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Thread: MA For Morocco: Apr to May 2012.

  1. #49
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    Day 8 29/04/2012: Qu'est-ce qui est Zagora s'il vous plait?

    Quote Originally Posted by SkyGod View Post
    Your`e doing a great job with this report Paul, can we have a few more references of how awesome I am though please

    (Plenty of enquiries for our October trip this year,,,,ta)
    You're my hero and were very brave when going commando in the hamman with Matt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lo-IQ View Post
    can I come along? in my truck? as I don't have a motorcycle anymore....

    ...will do, I've got few ideas and just need to outline the rough list of shots and what kit I need to take.

    regs

    Lo
    What's this? Pre-production planning?

    So this is Africa; hot, sunny and only shorts and vest are required in your kit bag. Wrong! Ali Baba (MrIFan) clarified the nature of the place with a succinct explaination of the variations in temparature to be found in Morocco: "It's a cold country with a hot sun". How true this was found to be once we had had our breakfast, cleared the rooms, and were ready to mount the bikes for a promise of some challenging riding today. It was nice and warm in the early morning sun as it always seems to be when in the hotel car park but, if I had payed attention the night before when on the roof I would have seen that there were more mountains to get over for the exit from Taliouine...


    If it's that way we are going it'll be alright as it is now. And another thing. I don't remember seeing that pool last evening!


    Or is it this way?

    Once our wheels were rollin' at 08:00hrs there was diiferent aspect to Taliouine at that time of day and being much quieter than our arrival last night we were out of town pretty quickly and heading for the mountains: Time for another Vertigo Pill. The road going up was easy to see at first and if you looked ahead far enough it was possible to see where the corners are snaking up the the mountains side. As well as being guided by the riders in front there were also slow moving trucks to follow carrying what looked like hardcore to be used on building projects but, they can slow down your progress while waiting for a sfae place to overtake.
    The further we went the colder it became and riding into the low clouds just made things worse. Those with heated grips were about okay but even the benefit of a slightly warm palms and finger tips wouldn't have helped with the wind on your chest. It became genuinely cold up there and was distracting me from my riding when I should have been trying to enjoy the series of hairpin bends which were taking us to the top of the mountains.
    Thankfully, after an hour or so, we started to go down hill and we had found the sun again. My hands had gone numb over the top and I was still suffering on the way down until I could start to relax my body from the damp cloudy chill and stand on the pegs occasionally to stretch and move my arms over the bars. We could see where we were going from the descending mountain roads and it looked a very inviting plateau bathed in sunshine however, there was short delay again when someone disappeared off the radar: Bill and Grez were no longer behind us and after Gary & Steve went back it turned out that someone had had a lie down with his bike on some gravel but was okay (IIRC it was Grez but might be wrong ).

    Once onto the plateau, or plain (it's difficult to tell sometimes) it was time for a 5 break because it was now hot and time to remove a layer, smoke a cigar and start taking on water. It was here that everyone started to realise that we had left the cool mountain ranges behind, although not strictly true, and began to think about finding our way to the arid landscapes we were imagining for the ride to Zagora.


    There's somthing going on with Grez's bike again here but I don't know what so...


    ...I have a sit down in the sun before being told we're on our way again.

    It was less than ten minutes on the road before the Awesome Skygod rides onto the verges, takes a moment to focus his bionic eye, and heads off across the plain to guide us to this family of camels...


    Although oblivious to our presense at first...


    ...we soon gained their attention for the few moments it took them to check us out. It is clear though that the calf is a bit nervous and hopefully Dad will remains calm...


    ...while Mum feeds.



    Now it's time to leave them safe and alone, NOT!


    Why don't you roost them as well?

    It was really nice to see the wild camels getting on with their lives away from the tourists and the camel train but it's a hard life for them, and contrary to popular belief they do need to eat and drink frequently and cannot go for weeks on end in the desert sun without any sustinance.

    By elevenses, or Camelbak water, we have done road, overland, road and overland again. Aound here you can look at a map or GPS and just cut off the corners by taking a heading and ride across the land in front. This place is an offroaders playground and even though we come across the odd hamlet nobody seems to be concerned, although the children do chase after you from their homes when they see or hear you coming.


    Grez usually brings up the rear...


    ...but not this time because Steve lays his bike down in the sand for a moment.

    By now we're immune to falling motorcycles and crack on regardless and all are lapping up the riding. I have no idea, again, where these places are but they are somewhere on the way to Zagora.








    You see. No trail, track or piste. Just ride on...

    Eventually we had to get back on the road and make some progress because even thought it's good to be enjoying yourself we do have places to be later
    in the day. We arrive at a junction and stop for a break just as a Dust Devil comes our way...






    The Dust Devil came straight for us and was on its way after peppering us with grit and sand.

    Heading through a village we stopped to check the GPS to ensure the turn we found was the correct one and were immediately mobbed by a small gang of friendly young lads. They were pointing to our jackets and seemed to be interested in the contents of our pockets. The words they used most sounded like "boom boom" and we wondered if they thought we were armed. I opened a pocket and showed them my camera, which they knew but, they puzzled by the 6" square white cloth I was carrying. It was only when I demonstrated blowing my nose into it that they understood what it was for and they didn't want anything to do with that.


    Skygod is forced into a deal for some magic beans.




    Tell me what you want!


    Look at their interest when I go for the zip to open a pocket...


    What's up Bill? Have they nicked your gloves?

    A bit further down the road its time for lunch and the best pomme frites we had all trip to go with our brochettes.



