Trails in the Pyrenees, with detours

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by pip_muenster, Nov 25, 2018.

  1. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    In the last year I gravitated towards the Pyrenees, where I had the chance to find my limits with the Africa Twin. The first goal was a traverse from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean with as little asphalt as possible. But it got more interesting ...

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    (photo: Tim)
    #1
  2. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    Tim and I met in September 2017 after the HU-Meeting (Horizons Unlimited) in Souillac. Tim had drained the battery charging his phone during the course of the event, but of course there was no shortage of helpful specialists at a motorcycle meeting. He only wanted to jump start the bike, but it only took minutes and the silverbacks had stripped the bike to the bones:
    - 'If we short-circuit these two connectors, we should find out if that sensor there is working.'
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    In the end, Tim called his roadside assistance to bring an end to it, and stop his helpers from disasssembling the bike further. Its French branch sent a man with a van:
    - 'No, I can't help. I'm only here to bring the bike to the shop.'
    The bike was supposed to spend the weekend there, and he continued:
    - 'It's a car garage, they don't work on bikes. The motorcycle shops in France are all closed on Mondays ...'
    Monday morning in the garage it turned out that the driver had left the bike in the van and taken the keys home. Great. By the time that got sorted out, Tim had charged his powerbank enough, so that he could jump start the bike himself. We were on the road by noon.
    Just before reaching the Atlantic, a stranded bike at a roundabout caught our attention. The rider had crashed and the bike wouldn't run in gear. Clearly a broken side stand sensor - Tim flashed his Leatherman and bypassed the sensor within 5 minutes.
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    We rolled into San Sebastian just in time for dinner. When we stopped in the harbor to discuss options, we were immediately approached by a policeman who wanted us to park somewhere else. He was however also interested in motorbikes and considered providing advise regarding our dinner plans more important:
    - 'That bar there has the best Tapas. And you need to try the Cider, it's a local speciality!'
    - 'Ok, but we still need to ride the bikes.'
    - 'That's no reason not to try the Cider. 1-2 glasses should be fine.'
    You don't get ancouraged to drink and ride by the police each day. And yes, the cider was good!
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    After an evening in the city we found a cheap hotel for the night.
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    #2
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  3. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    The next morning we started on the trails. In preparation, Tim had found 3 different GPS tracks of unknown origin, so we didn't know what to expect. It began mostly harmless.
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    The trail tightened and became muddy. Tim's 701 Husquarna was heavily loaded and my Africa Twin a heavy bike on its own. We were forced to turn around a few times and take a detour on the highway to reconnect with the track down the road.
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    The most dodgy part for me was riding a narrow single track down a steep hillside. It was clear that I would never be able to ride the same route back.
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    But it was Tim who suffered. Fortunately, there were no large rocks, when he decided to go headfirst down the hill. We lifted the bike back on the trail, ate some cookies, and continued.
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    It got much easier after that.
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    (photo: Tim)
    #3
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  4. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    The next morning we continued east, mainly on the Spanish side of the border. It was a mixture of secondary roads and trails through the forrests and mountains.
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    (photo: Tim)

    For lunch we liked the restaurants in the small villages, where we would always get the meal of the day including a bottle of wine for about 10 EUR each. Can it get better?
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    High in the mountains we would sometimes disturb the vultures. The second time it happened, I noticed them in time to have the camera ready, when they took into the air around Tim's head.
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    The following day continued along the same lines. It started with a steep ascent over loose, corse gravel. We were both still half asleep, so it didn't took long for Tim's bike to go down again.
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    The challenge in the moutains was to dodge the sheep, cattle, and horses. Clouds filled the sky and it started drizzling.
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    Tim enjoyed riding his bike through water. The next puddle turned out to be rather deep: His speed catapulted him up in the air and into the bushes along the trail. He vanished between the greens, only to reappear a few dozen feet down the road. This earned him the nickname 'Puddles'- in my eyes a matching name for the veteran of a Highlander regiment.
    The sun went down, it rained, and the temperature dropped. Looking for accomodation, we were only offered an old caravan full of mold in the backyard of a tavern. We decided to move on, tried a shortcut and ended up even deeper in the woods. By now it was pitch black.
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    #4
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  5. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    We did eventually find a nameless hotel within walking distance from a Chinese buffet restaurant which surprisingly was still open. The next day we reached the Mediterranean and found us a fish restaurant near Llanca for lunch.
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    Passing Barcelona we headed for Aragon, where the HUMM (Horizons Unlimited Mountain Madness) took place around the small village of Mora de Rubielos. It's a sort of scavenger hunt, where each team has to find waypoints using a paper map and a compass. Depending on the difficulty, the waypoints have different values, and whoever collected the most points after three days, wins. GPS navigation is forbidden and smart phones stay in a sealed bag during the day.
    Puddles and I were joined by Jeff, who arrived from the US and who had rented a small GS for the week. The bike had street tires and wasn't supposed to be used on dirt ... In younger years, Jeff had been trained as a bomber pilot, so he had experience using maps - from a bird's eye view.
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    Our map wouldn't fit in a normal map holder, but it was essential to check it frequently due to the numerous small trails inside the forest. One of the teams had equipped their bikes with huge map holders in anticipation of this issue. The Africa Twin's DCT came to our help, as the lack of a clutch lever meant that I could just hold the map in my left hand. Of course, it's recommended to keep both hands on the bars and the eyes on the road - especially when trail riding.
    :muutt

