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Old 04-09-2013, 11:06 AM   #16
drisschoufa
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Originally Posted by Johnnydarock View Post
Going to Morocco in May with Hana from adventours.com and 7 of my riding buddies. Looking forward to seeing the rest of your photos. Are you sure you ate "pork chops" in Morocco?
you can in the big cities but not in small town in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:24 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by jaumev View Post
I like to see pictures from places I've just visited few weeks ago!!

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=875921

You are right, is very important to have good lights, there is always one day you needed. Ad drive by night in Morocco is very dangerous, also in the roads, most of people there don't use lights.

Keep coming, and thanks for sharing your trip

I am a Moroccan that is always scarred to hit a moped or a car without rear light while traveling there. that is the only thing that freaks me out and for them its another day on the road. driving with no lights is not a big deal...that is what they think and even with lights on you are afraid to hit someone because they have absolutely no respect for the lanes of the road forget the divider lane. I always tell my wife why are wasting paint on the road when no one respect its own lane.
I ride in Baja California a lot it's the same as morocco driving style, rules...... are not followed by no one, stop signs are there so the policeman can get dollars from the tourist but I still go as it reminds me of the ZOO I come from.
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Old 04-10-2013, 01:11 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by jaumev View Post
I like to see pictures from places I've just visited few weeks ago!!
[...]
Yeah, I had the same thoughts and tried to recognize some of the locations you were showing in post 37 which is oddly difficult in an area without any landmarks we're used to.

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I am a Moroccan that is always scarred to hit a moped or a car without rear light while traveling there. that is the only thing that freaks me out and for them its another day on the road. [...]
Agree. I get around a bit and have seen strange behaviors: Some countries they just don't care about lights, some they leave them off until they see you, and some they switch from low- to highbeam if they see oncoming traffic ...
Then there are the obstacles as wild donkeys (south America), kangaroos (Australia), camels (Middle East) - or speed bumbs and deer (just about everywere else). And without trees and stones in the dessert it can also become difficult to judge distances and 'read the road' at night.
That night, we were riding slow enough to stop for obstacles and could be seen for kilometers. It should have been easy for other traffic to avoid us since you could literally drive whereever you wanted - but we still wanted to get off the bikes as soon as possible.


Thanks for your kind words!
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Old 04-10-2013, 03:35 PM   #19
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Around Merzouga

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:



[ 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 04-13-2013, 05:06 AM   #20
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Erg Chebbi

With the good food, perfect weather and lots of sand around we decided to stay another day at hotel Yasmina. We headed east to see how close we would get to the Algerian border. For a start we stayed right on the edge of the Erg Chebbi which is basically a wide basin filled with Sahara sand.



In some areas the ground was covered with small black stones on top of the sand. These kept the wheels from sinking, so it was easy riding. Even the track of a light motocycle was clearly visible as the black stones were pushed into the sand. I don't know how long that holds, but even satellite images of the area show hundreds of tracks crisscross through the area.





Somewhere here Maddin discovered that the Tenere was still difficult for him to handle in deep sand and I had to stay close to him, so I could take photos when he fell down - solely for documentary purposes of course. One area was a little larger and I decided to just stay put and keep the camera on. I was rewarded with this shot, just when he hit the ground. I should have kept it in video mode.

It doesn't look that sandy, but believe me, it was. I couldn't really sympathize with him as I was just too happy that my XC did just fine. The last time we had been in deep sand I had been riding a heavy 1150GS and it had been me who kissed the ground most often. Now, with about 200lbs less weight it was so easy that I shortly considered riding with the camera in the hand to get some video footage. Of course, I didn't.



The track went through some smaller hills where we eventually came to a closed barrier, a border post. After waiting for a few minutes two guards arrived and questioned Maddin (as I don't speak much French). They discussed road options and advised us not to go any further eastward. That was about 5km from the borderline as shown on Google Earth.

So we headed back west and eventuelly run into a bunch of side-by-sides preparing for a special stage at oasis Sif-Sif.



Then our route went further west towards the main roads and back to the hotel. We also saw some more camels.