    Unfortunately we didn't have Grez with us here because he decided to do some road riding behind MrIFan because he had hurt his lower back during the mornings' overlanding. This means he will miss out on the remainder of the day but it's better that he remains in one piece that to risk a permanent injury and possibly have to go home early.

    Now that the survivors have had their energy replaced with a a decent scran we better get ready to go and find some more fun before finding a route to Zagora and to meet up with Ian and Grez...




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    The bike laying up against the sign post was because the side stand (KTM side stands are made of cheese) broke when the front wheel was out for the puncture repair. I remember saying " hold the bike so it doesn't fall over" followed closely by a crashing sound as it fell over. I didn't fall off on the gravel on the road, though after we saw the camels I did drop off a big rock directly into a hole with straight legs (I do know better) and damaged my lower back where I have a crushed disc - hence the road ride so I didn't need the ambulance one.

    Those who have a keen eye will see me at the back all the time, I rode there to help pick up any crashers, honestly, wasn't because everybody else was faster, better, more skilled off road than me (my excuse and I am sticking to it). For those who have never seen me ride off road - a finer example of man and machine in perfect dis-harmony you will never see.

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    Day 8 29/04/2012 Continued: Come On Mate! Which Way Is Zagora?

    Nicely done Grez. One step to the left and you avoided the bullet. I'm just reporting the facts as I remember them and everybody's bike was on it's side more than once: In fact some of those bikes had both wheels fitted and weren't even moving... I hope you're mending well.

    The trouble with a good lunch is that sometimes you don't feel like getting back onto the bike but would rather hang around for another hour and a snooze but, we have been promised some sand dunes to play in.

    It was a short ride back through the town (Foum Zguid rings a bell as the place [especially now that I have my map]) and we're looking for a turn to take us away from the roads and looking for pistes and trails to take us all the way to Zagora. Skygod found a turn but was stopped by a copper emerging from his Police Box. I was right behind and there was an attempted conversation about turning off the helmet cam and after a few seconds of trying to convince him it wasn't turned on the copper had had enough and waved us on.
    There appeared to be some sort of industry going on around here but why he was protective of that we may never know because it didn't look too special; maybe they had found gold?

    It was only a matter of minutes before we were looking for the piste to take us towards the sand dunes we had been promised. The GPS must have had a waypoint loaded and we were informed "They're supposed to be over there. Let's go!" and it was time for some more overlanding by faithfully following the arrow on the handlebar mounted display. Soon we found a village and sand, so it's looking promising and we stopped for a minute to gather ourselves. There is a walled sandy track which runs along one side of the village, and we're going to take it on, but there is still a bit of uncertainty that this is the right way to go. Nevertheless we go on and immediately it's difficult and there's stopping and starting as the sand gets softer or deeper but remarkably I get to the front: Now, I've had a go in sand on my GSA (failing miserably) at last years' Boxer Beet but had taken on-board the advice given to me then by the more experience riders and now I could try it out properly on a lighter bike.
    I simply stood up on the pegs, leaned back and opened the throttles and allowed the bike to wander and drift until it looked like I was going to hit the walls. Even though I managed quite well for a while I only had one momentary rest when the TTR got out of hand and I had to lean the bike on a sand bank. Otherwise it was bloody good fun to ride fast and hard without much risk of hitting something hard and even rode across a three foot berm which spanned the whole track which looked liked a barrier made by the villagers. By now I was oblivious to everyone else and rode on for a few minutes and only when the land opened up did I have a look behind and saw that I was now alone.
    I turned around, enjoyed my self again, parked the bike upright in the sand, and was promptly told off for forgetting the rule about stopping at junctions to wait for the following riders. We were supposed to heading in another direction...

    We're back on the piste and should soon be close to finding the dunes but they cannot be seen and we are stopping occassionally to scan the horizon across the plain and are looking for anything obvious...


    It's all stone here and we're out of luck.

    Well, we must carry on because it's hot, mid-afternoon and most of us only started the day with 3L of water on our backs but the search goes on as we move in the general direction of Zagora. Skygod takes us back on the road and is determined to find somewhere to play because this will be our only chance to find some sand dunes whilst near the edges of the desert before we start heading north again after Zagora. Thankfully his Action Man eagle eyes spotted something in the distance and after a brief stop to verify his thoughts with us it was more overlanding again, and past another random hamlet in the middle of nowhere, to check out target. Our engines took the local children away from whatever they were doing again but we ignored them and rode on...


    That's not it; that's where we stopped to discuss our strategy.

    Bill was the only one to bother to get his camera out and record the face of our conquest...


    Actually, that's a used dune and admittidly it's not that big but it's ours for while.

    The plan was to go and have a look and see what's over the other side (that's where the footprints above come from. [The wheel tracks are post play time].) so Skygod and No Fromage yomp to the top. Steve, Bill and I are watching this and I decide that I'm not walking up there in this heat whilst wearing this kit so I put on my helmet and gloves and decide to go for it...


    Matt, being alert, had his camera out...


    ...for my unannounced run.

    I had the intention of running the bike along the crest of the dune and then to work out whether to come back down or carry on but I probably backed off and the front wheel buried itself...




    Just step off it like it's a minimoto.

    I suppose I had better move my bike but it's not's as easy as you might think until you get the weight off the bike and find a Geezer to give you a push...


    Doing this doesn't work.


    Matt works hard behind me...


    ...spreads his legs at the right time...



    ...and I get some movement...