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    (photo: Puddles)

    Even though it was sunny and dry, Jeff's street tires became a problem, once we faced steep inclines and loose gravel. You can see Puddles, trying to figure out how to free Jeff: Because of the incline and the lack of traction, the front wheel would immediately slip downwards if we started lifting the bike.
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    For the rest of the day we tried avoiding the more difficult areas, but it became clear that Jeff wouldn't enjoy this much on his rental. So at the end of the day he decided to quit the rallye and discover the best motorcycle roads in the area, using Simon's incredible knowledge of the area.
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    The next day saw Puddle's 701 and my Africa Twin laying down almost side by side, illustrating the wisdom of Jeff's decision. We were near a waypoint with the highest difficulty rating: Not only was the track steep, it was a mixture of slippery bedrock with gravel, some of which was football-sized. The cherry on the cake were some foot-deep erosion ruts running diagonally across.
    I had decided to walk the bike down, but made a silly mistake: Normally, you keep the bike in gear and pull the clutch. Even if you accidently turn the throttle grid, nothing happens. The latter is different with the DCT: The bike jumps forward, and since I couldn't keep up, it fell down in front of me. The next time, I'll ensure selecting neutral when pushing the bike.
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    #5
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  6. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    The highlight of the day was a waypoint somewhere near a cross-roads which we just couldn't find. We rode up and down the track, comparing each turn with the map. Even the locals couldn't help much.
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    (photo: Puddles)

    We ended up in a field of rocks. Since neither of us had Erzberg-experience, we had to turn around. Going back I almost went head first over the bars, when my front wheel rolled across a rock which acted like a seesaw. Under the wheel's weight, its far end flipped up and into my bashplate. This catapulted my rear wheel about a foot high into the air.
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    Surviving this without any damage to the bike, I ripped off the side stand sensor a few minutes later on another rock. With our recent experience, I fixed it within minutes by shortening the cables. By the way, the cables are part of the sensor assembly, so there is no damage to the bike's wiring harness. Nevertheless, replacing the sensor is time consuming and expensive.
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    Our plan for day 3 were some more remote, but easier waypoints. This allowed us to take our time and enjoy the landscape.
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    (photo: Puddles)

    And just that we wouldn't get bored, Tim found a nail on the only paved section of the day.
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    At the end, we had collected the highest number of waypoints, but others had gathered more points as their selection of waypoints had been smarter. It doesn't really matter, as the HUMM is about the experience and fun. The landscape is fantastic: On the highway between Valencia and Saragossa it's easy to miss it's beauty, but there is a great mixture of forest and mountains with a dense network of small trails and paths.
    To read Puddle's side of the story, follow this link: http://www.travellinghewitts.com/mountain-madness/

    More to come, as soon as I find the time to post.
    #6
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  7. sphyrnidus

    sphyrnidus born to ride

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    Nice, the Pyrenees Mountains are so beautiful. We’ve spent several holiday’s there, riding our bikes.
    Not so much off-road though.
    #7
  8. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    A few months later I returned to Spain. It was March, and all of Europe was suffering from the rain and cold. My plan was heading south until I would see and feel the sun. I also wanted to visit the Salvador Dali museum which I've passed several times before without stopping.
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    I had a bit of a shock when I noticed my engine being covered in oil, halfway through Spain. The Africa Twin had just been serviced and my mechanic apparently hadn't tightened the oil filler cap properly. Not much oil was lost, though.
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    The bike saw the first dirt when I got to the Tabernas desert.
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    This area got famous as the film location for many Sergio Leone movies, as well as e.g. the tank vs. horse chase scene from Indiana Jones.
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    Considering the weather I decided to join Franz and Ralf who were on their way to Morocco. We had gotten in contact through a German forum: http://forum.motorradkarawane.de

