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Old 01-29-2007, 10:18 AM   #1
Tim Cullis OP
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Sleeping beside the bike in a Moroccan river bed

The term 'sleeping beside the bike' is normally used when the person is camping wild, rather than in a defined camp site. This means there won't be access to toilets, running water, hot showers, camp supermarket, restaurant, whatever. In my case, however, it also meant no tent, no sleeping bag, no stove. In fact, sleeping under the stars in the Moroccan desert with the temperature set to plumet to freezing point. So how did I come to be in that predicament?

I made a number of mistakes that day. First was drinking three bottles of beer and a bottle of red wine at the Sahara Sky Observatory the night before. Second was planning a 250-km long piste carrying full luggage. Third, I guess, was doing it alone.

Last January we developed the ABC guide to Moroccan piste riding (ABC being Steve Attwood, Simon Bowles, Tim Cullis) where we would head off enthusiastically for the piste totally forgetting about tools, first aid, water, petrol... This time I was better prepared. I had all my tools, a massive first aid kit, 7 litres of fluids plus a FULL tank of petrol. Yes, all 37 litres of it. That was probably mistake number four. Why take 37 litres when 20 would easily have been enough?

The bike was handling like a cow on the piste, what with all the gear such as electric tyre inflator, five different guide books and a 17-in screen notebook computer. To lighten the bike I had decided earlier to cache some of my equipment and pick it up later. This included my tent, sleeping bag, fleece bag liner, etc. That was definitely mistake number five.


Grit your teeth and you float over

I was doing fairly well, either surfing over the sandy spots or taking avoiding action, then I nearly came a cropper when the piste fell four feet into an oued (wadi).


Almost went headlong into this

It took some negotiating to back the bike out through the stones (the GS could do with a reverse gear) and find a way round.


View other direction

Then as I gained a rise near the top of a Tizi I saw a Polish van on the left. A woman was communicating with a PMR radio with her friends who were climbing the mountains ahead to do paragliding. I stopped to chat and she said she had to stop there as the van couldn't go further. I reccied the route on foot and it was dire. A horrible gully with major stones, many of them loose and as big as footballs. Only one thing for it. So I gunned the throttle and blasted through. Well, in my dreams! In the last 20 metres the front wheel hit something really big and I was thrown off, with the bike on top of me.

I scrabbled out from under the bike and turned off the engine, expecting the woman to be running towards me to help, but in fact she was running back to the van to get her camera (at which stage I awarded her honorary GSer status). Whilst she took photos I unloaded the luggage and she eventually came and helped get the bike through the last series of choke stones.


Great scenary

I had been riding with my jacket undone (mistake number six) so there was no protection when I fell and my side was hurting like mad, so I took a couple of 30mg codine tablets to dull the pain and carried on. Then I stopped to take some more pics and fell again. Duh! Last year my number one problem when biking was forgetting to put my ear plugs in; I would start off, only to remember and have to stop again to put them in. This year with the 1200GSA, I had a different problem--remembering to stop in places where I could put at least one foot on the ground. The two wheel ruts were filled with small stones and I tended to ride on the smoother section in the middle. I felt such a numpty falling in such a manner, especially when I could have fitted my low seat for the trip (mistake seven).

Mistake number eight was when I ran out of water in the platypus and realised that apart from the bottle of red wine, four of the other five litres of fluids were neat Red Bull and the sixth was a 50/50 mix with water. I was using fluids at a alarming rate. Although the temperature was only 22C, the high pressure system over Morocco was so profound that my clothing was generating static electricity and the altitude didn't help.

I consoled myself with the fact there was a junction ahead with another piste that had been recently sealed. Within minutes I could be off and away.


New smooth piste

I came to the junction and no, it wasn't a sealed piste. But it looked smooth enough and it was only 29 km line-of-sight to the nearest town.


Fun bits

The new piste was fun at first, with swooping river bed crossings.


Heavy traffic

Then with 21 km to go, the piste disintegrated and reappeared on the other side of a bank that I couldn't get to.