    ...and leave him with a smile on his face. Thanks for your help.

    Who's next? Steve or Bill. I think it was Steve who rode up and over around and back out again...



    ...or was it Bill and this is Steve on his second run in the background?


    You should pick that up Lads!

    Next up was Gaz and straight over and into the middle of the dunes were he found a hard surface to turn around, and then buries the HP2 upto its mudguard in the soft sand...


    The easy path.


    Stop there, about turn...


    ...and bury it!

    Matt then follows us in and finds the sweet spot to park his bike and I have another go to come and join them.


    Sorry, but I wasn't quick enough.



    Now we have to dig the HP2 out of the sand...



    ...and then we three get another chance to stand by our bikes and record another accomplishment for our old age...


    No Fromage making the best of his three week license.


    Awesome Gaz.


    Awesome Yamaha TT600RE: What an excellent piece of kit.

    With no time to lose we have to get a move on because it's late afternoon and we still have to get to Zagora but, being last out of the dunes I get lost in the vegetable gardens of the nearby hamlet and hold everyone up. It wasn't the few minutes of delay which I remember most about this episode but the grief and begging I received whilst trying to find my way out of the gardens, and even though I didn't cause any damage I still feel guilty about not stopping and handing over a few dibdabs.

    There is a plan to ride a piste all the way to Zagora which should be only a short distance from wherever our current location is. It isn't long before we pull off the road, onto a track, and get back fullfilling the offroading pursuits we had been promised, and did we get what we'd asked for!
    Initially everything seemed to be normal but after short while it became very apparent that this was not piste, trail or track but another gnarly session of overlanding across the plain and presumably following the arrow on the GPS. It went on for ages across sand, rocks, gullies and scrub. We were stopping occasionally for a look around but again, we had dug a hole and we were in too deep to turn around and it was deemed to go on and make the most of our fuel supplies. At the time it was hard work but nevertheless bloody good fun and it included the first time I got air on the TTR. The gulley's were deep and sometimes had rock in the them and, if you didn't hit them hard there was more chance of bottling it and twisting a slow turning wheel for a certain appointment with the medic's kit. We could do with a break and saw what looked like a graded piste which should or could take us back on track, get some mileage done and get us out of this heat. That piste lastest about three minutes and in less time than it takes me to smoke a cigar we were back to riding over sand, rock and gullies. We were getting tired and a couple of bikes of had rest on the their crash bars (not mine ) but at one point Gaz, Bill and I had stopped at the front an it was nearly four bikes at once on the deck. Steve had blatted his way over a gulley but had misjudged his braking point (he admitted afterwards) and just managed to ride the gap between Bill and Gary (I was at the back immediately being Gary ) and dumped his bike right in front of us: It was a lucky escape for all. (There's a video of this which I will post soon, when I get it!) It would appear that where we had parked was perhaps too close to the previous obstacle because Matt dropped his bike as well, but behind us all because I seem to remember having to help pick it up again: When will it end?

    We rode on, and on, and on, until the Great Leader saw an opportunity to gain some local knowledge in the form of a provincial employee. Skygod had ridden off to the right into a clearing and was parked next to somebdy. He called us over to join him and found the Geezer to be a road builder. He had two pieces of piste grading kit and a tent which contained a 100cc Yamaha next to his bunk for tooing and frowing to his family's home. He was a nice man and one we'd sorted our language differences out, he showed us the way to Zagora.


    The Road Builder: A very helpful man and it was pleasure to have met him. He may well have bulit the road we were soon to be riding on. Perhaps we'll meet him again, a few kilometers nearer, later this year on the next ABW Tour.

    The Road Builder sent us on our way along the right track and once we had settled in to a graded road we were flying along. We were still on the plain between a pair of mountain ranges, or big hills, on either side and heading to the easterly horizon but also into a sand storm. We could see a brown cloud in the distance blocking out the skyline but we had to face it. Unfortunately my camera's shutter had become jammed at the dunes so I don't have a picture of the storm but I can you that it was like standing under hairdryer (like I'd know ) in a sandblasting cabinet.


    A hot, windy and gritty place...


    Bill contemplates his navel...

    With the shadows getting longer and the need to make good speed away from that place it was a drag race to Zagora along mostly straight graded road. It was possible to get yourself into a wobble or slide but overall it was a simple matter of making dust until the sudden arrival of tarmac and a sign post for Zagora Aeroport. When you arrive here you may be accosted by Zagorian helpers in the form of 4 x 4 driving mechanics looking for a job to repair your bent bike or simply guide you into into town and throw sand into your goggles.

    After about 10hrs on and offroad we've done it and found our way to Zagora, The Gateway to the Desert, as it's described. We arrive at another nice hotel;, and are questioned by MrIFan as to where we've been and park the bike up and go straight to the bar again for a well deserved cold bottle of fizzy stuff (What would I do for a Real Ale now?).





    And later it's time for dinner...





    That was another Man's Day and we are all very proud of ourselves because we have earned another day off tomorrow to do what we want: Shopping, pool or go for a ride...






    A picture from the future: What's changed on this F800GS?

  4. #52
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    Indestructible

    The rider is now officially a double hard bastard !

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    Day 9 30/04/2012: One Day in Zagora...

    That's all, just one day.

