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Old 04-05-2009, 05:12 PM   #31
BAZZER450
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congrats man !!! good show ! glad to see you finnished and had a great experience !!
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Old 04-06-2009, 05:00 AM   #32
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Hey Ron/Dan,

it was great meeting you at the Tuareg.

I'm impressed by all the extra complicating stuff you had to go to in your first rally reports. Curious about the next parts.

This is me on my XR440 storming, but not quite making it to, the top of the biggest "hausdune".




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Old 04-06-2009, 05:05 AM   #33
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Hey Erwin !

One of the best parts of the rallye was meeting so many great people along the way.

I'll get the next set of photos loaded up and posted...sorry for the long preamble in the report...it must seem to some of you like we'll never reach the desert ...but we do
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Old 04-06-2009, 06:52 AM   #34
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This is great stuff, the story leading up to the Tuareg is most appreciated, help's a couch potato wannabe like me imagine everything involved getting there
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:23 AM   #35
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awesome!

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Old 04-06-2009, 05:31 PM   #36
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Day 1: Nador - Missour

I'd heard horror stories of rough seas and ferry trips from Almeria Spain to Nador Morocco. Ours wasn't bad. Generally I find sleeping on a boat to be quite relaxing as the ocean rocks you to sleep. Still wide awake at 2am it just wasn't working for me...or Dan tonight. I guess we were too hyped up about the real start of the rally tomorrow morning. We both get maybe 2 or 3 hours sleep total. This doesn't exactly help Dan's cold which he's been fighting since leaving Canada.

On the ferry decked out in my Speed and Strength "Hell N Back" gear. Somehow the name seems appropriate for our adventure!


When we arrive in Nador we head for the Police and customs officials to stamp our passports and clear our vehicle documents. The story of where to go and what to do seems to change periodically and we end up standing in long lines waiting to be processed. Then an unexpected bonus...when the line is backed up to the end of the room the Moroccan customs offical just gives up and waves us all through...sweet! End of line up. Why can't our customs officials be so accomodating?

Just outside of the port all the competitors assemble in a strip of parking lot to wait until everyone clears customs. We then receive our start cards for the day and start the ride.




We meet up this morning with Volker from Germany. Volker and I have "met" on ThumperTalk earlier in the year and he was one of the people who helped me out and encouraged me to enter the Tuareg. Just a super guy and a great rider with a previous podium finish in this event. He's riding a Husky, having switched from two previous rallye attempts on a Husaberg which broke down both times. Ironically, I've switched from my Husky to a Berg for the event.

Multi-time Dakar participant and rally competitor Tina Meier of Germany and her WR250. I know...bad picture...that's a good shot of her hair though...really....she's got great hair.


We're not even one kilometer from our start, riding through Nador when the rally claiims its first unfortunate victim. As we approach an intersection on the busy streets we come across a crumpled BMW (HP2 I think) lying on its side in the middle of the road up against a small Moroccan sedan with a badly crumpled front fender. I can't see any rider down and there are already others there assisting so we continue on. What a bummer...less than 1km and a few minutes into it, his rally is over. I meet the rider later that night, he's limping and very sore but thankfully, no serious injury.

There are two bike classes at the Tuareg, Amateur and Professional. The Profi class rides longer days and a harder route. Naturally Dan and I have both entered this class since we think we're pretty hot stuff....The organizers throw a little test at you on Day one and give you the chance to switch from the Profi to Amateur class at the end of the day if you can't hack it as a Profi. Not long out of Nador's city limits we enter the mountains and our first real test.

The Profi route takes us up a rocky goat path to the summit, then down an equally narrow little path that clings to the side of the mountain. I suppose if you had a clear shot at it all it wouldn't be that bad, but bottlenecks are the order of the day and many good lines are obstructed by stalled and downed riders. It doesn't take too long on the uphill section when I become one of those myself, making the mistake of trying to scale a loose rock face to avoid three riders stuck on the main trail.

The Profi section ends in a narrow, rocky gully which you have to get out of to reach the CP. I goof up again when I discover that these clumps of grass in the neighbourhood don't exactly move when you hit them. As I'm climbing out of the gully I hit one...no big deal I figure, just jump it, which I do. Unfortunately my front wheel comes down right on another one and suddenly I'm perched another foot off the ground, stopped and my inseam is about 25 inches short of allowing me to touch the ground. Down I go again. We're not exactly having a banner start to this thing I think.