Later the day we decided to have some sand practise in the dunes next to the hotel. That was fun. We also met some other bikers and discussed road options with them over dinner. I don't really remember where they came from, but there was a guy on another Tenere and a couple from somewhere in eastern Europe. Maybe Maddin remembers more?


(photo: maddin)

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Old 04-13-2013, 10:24 AM   #21
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Bad Dunes



After three nights at Erg Chebbi it was time to get moving again and from here on we wanted to use as much dirt roads as possible, starting with route MS6 as described by Chris Scott. According to him it should offer 'nasty hummock scrub, dunelettes and feche-feche' - and be a struggle for big bikes. Cool, let's go.

The first stop at the gas station reminded us that tourism is taking over. Within minutes someone came by to advertise his bike work shop / tour company and wanted to take a photo of us for his website. We filled up to the rim, as we were expecting 300km of offroad piste before the next pump.



Then we went into 'downtown' Merzouga to buy some food for the next days. The very first house looked like an abandoned police station, but more important, there was a red post box on its wall. The box hang from a wire on a hook and looked like it had fallen down more than once. That seemed like the perfect place to drop the postcards I had bought and written in the last days. We had no idea if this post box was still in service or how long it might take for the cards to even reach Fez or Marrakesh, so the cards would have their own little adventure.
(Actually, when they finally arrived they showed a stamp from Marrakesh only 2 days later - and then took 2 more weeks to get to Europe or America. That's about the same time as for a card from the US to Europe.)
In town the only shop we saw was about the size of a garage - in fact, I doubt that a car would fit in there. Space was so limited that customers had to stay outside on the road. We scanned the shelves, wondering what we could eat in the next days. Since choices were limited, we settled on cookies, some bread and canned tuna.

Our route took us to Taouz where we left tarmac. We followed a great gravel road through the hills which allowed us to take up a bit of speed.



After a while we closed up on a cloud of dust from two BMW bikes. They on the other hand were riding in the dust of a 4x4, probably a tour guide who also carried their luggage. We had been approached by several people offering guidance on this road, and this was presumably one of them.
I can't imagine having to stay in the dust of a 4x4 along such an interesting road and was very happy that we were on our own.

We followed a bit trying to figure out how to overtake safely. One of the riders looked a bit insecure, and he probably never expected someone from behind. Luckily the road split into several parallel tracks and we passed about 100ft on his left side. The other rider looked much more confident and also looked back to his buddy frequently. He immediately moved to the side to let us go by.
Now it was time to charge the 4x4. With the clout of dust he could barely see anything behind him, and additionally he expected some bikes there which were supposed not to overtake. So that thing was all over the place.
I had no choice, but to go all 'Robby Gordon' on him, wishing that cars were obliged to have a Sentinel on board ... Actually bumping him was more or less out of discussion, so I moved as best as I could into the sight of his mirrors and flashed my lights, while at the same time squeezing the life out of my tiny, tiny horn.
After what seemed kilometers he moved to the side and we shot by: 'beep, beep!'


(photo: maddin)

Later the soil changed into a wide bonedry flat. The ground was hardened sand, except for the track itself which consists of very soft fine sand / silt. In a car, I would have preferred the smooth drive in the tracks, but on the bike it was much easier to ride over the bumpy hard soil than to stuggle with the soft sand. Sometimes however, it wasn't possible to avoid the sandy parts.





We reached a small settlement and stopped to check the gps. There was a waypoint somewhere here, but it was not entirely clear which way we had to take here - maybe because Chris traveled in the other direction when he wrote the guide book. While we stand there some kids came running and pointed us to the north, definitely not our direction. We thought about that, looked on the map and remembered the party we just had passed. That should be the easy route usually taken by travellers between Taouz and Zagora, so we went on straight east instead. The children followed us with a bicyle, maybe hoping to make some money by helping the stupid foreigners in the sand.

The track we had chosen passed between some fields and wire fences and was all fesh-fesh (bulldust) with deep ruts. Just when I thought I'd got the hang of it I got caught in a deeper rut and had my ankle pinched between the engine and the side of the rut. Luckily, I just went through with just a bit of pain from my foot.
Maddin had less luck and fought hard to get through. So I rode a bit, waited for him to catch up, rode a bit more and so on. One time I saw him vanishing in a cloud of fesh-fesh and set my camera on video, waiting for the things to come. When the dust settled, I saw him lying underneath his bike.
(About 2 months later I was sitting on my PC, reviewing the footage when - for the first time - I noticed, that he had actually been frantically waving at me for help. I called him and apologized for standing around dumb and videotaping him ...)




