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Old 04-14-2013, 12:13 PM   #31
05wingz
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Maddin_camel

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pip_muenster View Post
As usual I woke up early the next morning, so I sneaked out of the room and went outside. There was a nice patio with a great view onto a pile of sand which we hadn't noticed the night before. We had reached the Erg Chebbi.


(photo: maddin)

I guess some of you may recognize that view as we were staying at the hotel Yasmina - which seems to be mentioned in about every Morocco report I read here on ADV in the last months. Here's a better view of the hotel:



About the time I ordered my second coffee Maddin showed up and we had a great breakfast. Then it was time for some maintenance on the bikes and fixing some loose bolts and nuts. I think Maddin was still suffering from sleep depriviation, as he was mainly pretending to check his engine guard.



We started late, planning on just a short daytrip north, so we took nothing but a small bag with tools, water and some food each. Maddin lead and immediately started distributing his tools across the dessert. As you can see the hotel was still within sight when we stopped to collect them. Note: On flat ground you can see a shiny new Victorinox multitool glaring in the sunlight from hundred meters away.



The first obstacle was a tractor blocking the track, so we had to go around through the bushes. I'm not sure if the locals were actual helping here, trying to guide Maddin. It was much easier for me as I had been leading and got through before they started to stand in the way ... Nevertheless, it was entertaining to watch and I stopped with the camera in hand - just in case he'd fell.



He didn't.

So no crash yet, but we did saw some camels.



Maddin and his first camel:



There's something about this picture that I really like. Front page image?


[ x ] camels
[ ] crashes
[ ] injuries
[ ] breakdowns

We followed the track through some smaller mountains and back to the highway to Erfoud.



When I saw these guys, I thought it might be worth stopping for a photo. But in retrospect I guess it takes more than a flag and some guys for a memorable picture ...

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Old 04-14-2013, 12:43 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 05wingz View Post
a+
[...]
There's something about this picture that I really like. Front page image?
Thanks!

I was a bit disappointed when I made it, as I couldn't get any closer. Not on the bike, not on foot. So I had to walk back and zoom back in to get both the camel and maddin in frame.

Normally you can get pretty close to camels in the desert, but not so in Morocco. Somewhere in the Arabian desert this girl came to 'bath' in a spot of soft sand, not minding that we were working right next to it. What do they do in Morocco to make them so afraid of humans?
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Old 04-14-2013, 01:36 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by pip_muenster View Post

This photo is like been taken 200 years ago!!!There is nothing new....

Thank you for this thread...
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Old 04-17-2013, 04:02 PM   #34
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Around Zagora

We had already noticed that there was a Russian rally team staying in the same hotel, but unfortunately they didn't speak much English. One of them explained to me that they were involved in the Dakar which sounded strange to me: The Dakar Rally would start in about 4 or 5 weeks in South America, so to make it to the start line in time, it should probably be already on a ship. Later when I googled it, I realized that this was a factory Kamaz rally truck - and there are several identical looking trucks out there. If you look at the red rings around the aux lights on the front: they were black on those in South America.



With Maddin being stuck in the hotel I looked on the map for a short route which could be done in a day. There was one route in my gps which was supposed to be quite nice and easy, named the MS1. I would ride north through the valley for about 50km and then loop back through the mountains. The first part through the valley was all asphalt, with the cliff on the left and palm trees on the right.



There are many small villages, all of them in the Kasbah style: Build like a fort with clay houses wall to wall and few windows. Some of them were deserted and collapsing, some where brand new and inhabited. You could see masons working on wooded scaffolding, using tools that looked like being centuries old. And of course the inevitable cell phone. In fact, this road leading from Marrakesh to Zagora is part of the 'Route of 1000 Kasbahs'. Here's one:



The route into the mountains started somewhere in a small village and it was kind of fun trying to find the right way through the houses and gardens.



There were some spectacular views, I especially like the colors on this one:



One thing I noticed on riding alone was that I started having fun riding faster and faster. That escalated when I got some air and almost flew into some larger rocks beneath the road at some point. Not a good idea to crash on the first day alone, so I dialed it down a bit.