We continue our trek south towards tonight's stop at Missour. Some road sections but mostly rocky, dusty piste along the way. During one section I come into a left hand sweeper, very stony and off camber. I'm in either 3rd or 4th at the time...whatever it is...I'm going way too fast to make the corner. The Berg low sides and I slide off the road into larger rocks, bringing rider and bike to a sudden stop. The good news is that my home made nav gear frame takes the beating without bending folding or mutilating. The bad news is my chest isn't quite as strong as it slams into the rigid frame. I don't think I cracked anything, but it turns out to be an nagging injury that will bother me for the rest of the rallye.

Dan waits while I pick myself and undamaged bike up, then delivers a lecture on why we should "cool it" because we have 7 more days to go. Wise words...we head out and I back it down a couple of notches.

Whether it's the result of the crash, or just old age I'll never know, but my Watchdog computer that I'm using as my odometer suddenly starts to go crazy. The numbers begin to flash on and off like a carnival ride. It won't shut off either. I have to resort to using my back up stock ODO which has very tiny little numbers. Actually it makes me concentrate more and we have a generally successful first day of navigation.


Dan tightens up his water bottle mount at a gas stop.


We roll into Missour at about 7:30pm having not only survived Day 1, but managing to hit every CP along the way and not incur any penalty points. Whoopee!


David stops by when we're working on the bikes and is a great help with our daily maintenance routine and giving us moral support as well.

We run into our new friend Volker. We're shocked to hear he's out of the rally after his Husky suddenly stopped running and had to be picked up by the sweep truck. We go over to his bike and try our best to help troubleshoot it and get it going, but to no avail. Volker puts the best face on the situation that he can and will stick with the rally riding on the support truck. We continue to see him every day and he helps us out tremendously with advice and support for the rest of the rallye.

Tonight we're sleeping in large "community" tents. Both Dan and I are "bushed" and ready to hit theh sack after we do our checks, oil and filter changes on the bikes. We've got another long day ahead of us tomorrow as we head towards Merzouga and the dunes of the Erg Chebi.

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Old 04-08-2009, 08:53 AM   #37
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Old 04-08-2009, 10:04 AM   #38
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Day 2 Missour - Merzouga

We are awakened from our slumber by loud German rock music, a Tuareg tradition apparently. Rainer (the organizer of the rally) tells me that "some people come to the Tuareg each year for the music in the morning." Well, maybe there's one guy somewhere I suppose...

Dan's cold is getting the best of him. Not much sleep again for him last night. Volker was sleeping across from me in the big tent and is very impressed at how loudly Canadians snore! His earplugs didn't even do him any good. It's my secret weapon to wear down the other competitors.

Monday's results were posted last night and we find there's been a Canuck sweep of the Moto and Car Profi classes. Roland takes top spot for the bikes and David does the same in his Desert Warrior rally car.

Time to get all our stuff packed up, load our roadbooks and snarf down some breakfast before heading out to the start line a few km out of town. A couple of glasses of orange juice and a granola bar later, I'm off. Unfortunately I don't realize at the time that it's the only thing I'll consume, other than water, until about 8:30 that night. Poor planning on my part.



The landscape today is fantastic. Longer road sections and we're really getting a taste for the desert conditions as we continue south. At every village and sometimes out in the middle of nowhere along the road there are kids waving madly at us as we ride by. Some are genuinely crazy about the whole thing, I suspect some of the older ones are more interested in what we might stop and give them. Several times some of these kids smile and wave then when you get right up to them they shout at you and pretend like they're going to jump out in front of you. Kind of disturbing, but the little kids are very touching to see excited and I try to wave back to each and every one of them.

Navigating with the stock KTM odometer kind of sucks. It is "buried" down amongst my nav gear on the triple clamps and I really have to strain to see it while I ride along. Last night I took the batteries out of my Watchdog and tried to get it to reset, but had no success. As it turns out, Dan, who has remounted his KTM ODO, is happy with it and isn't using his computer. Looks like I'll stage a late night raid tonight and snatch his.





On one of the road sections we come across a couple of stopped riders and pull over to see if we can help.



The rear tire has popped off her rim and is being pushed by the bib mousse into the swingarm. The couple seems to be a little short on tools so Dan lends them his tire irons and I cough up my spare inner tube to them.



They get the bike propped up on a rock and the guy asks me if I have a wheel wrench...I wondered how they were ever going to adjust their chains. As it turns out mine wouldn't fit hers anyhow so we wish them luck and head out as he tries to undo the axle bolt with a pair of pliers. The woman went out of her way at camp that night to track us down and return the irons and spare tube, which was much appreciated.

We meet up somewhere along the way with Robbert who has been riding one of the Gas Gas bikes from this year's Dakar. It has some sort of electrical glitch in it which causes it to peridically stop running. One of those things that's very frustrating to sort out. Robbert's been swapping out parts for the last two days to fix it, but no luck so far.