The track opened up once we left the houses behind, but was still all deep soft sand. Sometimes it was possible to find harder ground next to it, but basically it was all sand.



When Maddin got stuck, it took me only one look onto his face to decide that I would dig it out for him - he looked totally exhausted. I shoveled enough sand away, so that we were able to lay the bike on its side. Then we refilled the hole and picked up the bike. Success!



It wasn't the last time, one of us got stuck ...



At some point we had to cross a dry riverbed which was especially sandy, with a steep incline on the other side. We made it and decided to have a longer break as there were trees providing shadow.


(photo: maddin)

The road got a bit better, but not for long. This time, a few hundred meters of dunes lay before us. I went ahead, checked the route and waved Maddin on, when I found a way.


(photo: maddin)

By the time we got through the sun was already low above the horizon. About here the GPS map (Olaf-map) showed a single Point-Of-Interest 'Bad dunes' and Maddin explained to me that we had made it through.
I thought about some of the photos I had seen in other reports, thinking that 'bad dune' could be much, much worse. Maybe this had only been the beginning?



Anyway, we found a hidden spot behind a dune and set up camp. We both had small tents I know as 'Dackelgarage' - or sausagedog-garage, if you will. The canned tuna for dinner could have been better, but apart from that, this was a perfect spot.



It took me a while to fall asleep, wondering whether my foot would still hurt the next morning and whether this was the end or just the beginning of the 'bad dunes'.
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Old 04-13-2013, 03:34 PM   #22
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Great pics.



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Old 04-13-2013, 03:55 PM   #23
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Nice!! keep going

Was the Tenere able to ride in the dunes?

I was in Erg Chebbi with my Suzuki DRZ and was fantastic but perhaps the Tenere is too heavy??
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Old 04-14-2013, 12:06 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by jaumev View Post
Nice!! keep going

Was the Tenere able to ride in the dunes?

I was in Erg Chebbi with my Suzuki DRZ and was fantastic but perhaps the Tenere is too heavy??
I agree the DRZ is lighter and in the sand the lighter the bike the easier it is to ride I am not a fun of BMW R1200GSA in the sand because every time I did I lost 10 pound per day riding the monster in the sandy areas. It takes away from the fun and it becomes work all the way and every mistake means you will have a chance of 640 pounds landing on top of you. Having said that the right tires and a steering damper make a huge difference in the sand especially with the big bikes.
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Old 04-14-2013, 01:32 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by drisschoufa View Post
I agree the DRZ is lighter and in the sand the lighter the bike the easier it is to ride I am not a fun of BMW R1200GSA in the sand because every time I did I lost 10 pound per day riding the monster in the sandy areas. It takes away from the fun and it becomes work all the way and every mistake means you will have a chance of 640 pounds landing on top of you. Having said that the right tires and a steering damper make a huge difference in the sand especially with the big bikes.
I’ still having the DRZ and I just went to Morocco with a Super Tenere 1200. I enjoyed both trips a lot.
With the DRZ had fun in the sand and the dunes but is uncomfortable and boring in the long and flat tracks and specially in the roads.
The Super T allows me to do a longer trip, is really comfortable where the DRZ is not but horrible in sand.
Next year I want to go for myself, so I'm thinking in the Tenere 660 as an intermediate in both but I don’t know how it works in sand, that’s why I asked.
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:06 AM   #26
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Hi,

I am the one on the Ténéré.

my expierience in deep Sand is more like drisschoufa described with his GS. Pip was able to ride on the dunes with his Xchallenge, but not me.

I have to say, that I'm not that good sand-rider, maybe one with good sand riding skills could do this, but the bike is heavy in comparison to the XC or KTM 690 (~50kg).

As tire i used the Heidenau K69 / K74. I dont think you can get a better tire for deep sand/mud for the Tenere. On the road these tires are ... well very "interesting". Dry and warm its ok, wet and cold like hell
Since the rear rim has a width of 2,75", i was not able to put on a rim lock and can't reduce the pressure for deep sand .

