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Morocco Overland: From the Atlas to the Sahara - 4WD, Motorcycle, Van, Mountain Bike

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  #1  
Old 13 Jan 2010
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Barbed wire trap on Midelt piste Morocco- warning

In Late November, we rode the piste from Midelt towards Imilchil, known as the 'Cirque du Jaffar'.

I was leading that day, and about 2/3 of the way along this piste (which is absolutely stunning by the way, fast in sections, technical in one or two and all in lovely scenery :thumb2) we found a barbed wire trap stretched across the piste

There are several sections of fencing along the hillsides here- three strands of Barbed wired, one at knee height, one at waist height and a higher one at chest height...I'm really not sure what they're for, as they wouldn't keep livestock smaller than a donkey out/in.....My guess is that they're just area boundaries.

We were riding at a fair pace, three bikes at about 50 feet apart but staggered so there was 100 feet between the lead and last bike with the other one on the other track.

Suddenly, I saw the barbed wire across the piste, and had one of those split second moments- I it was actually too late to do much, although the thought of binning the bike sideways flashed through my head- the noise of the KTM behind me and the lack of time meant I could do little other than brace myself for impact and that was it, I hit the wire square on travelling at about 25-30 MPH.

I was extremely lucky in two critical ways, or potentially, I'd be in a wooden box right now.....the wire was at a height where it hit the lower half of my mirrors and was forced downwards to be trapped between them and the bars/handguards.

Secondly, although it was wrapped several times around an Argan tree and a substantial post, the wire snapped close to one end, pulling across my handguards and barely touching my gloves (ripped, but no blood drawn)
I came to a fairly rapid stop, closely followed by the other two behind me (we were 5 mins ahead of the other riders at this point)

It took me about 5 minutes to stop swearing, and another 15 to stop my hands/knees from shaking, in which time the others had arrived and we cut the wire off at both ends, bundled it up and disposed of it (after photographing it of course )

This was a trap, pure and simple.....I cannot find any other explanation for it.
It was at a height that was useless for any livestock associated activity (there was only the one wire at the upper level, nothing below) and there were other reasons for it to be there.

This was backed up by us encountering a group of 10-12 young men at the end of this piste, bringing heavily laden donkeys down to the tarmac road....they were initially friendly but also had that air of aggression about them that is very very unusual in Morocco, but that anyone who has been near a group of 17-24 yr old blokes will recognise

These guys stole several items from the backs of the bikes ( one of a pair of gloves tucked into a bungee, an oil bottle ) and were quite unpleasant, so the second we saw the other bikes catch up again, we moved a mile or two further up the mountain.

I believe that they were the ones who had put the wire across- possibly they are fed up with some of the trail riders we find hooning around like twats with no respect for anyone up there, or maybe the Quad bikers who are are even worse , both of whom often scare donkeys and horses very badly (and remember, we're talking about paths that often have sheer or steep drop offs to the sides, so it is a serious matter for them)

It's the first time I've seen a trap on any trail in Morocco, and I've also never heard of another, so please don't think it's anywhere as bad is in the UK, where this sort of thing happens fairly regularly, but also, if you are riding this piste, take great care.....

I'll attach a waypoint to this post, but I'm afraid it's not 100% accurate- I did save the location, but on the Quest rather than the Rino, so by the end of the trip, it had gone....I'd say that the wp is within a few hundred yards of the trap though, and there are several fences that come up to and continue from the sides of the track, so being aware/cautious of it right along that piste is a good idea anyway.





You can see why we were 'making progress'

This is looking back up the track towards Midelt from the other side of the wire.



By the way, the second half of this piste is now all tarmac- all the river crossings are gone and the piste from just down from here where the road from Boume joins is all tarmac to Imilchil, bar a mile of so of graded dirt 7 or 8 miles further on


I don't think this was designed to kill anyone, I'd like to believe it was pissed-off young men being ****ing stupid (pardon my French, writing this has brought it back a bit ) but I do know I was very lucky, and if it had been one of the other bikes, or I didnt have the inmpetus of a 19 stone rider+ kitted bike behind me, I would have almost certainly been off....I don't even want to think what would have happened if it had been two feet higher

We will be riding this piste again, but warning people of the possibility of something like this will be a part of every briefing we do from now on, and please pass this on to anyone you know who may be planning to ride this spectacular piste.