The last bit back to Zagora was a road in construction through a sandy plain. Parts of the road already were hard gravel, parts were soft and showed ruts from heavy trucks. Traffic either drove on it or next to it, as it suited the drivers. My speed when up again and I had a terrifying moment when I oversaw a patch of fesh-fesh going 100+. That would have ended quite badly if I had been on the heavy GS.


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Old 04-17-2013, 04:27 PM   #35
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Marrakesh

Maddin had spend the day at the pool and by the end of the day it was clear that there were no more dirt tracks for him in the near future. So he made the decision to ride back to Spain and fly home to get checked by a specialist.
That meant riding over the Atlas mountains towards Marrakesh, from where it was all highway to the ferry port in Tanger.

The first part was the same route as I had been riding the day before. Palm trees and Kasbahs.





Then we went higher and higher into the Atlas and it got a bit chilly, though were was no snow yet.



As soon as we reached the north side or the mountains the weather changed and we were basically riding through the clouds. It was foggy, wet and miserable. On top of that my engine warning light came on.


It turned out that I was low on coolant and we topped it up with water. Hours later, just when the sun set we rolled into the suburbs of Marrakesh. The GPS lead us to an Ibis hotel in the north, so it would be easy to find the highway the next morning.

I had used the time to make up my mind about the future trip. Tomorrow, Maddin would head back to Spain. It was all highway and should hopefully be straight forward for him. I could accompany him and enjoy the rest of my vacation time exploring the south of Spain and maybe Portugal. But I had already done that a few years ago, and winter was closing in. So I decided to let him go and head back south alone.
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:53 AM   #36
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After saying good by to Maddin I heaed back up the mountains. And where there had been only fog and rain the day before, was now sunshine and great scenery. I stopped several times to take some photos, so I could show later to Maddin where he had been.








Unfortunately I had somehow lost track of my gas consumption and distance since the last fuel pump and the fuel warning light came on. With almost 20 liter fuel capacity and around 25km per liter that was a first on this trip. No problem according to my map, as there was a fuel station marked in the next village. Here's what I found:



The good weather stayed with me on the south side. To see something new I turned east somewhere before Quarzazate and headed towards Foum Zguid.





I don't really remember when it started, but when I arrived at the hostel in
Foum Zguid I knew the problem wasn't solved. A longer telephone call to my mechanic back home followed and I had a plan for a road-side repair the next morning.



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Old 04-18-2013, 11:16 AM   #37
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Foum Zguid

We suspected the demon to sit in a blocked thermostat. Take it out and with an open cooling circuit there should be no more overheating. Wrenching and a test run took a while, but around noon it seemed the problem was fixed.

There was another biker from Switzerland at the hostel who was waiting for his buddy. That guy had just flown into Marrakesh that morning and was now coming here, so they could explore the dirt roads in the south together. We soon agreed to join up.
One of their rental bikes was fun, he had his socks zip-tied around a fork seal to keep the fork oil from dripping all other the brake disk.



The route left the asphalt around 300m out of the village and followed a nice and fast gravel road. Our fun however was short-lived: Maybe I had hit a rock or should have checked my tire pressure, the outcome was a nice snake-bite on the front.



Wrestling with the tire to change the tube took a while, and we would run out of daylight if we were to follow the piste this day. So the two of them decided to take the asphalt road instead and ride to Zagora. I turned around and checked back into the same hostel as the night before. And to round the day up, my overheating problem re-occured. Great.
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Old 04-19-2013, 01:05 PM   #38
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Todra

So here I was alone again and with a faulty cooling system on the bike. There was pressure in the system and the fan worked, but it seemed the coolant couldn't circulate well enough to - well - cool. It was however possibe to ride if I topped it up every now and then. Hym, the last full service had been right before the trip, and everything seemed alright back then, including all the piping etc.

I considered my options, and for some reason I was not very fond of riding the road to Marrakesh a 3rd time. Heavy offroading was also off the table under these circumstances. So I decided to head slowly back north and get the bike back to Spain. Hana could get me in contact with a trustworth workshop and I could then spend the rest of my vacation exploring Andalusia.

