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Old 10-24-2013, 03:55 AM   #76
garnaro OP
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Originally Posted by thecanoeguy View Post
just wondering did you have the new red flag on when you were ass reamed

nope. but I do now
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Old 10-24-2013, 06:45 AM   #77
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In Granada, I’d met up with a British rider named Jonathan who accompanied me to Algeciras where we boarded the ferry to cross the strait of Gibraltar for our first steps onto African soil that night. Jonathan is riding the most kitted out overland bike I've ever seen: a brand new KTM 690 Super Enduro with a full fairing, 3 auxiliary tanks, custom made stainless steel crash bars and back rack, bash plate that holds a plastic tank with a spare 2 liters of oil, custom made gps and Go-Pro camera mounts and plenty of other fancy bits. He made most of the custom stuff himself, making it a one-of a kind bike. The thing literally looks like you could run the Dakar Rally on it. And win. The KTM generates 66 horsepower and weighs less than my DR650 which supposedly makes 43 horsepower measured at the crank. The price for all of this performance is the added complexity of a highly tuned engine, fuel pump, fuel injection system, and liquid cooling system, all of which are potential failure points on a long journey. However, with all of those extra horses, he flogs me at any race away from an intersection or up a twisty grade.



Arrival in Tangier took some time, as there were things to do and forms to fill out that no one actually tells you about, but can cause problems and you progress through the arrival and customs proceedures. By the time we started moving, the sun was setting but we were excited to be finally in Africa and keen to make some miles south. Since we knew that we’d need to be in Rabat as early as possible in the morning to get to the Mauritanian embassy to procure our visas, and with no better options in mind, we just kept riding well after night fell.


Upon entering Rabat, we were reminded that we’d landed on a different continent where the rules of the road were substantially different or absent entirely. On an uphill curve we were surprised by an explosion of sparks coming down the other side of the roadway as a small motorbike that had lost traction was now careening down the road horizontally with the rider close behind looking like he was doing a backstroke to catch up with the bike. Fair warning. We put our game faces on.

The next morning we managed to get our Mauritanian visas without much trouble other than our pathetic attempts to translate the forms which were only in French and Arabic. Navigating the city streets became more natural after a couple of days. Its as if the city traffic is a living organism to which we are foreign bodies. Our job is to find our niche in this system, to learn to flow towards path of least resistance without reacting to dangerous things constantly happening around us. While it takes time to see, there is some kindness in all of this chaos, with people doing lots of things that seem very rude in a very polite way. While motorists' apparent degree of faith in the will of Allah is unnerving for a western rider, it gets easier easier when you realize that while Moroccan drivers don’t seem to mind a close calls all the time, no one wants anyone to get hurt. After all, we were surrounded by all walks of Moroccans deftly navigating the same tumultuous scene on mopeds in sandals with no helmets. The preferred approach for the family of thee on a single moped seemed to be to wedge the kid facing backwards between the two parents with little breathing opportunity for the munchkin leaving little arms and legs protruding from either side of a loving mom and dad moped sandwich.





At the Mauritanian embassy we met another British rider, Will, who like Jonathan and I intended to ride the entire west coast down to Cape Town. He was at the opposite end of the performance spectrum from Jonathan, riding a Suzuki 125cc with old canvas army bags as panniers. He was severely underpowered when fully loaded which necessitated staying off any motorways while in Europe. Amongst our company of riders, we represented the range of performance and technology for overland bikes with my DR650 falling in between their two extremes.



The three of us pitched a camp at the beachfront north of Casablanca for a few days talking about gear and chatting with other overland travelers moving this way and that. The dining room consisted of a stack of our spare tires with my surfboard laid across the top as a table.



Some of he travelers we met piloted these big Mercedes Unimog trucks that looked like fully self-contained desert battle cruisers. The consensus amongst the Unimog folks seemed to be that I wasn’t taking this crossing the Sahara business seriously enough. They would exclaim, “For God's sake, you’ve got a bloody surfboard attached to your bike!”. I usually just asked where theirs was. Of all things, to be caught in the middle of the Sahara Desert without your surfboard!






There were some mapped surf spots just near our camp and I set out to have a sniff of what was in the water. Though the blue water and rocky headlands looked inviting, these are early days for the surf season here and there just wasn’t much swell moving through.




