I'm in Ifrane, Morocco, after a GREAT DAY of riding. But with a few glitches. First, the internet server at my friends' apartment is blocking access to pretty much all photo hosting websites, including the one I'm using. So I can't add pictures right now.
Second, my bike has developed a bit of an issue. Almost certain it is valve noise. The bike has 19,900 miles on it and has never had the valves looked at. I talked to the Suzuki dealer near my home in Germany last fall and they pretty much talked me out of having the valves checked last fall. It was going to cost 300 Euros just to check them (more to adjust them if needed), and the mechanic told me he's never had to adjust one until it has a lot more miles on it. So I didn't have it done.
I stopped tonight in a town up the road to check the GPS for directions, and the cook at a roadside restaurant came out to chat with me. I took my earplugs out so I could hear him, and since I was going only 15 km up the road I didn't put them back in. And noticed the valve noise.
So now I'm rethinking my plan to head farther south, farther from home and into less populated country, until I can figure out about the bike.
Maybe I'll go fire it up in the morning and it will sound fine. But I doubt it. As far as I can tell, there aren't any Suzuki motorcycle dealers in the area, so even if I can find a mechanic that can work on it, finding the valve shims would be pretty much impossible. Maybe I'll spend a few days here and relax with the friends I came to visit and then ride north and head at least in the direction of home. Yeah, I know the sahara and all kinds of cool things are a day's ride south, but...
I'll try to find a place to upload photos tomorrow. In the meantime, anyone with experience or knowledge that might help with the valve issue, I'd be happy to hear.
But I can't close without saying that Morocco seems to be ( based on one day) a beautiful country, with far fewer crazy drivers than I had been led to expect. I met friendly people, helpful officials, had no trouble finding ATM's, gas, roads, great food, and stuff I needed. My open source GPS map is working great, so that saved me from buying the Garmin map for $120
. Seems like I was worried about a lot of stuff for nothing.
My hotel in Fes isn't filtering Photobucket, so I'm adding pictures from yesterday here.
I got to the post at about 0825, hoping to make a 0900 ferry, but could only get a ticket for 1000. I got a one way ticket, as it was less than half the price of an open return. The only problem I had was there was no place to park a motorcycle with big luggage. I finally found a place on the sidewalk in the truck parking area. Probably not approved, but nobody seemed to mind.
The boat I took over was big enough that the semi's can drive in and do a u-turn inside, so they don't have to back out.
And I learned where all that stuff that gets picked out of the bulk trash days in France and Germany ends up.
Seems like an expensive way to do it, but it must pay or they wouldn't keep at it.
My bike fit neatly in the space between the trucks, and even got tied down. Very nice.
The highway out of the port must be a toll-way, because my GPS routed me on the P4703 / P4701, up a windy gravel road through 30 km of construction. Hey, it's an adventure, right? And I got some nice waves from the road crew guys. Not sure if it was encouragement or ridicule, but it seemed friendly at the time.
Eventually the road climbed up the valley and into nice scenery.
I ended up on the N2, a very busy two lane road with lots of trucks but nice views when you aren't dodging one of them.
Market day in a town I went through.
South of Chefchaouen I took the N13, which is a really nice ride over to Ouezzane. Still some traffic, but not a lot.
I stopped for gas and lunch here.
Not sure exactly what I ate, but it was great, and cost only 30 dirhams, or about US$4.
I've seen every white Mercedes 240 ever made, I think, still on the road as Grand Taxi's (go from town to town).
Also some other forms of transport.
Stopped for a self portrait looking over the valley before Zagota.
And went past the Roman ruins at Volubilis. More on that to come, I have to go see it when I have time.
And then on to Ifrane. Hope posting the pictures back here in chronological order doesn't mess up either of the readers. Seemed like the best option.