Morning came and whilst two problems had been fixed, a more terminal one had been discovered, one of the cylinders was venting. The mechanic said he could probably fix it but he didn't know how long it would take. I agreed with Vincenzo that I'd ride down to the Erg Chebbi at Mergouza some 80 miles away and we'd make contact by phone. If the bike was fixed as we hoped, I'd ride back to Er Rachidia that afternoon to continue the journey together. If it would take longer then I'd ride on as I had to be in Marrakech by Friday and we'd meet back up at some stage.
Despite a beautiful valley with many palm trees, after the excitement of the High Atlas the previous day, it was a relatively boring ride down to Mergouza but the dunes of the Sahara soon came into view.
Mergouza itself is not what I was expecting; it's a dump. I'm sure there's some nice auberges to stay nearby but the village itself is truly disappointing. As I rode in down the stony track, a 'guide' popped up inviting me to stop. I politely declined and continued on towards the dunes. Within a few seconds he was riding on a little moped to my left and just behind me as I picked my way through the potholed and very bumpy lane.
Now I'm about to tell you that I crashed the bike. The fault is entirely mine but I do wish this persistent fucker hadn't been there distracting me. I rode across a little hard-packed sand no problem and then not realising, rode straight into a sand berm that had spread across the entrance to the parking area. Front wheel didn't like it, rear wheel even less and over I went. Falling in sand isn't the worst experience as it's a relatively soft landing and I wasn't doing more than 10mph. Problem was that my right foot was hanging out for some reason, got trapped under the right pannier as it went down and turned. I was facing forwards, my foot was facing backwards.
A lot of groaning and grunting ensued. I managed to get my foot out from under the pannier and hit the kill switch. On hand a knees I looked up through the shower of Saharan sand falling through my visor and the little fucker who'd been following me was squatting there, 10 feet away.
Well, once again, I forgot the "sleeping" GS picture I think due to the pain in my right knee caused since the boots had mostly protected my ankle, my knee had taken most of the twist. I put out the side stand, picked up the bike and moved onto the parking area. This picture cost me a lot of pain.
The 'guide' tried to lure me to the "co-op" to partake of some tea which, I'd learned by then was let me sell you stuff, so I rode on and found a service station with a tea room.
As I hobbled to a table and sat there, a thunder storm blew in and I also got the news from Vincenzo that his bike would take until Friday at least to fix. Today was Wednesday and I had to be in Marrakech by Friday. I had to press on alone.