Jonathan, having nearly already burned through a rear tire, collected a new set in Casablanca that had been transported down by other travelers in a Land Rover from Europe. With his already overloaded bike and the new set of tires strapped to the top, the load now nearly overpowered his side stand so that he would have to park his bike ever so gingerly whenever we stopped to keep it upright.



Jonathan and I rode south to Marrakech to collect his Carnet du Passage en Duane (temporary import document for the bike) and meet up with some other riders who had been there for some time already dealing with some debacle in receiving the documents. We stayed in the heart of the walled center portion of the city called the Medina, navigating the labyrinth of narrow streets. We visited the Souk, the local daily marketplace, to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the place. The Souk is filled with people bustling about their daily business, hawking wares or food, haggling, arguing, or shepherding their families along through it all. In the Medina, you feel the soul and light of the place in the very corridors through which you walk.










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Old 10-24-2013, 08:57 AM   #78
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Having spent time in similar locations on another continent, I can only image the odors - not entirely pleasant but again, not entirely unpleasant either.
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Old 10-24-2013, 10:08 AM   #79
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In.

I've been aiming to ride down the coast of Morocco to Dakhla in Western Sahara for some time now. Dakhla is a very popular destination with Kite Surfers so I think you should be in for some fun there (also very good eating to be had, so I've been told by someone who's recently come back from a kite surfing holiday there).

Mention of a Land Rover and then a pic of a Yam XT660Z makes me wonder if you haven't bumped into: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=841901 They should be in Morocco about now for more fun and games.

Maybe I'll get there next winter. In the mean time I'm looking forward to your RR while I relax in front of the pc.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:04 AM   #80
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nice, like the plan !!
I'm in !!
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Old 10-26-2013, 02:47 AM   #81
garnaro OP
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Thanks again for the support guys!

I haven't run into that other group of riders, but then again I'm posted up surfing in Safi for the moment and it seems that hardly any tourists come here - just an industrial city with a massive port (with an epic wave on one side )
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Old 10-26-2013, 02:54 AM   #82
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Atlas Red



My newly acquired riding partner, Jonathan, was talking to a stately looking man that had flagged us down on a dusty moonlit mountain road and I was still sitting on my bike and beginning to get annoyed. Since model forecasts showed no substantial swell arriving until the following week, I’d delayed my departure to the coastal city of Safi in favor of a mountain and desert excursion deep into the interior of Morocco. My poor attitude at this juncture didn't make a lot of sense, since it was dark, we were tired, hungry, and hadn’t seen any suitable place to camp or take shelter for hours and this man it seemed may be able to put us up for the night in his guest room.

Our journey from Marrakech began with a stop in the foothills at the village of Ouzoud where we found a majestic looking waterfall. Ouzoud was filled with lots of mostly Moroccan tourists striking the same pose and taking the same photo in front of the waterfall. The very existence of a waterfall seems to create a tourist vortex causing a feeling of urgent need to show up and stare at the thing. Since we’re tourists, we went and stared at it. It was very nice. It looked as though there should be magical fairies of some kind flitting about in the mist above the torrent. We took the same photo that everyone else did.




We rode southward from Ouzoud higher towards the peaks of the Atlas range that loomed hazy in the distance. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert. They were created as the land masses of Europe and Africa collided at the southern end of the Iberian peninsula, pushing peaks up 13 thousand feet into the air. Our path had us traversing a high pass and then descending towards the Sahara desert on the other side to the town of Ouarzazate. I'm very happy that I can now correctly spell and pronounce the name of that town since my first attempts were not very useful. Learning words in Arabic makes me feel like I'm in the novel 'Dune', which I know is really stupid. Not the novel. The novel is fantastic. Red rock faces and soils dominated the landscapes that we rode through.




As the sun sunk behind the mountain tops and our altitude increased, the air temperature dropped nearly as quickly and the road quality. We dodged massive pot holes, wash-outs, rock falls and wayward sheep as night fell. Truth be told, I have trouble to tell the difference between a wayward sheep and one that knows exactly where it's going. We passed small villages with soccer games happening in the road which they stopped for us to pass and I smacked a couple of high fives to the kids as we rode through goal on the far side of the road. There were a few jeers from some of the kids as we robbed them of a few last moments of game time before it became too dark to play. In every mountain village kids would give us a cheer for as we passed as if we were in the middle of a massive rally race of some kind. I pretended that was true. I think it made me keep waving at adults that had no intention of waving back at me. Their confused expressions as they hesitantly raised their hands out of politeness indicated they must have been thinking "What hell does that guy think, he's some enduro race star that everyone wants to wave to?"