    Our meeting point was a small harbor town between Almeria and Malaga, where Franz had parked his RV, together with a trailer full of toys, including a BMW 650 Dakar. We were joined by Ralf in the evening who had just picked up his Transalp in Madrid a few hours earlier. But before Franz had fixed him some coffee, we got out the tools as the bashplate bolts had come loose.
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    The next morning we dropped off the RV at a winter storage facility and started our motorcycle trip.
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    The well-known ticket dealer Carlos fixed us up for the ferry to Tanger-Med, and presented each of us with a bottle of wine and some cake. This should become very important later on.
    On time, two hours prior to departure, we arrived at the port in Algecircas where we were told that the ferry would be delayed due to the bad weather. Most of the people waiting seemed used to this and made themselves confortable in their cars. We tried to find out the plan, but every worker or clerk at the terminal had a different answer. It appeared as if the harbor was temporarily closed due to 6-8m (20-26ft) high waves.
    :yikes
    Around 8pm we received news that not Algecircas, but Tanger Med was closed, and a ferry was due to leave within the next hour for Ceuta, which should have better weather due to its location in the Mediterranean. Everyone got in a good mood, and we traded some wine for beer with the cars around us.
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    Unfortunately, this ferry got canceled as well and we decided spending the night in a nearby cheap hotel. The ferry wouldn't be that nice with 6m waves anyway. It was still raining the next morning, when we returned to the terminal.
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    Both the boat trip and going through customs were however eventless and easy, and we weren't even bothered by the usual 'helpers' usually lingering around the customs offices in Morocco. I had to get 3rd party liability which cost me the same for 10 days as I normally pay for a year. It took us 26 hours between arriving in Algecircas and leaving Tanger-Med.
    #8
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  9. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    You're absolutely right. I've been in the Pyrenees before a few times, and you definitely don't need to leave the roads to enjoy motorcycling and the landscape. In fact, we figured that including a few hours onroad towards the end of each day is actually quite a good idea.

    On my very first trip in 2007 I came across a herd of horses accompanied by a few men, after not seeing anyone for hours. My greeting 'Bonjours' was returned with: 'No, no, no bonjours, esto es Espana. ¡Buenos días!' So that was me entering Spain - I like the Schengen Area ...

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    #9
  10. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    As the day was coming to an end we only wanted to reach Tetouan to find accomodation. The road conditions were very different with lots of deep potholes which we had to get used to. I didn't remember it being that bad from my last trip to Morocco.
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    I hit one of the deeper ones and got a snake bite in the front. A few stones played stand-in for a center stand, and it didn't take long to remove the front wheel. Unfortunately, I had messed up and packed an 18" tube. So with the help of a nearby stream I proceeded to fix and test the old tube. We pumped up the tire just enough to get to the next gas station down the road.
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    (photo: Ralf)

    Nevertheless, the air was gone again after a few more kilometers. I don't know if I had hit a 2nd hole with reduced air pressure or whether I was just too stupid to fix a simple flat. Since it was dark by now, I accepted the offer from a gas station to call a tow truck which would bring the bike to a nearby tire shop for little money.
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    The mechanics were motorcycle enthusiasts and happy to help. Then they saw the neck of my wine bottle sticking out of my luggage ... So the repair lasted a bit longer than estimated.
    :beer
    We managed however to finish the bottle, and now I even had a spare 21" tube.
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    (photo: Ralf)

    I was a bit sorry for Ralf and Franz who had to wait because of me again. But experiences like this make traveling interesting and are the difference between a vacation and an adventure for me.
    #10
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  11. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    We got SIM cards from a phone shop the next morning. A few GB were around 5 EUR, and the data transfer rates were better than any hotel wifi we would find in the next days. We then headed towards Fez.
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    The sun finally came out in the afternoon.
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    Right next to the medina we found a nice hotel for a reasonable price.
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    So we dropped our gear and headed into the maze to explore the narrow alleyways and find a bite to eat.
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    (photo: Ralf)