The road from Foum Zguid was for most parts gravel with long stretches being under construction. There were some detours here and there which made me question if I still was on the right road. The camels on this photo are coming down from the new road bed to the old gravel road. (I love these shots with dust or fog in backlighting!)



Getting closer to Zagora I was stopped by an oncoming Landcruiser. Wondering how I could be of any help to him, I took off my helmet. He explained he owned a garage in Zagora and I really had to come and see it, and he would love to take a photo of me for his wall. I declined kindly, it didn't seem like he had much experience with bikes or any more maintenaince than maybe an oilchange or topping up the washer fluid on a car ... He did make a photo of me for his wall before I left.

Nothing new in Zagora. I bought bread, water, extra water and filled up the gas tank. Then I left through the valley for the 3rd time. I took the same turn east following the MS1 into the moutains, only this time I headed towards Nekob. From here route MH4 on my GPS would take me to the Dades and Todra gorges.

The piste was rocky and bumpy and climbed up into the mountains. I was surprised when I met a couple two-up on a bike. Not the typical adventure type like a GS or KTM, but something more road oriented (I don't remember what it was.). They had probably bottomed out here and there and were going very slowly, but they made it through. According to the guidebook the route was doable without a 4x4 from north to south, but quite difficult in the opposide direction. I was going north.









I don't have photos of the more difficult parts of the track, as I couldn't stop there. Occasionally the base rock became the road surface and it had broken along its natural structure into a kind of steps. It was like riding up stairways for hundreds of meters at a time.



At the top were a few guesthouses and other tourist traps as there was another easier road leading here from the other side. I passed them and reflected happily that I just had road up a mountain in 2nd and 3rd gear for hours without any overheating.
The last bit was asphalt and due to the height also a bit cold. A few minutes later the engine warning light came back on.


My map told me that I could either head west to the Dades gorge or east towards Todra. With the dark clouds hanging over Dades I opted for Todra.



I was freezing cold when I got there and had a hard time negotiating the room price as he could see me shivering. He showed me 2 rooms and advertised the air condition in one of them. Air condition? I'm freezing already what do I need an AC for?
Now where I live people never need AC, so it took me a while to understand that the AC unit could also be used as a heater. Great, I take it. The hotel was build in the style of a Kasbah and therefore poorly isolated. I put the AC on max. power and choose the bed next to it. Even hours later the other bed a meter away was still freezing cold ...

One funny side note: The hotel did have a locked parking lot with a night guard, but they asked me to park the bike in front of the entrance for the evening. This way it could be seen from the street and attract other guests.. Smart advertising. For the night we brought it back in under the roof.
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pip_muenster screwed with this post 04-20-2013 at 12:51 AM Reason: oh, my memory ...
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Old 04-20-2013, 01:58 AM   #39
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After a good breakfast I got on the bike and headed up the Todra gorge. It was still early and all the tourist booths were still closed. The sky was blue and I was in a good mood, but as soon as I had left the gorge behind I saw the first snow flakes falling down. What?!

The valley widened and I could see that the sky was now blue behind me and white everywhere else. Right now the snow melted the second it touched the ground, but higher in the mountains I would for sure have to deal with snow on the ground and I was not yet ready for that. I came to Morocco to flee the winter at home.



So I turned around and took the main road to Errachidia, chased by the coulds. It was very windy and at times like riding through a sand storm.



By now I had figured out that I could keep the bike from overheating if I kept the speed below 80kph. There was a larger front sprocket zip-tied to my bash guard somewhere, and I thought I could improve the situation as it would lower the engine revs a bit. All I had to do was borrow a matching Allen key somewhere. I found a small scooter repair shop and with a bit of pointing, gesturing and the few words of French I knew I got the messsage over. There were happy to help me and soon I had 3 generations of mechanics nearby to give a helping hand. I offered some money for their service, but they refused to take any. Instead I was now confronted with an invitation to stay with their family and have lunch.

Here's what I love about that: When you travel in a group, you spend most of the time talking to your friends, and there may be someone who knows the language and does all the talking with the locals for you. But if you're on your own, you can't hide. Also, you're less intimidating and people come over to say hello and ask questions.