Where's the piste gone to?


Can't get up this

All recent tyre tracks turned down the river bed which was filled with a loose grit. The grit was worse than sand to ride on, more like ball bearings, and progress was painfully slow.


No fun now

I did a kilometer or two, all the time the sides of the river bed appeared too high to get out. Eventually, with the heat fast going out of the sun, and a chill wind started, I realised I was too tired to continue. I couldn't delay making the decision to stop as it would soon be dark.


Sun down

The desire to sleep was overtaking me and I took stock of the situation: no tent, no sleeping bag, no stove, one tiny bit of bread saved from breakfast. On the positive side, I had a head torch, a cigarette lighter in my tool kit, and a large plastic emergency exposure sack that doubled as something to lay out if I was doing bike repairs in the sand.


A handy grave-sized depression

Knowing there could be traffic on the piste, I scraped out a shallow depression in the sand some metres away and laid my exposure sack down. I stripped off my riding trousers so I could fit the goretex liner, and then added a couple of layers on to my upper body. I could secure everything on the bike apart from my tank bag, so I laid that on the ground to use as a pillow. Right, I was ready for the night ahead.

To pass some time I thought I would send a text message to my family. The mobile coverage in Morocco is so complete that even the more remote pistes have full reception. I switched on the phone to find there was no coverage which further confirmed I was on a piste that was no longer used.

To be continued...
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Tim Cullis screwed with this post 10-10-2013 at 12:34 AM
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Old 01-29-2007, 10:20 AM   #2
GB
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Sounds like a great trip and ride report. . but your photo links don't work

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Old 01-29-2007, 10:48 AM   #3
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Perhaps I should add at this stage that most trips I undertake are complete successes with wonderful pistes, and a great time, but it's the more difficult ones that I feel more inclinded to write up...

Tim
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Old 01-29-2007, 11:30 AM   #4
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wow!! awesome pics!! you rode that GS on those rocks?!! and that deep sand is no picnic!!


Keep it comin'
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Old 01-29-2007, 11:50 AM   #5
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That step in the track was a bit scary. Great pictures and ride report.

Can't wait for the rest.
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Old 01-29-2007, 12:07 PM   #6
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Very interesting!!
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Old 01-29-2007, 12:19 PM   #7
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It's hard not to be concerned for your safety, but afterall, you are posting this so you must have survived. I look forward to seeing how the rest of this adventure goes, might be something here to learn.
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Old 01-29-2007, 12:42 PM   #8
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We're only through Part 1 and already up to 8 mistakes! This is going to be a REAL adventure.
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Old 01-29-2007, 02:42 PM   #9
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Great ride report so far !!! Excuse my ignorance, but what is a "piste" ?
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Old 01-29-2007, 03:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSMaillet
Great ride report so far !!! Excuse my ignorance, but what is a "piste" ?
A beaten track is how I'd translate it

Excellent stuff so far, Tim



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Old 01-29-2007, 03:55 PM   #11
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I had to look it up--I thought it was a mountin peak--I was wrong

Piste: a track or trail, as a downhill ski run or a spoor made by a wild animal.

pronounced "peest"

Hell I learned somehing today---guess that's why i'm so "esoteric"
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Old 01-29-2007, 04:01 PM   #12
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piste = groomed








continue, please
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Old 01-29-2007, 05:00 PM   #13
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Old 01-29-2007, 05:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDogAdventures.com
I had to look it up--I thought it was a mountin peak--I was wrong

Piste: a track or trail, as a downhill ski run or a spoor made by a wild animal.

pronounced "peest"

Hell I learned somehing today---guess that's why i'm so "esoteric"
You are correct Mark.
A Piste is a French word for Trail. Morocco used to be a French Colony.
It can be groomed or ungroomed like our definition of "trail".
The "e" at of end of Piste is swallowed.
You can pronounce it as suggested "Peest" or "Pist"


Awesome scenery...waiting for more
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Old 01-29-2007, 05:19 PM   #15
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