    Zagora is a good place to be given a surprise day off. It was a surprise because we had had a day off in Tafraout only a few days ago, to play about at The Blue Rocks, but this day of R&R so soon after our last didn't immediately present itself as a necessity. Nevertheless it was readily accepted under the proviso that we understood that it was our last day off and from tomorrow it would to be motorcycle riding all the way back to Spain. Zagora was warm over night so it was another early rise in the morning so the windows were left open, which led to an insect bite on my face (it was difficult to see the disfigurement in my case but I felt it ), and the dawn chorus provided a natural alarm clock...


    SOD OFF!


    Bill's view from his room...on his own!

    After a dhobi for myself and some clothes it was time for another bread, fruit and jam breakfast. There is also olives, maybe boiled eggs, and cereals but the milk is very cheesy and quite repulsive if you normally go for the semi-skimmed at home. Sometimes there is a heavy pancake of sorts which can fill your belly well but it's a challenge to work out what to have with that to add some flavour: Streaky bacon would be my guess but that's not going to happen here.
    So what to do? There's the town to investigate, the pool (in shade at the moment) to hang around, go shopping for souveniers, come on Skygod's exploratory ride for some piste and trails, or have a look at your bike and check it out.

    After some faffing around it became clear that Grez decided on bed before having a repair to his side stand, Bill & Steve went for a ride into town to have Bill's oil changed, Ian went to check something out , Gary and Matt where going for an adventure ride and I got left on my own for and hour or so by getting left out of the arrangements; probably smoking cigars. So it's time for a walk to see if I can find my mates and find out what's happening in town but I go the wrong way. What I found was several local dudes trying to sell me tat and a convoy of of Frenchmen on a tour in a wide variety of four wheelers ranging from 4x4's to 1960's Renaults covered in dust. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera for this, apologies, so I turned around and took a hot fifteen minute walk in the right direction before I saw MrIFan driving towards me: I waved him down and greatfully accepted a lift back to the servicing station to see what was going on...


    At last. I've found some friends.


    Grez and Bill's KTMs getting the works.


    I never thought I'd be seeing this...

    There's allsorts going on here; bikes, cars, spares, and they seem to be able to manage any problem to keep you on the road. The place is Mohamed Gordito's, it's very popular and they have stickers. They looked after three of us between this morning and the next.

    In the mean time Steve, Bill, Grez, Ian and I have a look around before returning to the hotel.


    In the background is the vast palmery which flanks Zagora in the Valley of the Draa (the Draa is a very, very long river which runs to the Atlantic and is sourced from the nearby Jbel Sarhro mountains. That info is taken from my map and by no means any acrued knowledge of where I've been.

    Having had our little tourist trip it's back to the hotel to check some air filters on the KTMs and I decide to have a look an the oil sight glass on my bike.


    The KTMs get a thorough air filter clean, dry, oil, dry again and I dribble a bit of 10W40 into my engine oil reservoir.

    We're enjoying the sun and camaraderie when working on our bikes but we get a call from Gaz which casts a cloud over the scene: Matt has had a bad crash, he's okay but the bike is battered and we're coming back now.
    They're not far away but the wait for them seems to be eternal until we hear the familiar sound of the open pipe of Gaz's HP2. It's a relief to see them both come through the gates in one piece, even though another group of ignorant frenchmen wouldn't observe European traffic courtesy at the junction, and hear what they have to say.
    Matt's bikes is mullered and has taken alot of mechanical and cosmetic damge: The left hand engine bar is almost touching the tank, the front wheel is severely dented, the wind screen is missing and there are a few scratches on the left hand side of the bike. This bike, which was well looked after by Kendo only a month earlier (only dropped once), was now showing a few battle scars from eight days of riding in Morroco, a load of inexperience and a lot a bravery to keeping pushing on when the going gets tough.

    This is going to need a coat of looking at...


    The Twalcom crash bars from AdventureBike Warehouse did their job...


    Hmmm. Must 'ave been an abrupt stop.

    Never mind. He's off to Mohamed's for a repair job, with Ian in the Land Cruiser, and a wait in town for us to meet up for lunch and shopping...


    The remainder go on their bikes. Obviously!

    It was another lunch of Chicken brochettes and chips preceded with bread and multicoloured olives. During that meal I met a Geezer wanting a cigar or three for a trade for cigarettes but since I was on my last box I gave him one and left it at that, or so I thought...

    ...A couple of us wanted to try and buy a couple of souveniers whilst we were here and went looking for the cloth of the Moroccan headdress. Mr IFan, with his local knowledge, directed us to a dealer of all things good of what we wanted. We strolled over, had a look around but we were accosted by the cigar man I met a few minutes earlier. He proceded to make the deal. The deal being "it's 35" each.

    "Okay. What colour?" I say.

    He tells me it's white or blue and I tell him I want both so, "How much for two?"

    "35 each" He says: "35 Euro each"

    "Yeah Right!" I tell him and spend the next five minutes telling him to "do one".

    So, to you new visitors to Morroco make sure you check the deal you're doing and in which currency it's being negotiated because there's some real chancer's there. In fact I'm actually looking forward to seeing that Geezer later this year to tell him what a knob he was.

    In the afternoon the remainder of No Formage's bike gets a good going over: The front wheel is rounded, the tyre replaced (although not a TKC), the crash bar realigned and the shards of windscreen removed so, the job's a good 'un and it's back to base for some sun...


    Fix that Mohamed!





    Later on it's back to the bar...



    ...and after a spot of dinner there's a view of the sunset from the hotel's roof...





    We've been told that tomorrow's another Man's Day so we'd better be ready...



    Quote Originally Posted by No Fromage View Post
    The rider is now officially a double hard bastard !
    You're right and bloody well done. I look forward to seeing you on Salisbury Plain when this has gone away...