We're really getting a taste of the desert today. Lots of areas with a whole lotta nothin'...except for rock and sand. The dust isn't really too bad, but it's always there. You've got to keep paying attention so you don't smack your front tire into a large rock, when you do, it certainly wakes you up.



We met up with Robbert again later in the day at one of our gas stops. He still is having problems but never fails to be upbeat and positive.




Towards the end of the day we get our first real taste of the dunes as we get close to Merzouga. It's interesting how you ride along a flat, rocky piste for miles and miles then all of a sudden, seemingly for no reason, the dunes just start.

I'm getting the hang of navigation, Dan, not so much. His ZUMO is not really suited for the job and seems to do crazy things. Mostly today it has been pointing backwards trying to send him to a waypoint we passed hours ago. No time to sort it out as we ride, maybe we can sort it out tonight.

I'm a bit apprehensive about how things are going to go for me in the dunes, having never ridden anything remotely similar before. As we approach the first one, which is probably about 8' high and fairly steep, I hit it fairly fast, expecting the sand will be soft and deep and suck away any momentum I have. Up the face I go...ooops...too fast, when I crest the leeward side of the dune it falls away abruptly and I'm airborne. My front wheel comes down in the soft sand and instantly crabs full lock to the left. As one learned motorcyclist once said..."it was at this point that I ceased to be a rider and became a projectile." I start my flight over the bars, but not before smacking my already aching chest on the nav gear one more time. Welcome to the Sahara Ron.

Dan is stopped beside me, you'd sort of figure he'd be asking something like..."wow...are you OK?"...but no...he's yelling at me..."hurry up!, get up! we can't lose those guys!" since he doesn't have the equipment to navigate and wants to follow others so we don't get lost in the dunes. I manage to pick myself and the Berg up and we follow the riders in front of us into the dune set.

I'm really struggling in our first attempt at the dunes. Slow is deadly. Something as simple as trying to make a 1st gear turn is down right impossible. The front wheel crabs and buries itself in the sand and you flop over on your side feeling like a complete idiot. It's sort of like learning to ride all over again. After several mistakes I find myself screaming expletives at myself and talking to myself as I ride trying to sort this out through "on the job training."

No pictures of this comedy of errors...but don't worry...I'll have more in the coming days to post

We reach out hotel in Merzouga late in the afternoon. I'm pretty beat from my journey and multiple times picking up the bike. Dan is really feeling the effects of his cold and lack of sleep for the past couple of days. We're both knackered.



Again we've managed...somehow...to reach all the CP's today and avoid the hefty 2 hour penalty you incur for missing one. We've survived which I guess is not bad so far. Others have not been as lucky. We hear in camp tonight that one rider has been flown out after crashing and breaking ribs and his pelvis. This was never confirmed...but it makes me think things could certainly be worse.

Time now to get our boxes off the truck, set up our pit and go over our checks and maintenance work on the bikes. The pace never slows down and it just wears on you.

Dan is kind of out of it...actually he's really out of it...sometimes staring blankly at the ground, sometimes asking the same thing over and over and over like his short term memory is shot. The guy needs some serious sleep tonight. A couple of other people ask me if he's OK...so it's not just me noticing it.

Roland stops by to offer encouragement and some much needed tips on riding the dunes. Throttle, throttle, throttle...the most important three things to remember. It's a foreign concept to a woods rider like myself but I eventually drill it into my head that the answer to pretty much everything in the dunes is more throttle.



There will be plenty of opportunity for me to test that theory over the next three days in the ergs surrounding Merzouga. Yes it's all sand...but tomorrow we're going to either sink or swim.

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Old 04-08-2009, 12:02 PM   #39
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Great report guys, looks great!

Enjoy the dunes! BTW dont use the front brake in the sand!
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Old 04-08-2009, 12:11 PM   #40
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Awesome!!!! Keep it coming.....
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Old 04-08-2009, 12:17 PM   #41
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Old 04-08-2009, 12:58 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cummo
Enjoy the dunes! BTW dont use the front brake in the sand!
Old habits die hard......guess how I know...

...and thanks to everyone for the positive comments on the thread, lots more to come.
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Old 04-08-2009, 02:19 PM   #43
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great story, reading it makes me wanna go back right away
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Old 04-08-2009, 04:06 PM   #44
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Good to see that Dan took his Canadian riding strategy with him to Morocco ... I think every shot of him taking a break off the bike has a smoke in his hand

Hey... if it worked for Joel Robert back in the day !
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Old 04-08-2009, 04:22 PM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trialsguy
Good to see that Dan took his Canadian riding strategy with him to Morocco ... I think every shot of him taking a break off the bike has a smoke in his hand
If it wasn't a smoke...it was Shinkenwurst...I'm not sure which is worse for you.
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