You can do a lot with the Tenere when the ground is harder. There it works very well for it's wheight. But my experience in deep sand is, that it's hard work to get through. Maybe with better riding skills, a "not so bendy fork" (I will change to WP48) and rim locks it's better. Steering damper could also help, but I don't have experience with these.

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Old 04-14-2013, 04:13 AM   #27
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I have some minor experience with a 1150GS in soft sand which convinced me on buying the much lighter XC - and I don't regret it, as it allows me to go anywhere I want with what limited offroad experience and expertise I have.

Check out this report for some more dune riding on a XT660Z Tenere:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ni3ous View Post
We need to get to the lower ground seen in the distance, and tomorow we head over some other dune sections.

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Old 04-14-2013, 12:12 PM   #28
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Thanks guys... we'll see. I like the XC but I want a new bike. Unfortunately now there is only two bikes they can be ok to this kind of trip, the Tenere 660 and the KTM 690 but I prefer the japanese reliability.
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Old 04-14-2013, 12:28 PM   #29
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People in the XC threads start discussing about the Husquarna TR650 which is in the same weight range and has basically the same engine as the XC. As the others it's missing a luggage system and a big tank. I guess the main drawback is the lack of aftermarket parts.

For me, the small tenere is the best off-the-shelf adventure bike on the market, if you don't want a heavy bike. Lots of small things like the replaceable crash pads, the strong subframe, the GPS bar above the instrument cluster show that people have thought it through.
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Old 04-14-2013, 01:11 PM   #30
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Zagora

The new day started with a blue sky, but not coffee. I got out of my tent and found a nice place to enjoy the sun while I was waiting for Maddin to wake up.


(photo: maddin)

We refilled our camelbags with the last water and got going. It seemed we had in fact left the 'bad dunes' behind. The road got better and even showed first signs of civilization.



Then it got sandy again. It was mostly hard packed sand, but the tracks themselves and some smaller patches were filled with fesh-fesh, sand so fine that the wheels sink like in water. We usually stayed beside the tracks and circled around these patches when we saw them. But it didn't tool long and I saw Maddin again disappearing in a cloud of dust, right in front of me.
This time he had been faster and landed hard. So hard that this time I first got of my bike and asked if he was ok. Only then I took the photo.



It turned out that he had torn his knee, injuring the ligaments. He was in pain and could barely walk.
No damage whatsoever to the bike was good news. And once he was back on the bike he could also ride it. All was fine, as long as he didn't had to stand on the pegs or jump off the bike.

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

We continued, determined to rest at the next cafe and have breakfast. We had already passed a few places, some of them abandoned, some inhabited.



After breakfast and the obligatory Thé à la Menthe we were back on the road which turned into another smooth plain to speed up to triple digits.



There was a little shock for Maddin when we saw more dunes ahead. Not being able to walk properly or use his feet standing on the bike, there was no way he would make it across dunes.
With that in mind I was about to leave the track to see if there was a way around them, when I saw that they had created a paved road throught the sand using rocks.



From here it was all easy and fast going.




(photo: maddin)

Our first stop in Zagora was the famous '52 jours' sign. Zagora had once been the start of a camel carawane route to Timbuktu (or Tombouctou), and the picture is supposed to originate in those times. There is a text explaining it, also mentioning that the sign was no longer at it's original location, but had been moved at some time. It says nothing about the fact, that older photos of the sign show the arrow pointing in the other direction ...



We played a bit with the sign and our cameras. I thought it might be fun sending a photo back to my boss, explaining that I wouldn't come back to work anytime soon ...

Of course, someone on a moped showed up and explained to us that we absolutely had to follow him to his famous dakar garage. He gave us some stickers and wanted to have a photo of the bikes for their wall. We agreed, mostly because we thought they could point us to a nice and cheap hotel.
So we had our photo taken and were pointed to a hotel across the street. We started with another Thé à la Menthe in their beautiful backyard and asked to see the rooms.
Maddin was still in pain from his knee, so we wanted a nice place for a restday or two. In the end, we left and went to the largest hotel we could find in town. Time for some luxury.


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