  6. #54
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    Great report

    Thanks for taking the time to post it, aways good to see a Hp2 in the sand

    Louis

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    Quote Originally Posted by louisdut View Post
    Great report

    Thanks for taking the time to post it, aways good to see a Hp2 in the sand

    Louis
    Wait for the report after Octobers trip, there are already 3 HP2s going and still room for more

  8. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrIFan View Post
    Wait for the report after Octobers trip, there are already 3 HP2s going and still room for more
    That will be 4 Hp2's in Morocco then, I'll be in Morocco on the Hp2 form 28th Sept to 15th Oct

    This will be the fourth time I've taken the Hp2 to Morocco and can't wait to go play in the sand again



    Louis

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    Day 10 01/05/2012: Across The Jbel Sahro.

    Not far to go today. It's only a little over 120Kms to Ait-Youl from Zagora as the crow flies but again, we're not crows and we may as well have a good time while we're at it. We've been promised some piste, a bit of water, another pass to climb over and it's an early start to make sure we have plenty of time to stay out of trouble.

    The day started well on the whole after another bread and olive breakfast but alas it couldn't be perfect because Bill found that his front tyre was flat whilst loading it with his stash of energy biscuits. So off to Mohamid's he goes and comes back happy in a flash, tells us he's ready and it's goodbye to Zagaora.

    As it turned out there was one more task to complete here and it only took a few minutes to get there. There's a popular signpost or to be more precise a mural, pointing the way to Timbuktu and it only takes 52 days by camel...No Thanks.


    We were so popular a coach load of French teenage girls stopped to be photographed...


    The Team...


    ...and another one for Matt's album.

    We had to get away from the crowds and set off past the palmery we'd been to see the day before leaving Zagora behind.
    It was another short road ride to get away but within an hour we were on trails and piste cutting our way across the countryside and working our camelbaks...


    Another random hamlet...


    ...and another random stop...


    ...to discuss our stragery.


    It was an early lunch, and more like elevenses truth be told, but that wasn't a problem for hard working adventurers and we were soon going to lose our support vehicle so it was the right time to stop and check our routes.


    Where's this place?




    It could've been Nekob...


    Once we had all stopped the obvious happend again...


    Foul Mouth.

    We are heading for the Tiz-n-Tazazert which crosses the Sahro Mountains from Nekob to Boumalne dades and I've been told it could be very hard work. Oh Well. Here we go again on another goat trail on the edge of a vertigous cliff face. The fact of it is that there was a lot more fun to be had getting to the "hard work" and when you're riding those narrow tracks on the side of hills or mountains there's no time to be worrying about heights.

    There was a few streams and mud to get through...


    Wash please.

    ...it was still up and down...



    ...and there was the odd, very odd, other tourists to meet...


    That was a very healthy looking cyclist: Her boyfriend pass us a minute earlier but didn't stop like her.

    We can't carry on like that for long because we need to crack on and see what else is ahead of us. It's been easy up to now but we knew it wasn't going to last forever. The trails on the run up to the pass had been described "as easy, less easy, could be difficult, more difficult in places, and once over the top it was tarmac on the way down". Which way would you like go? Easy up or easy down? We were soon going to meet some other GSer's who tried easy up and found the hard way down when crossing our path.

    The images below are stills taken from Rudiemoto's borrowed GoPro. (I'll put some video up soon when I've cut it down to a reasonable run length.)
    The pass is quite narrow in places and not really suitable for four wheelers but, if you had to it could probably be done in something small and light.


    The piste winds up, around, and up and around again...


    It takes some work bouncing on this and ridng uphill...


    ...but there is a chance for a rest occasionally...


    ...and some rest more than others.

    After a while we could see someone else further up and were amazed to find this situation being negotiated. I think this little group were Italians trying to workout how to get out if here.



    There's two women and a Geezer on a loaded R1200GS and further up another 1200 rider who maybe can't find the will to live. I now know that the ride up which they had was not easy two up with all that luggage but were they in for a shock on the way down. We had had a long hard ride to get to here but we reconned they were not going to Nekob for a good few hours and that's if the ladies are brave enough to get back on the bikes...



    They were told how difficult it was going to be and we left them to it (enjoy the walk girls) and passed the second bike having a breather...


    You can't stay there all day.

    If wasn't long for us to get to the top on our bikes and get a rest at the cafe. There are two places near the summit: The first (from our direction) is a souvenier shop from what we could tell, so you have to ride on for another couple of minutes to find the place which will sell you a drink.





    They even have a carpark with a nice view...





    ...and if you're brave you can go and dangle your legs over the edge...





    You wouldn't get me over there! Actually I did go and have a look to test my mettal...


    That's close enough.

    Time for a Coke, a cigar and a sit down with some locals...



    As indicated earlier the road on the other side of the pass was supposed to be good and it would be an easy ride down but that was a lie. There was evidence of tarmac but most of it was gone and probably slipping over the edges of the verges. It was another dusty, rocky and twisty piste which felt like it went up just as much as down and was quite testing at times although not a testing as it would have been on a 1200.

    It wasn't too long before we found our way back onto the roads and set off for our overnight destination in Ait-Youl at a hotel perched on top of a rock. Luckily Mr IFan was there to demonstrate how high up this place is with his camera and take a few arty shots...







    And so to the hotel...



    ..and a nice sit down with a drink...