    For the next day our hotel organized a guide to show us the secrets of the medina. He did a good job, and even though I typically don't like guided tours, I recommend this, as he showed us parts of the medina we would have missed otherwise.
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    We chose a traditional Maroccean restaurant for dinner which seemed to have good reviews. It took a while for the food to arrive, but then our table filled up with goodies. I still suspect that some of the restaurants just send someone to get food from the various vendors in the alleys whenever tourists come in.
    It's hard to miss that Ralf seemed much more delighted by the selection than Franz ...
    :lol3

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    Franz very much preferred the street food and fed himself on grilled chicken and lamb - which was also much cheaper.
    #11
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  12. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    After Fez we continued south towards Midelt and Errachidia. This meant crossing the foothills of the Atlas mountains, where temperatures dropped again. I didn't mind much as I had brought a heated jacket for the ride down from Germany. We stopped in a small village for lunch and ordered grilled chicken and goat. The goat meat - grilled on charcoal - turned out to be especially tender and tasty.
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    With our bellies full, we didn't forget to fill up the bikes as well.
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    One we crossed the mountains, the skies were all blue.
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    I gave it some throttle through the Ziz valley, so I could set up for a photo here and there.
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    And fortunately, I had just started from another stop when I realized 2 cops with a laser gun. With no chance to warn my buddies, I decided to distract the cops instead. Bonus tip: If you have problems finding plus-sized motorcycle clothes, check out the law enforcement suppliers or BMW stores. :augie
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    I turned around, pretended taking photos of the landscape and asked:
    - 'Hello. Those are nice bikes, do you mind if I take a photo?'
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    We found a Kasbah hotel in Errachida for the night. It had a nice pool as usual, but neither of us was in the mood for a cold bath.
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    #12
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  13. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    We reached Merzouga the next day, where a chain of small and large Kasbah hotels lines the Erg Chebbi. Considering the heavily loaded baby GS, we started to look for a nice one which would also be easy to reach on an overloaded BMW.
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    We chose the Auberge les Dunes d'Or. By the end of the day, there were also a French Renault club, a small motorcycle group (2 Germans with 2 guides), as well as Tina Meyer of Dakar fame, leading maybe a dozen KTMs through the desert (www.dirtgirls.de). Most often she guides all-female groups, but this time it was all married couples. Everyone - including the dudes - was wearing here colorful jerseys with her Dirt Girl logo on the back.
    :toney:lol3
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    I love these cars, as my family oned one when I got my driver's license. At top speed, the needle was pointing straight down, bumped against the trip reset button - well past the end of the scale at an extrapolated 200kph. (Don't tell mum.) Even if that was clearly optimistic, it was obviously too fast for its suspension. When we bought it, the Renault brochure also listed a special version, where the back seat was replaced with a V6 engine to compete in the Group B rallye championship - that one is high up on the list of dream cars for me.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_5_Turbo

    After sunset there was a buffet for everyone, and the stuff sung to the sound of their drums.
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    Ralf wanted to rest a day and relax from a cold, so Franz and I went without him to see the Gara Medouar, a rock formation which was used as a background for e.g. The Mummy and Spectre. A long time ago, it was also used as a camp to house slaves before selling them off to Portugal.
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    Ralf felt much better by the end of the day, so we decided to spend the night in the dunes, where we would get on the backs of some camels.
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    The 3-hour-ride wasn't that bad, expect that the grip on my saddle was so far forward, that I couldn't reach it. In the end it was easier hold on to a rope instead. At the end, our guide led us down into a deep valley and stopped next to a few tents at the foot of a high dune:
    - ''This is the second-highest dune in Erg Chebbi. If you climb to the top, you can enjoy the sunset.'
    Great. Couldn't he have told us so before riding all the way down? It took me a lot of sweat and 3 breaks before I reached the top.
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    I know why I prefer riding bikes.
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    (photo: Ralf)
    #13
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  14. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    While our auberge was well maintained and the people were very friendly, you can probably find better ones. They were in the process of extending it to house additional 60 guests, making it more suitable for busloads of tourists. One of the tour guides told me that they've been coming here for over ten years, but were now looking for an alternative:
    - 'When orange juice comes from a carton instead of fresh oranges in Marocco, something is not right.'
    New Kasbah hotels pop up all the time, and things change fast, so don't rely on experiences from years back.

    Anyway. Along a string of Kasbah villages, we continued to Tinghir which should become our base to explore the Todra gouge.
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    We decided to take a route towards the northeast which would loop back to Tinejdad and Tinghir, stopping for the usual Maroccean tea and some omlette along the way. Franz was particularily enjoying the donkeys which we saw everywhere along the road.
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    I remember donkeys from Brasil as being quite annoying, as they would often turn around to run across the road in the last second.