Be careful out there

Bill Oates
Moto-morocco.com
Attached Files
File Type: gdb WIRETRAP.gdb (160 Bytes, 233 views)
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Old 13 Jan 2010
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We come across these all the time in the Spanish Pyrenees, but they alway's have plastic bags tied to them.
That said you still have to keep your eyes open and your speed in check .
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Old 13 Jan 2010
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Back in May 09, we camped 3 miles from that spot and had the only unfriendly encounter in Morocco with locals.

Recorded in my log as

"N32 31.908 W4 59.773 non friendly locals try to steal table, not a good
place to camp" Also noted as a great piste though.
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Old 13 Jan 2010
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I've found nearly all Moroccan people to be super friendly. The only negative experience I've had in 4 trips to Moroc was on the Cirque du Jaffar. Horrid, nasty, thieving sh*ts, IMHO. Rabid dogs too, although one had the pleasure of having his brains rearranged by my left MX boot. Wouldn't surprise me if the barbed wire is deliberate to catch people. There was no barbed wire up there in Easter 2007.

Good luck and be careful.
Chris

PS
If you see anyone with size 11 seal skin socks up there, they were stolen from a moving bike as they ran alongside and unzipped my mate's panniers.
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Old 13 Jan 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris View Post
PS
If you see anyone with size 11 seal skin socks up there, they were stolen from a moving bike as they ran alongside and unzipped my mate's panniers.
I down that way in April...I'm so looking forward to see a Moroccan run alongside my bike when I'm riding off road
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Old 16 Jan 2010
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Hi
I've had the same meet in 2006 south of Azrou in cedar forest, described here Two 400XR in Morocco: 23-10 Fes Midelt 281Km Barbed wire

But I'm note sure that this is a wanted trap, regarding the wood sticks planted in the ground it seems to be an enclosure. The locals are used to walk on foot or on donkey and even with a car they go very slowly, so I think they don't imagine how it can be dangerous.

Eric
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Old 23 Feb 2010
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I rode this route last May with one other and we came across this same wire. I think it's more of a land demarkation than a trap, thoughit did call for some heavy braking!
Dan
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Old 23 Feb 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris View Post
I've found nearly all Moroccan people to be super friendly. The only negative experience I've had in 4 trips to Moroc was on the Cirque du Jaffar. Horrid, nasty, thieving sh*ts, IMHO.
I did not see your socks Chris but I did have some of those 'super friendly' lot jump on the back of my pick up trying to break in and another one reach in through my half open window trying to swipe my ipod.... but then ...that was in Tangiers...
Keep your wits about you - Just like back home really....
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Old 23 Feb 2010
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Originally Posted by Bertrand View Post
I did not see your socks Chris but I did have some of those 'super friendly' lot jump on the back of my pick up trying to break in and another one reach in through my half open window trying to swipe my ipod.... but then ...that was in Tangiers...
Keep your wits about you - Just like back home really....
They were my mate's (dirty) socks. Having shared a room with my mate, I really feel for the thief. His feet smelt real bad.

Another great advantage of being on a bike is you're quicker through traffic so sh!ts can't jump on you. Never been to Tangiers. The Morrocan side of Ceuta is bad enough.

On the way north to Spanish Ceuta, I'm usually on the pavement (sidewalk: for our US friends) for the last few 100 meters (including the final squeeze at the immigration offices). It's amazing how empty it is because the touts a.k.a thieves are in the road with the cars and minibuses.

The north coast of Moroc ain't nice IMHO.

cheers
Chris
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Old 24 Feb 2010
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Care needed in Morocco.

Sounds like caution is needed then. I'm travelling in June on a Tiger with full touratech gear. Moral here is to keep them locked. Worry for me is the Zumo 500 and Garmin GPSMAP60CS on the cross bar. I'm tempted to use paper maps when risk is high. Dont be blase' about UK either. at Portsmouth in 2005 I had my tankbag nicked 2hrs before due to embark. Holiday over thanks to a pair of thieving UK scumbags. Doing Morocco solo so any good advice welcome.
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Old 25 Feb 2010
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Be smart!

When in any area with lots of people around don't have stuff like GPS etc on display/offer that could be easily grabbed. Just don't put the temptation there!

Lock or strap bags/cases/panniers and any other loose kit - likewise with cars/trucks etc - if they can grab it and run they will!!!
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