Jonathan had negotiated a fair price for us with the man who had flagged us down in the street for a night stay and dinner at the guest room in his home. We drank Moroccan tea and his wife made us an excellent vegetable targine for dinner. Their simple home had a warm feeling within its walls.




My cause for annoyance at our initial stop proved to be immaterial, as there was a secure place to park our bikes right next to where we slept, provided we were able to ride them up the steep dirt slope, up a few steps and through the narrow doorway. We both managed it, though not without a bit of difficulty. Our sleeping quarters were richly layered with blankets and pillows of vibrant traditional Moroccan design.



The next morning we awoke to rooster crowing and our host bustling about in the main house who was quick to bring us morning tea and bread with honey as soon as we began to stir. We were very thankful for the hospitality that we'd found in this simple dwelling simply by chance riding along a dark road in the mountains. We had no idea of the day of riding and scenery we were in store for as we motored away that morning. The narrow band of asphalt that traversed the mountain pass seemed to wind back and forth unendingly, with the road narrowing where gravity worked to smooth the man-made gradient back to a more natural, unorganized state. From time to time the asphalt disappeared entirely, reclaimed by soil and rock falling from the upslope side. Though our throttle hands grew heavy on some of the twisty racetrack sections, our progress was slow as we could hardly ride a few kilometers without stopping to admire the landscape or the villages below us. The square mud and hay buildings flanked by cultivated terraces took on the appearance of delicately constructed models of some kind. The red peaks held our gazes spellbound one turn after another. At each village we slowed so as not to disturb local villagers going about their business in the road.










On a slow rocky section, I dumped my bike over and broke one of welds of my surfboard rack. So, I hadn’t actually gone surfing yet, but I had managed to break my surfboard rack. Which I need to carry my surfboard as I ride around in the Atlas Mountains towards the desert. This was starting to feel a little bit ridiculous. At least it makes a really nice camp table.








At least I wasn’t the only one with a sleepy motorcycle..



We woke our bikes up from their naps and headed for lower ground.
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Old 10-26-2013, 05:42 PM   #83
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Old 10-26-2013, 07:25 PM   #84
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Man Fuck those alloy racks off and get someone to make you some steel ones. I have snapped mine three times already. But an yahoo can weld steel back together. Hope the board is all right.
Love reading your report. So Stoked for you.
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Old 10-26-2013, 07:59 PM   #85
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Broke the rack? What about the board?
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Old 10-27-2013, 11:45 AM   #86
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Awesome! So in....
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Old 10-27-2013, 12:55 PM   #87
garnaro OP
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Man Fuck those alloy racks off and get someone to make you some steel ones. I have snapped mine three times already. But an yahoo can weld steel back together. Hope the board is all right.
Love reading your report. So Stoked for you.

Thanks buddy! Three times already! I'm just going to start falling on my right side instead..

Fortunately no board damage... yeah - aluminum is not really what you want out here. there is a guy here in Safi who can weld it tho - so I'll go see him tomorrow. Worst case I just use the design to get it fabbed up from steel somewhere...

We've got a big swell due in tomorrow !
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Old 10-27-2013, 02:38 PM   #88
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Fuck yeah dude. Plenty of people ride scooters around the world nowadays, but how many do it with a surfboard? I dont even surf and that sounds kickass.

Great pictures, great writing, and its awesome you are doing shit your way instead of what UNIMOG drivers think you should do (even if their ribbing is in jest).

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Old 10-28-2013, 06:08 AM   #89
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Laugh yewwwww!

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Thanks buddy! Three times already! I'm just going to start falling on my right side instead..

Fortunately no board damage... yeah - aluminum is not really what you want out here. there is a guy here in Safi who can weld it tho - so I'll go see him tomorrow. Worst case I just use the design to get it fabbed up from steel somewhere...

We've got a big swell due in tomorrow !
Can't wait to see lineup's pics of this break! Catch a few for us!!!
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Old 10-28-2013, 09:04 AM   #90
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Even Spicolli never dreamed of this.....

Jeff Spicoli: "This is U.S. History, I see the globe right there."



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