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    In Tinejdad I had the strange opportunity to watch the Police hitching a ride on someone's scooter. You don't see that everyday.
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    The next morning, I had to say goodbye to Ralf and Franz, as my time was limited. They were to spend 2 more weeks in Marocco, but I had to get back to Spain now. Along Quarzazate and the Tizi n Tichka pass I rode to Marrakesh, from where I took the highway back to the ferry.
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    I wouldn't want to work underneath that excavator ...
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    Strangely, the road conditioned gotten significanly worse again on the last kilometers to the ferry.
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    Besides finding better weather for riding, I did have another reason to ride to Spain: Simon (@The Spanish Biker) - who had helped organizing the HUMM last year - had invited me to the HISS event in May. This seemed like a great chance to ride more of the trails in the Pyrenees, so I had agreed to come. I put the bike in storage and flew home for now.
    #14
  15. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    Thanks, I'm enjoying your ride report! Where are you storing your bike in Spain?
    #15
  16. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    Hi, and thanks for the kind words.

    I knew from a previous trip that some of the motorcycle rental companies would store bikes, so I called around. The first 3 were full, but IMTbike was able to help. They're not cheap and they charge per calendar month, so 30 days could cost you 2 months' rates. But as they frequently transport bikes between their branches, I was able to drop off the bike in Malaga and then pick it up 2 months later in Barcelona.
    There are also various storage facilities around e.g. the Malaga airport where people store their RVs. I wouldn't be surprised if they'd be able to find space for a bike. A good rate should be below 30-40 EUR per month.
    #16
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  17. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    So in May I flew to Barcelona and picked up the bike from IMTbike. It's in the city center, just 3 stops from the airport, and maybe 200m from the station. Realizing that I left my laptop charger at home I had to buy another one. As this had happened to me before right here in Barcelona, I already knew where to get one.:doh
    After a night on a nearby camp site I headed north towards Figueres to join the TET (Trans-Euro Trail, https://www.transeurotrail.org). Unfortunately, I found a blocked road within the first hour on the TET: The last months had been extremely wet, and there were landslides and erosion damages everywhere.
    There was also a French group with ATVs which I joined to find a bypass. The obvious route led past a farm, but the people there wouldn't let us through. Later on I met other motorcyclists who had taken that route without problems - so maybe the farmer just wasn't fond of ATVs. The only alternative was a narrow footpath leading along the hillside, but didn't work either due to several fallen trees.
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    So I had to go all the way back and go around on the roads. At the end of the day I set up my tent on a campsite while the first raindrops were coming down. I had bought this tent - nicknamed the Dackelgarage (sausage dog garage) - second hand years ago as a minimalist's solution for Morocco, and this was the first time I used it in bad weather.
    In the middle of the night I woke up from the rain in my tent. Literally, it rained in my tent. UV light had damaged it to a point that there was an even drizzle throughout the tent. I made sure that no electronics could end up in a puddle, hoped that the sleeping bag would keep me warm a few more hours and returned to sleep. At first sunlight I got up and hang everything up to dry. Thanks to a tumble dryer at least my sleeping bag was dry when I packed up 2 hours later, and instead of packing up the tent, I threw it in the next trash container.
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    As said before, Simon had invited me to the HISS (Highly Informal Sojourns in Spain) when I last met him during the HUMM in Aragon. The idea here was to ride the trails with like-minded people, without competition or pressure. Living in the area for decades, Simon has collected tousands of tracks through the mountains which are the basis for the HISS. By the way, Simon is also linesman for the Spanish section of the TET.
    The group consists of a colorful mixture ranging from 350EXC to Super Teneres, but not a single BMW. :lol3