    It was another long night dining at the hotel but we did meet someone new. There was a Yank, Ed, on a two week tour in a hire car who was very surprised to find that we had brought beer with us to the dinner table. We gave him a few of those and a bit of dinner before sitting up for a couple of hours talking about each othhers travels. There was still time for another ten from you know who...



    ...and another scenic shot from Ian...



    I wish I'd gone to bed earlier because it's another tough day in store tomorrow...




  10. #58
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    Where's this?

    it's opposite here


    Kasbah Oulad Othmane in the Draa valley, about half way between Zagora and Nekob.

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    Day 11 02/05/2012: The Gorge, The Ford and Orange Hill.

    At last the internet is available again: Being surrounded by wet trees is not helping my dongle's ability to pick up a useable signal.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrIFan View Post
    Where's this?

    it's opposite here


    Kasbah Oulad Othmane in the Draa valley, about half way between Zagora and Nekob.
    Thanks Ali, I'll look that up and mark it my map.

    Addendum to Day 10...

    To complete No Fromage's pictorial record the following three pictures were taken yesterday and are the last of his which I can find. They were taken when we stopped for a Five Break on the way down from the Tizi-n-Tazazert at another place where people just appear from the rocks. I say "people" but this local gang are very young and have a lot to learn to make their way in the future in this country of mountains, rock and sand. I presume that some of them will go elsewhere to make their fortunes in other places and the remainder will stay at home to maintain the status quo for those who can eek out an existance around here. Personally, and from a Westerner's point of veiw, this is no place to be raised but their must be something here which keeps the populas alive. What that is I can't see but there are a lot of children looking out for those whom use their roads...


    These young boys appeared from nowhere...


    ...and kept on coming...


    ...until we were all absorbed by their interest in us. The stop here was one of the few opportunties to meet Morrocans who were not demanding the content of our wallets or pockets but they did get a tube of mints from me.

    Early starts are not frequent for this trip but today was around 07:00hrs and sometimes you can feel that when faced with the bread and olive breakfast. I'm sure there was something else on offer, probably cheese or jam, but that's what I recall the most. Scrambled eggs on buttery toast would have been a nice start to the day and now, when thinking back, some of us even turned down our fruit salad desserts last night so it isn't just me who's getting bored with the standard fare. I might even try exporting baked beans to see how they down and then back it up with chedder cheese. At least Bill's up early for a well timed picture of the sunrise behind another mountain...



    Since we're near Boumalne Dades there is only one way to go to get us on our way to this evenings' destination of Midelt and that's to ride the well known Dades Gorge. It's not going to take long to get there but we stop before hand to look at a view and take in some scenery.


    Another stunning layby with a vista to worthing capturing.



    There were other targets in our minds and the brief pause was soon over and we were looking forward to a bit of early morning excersise for ourselves and the bikes riding up the Dades Gorge's twisty climb but a police road block suspended our fun.
    There was a film shoot taking place for a commercial for a new american car (maybe Chrysler) on the Gorge's road and we were behind buses and wagons and were forced to wait for about fifteen minutes before the road was opened. Obviously those at the front were waved through first and we had to follow in line and look for a chance to get past when we could to make the most of the roads' engineering (must have been designed by a biker) but, because the road was closed at both ends there was traffic coming down as well.


    Getting an overtake done can be quite difficult with such close and blind corners.

    Eventually we got to a place where the view is taken in and landed near the film crew who ensured we kept our distance...


    The guy in the middle distance is coming to tell us "No Pictures" without realising he and the crew had ruined our morning.

    Never mind, it's not that good anyway and there are many more twisty mountain roads in Morocco which are just as much fun and have interesting rock as well. Mr IFan still snapped a few de rigueur pictures and they are still worth a look as a reminder of what nature (and man) has created...


    No sunshine on this road at this time...


    Pick a line, any line...


    I'm sure this has had some work done down here if I correctly recall other images of this place which I have seen.


    The water looks good enough to drink.

    Up on the other side there are just as many astounding sights to be seen in this country of wonder. There's a lot of rock in Morocco...













    That's enough sightseeing for now because we have some stuff to do and even though Midelt is not that far away we're not going to take the easy route but are going to search out some piste, some water, some goat trails and we'd better get a move on...




    The occupants of the School Bus like us.

    After a quick ride through the last village we are going to see for a while it's off road again and time to do some more stand-up riding and to see if there's any water in the river we are due to cross. It's not that deep or wide but it's a few seconds of fun, and of course for Matt it is his first time riding across a surface that you can't really see once you get going.



    After the low point of the stream it was up hill again on some narrow piste taking us back into the High Atlas mountains and more places to be on our own again for a while...


    If you get left behind here it's easy to take the wrong trail and I know.


    This is no country for old men to get lost at this altitude...


    Thankfully we found our way...

    Time for lunch. It's only 11:00 o'clock but five hours from our early start and we all could do with a feed. This place was fully of bikes ranging from tourers on GS's, KTMs looking for dirt and us doing both.
    This lunch was a new take on the Berber omelette consisting of baked vegetables with eggs broken over the top and served us all well for the remainder of the day.


    Lunch took ages to arrive...


    ...but gave someone a chance to catch a glimse of more of the local youth.

    Carrying on it was back to approaching the snow line on the mountains again. It wasn't cold on the roads and piste but it was notable that we were up high and the last few signs of the Moroccan of the winter are there to be seen...




    Glad not to be up there.

    The pictures above were taken about six hours after we left our last hotel and we were about to leave Mr IFan to his own route in the support vehicle whilst the riders are going to press on and ride some piste. The last picture of the roads we rode is here...


    Not as easy as it looks. There was a lot of this ruined valley road which had been washed away and had many sections which required caution and a steady throttle.

    ...because everything after that is nothing but resigned to memory.

    The roads we were using to take us to Midelt were awful: Lots of gravel from poorly layed tarmac and very twisty and steep. There was plenty of opportunity to over-do-it on a corner or slab of concrete, and I for one nearly had a fairly quick road crash and had to dab a foot down to save the bike (as if I knew what was happening) on one occasion but, this was slowing us all down and we were actually searching for a trail for the run into town and the day was getting long. After hours of cruelling crappy roads, the odd Five Break, the unusual About Turn (I know: We're not lost!) we found a goat trail for another Man's Test. Unfortanetly there wasn't any time for pictures on this test but it's suffice to say that this was hard work after about nine hours of riding. We named this place Orange hill because of the colour of the rock. Again it was very steep, very narrow and very hard work. Alot of the trail was compact but the uphill sections were nothing more than a meters' width of pea shingle with rocks on one side and rocks on the other and of course one side was a long way down. It was up here where I had my first unannouced crash and felt how hard the rocks are in Morocco for the first time on this trip, and it was also the first time that I lost my sense of humour having had a touch of vertigo and an unceremonious dumping into the hillside.
    After a breather it was back to it and soon we found a graded piste and view of our destination and civilisation and a much needed fuel stop. I was down to my last 1/2 litre when we stopped for fuel and that was the closest I'd been to running out over the whole of the trip so it pays to fill up when you can when you are on a small bike.

    After 11 hours of riding on roads and piste we arrived here for another well deserved rest and with Ali waiting for us (wondering again where we'd been) it was a relief to park the bike tonight...




  12. #60
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    Orange Hill (Honking !)

    Orange hill, uuuuragh i feel nausious just saying it !

  13. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Fromage View Post
    Orange hill, uuuuragh i feel nausious just saying it !
    Quote Originally Posted by No Fromage View Post
    Orange hill, uuuuragh i feel nausious just saying it !
    It was too late in the day and only having the last few dribbles of H2O to draw on in the CamelBak didn't help. It would have been a lot more enjoyable if we were fresher and hadn't worked so hard on the loose roads to get there. I hope the schedule for that day will be revised for the old men next time.

    Will someone please confirm that the slideshows of the river crossing and hotel gate worked because my internet connection is not displaying them here.

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    Man up for man tests !

    Firstly i can confirm the slide show features works Ok.
    And secondly i take great exception to your suggestion of rerouteing the orange hill route day to make it (easier)!.
    I am prepared to admit that the only thing stoping me from having a sense of humour failure on that hill was the fact that you had one first, but having said that i can't wait to do it again and the sooner the better....
    When,s the next trip ???

  15. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by DitchWater View Post
    It was too late in the day and only having the last few dribbles of H2O to draw on in the CamelBak didn't help. It would have been a lot more enjoyable if we were fresher and hadn't worked so hard on the loose roads to get there. I hope the schedule for that day will be revised for the old men next time.
    That was the revised route, Gary decided that as you had all had such an easy day to that point a proper man test was needed

    When,s the next trip ???
    Sep 29th but I thought you couldn't make that one? (couple of places left if you can) The one after that will be next April, starting on the 20th (let us know soon because that one is filling up fast)

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    Day12 03/05/2012: A Day Through The Cedar Forest.


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    Quote Originally Posted by No Fromage View Post
    ...i take great exception to your suggestion of rerouteing the orange hill route day to make it (easier)!.
    I am prepared to admit that the only thing stoping me from having a sense of humour failure on that hill was the fact that you had one first, but having said that i can't wait to do it again and the sooner the better....
    I'm not as fit or healthy as you...


    Quote Originally Posted by MrIFan View Post
    That was the revised route, Gary decided that as you had all had such an easy day to that point a proper man test was needed
    I suppose that's what you get for having a Team Leader from The Reg'.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrIFan View Post
    Sep 29th but I thought you couldn't make that one? (couple of places left if you can) The one after that will be next April, starting on the 20th (let us know soon because that one is filling up fast)
    Don't forget me...

    After carrying it around for a week since Marrakech I finally managed to man up and find a place to apply a Moroccan sticker to my bike for the day we had up the Tizi-n-Tazazert and I thought it was about time I explained how limited my imagination was when choosing the title for this thread...


    The sticker looks like it should be applied to a number plate just like the GB one's we are supposed to use when taking our bikes abroad.

    Anyway, it was a cold start leaving Midelt in the morning with a cold wind coming off the snow capped mountains we could occasionally see on the horizon. It was a road ride for an hour or so and because you're riding in a static position the cold was getting through our gloves and a couple of us on singles had white finger by the time we stopped for the first piste. Even though there wasn't enough time at that stop to shake the blood back into our hands we were about to be riding on the pegs again and get to stretch our arms to release whatever restriction it is which causes that problem. In the meantime MrIFan was on his own route and was already enjoying himself on what I thought was going to be a road day for him.


    Get back to work.

    It wasn't long before he stopped again for another scenic shot of the support vehicle and proof that it's not just the riders who can enjoy themselves here.


    Seeing this now I secretly wish that I could have had an opportunity to ride in there instead of Grez hogging it for himself earlier in the trip.

    So what. At about the same time the bikes have stopped here for a look around...


    We're going over there.

