

    freefallen down with gravity

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    pushing your luck... be careful, mate!:1drink
    #92
  13. nordy

    nordy Been here awhile

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    I have never driven through such a sand .... so I think that in certain situations only helicopter helps :D:D:D

    I hope that the water helped ?
    #93
  14. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Actually I dont think we have any fotos from the fesh fesh .... I think I took some video of Grom coming out of it.

    The KTM and the BMW/KTM both did it just fine. Straight through. No stops, no problems, but Igor in the pure BMW did get stuck. (not sure if it was the smaller 17 inch rear wheel or a lack of throttle aggression that got him stuck)

    Here is a video of a car going thru the fesh fesh during a Dakar race ... you get some idea how hard it is both to see and to drive thru it.

    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/sQ5lZu4-GXA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    I will look thru my video and see if I can take any good video stills from our video.

    I will borrow this foto from another forum, of a black KTM 950 (like Grom's) going thru the Fesh Fesh:

    [​IMG]
    #94
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  15. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    The first 70 km part of the piste was populated with several oases - villages and we stopped twice for cold water, coca-cola and to let ourselves and the bikes cool down from the extreme heat. We had traveled across dry lake beds and rocky / sandy piste so far today ...

    [​IMG]

    By the time we reached the edge of the Fesh Fesh just after the village of Ramlia, it was 40 degrees. We plunged in. It was not as bad as we had been led to believe (the horror stories that were told to us by the locals). Ten minutes later, Grom and I emerged on the other side with both engine fans roaring, but Igor was nowhere to be seen.

    Here is Grom coming out of the 7km or so of fesh fesh - sorry no pics from the hard stuff in the middle. We didnt stop or get bogged in it, so no reason to get out the cameras:

    [​IMG]

    I couldn&#8217;t go back to help look for Igor. I would be no help to pick up the bike anyway, and the tricky Fesh Fesh increased the risk of a fall, and a fall would increase the risk or more damage to my rib, and risk a punctured lung. So Grom went back alone into the fesh fesh to search for Igor. A further 10 minutes later, I heard the sounds of both bikes approaching and we were again underway.

    Thirty minutes later, Grom pulled into an abandoned Auberge complex. He had a flat front tyre. It was now 43 C. We very slowly changed it and as we were about to begin again, the wind picked up, and a sandstorm blew in.

    [​IMG]

    I got the impression that the auberge / kasbah hadnt been used since the Dakar was last run in Africa. When it is, and this piste is pretty much a compulsory one, they would get spectators and visitors, but without the Dakar being run, there are much fewer people doing this piste. We sheltered in the abandoned building for 15 minutes and returned outside where our jackets, helmets and boots were now full of sand. The wind was still blowing, but the blowing sand was less intense. We had a choice to wait for a bit longer to see if it died down, or to hit the road through the milder sandstorm. We chose to hit the road. Igor noticed his second fork seal was now leaking too. (He was the only rider without fork socks on his forks to protect against sand damaging the seals)

    At the 160 km mark, we passed the last village, and pulled in for a cola and water fix. The water we all carried was great, but by now was pretty damn hot. Stopping for cold water and cola was a welcome change.

    Here Roman and Igor shelter under a solitary tree on a long flat sandy section:

    [​IMG]

    From here to Tagounite was 2.5 more hours of tough slog. Half across flat sandy desert where the only piste markers were the occasional piles of rocks, and sometimes across rocky mountains with sharp rocks on the trail and sheer drops off the edge of the piste.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The last 50 km to Tagounite had us all tired and exhausted. It had been a long tough day from Merzouga, a challenge both in the riding and in the navigating. After the 265km of piste, we reached Tagounite and the asphalt, refuelled, grabbed some cold drinks and then headed 25 km further, towards Mhamid, where we found a luxury hotel on the edge of more dunes, complete with swimming pool, air-conditioned rooms, and a bar.

    [​IMG]

    It was a suitable ending to a tough day on the road.
    #95
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  16. Treadless

    Treadless avoiding gravity storms if at all possible

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    :eek1


    :lurk
    #96
  17. Tirpse

    Tirpse Adventurer

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    As i come from 'Land of thousand lakes' and lot of forest too i find these sand desert pictures and barren mountains allways soo fascinating that i just want to jump into my bike to ride.

    Great RR as always
    #97
  18. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Well from the short experience I had with it, pretty much the same as normal sand ... stand up, lean back, give it loads of throttle, dont stop or look around or back off the throttle until you are through it.

    Oh, and dont follow someone elses line unless the wind is blowing hard to clear away all the dust. A dust free view ahead is pretty crucial!


    Thats crazy ! ... and if you had metal boxes, its twice as difficult. :clap
    #98
  19. KL__07

    KL__07 ride your own way

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    Thats crazy ! ... and if you had metal boxes, its twice as difficult. :clap[/QUOTE]

    So true, thats why i actually ride a KTM 990.

    Here is a picture of my Quota on a piste close by M'Hamid maroc.

    Attached Files:

    #99
  20. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    The day began with Igor pouring 10w hydraulic fluid that we found at the local service station into his completely empty forks. The left fork (most recent to leak) went first. While he was still pouring, it was dripping out the bottom and over his brake discs and rims. Then the right fork ... it didnt drip off the bottom of his fork, it flowed! No drip gaps in the flow - Thats how bad the leakage was.