    I grouped up with Paul who was riding an older Aprilia Pegaso. Due to family, he had just started riding again after years' hiatus, and I was still struggling to keep up with him on the trails. We drifted around corners and tested the capacities of the bikes' suspensions over bumps and potholes.
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    #17
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  18. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    For the next 2 days we were joined by Tim and Scott, riding a Tenere and another Africa Twin. They both wanted to stick to the easier trails, and both Paul and I agreed that it wouldn't be a bad idea to dial it back a bit.
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    But there were some stretches were you just had to let it fly ...
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    There had only been some provisional clean-up on some of the trails after the storms and rainfalls in the last months, so you had to zigzack around branches and fallen trees.
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    Besides the tracks, Simon had also given us a short lecture on the area's geology, so Paul took the time to get a soil sample.
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    Especially in the valleys we would also encounter left-over puddles here and there, some of which were deeper than others.
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    In general, the scenery was stunning, with great views everywhere.
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    And once back on the campsite, we would sample the local products ...
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    #18
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  19. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,042
    Location:
    Karlsruhe, Germany
    Tim and Scott had other plans for day for, so Paul and I were on our own again. Simon had given us some crucial tips for the day's route:
    - 'At this point, there are 2 parallel tracks leading south. Make sure to take the western one, otherwise you'll end on the Nemesis Trail. It's very steep and has huge rocks on it.'
    But first, we started on fast passages through the fields, followed by an incline around a mountain.
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    We then turned onto the most-western trail leading south we could find. The ground turned into larger and larger gravel, and the trail got steeper and steeper ... When looking at the photos later-on, Simon commented:
    - 'Yepp, that's the Nemesis Trail. If I remember correctly, I had told you to take the other one ...'
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    Anyway, we were rewarded with a visit to a very nice motorcycle museum (Museu Moto Bassella). They had a lot of old motorcycles, often from south-European brands which are less known back in Germany.
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    #19
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  20. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,042
    Location:
    Karlsruhe, Germany
    For the way back, we had chosen a track which was described as relatively easy in Simon's notes. Leaving the main road, it led down a narrow path down the mountain. From its condition it was clear, that noone had been here since winter. Neither the bushes nor the path itself showed any signs of recent usage.
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    We continued further and further down into the valley, sometimes going down deep steps left behind by erosion. I doubted that we'd be able to backtrack, if necessary. As always, the photos don't give justice to the conditions.
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    Getting the Africa Twin across these obsticles took all my energy reserves. It didn't help that we now had to climb up the far side of the valley. On some parts there was so much rain water coming down the path, that it was like riding up a riverbed.
    Coming around a tight corner, I was faced with a deep hole in the middle of the trail. Paul had just managed riding past on the slippery sidewall next to it, but my worn down K60s (now with 7000km on it) just didn't have enough grip in the mud for the heavy Africa Twin. It looked better on the left, but to get there, I would have to get up a 45 degree bank from a standing start. I was stuck.
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    We considered filling the hole with stones, but that would have taken ages. Paul tried convincing me that we would rejoin the road just behind the next corner. The topographic map on my Garmin however clearly showed that we would have to conquer another 300m (1000ft) in altitude to get out. At home, analyzing my GPS track, the Garmin indicated a maximum slope of 45% ...

    Energywise, it would be best to ride it out at speed, but I really didn't want to crash here. We knew that there even was a medivac heli stationed nearby, but because of a powerline along the trail, landing or even winching would have been problematic. With all this taking much longer than expected, I texted Simon via Satellite, so he'd knew where we were.

    I then drew my joker: A thin, but strong rope, 2 small pulleys and safety hooks, and some shorter ropes. Paul's reaction:
    - 'Why am I not surprised that you carry that?'
    Using a tree as an anker point, getting the Africa Twin across the hole was suddenly simple and controlled. You can barely see the red and yellow strings in the photo below.

    Just another 300m in altitude to the road ...

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    We could ride a bit for a change, and even managed to get around the next tight and slippy corner without falling. But the mountain had more for us in store, the trail became very wet and muddy, and I had to push the bike again. In addition, the sky turned dark and we saw lightling strikes on the horizon. Just a few months ago, I had been trapped in a thunderstorm in the Albanian mountains, would it happen again?
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    It was our hope, that lightning would strike the powerline first, rather than dealing with 2 mingy bikers. I updated Simon from time to time with our status, this was a short one:
    - '200m in 1 hr'
    Paul also struggled to keep his bike upright, even though he often dauntlessly pushed through - if in doubt, gas it out.
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    I got so exhausted, that I asked him, if he'd be willing to ride the Africa Twin up the next hard bit. But after 2m, he decided that heavy adventure bikes are not for him. So, after another rest, I pulled myself together, and eventually the end was near. I texted:
    - 'Slow, but steady. If we manage the next 400m, we're through.'

    We got to the road, got the raingear out, and took the fastest route to the camp, where we were welcomed with cold beer. Looking back, I guess that Simon had ridden the trail in the opposite direction - and clearly not after heavy rainfalls - when he scouted this track. He's considering to rename it as 'Pip's Pothole'.
    #20
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