Then there is the difference between the larger cities or touristic areas and the more remote small towns. The first people you encounter in Morocco are beggars and other people specialized in extracting money from tourists. But here, you could see the true hospitality and friendliness which can be found in Morocco. I've seen the same in many other - mostly Islamic - countries. Even if it may sometimes just be because hospitality to travelers is advocated by their religion, I like it. With these guys here, it was true friendliness. They were bikers after all.


Before I left they asked me for my plans and I took out the map, pointing at the route to Midelt and then Fez. They shook their heads and gestured that this road was blocked, indicating something falling from the sky and pointing to a place somewhere between here and Midelt. A closer look showed that there were a couple of rivers to cross, so I figured one of the bridges may have recently been washed away. Great, if I can't have any more offroading or pistes, I may at least have a nice river crossing!

I started questioning my interpretation when I came to Midelt without incidents, but kept on going. The road climbed up the eastern Atlas and it got colder and colder. I stopped and managed to get into my rain coverall which helped to keep me from freezing.



Riding becomes dreary and tiring if you have to ride over cold plains at 80kph. The further I got, the more snow was on the ground. Eventually the snow also took over the road and the two-lane road morphed effectively into a one-lane road as there were now only two tire tracks clear off snow. I realized that this was leading nowhere: this was the main connection to Fez and should be busy with traffic, but there were no more trucks. I decided to continue to the next village, just for fun. The last meters I drew my own tire marks in the snow and then I came to a closed barrier across the road, complete with a burning oil barrel and a handful of men warming their hands.
I was told to go back to the gorges and head for Marrakesh or take the route via Missour in the east. Both alternatives were a few hundred kilometers detour. So the mechanics had been talking about snow, not rain.



I jumped on the bike and went back as fast as I could. It was getting dark and staying somewhere here for the night seemed like a bad idea: What if it started snowing over the night? The fact that my cooling system was now very low on anti-frost and running on almost pure water didn't help either.

I found a hotel in Midelt and checked that the room had a heater. The night guard would watch my bike. Perfect. I turned it up to the max and headed for the city to get dinner. It was already quite late, but the streets were still busy with people selling dates and - from the smell of it - some variations of weed. I opted for a kebab from one of the small booths. No warm water for a shower, so I just crawed under the sheets and fell asleep.
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Old 04-21-2013, 03:57 AM   #40
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Melilla

I woke up shivering. They had switched off the central heating in the middle of the night and the room was freezing cold. There was nothing, but a thin blanket and my sleeping bag was with on my bike somewhere. After putting on more clothes and covered by my jacket I made it through the night. With a coffee and some bread and jam for breakfast I got going again. Slowly, the Atlas mountains disappeared behind me.

I don't remember much of this day, in my memory I had been following the N15 going straight north all day. Although I never went faster than 80kph, almost no one ever passed me. Most traffic was slower. There was one older Merc taxi which overtook me a few times that afternoon, only so that I could pass it while it stopped to pick up passengers here and there.

Mellila was a bit of a shock for me. I hadn't been aware that it's a Spanish enclave and was expecting a ferry port like Tangier. Instead it was 4 or 5 packed lanes of cars pushing and honking to get to the border. I didn't feel well and wasn't in the mood for lane splitting, so I just kept my spot, although people encoraged me to go ahead. I had all the time in the world, why bother. According to the GPS it took me 75min to cross the border, it had felt like more. Not too bad.
Of course there was a man who wanted my money to give guidance through the border process. The same reasons which kept me from lane splitting kept me from accepting his offer. He spoke 3 or 4 languages, including German, and explained that I would actually need his help, he had a big family to feed, and quite a large part of it was to bribe the officer anyway, but I wasn't in the mood for this.
Ii turned out that he was actually a very nice man when he run after me to let me know that I had forgotten to get the export stamp for the bike in my passport. There was some bewilderment on his side noticing a KSA visa in it: 'Wow, you've been on a hadj?!' (No, they would have never let me into Mekkah - but I didn't comment on that.) He guided me to the right officer (no bribery here), proposing that I could just give him money afterwards, if I felt so.
Then we said farewell and I gave him all the Moroccan money I had left to me. Coincidentally it was exactly half of his original quote.