    This sight made Igor rethink his participation in our Moroccan off road experience. We went into Mhamid for some breakfast while we pondered Igors unfortunate dilemma. A few phone calls were made, primarily to Peter at Biker&#8217;s Home in Ouarzazate, to check if there was any chance of finding new fork seals in Morocco, but Igor&#8217;s options were slim. Peter had 43mm, 46mm and 47mm fork seals, but no 45mm fork seals. He gave us a few more leads to follow up on, but none of them worked out. By lunchtime Igor had made up his mind to abort the remainder of the trip and return to Europe. Effective immediately.

    We were down to 2.

    At 12:30 Grom and I left the luxurious surroundings of the Chez le Pacha hotel and stopped 5km down the road at Mhamid, the last town on the Draa valley road. A French guy, with wife, 2 up on a GS waved us down and asked where we were headed. &#8220;The piste to Foam Zguid&#8221; I replied. &#8220;Oh I think it&#8217;s very difficult on a moto&#8221; he replied. &#8220;It&#8217;s one of the hardest pistes in Morocco.&#8221; I thought I better not translate that to Grom. It will only make him more stubborn. As for me, I decided to keep an open mind. If it turns out to be really tough, then with my rib as it is, I would like to keep open all options.

    We bought 5 litres of water each at a small shop in Mhamid and were again asked where we were headed. The local shook his head and said it would be &#8216;tres difficile&#8217; &#8230; and very dangerous if we do not have excellent GPS and maps. Fortunately Grom had prepared his maps and GPS well. I didn&#8217;t have time before the trip to get the GPS mounted and connected, so was travelling without a GPS. I was relying on Grom&#8217;s navigation.

    In the searing midday heat, we crossed the sandy river bed at the edge of the village and headed into the desert. Almost immediately on leaving Mhamid, the piste was dunes. Small dunes, 2-3-5 metres high, but seemingly endless, and unlike the big dunes at Merzouga, these smaller ones were full of trees, shrubs, rocks. So maintaining a reasonably tight directional control was critical. It meant we could never get too much speed up, and had to sit balancing the need to keep tight directional control against having enough speed and drive from the rear wheel to keep the front wheel floating above the sand rather than falling into it. It was a tricky balance.

    I suspected we had gone the wrong way, too far to the south, but I had no maps of my own to confirm my theory. We took a break after just 5 km. Our engines were overheating. Now I told Grom what the French guy had said. He actually seemed to believe it &#8230; and said &#8220;ok let&#8217;s do 10 more km and make a decision then.&#8221; We wove our way thru the dunes in 2nd gear and full throttle for a further 20 minutes, and as we were approaching our decision point, the dunes eased off and became more of a flatter baked track with a few inches of sand covering them. We stopped under the shade of a tree and made a decision to press on. Conditions were improving. The last 2-3 minutes of travel were definitely easier than the previous 25 minutes.

    We were now following the Oued Draa, the dry riverbed of the Draa River, which "flowed" 1000 km further through the deserts before emerging (sometimes) at the Atlantic Ocean. By some maps the bed of the Draa forms the border with Algeria. The Morocco - Algeria border is not fixed for most of its length. As we crossed the river bed a few times, Roman's maps had us zigzagging between Morocco and Algeria. A passing camel train is heading for a well in the Draa riverbed just out of shot:

    [​IMG]

    By 2 pm we had done 65 km and stopped at a well by the piste, surrounded by palm trees. This corresponded with our map as a place called the Sacred Oasis. We took water from the well and poured it over ourselves to cool down.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Then hit the piste for a further 2km when we crested a small hill and saw another small Oasis with (to our shock and surprise) a pair of 4WDs parked there. Under the shade of a Bedouin tent were some westerners, most of whom looked shocked to see us. One of them looked happy to see us. She was an Italian girl who also had stayed at our hotel near Mhamid last night. She smiled and asked if we recognised her. The Bedouin bought us a coca cola each as we chatted to the Italian girl. I asked how they got here and where were they going. It was a day trip from the hotel &#8230; a several hour drive through one of the most remote desert regions on Morocco, through the isolated wilderness to visit the Sacred Oasis. No wonder they had looked so surprised to see a couple of bikes pull up out of the blue. They were all headed back to Chez le Pacha hotel tonight. I explained we had to push on to Foam Zguid, paid the Bedouin for the cokes, threw a bucket of water over each of us, and saddled up. The Bedouin told us the path ahead is very very sandy and recommended we take a slightly northern route, that branches off at the Sacred Oasis. Grom checked his maps. We had that track on our maps. It was a detour around the Grand Erg dunes that rejoined our planned track in about 25 km. We took his advice and rode off.

    Sure enough the track that branched slightly to the north from the Sacred Oasis was not sandy, but it was as rocky and as bumpy as anything I have ever ridden.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We pulled in by a lone tree to increase tyre pressures. The tree gave us the tiniest shelter from the sun and sandstorms, but to us it was a huge little piece of relief.

    No only were we trying to protect the rims via the pressure, neither of us fancied the idea of changing a flat tyre in 43 degree heat. And we were running low on spare tubes. Vulcanising tube patches have very low reliability in such extreme temperatures, so we really needed to use new tubes if we got a puncture &#8211; and we had just one more of each size left between the two of us. We increased pressures from 1.2 to 1.6 bar just to be safe.

    [​IMG]