November 2007 novice trip - a 'bird's eye view!


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Feb 4, 2007
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Kent, England
Well, as everyone else has posted their reports I thought I ought to get my act together and get mine up there too. Let me say from the start that I am pretty novice on the road (let alone off road), which meant that I seemed to struggle with some of the harder stuff that the others didn't. Also, I can be a girly about it and have a hissy fit when I get freaked out :thedummy Bill, Mike, Neil and the other guys (including Martin who is used to me as he's lucky enough to be married to me!) on the trip were great and really supportive when my confidence let me down!

We turned up in Marrakech late afternoon on the 15th and were met at the airport by Bill and Mike who took us to the hotel where the bikes were waiting for us. We also met Al and wandered out for a first taste of Morocco. A very nice meal gave me my first taste of pastilla (essentially a chicken filled strudel topped with icing sugar and cinnamon) and tagine (both of which we ultimately ate enough of to be considered connoisseurs!), which were excellent.

On Friday 16th Bill was picking up Anders, so Mike took Al, Martin and me for an easy ride on some graded piste. We continued onto another track that led us through a little village, and here we were greeted by hoards of kids running out to wave and wanting to slap hands as we passed. A lot of the adults also ‘bonjoured’ or ‘salaamed’ as we went by too. Somehow it made the sense of an adventure really start. Maybe it’s because it was the first ride, and also the first experience of Moroccan communities, but this village stays as one of my favourite memories of the holiday. A word to the wise – watch out for small boys wanting to slap hands – one slapped so hard I ended up with a numb arm for 5 minutes (hee hee)!

Here are our bikes on their first bit of off road, and a very bleak view with some sheep!


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Days 2 & 3

Saturday 17th we left Marrakech back through the piste that we had done the day before and then off through the Tizi N Test twisties. We arrived at the Pasha’s Palace hotel in Oulad Berhil, which is a glorious hotel (see Mike’s photos from the last trip and Anders’ account) that you get to through a fairly grotty town that smelt of rotting fish!!!

Sunday 18th we headed towards Tafraout, having fun in the feshfesh on the way. This was absolutely great, and I was soooo proud of my now very dirty bike covered in the fine red dust. Also my clothes had taken on the look of a ‘proper’ adventurer! And to my great pleasure we passed goats in trees, and I was happy to pay a few dirham to their goatherd to take lots of piccies. I know it’s on TV, but seeing it for real was truly something remarkable, and the sense of adventure was enhanced by the lunch of tinned sardines and bread sat at the roadside with my legs dangling over the cliff edge.

Once we arrived at Tafraout I was glad I took my camera to play with at the blue rocks, while Bill and Anders hooned around on their bikes as the next time we went there I was rather distracted from photography!


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Days 4 & 5

Monday 19th we went back to the blue rocks to practice some off road skills before going off to tackle some slightly harder stuff. Started off having fun in the sandy gullies and then decided to follow the boys around the back of a big rock, that then meant negotiating a slightly tricky descent where I made the typical novicy error of touching the front brake (ow!). Over I went, snapped a mirror, broke both indicators, scratched the bike and ended up with some fairly impressive bruises. After the first of what turned out to be a few ‘dummy out the pram’ sessions :thedummy, I got myself together and played around a bit before heading off to the lovely Palmery piste.

The palmery turned out to be one of my personal highlights – it is beautiful. The end of the ride took us out onto a broken road that really felt like the top of the world, with the moon hanging in the sky it was truly awesome. Having had a shaky start to the day, I felt ready for anything by the end of it.

Tuesday 20th we left Tafraout back through the blue rocks and followed a piste that went up and down some fairly broken and twisty track, and then we had a good road ride to Taznakht, passing these amazing ruined forts. As Anders says we stopped for tea in a little village – what he didn’t mention was that it was the most god-awful coffee you can imagine!! The lunchtime tagine was the best of the trip in terms of taste, although Mike’s observations of the lack of cleanliness of the ‘chef’ and waiter might have put me off if he’d mentioned it at the time!!

We rode across these spectacular plains, with long, straight roads. With the excellent visibility I thought it was a pretty good place to try out for the first time how fast my bike would go – that was a hoot – although Bill, Anders and Martin left me standing!


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Day 6 & 7

Forgot to mention the great scenery when leaving Tafrout, so a couple of piccies below.

On the 21st we left Taznakht for the first of the ‘big’ pistes, which was the desert piste from Foums Guid to Zagora. After a good few miles of hamada it turns to stones, and then into the sand. At the time I found the sand really hard going, and I couldn’t get my head around the need to get the power on when the front end starts wandering – hence I came off and got stuck under the bike. Fortunately Neil was just behind in the LandRover and came to the rescue.

Reaching the graded piste that led into Zagora, and then onto the tarmac was a huge sense of achievement. This is a long, hot, tiring ride, but you really get the sense of going somewhere and having an adventure – although as Anders points out the guy on the little moped does somewhat put it in perspective! Arrival in Zagora was a true 'Ice Cold in Alex' moment :beer: At the moment my bike still looks pretty much unscathed - not a situation to last:augie

Thursday 22nd - the boys went off to play in the desert, while I went and did a spot of haggling with Mike and Neil for some Moroccan souvenirs.


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Day 8

On Friday 23rd we set off for the second biggie (which was why I had decided to rest from riding the day before, rather than playing in the desert) – half of the Tenghir loop. This was to prove to be a big day of learning, fears, stress, and to some extent achievement for me. This is a long ride – I think about 40 – 50 miles off road. It started benignly enough riding over tracks up into the mountains. In what seemed like the middle of nowhere we were greeted by young girls waving little ribboned trinkets that they wanted us to buy. However, at this stage the riding was getting trickier and my interest in shopping had waned somewhat!! A long, rocky descent on a twisting mountain track down into an inhabited valley was stressful enough, but dodging the vendors too was almost too much! I don’t think I breathed all the way down, and by the bottom I felt absolutely shattered. However, it had really only just begun!