I rolled into the city and checked on the ferry to Malaga. There was a ferry the next morning, so I would need a hotel for the night. After looking for a cheap one without much success, I just asked my GPS to give me directions to the nearest one. My first question was about heating, then I asked for the price. I had a look at the room which had a nice clean bath tub and wasn't too expensive, so I got off my luggage and parked my bike in an underground car park nearby. The hot bath was perfect.
The WiFi was down, so I went downstairs and asked the receptionist for a nearby internet cafe as I wanted to book the ferry. One of the two girls behind the counter offered to take me there and spend the evening / night with me: 'Why not, don't you have money?' I couldn't believe that a normal hotel, right in the city center, would have hookers at the front desk!

So I walked the streets alone and had some pizza and a last
Thé à la Menthe. No luck with WiFi.
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Old 04-21-2013, 04:31 AM   #41
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Malaga

Again I woke up shivering. Somehow the AC had been programmed to shut off somewhere in the night. Luckily I could fix this.

The next morning I went to the port. I was a bit later as somewhere I had lost an hour. Morocco is on GMT time and Mellila probably on GMT+1? I don't know. So I bought the ticket and rushed to queue up for bordering, only that there was no queue. It turned out that the daylight ferry is mostly semi trailers (no tractors) and other than that there were only 3 cars and my bike. That also meant it was very quiet on the ferry and I could sleep a lot.
Before I could enter, I was introduced to a dog who sniffed arond my bike. Actually I was a bit nervous about that. I remembered that I had told people in Midelt (where the streets smelled like weed) I would take the ferry, just before leaving the bike with them for the night. Rumors say that they like to hide their stuff on your vehicle, so their friends in Spain could find it, once you've smuggled it across the border. Well, it all went fine.

I texted Hana and arranged with her that I could drop the bike the next morning and she would drive me to the airport. Then I checked into a Ibis hotel to sleep. I felt feverish, the cold night had taken their toll.

At the airport I found out that the flight which had yesterday been listed for 300 EUR was now 1500EUR and I would have to wait 4 more days unless I wanted to pay that. So I decided to just rent the cheapest car I could find and do some sightseeing in Andalusia instead. Hertz upgraded me to a Volvo C30 which was actually quite nice to drive. I love driving small hatchbacks, only the front wheel drive isn't my thing.

Heading out of town I realizied that this was leading nowhere in my condition. So I went back to the Ibis hotel and checked back in. The next days I spent in my bed or on the toilet. I lost more fluids on the latter than I could drink and started feeling the consequences. So I went to a pharmacy and a supermarked to stock up on medicine and drinks. I would have to go to the hosital and get an infusion if I couldn't get my water balance right.

While laying in bed I got a phone call from my boss, asking if I could do a trip back to KSA the next week, they had a little problem there. I explained my condition and told him, it would need more than 'a little problem' to convince me on a trip to Arabia the week before Christmas: You never know when you'll be back. Even better, my visa had expired and there was no way to get a new one in time.

Anyway, I spend some days in that hotel and flew home where I was ordered by my physician to stay in bed for another week. Good thing that I had declined the KSA trip ...

End of part 1.
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Old 04-21-2013, 05:05 AM   #42
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Gibraltar

Fast forward 3 months.

I had been in contact with Hana who had brought the bike to a BMW dealership for repair. They should especially check on the water pump, as we suspected it to be the real origin or all the problems. With both her and me traveling a lot, communication was a bit difficult, and then she told me they had fixed it without need to open up the pump. Hym, not sure if I liked that, but there was nothing we could do about it.

Coming back from another business trip I had exactly one day to pack my stuff. I was pretty confident to have everything when the taxi showed up the next morning. Later, while waiting at the gate, I noticed that I was still wearing the shoes I had put on to bring out the garbage in the morning. No boots.


The flight included a stop in Palma de Mallorca, meaning the plane was full of families going on vacation. Now Palma is known in Germany and the UK for parties etc., so just think about 'white trash' to get an idea on the passenger list. I haven't heard people clapping at touchdown for years ...

