I spent months rebuilding my bike after it was stolen at the end of last year, and it needed a hard run to shake it down - to test it to see what mistakes I had made in rebuilding it. There were bound to be some problems, and I would rather work them out reasonably close to home rather that out in the middle of Mongolia.
About April this year I got an email from a Russian guy I had ridden with a few times, Roman, or "Grom" as he is known in Russian motorbike circles. He told me he was thinking of going to Morocco in July, and asked did I want to come.
My reply was blunt and to the point. I told him there was NO F'ING WAY I was going to Morocco in the middle of summer. It would be 45 -50 degrees (115 - 125F). And that was the end of that.
At least for a couple more months.
In June he wrote to me again ... said he was going with one other guy in September now, to Morocco, and did I want to come. This time I thought about it, and said yes ... count me in. My bike was almost finished and a 8000 km (5000 mile) sightseeing cruise around the rough roads of Morocco should be just what the doctor ordered.
About a month before departure, I asked Grom for some details of his planned route. I was just tagging along on this trip, so hadnt been too worried about the route. When I got his reply, I realised it was not just rough Moroccan roads linking together the usual tourist sites ... it was a linked series of Dakar pistes that pretty much followed the Moroccan - Algerian border from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. The whole time in Morocco was about 3 weeks, but the first 8-9 days were back to back Dakar pistes - between 225 and 300 km (150-200 miles) of them every day. And I had signed up to this on a rebuilt, untested bike?
I thought about backing out ... but its not how I like to operate. I had told Grom to count me in, and that meant he should, could and would be able to count on me.
And so nervously I headed down to Spain where I would meet up with Grom and Grom's riding buddy, Igor, just north of resort central Benidorm. From there we would change to Africa suitable tyres, and head to the port at Almeria for the boat to Africa.
The weeks that followed (and are still going on as I write this first post) turned into much more than a simple shakedown run. They very quickly morphed into 3 of the toughest weeks of my riding life. Not all the bikes would make it through. Bones would be broken. Bikes would develop significant problems ... but the ride must go on...
I have a lot of riding still to do to finish in Morocco and there is a lot of foto sorting out, video sorting out (yes we have taken tons of video) and blogging to do ...
But its going to look something like this little taster: