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