I was welcomed by Hana, packed my bike and headed south to find some boots. According to the forecast there was rain in my future and I really didn't wanted to ride through rain with nothing but trashbags on my feet. I found a bike shop in La Linea, literally at the foot of Gibraltar and bought a pair of afforable touring boots.

Cars were queueing up for hundreds of meters at the Gibraltar border, with little progress. I had been there some years ago, so I skipped on that. Here's a photo from 2007. Did you know that there's about 30,000 Englishmen sitting on the rock protecting it? It's full of monkeys.



I spent a night in a small hotel and chatted about bikes with the waiter who also proposed some nice roads in the area. With a running bike and new boots I was ready to roll and bring the bike home to Germany.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:54 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by pip_muenster View Post
Did you know that there's about 30,000 Englishmen sitting on the rock protecting it? It's full of monkeys.



Nice report, as always.
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Old 04-22-2013, 02:16 PM   #44
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Granada

The proposed route to Ronda was perfect for riding, not too much traffic and hundreds of tight turns. Usually the vegetation didn't allow to see far through the corner which made it even more interesting for me. I grew up with roads like this (or narrower) and I love it.
You can tell it's a great biking road by the extra boards at the bottom of the guard rail. It's there to protect bikers from the sharp edges of the pillars holding the rail itself. The pillar's sharp edges are known to cause severe injuries up to decapitation, so after a few accidents someone will finally decide to put up the extra boards ...
I know that in Germany, the car and bike clubs had proposed extra padding decades ago. There had been 2 manufacturers, and the government couldn't decide for which one to go. Maybe some issues with certification and liability added to the story - and in the end, they were never officially issued. Nowadays many guard rails have this padding, but as far as I know they were ALL paid for by private clubs or donations.

No idea how this is handled in Spain.



At some point I decided to turn left onto a smaller road with broken tarmac which was even more twisty. But about a minute later it became clear that I was heading directly into dark black rainclouds. The road was already wet with potholes and lots of dirt on it, and I had to go very slowly as the knobby tires were sliding all over the place. There was not much fun to it, so I decided to go back to the main road.

That too was wet and dirty, and at some point I even saw some oily rainbow colors on the asphalt. The mountains opened up, and I figured that I wouldn't be able to avoid the rain. I had just passed by a couple of bikers standing next to gray GSes with red dots on their windscreens, probably rental bikes. So I decided to go back, have a chat with them and put on my rain coverall.

They were German like me and greeted me asking whether I had made it safely through the last corners. It turned out that the road had been dry when they came through, so they had no chance to see the oil, and they had both lowsided and crashed into the guard rails. Luckily there were no injuries and just some scratches on the bikes.
With my slippery tires I had barely noticed the difference between wet and oily ...



By the time I had my raingear on, the rain stopped. It was also a good thermal insulation, so I didn't care. I followed the road to Antequera which was still great riding.

The sun came out just in time for lunch break and I turned onto a dirt road to have some bread, cheese and Chorizo sausage in the fields. My new companion seems to enjoy hanging on to the GPS mount for its life. It also got a bit of a 'stormy haircut'. (That's supposed to be a camel, by the way.)



I made it to Granada where I arrived cold, wet and hungry, so I just got into the first affordable hotel I could find. The room looked like a dripstone cave with all my gear handing around to dry.
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pip_muenster screwed with this post 04-22-2013 at 02:32 PM
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Old 04-23-2013, 03:13 PM   #45
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The TV in the breakfast room showed the weather being mostly rainy, but the area south of the Sierra Nevada showed sunshine. At 7:20 I was already moving on the highway leading south, determined to get there within an hour. I chose a small road which was basically following the border of the natural park. That turned out to be a perfect choice with little traffic and literally no straights. It took me half a day to do that road, ending somewhere near Almeria.



From here my next way point was the Tabernas Desert. This area had been used for a lot of movies, including A Fistful of Dollars or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Some sets are still being used, others are preserved as a tourist attraction.







Using only secondary roads I continued northwards and ended up somewhere near Murcia for the night. I can't remember when I had last gone through that many curves in one day.





Ok, I'm a bit busy with work and may take a break for a few days.
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