    The going was fair at first on the well packed pistes and even though it wasn't a bright and sunny morning in the High Atlas everyone was at ease and the miles (or kilometers) are flying by and there's always time for a five break...


    Awesome Skygod even takes time to use his mirrors and check his hair.

    The bikes are going well, still fairly clean, and we've got what's in the background to go and explore. There is supposed to be a route and I presume we're on it but to be honest, I have no idea what the tracklog shows for how we spent a day getting from Midelt to Azrou...



    Of course it wasn't going to be that easy all day and once we had been up and down, and round and around a few times, it started to become a bit wetter with a few streams and muddy patches to cross...


    I'll end up taking quite a lot of this country home on this bike.

    Alas I do not have the mornings video which shows how changeable the conditions were, ranging from the compact piste of stone, earthy woodland trails with local tree fellers, streams running off the hillside and patches of mud. There are also ruts, ruts and more ruts. In fact that's probably an over exaggeration but for the time we were in them it was a long hard ride. We had been warned last week by PaulG(BHT) that it was Muddy Hell and what we found wasn't too far off.
    This meant that there was a going to be a few dropped bikes throughout the morning and Bill's KTM was the first and had completely reversed itself by the time I had arrived: Fortunately he didn't damage himself any further and we carried on. It soon became clear where the difficult surfaces are going to be. If it's on a slope up or down it's likely to be dry and if it's flat there's going to be mud, puddles and ruts so, arriving in a valley gives all of those. I wish we'd stopped for pictures, and I knew where we where, but this was a tough section of track to get across which created just as many problems when trying to slow down as it did when trying to ride on.
    I went down here whilst slowing down as I approached Grez's rear wheel (Sorry Mate I'm blaming you...) and Matt went down almost immediately whilst behind me me. There seems to be some sort of motorcylce riding entropy taking place in these conditions where one action always follows another and ripples down the line until all that is left is chaos. We did enjoy ourselves though but we had arrived at the first point in the trip where if your mate dropped his bike and you were too far away, he had to pick it up himself.
    There is some video of this and hopefully Skygod will drop it in here soon.

    Thankfully we got out of there and soon found a place to stop for lunch...



    Not a lot there then! We had purchased a couple of loaves of bread in the morning on the way out of Midelt but, more importantly some had nicked several packeted chocolate cakes and biscuits from the previous hotels buffet breakfast which was a nice change, and to give them credit breakfast was okay this morning. Awesome had also bought a moral boosting bar of chocolate which was sufficient to see us on our way for the rest of the day. There was another chance for a cigar and a swamp break and find some wildlife...


    Don't drink the yellow water Chap...

    The road conditions soon changed for the better once we were away from the more remote areas of the forest although it wasn't a permant shift to tarmac. It's strange looking back to wonder why sections of road surface change from one corner to the next but it's probably done to make life easier when going up or down and on hillsides which get washed away in winter although this does not seem to be a constant practise and what do I know. The following are some stills taken from the video I shot in the afternoon for the run into Azrou...


    Getting turned-on by Skygod.

    ...and we get to do some of this.



    These long trails go on for ages and we are not the only Europeans here...



    ...and whilst following Grez for a while I start to notice the bike's misbehaving...



    ...but fortunately it's just a turn of the fuel tap that is required, and only for the second time throughout the whole of the trip.



    The Boss is informed of my situation and acknowledged accordingly...



    ...so we carry on in and out of the woods.










    At last we arrived here (again, wherever it is?) and it was good to see they had Sans Plomb and a few rock rocks on the pumps...


    Why the rocks? Are they for self defence?


    The bikes could do with another fording session.

    The laws of physics have broken down at this place because Gaz dropped his wallet whilst paying for his fuel...


    ...Truth be told, his wallet nearly hit him on the back of his head as gravity took hold of it and it would have been a very good catch.

    This guy knew what we wanted and even gave the bike a little wiggle to squeeze the last few drops into my small tank...


    Definetly an Elvis fan.

    Once we were done it was back onto another road for a short while and a very abrupt right turn for a trail which nearly caused a collision between Steve and Bill who got quite close togehter for a moment...






    It was good action for the AdventureBike Warehouse video.

    Once back in line it was more of this...



    ..and this...



    ...for another hour until we arrived at our hotel for evening in the middle of the afternoon. It was good to arrive somewhere earlier in the day and it gave us another hour to sit at a table in our riding gear, have a beer and check our kit...

    ...with the bike's looking good...



    ...if a little dirty.



    The hotel may look good in the background but actually the rooms were in a poor state of repair and defintely in need of a coat of paint. It was only one night and how bad could it be? No door to the ablutions and shower but only a ragged shower curtain. At least the water was hot and there was plenty of it. I don't remember the food so it must have been okay and the site was secure. It you're staying in Azrou you probably couldn't do any better for the money, and a hotel with a lively bar.

    All's well now and the hotel garden is a very pleasant place to have a sit down and a drink to discuss the day but one of us has something to say. Do you you rememeber the day when one of us held up the group for quite a while at the border into Morocco on Day 1? Well the mystery is now solved...



    ...No Fromage had actually slipped his bike key into the lining of his jacket and managed to keep it there undetected for almost two weeks with the vents both open and closed throughout. What can you say but...

    And what of MrIFan? Well he'd been here for hours waiting for us but it was only later in the evening whist he and I were heading to another bar that I noticed he had had a good day on his own...


    That's going to need a wash before Skygod's wife get's in there again.

    Well, it almost over. There's another road day tomorrow with a bit of sight seeing on the way...



    ...and another tow for someone...


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