After clearing the inhabited area we came to some patches of loose, biggish stones. Being tired and a bit tense I caught one of these and it threw the bike into a stone wall. The result was yet more damage to my poor bike – a broken beak and more scratches. However, this really freaked me out and my riding went from bad to worse, so when I was faced with a steep, twisting rocky climb it was snot and tears time again :tears! At this stage the heroes swung into action! Between Bill, Mike and Martin they got me and my bike separately over most of this :bow. Riding pillion with Bill was great fun – bouncing around, but feeling perfectly safe. Then later pillioning with Mike was a true master-class in riding safely and unerringly over any terrain that appeared.

From time to time I got it together to ride, and did at least prove to myself that I could do the technical stuff. However, my brain kept kicking into action and bringing the ‘bogeymen’ :eek: of the drops and tight corners to my attention, making me grind to a halt. I am really and truly grateful for the help through this, and also to Al and Anders who were all encouragement, and if they were getting fed up with me didn’t show it!

Funnily enough I haven't got many pictures of this day that I think are fit for public viewing - stress and cameras don't really mix...


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Days 9 & 10

Saturday 24th, feeling rather a failure after the trials of the day before, I have to say I was quite grateful to see rain and the option of a day playing in the LandRover. The Todra and Dades Gorges were both very spectacular, and the puppy (shown with Al the puppy strangler in his thread!) at the café at the top of the Dades Gorge (where the famous twisty road photo is taken from) was an absolute cutie – and knew it!

Sunday 25th turned out to be a road day, with threatening clouds (although we managed to miss the rain), as we moved from Tenghir to Ouazazate, although we went to Ait Benhaddou (the 3000 year old town that appears in Gladiator) intending to have a bit of a play. However, by the time Martin’s puncture was sorted out we decided to go to the hotel – which led to one of those memorable moments of riding my bike up the steps into the courtyard of the hotel. That evening we fixed some of the damage to my bike – a gaffer tape repair to the beak and some wire twisting and more gaffer tape to get the left heated handgrip working (which had also been a victim of the rock wall).


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Day 11

Monday 26th was the final big piste, which was the pass to Teliouet (not sure of this spelling!), which was the centre of the Moorish empire in the distant past. We had a bit of flat off-roading for my benefit first thing as this was going to be my last real chance before the end of the trip, and I wanted to get my confidence back. I truly enjoyed this, and achieved my goal, scooting along quite happily – even though I dropped it about 300 yards from the road – breaking the second mirror!! As Anders notes, I left my bike at Ait Benhaddou and went pillion with Bill for the day - a wise move I think or I may still be there!!

The route took us through, and above loads of settlements. There is a huge gorge, with what looks like a totally separate world of cultivated land and communities in the bottom of it – many with the very incongruous satellite dishes! In the middle of a particularly gnarly bit of piste I have to say that the standard ‘roadworks’ sign gave me a good chuckle – I don’t think they do irony!


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Last day

Tuesday 27th was the last day’s ride back to Marrakech through the Tizi N Tichka pass. Up into the snowy mountains I was very glad of both working heated grips! We stopped for coffee and the inevitable berber omelette, and ended up in a shop run by a man in a very smelly carpet-type garment who insisted upon hugging and kissing me! I note that I was the only one who had to go through this – the hazard of being the only female :eek:!!

Back in Marrakech, we went out for a final meal. The belly dancers in an almost empty restaurant were rather surreal - but Mike enjoyed the entertainment;)!

Riding back into Marrakech was a real come down, and despite my ups and downs (quite literally!) I was truly sorry it was over. Would I do it again? Yes, undoubtedly, if Bill could face it! Morocco is a beautiful country, with friendly and welcoming people, and a great variety of on and off road riding. Would I recommend it to other people – absolutely – it was a huge challenge and a great adventure, with an excellent team to guide and support. I came back physically tired and mentally relaxed – the perfect way to be! I am a better rider than I was at the start of the trip, and have also taken some great lessons in haggling from Bill – you just have to see him in action!

Martin has just commented that at this point I should be saying 'For sale, BMW 650GS, one careful lady owner'!! No, I'm not giving up - if I like it, I'm going for an 800GS (if it has more low down grunt):D


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Are you sure it was chicken? :)

Yes, it was definately chicken - the waiter made a point that it was made with chicken. In fact all the ones we came accross were described as chicken (and in taste I would say that they were). Bit of a disappointment really as I was looking for one with pigeon as I know it's the authentic way.
Great report Jackie!

And no it didn't feel to me like I was waiting around too much or giving up anything because of your (unfortunate) take on our adventure...

A testament to traveling with Bill I think.

:blast How did I miss this one!

Nice write up Jackie, and I'm really glad you did enjoy it- and yep, you're very welcome to come again- you'll be the experienced one and with what you learnt on this trip, you'll be the one riding up and down the blue rocks next time!!

I've got to pick up a few bits and bobs from Canons tomorrow so I'll be stocking up on Mirror stalk ferrules as well ;)


Excellent write-up. :clap

I think that you are a very gutsy lady. What you achieved on that trip amply demonstrates that.
Funnily enough I haven't got many pictures of this day that I think are fit for public viewing - stress and cameras don't really mix...
The dearth of photo's demonstrates that no-one gave much thought to taking snaps! You most certainly weren't alone in that.

Wait 'till you see the DVD's. You will see a huge difference in your riding towards the end.

(DVD's done, just waiting for some discs and covers to arrive from Amazon).
surpor you !

I surport you!
Life wihout challenger is a waste of oxygen!
I an CHinese !


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