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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #1  
Old 25 Jan 2013
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Mauritania: Nouadhibou - Choum on motorcycle

Does anybody, ON A MOTORCYCLE, ever did the track near the railway, from Nouadibou to Choum?
It is a 360 km track, apparently often sandy and quite hard to do.
On 4X4 is feasible, but I have to do it on a bike (1987, BMW R80 G/S Paris Dakar, 32 litres fuel tank)

Thanks for input
roberto
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  #2  
Old 25 Jan 2013
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Hi Roberto, I have done it in a car but having ridden motorcycles out there I would not recommend doing this piste alone on a loaded bike, let alone a big bike like yours.
The sand comes in bands, visible on Google Earth, which get wider as you go east. In between is easy enough, but the small dunes could be very tiring, especially with the heavy fuel load. And riding right on the railway is not so easy either. Much better to handle if you know there is someone to help you. There is little passing traffic and each chooses their own way. Last year a guy on an F650 fell and broke his leg here. He was not riding alone.

Route R2

Google Map
Corrections or more detail invited.

Ch
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  #3  
Old 25 Jan 2013
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Of course I'll NOT RIDE ALONE.
We'll be three riders, one on a Honda africa twin, and the other one on a old and reliable BMW G/S like mine.
What do you think?
We are quite experienced in sand but the motorbikes will be full loaded.
And more: is it feasible in one day trip or we have to sleep in the wild?
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  #4  
Old 25 Jan 2013
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Quote:
Of course I'll NOT RIDE ALONE.
Then say so in your original post.
And stop shouting with capital letters and bold - it antagonises people.

Quote:
is it feasible in one day trip or we have to sleep in the wild?
It is hard to imagine 3 loaded bikes riding NDB to Choum in a day - the dunes increase as you go west and get more tired. And why rush to a place like Choum? Plan for a night in the desert.

Ch
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  #5  
Old 25 Jan 2013
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thanks for answer,
what about gas?
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  #6  
Old 26 Jan 2013
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You will need to carry it with you, a few very small settlements but I wouldnt bank on being able to get fuel,
and as Chris said, spend a night (or two) in the desert
Andy
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  #7  
Old 26 Jan 2013
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I have ridden it on a 650 with 4x4 support (they took extra fuel and some luggage) and found it difficult but still enjoyable. Once you get into clean sand without ruts you find the going easier. Be aware that there is debris from the railway close to the tracks. With 3 guys you could support each other, but plan for 2 nights in the sand. If you plan to deflate your tyres, look out for rocky bits that can cause punctures and consider rim locks if you want to spend a lot of time in the sand.
Best of luck.
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  #8  
Old 26 Jan 2013
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I agree with all of the above posts and confirm it is very sensible advice. It is likely you will need at least a night in the desert if you do this at a normal travelling pace.

Having said that, to offer a slightly different perspective, it is entirely possible to do the entire nouadhibou to atar piste (which is another 100kms or so from Choum) in a day on a motorcycle if you are a competent rider in sand, leave early and ride at a good pace. A number of rallies do this piste in a single day.

Although there is not a lot of traffic on this piste there is also more than you expect. I blew a head gasket on this piste whilst riding solo several years ago, and within an hour of waiting, two local vehicles had turned up. This was probably quite fortunate and it is not an experience I necessarily want to repeat, but there is at least some traffic if you have a problem. As previously noted, there are also a few workers villages along the railway line.
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Old 26 Jan 2013
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we usually do not deflate tyres, for two matters:
1) we have only a hand pump to re-inflate it
2) in this case, with the tyres not properly inflated, we would increase puncture risk

It appears that we likely take the train...
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  #10  
Old 26 Jan 2013
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Bomboliere - you got good advice here but the fact that you say you do not adjust your tyre pressures and don't carry a proper 12volt electric pump -which is essential on trails and even more in sand - shows that you are really not prepared for such a journey. You need to get more experience in this environment otherwise this could put you or your friends lives at serious risk.
Read Chris Scott's books
Yes- I agree with you- take the train :0)
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  #11  
Old 26 Jan 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Planet-Muncher View Post
Bomboliere - you got good advice here but the fact that you say you do not adjust your tyre pressures and don't carry a proper 12volt electric pump -which is essential on trails and even more in sand - shows that you are really not prepared for such a journey. You need to get more experience in this environment otherwise this could put you or your friends lives at serious risk.
Read Chris Scott's books
Yes- I agree with you- take the train :0)
Dear Planet Muncher,
thanks for your advice, but please, take your opinion on my personal motorcycle skills, just for yourself.
I know very well that without the above material I cannot approach this trip, and that's why i clearly wrote it (before your post, whose value, leave me quite skeptical).
As "imprepared" as I would be, I rode the Moyale - Isiolo on a harley-davidson, the Pakistan, Iran, Lybya (after geddafi), two times the sahara, and other trips, that you may appreciate on my website 3percenters.
Thanks, and I remain open to further suggestions.

Roberto
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  #12  
Old 26 Jan 2013
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Provided you don't ride on or close to the railway line I don't think the puncture risk is that high on this piste as it is mostly sandy.

I also think a 12v electric pump is entirely unnecessary. Many people (including me) manage perfectly well with only a hand pump. There is a Total garage when you get Atar where you can reinflate your tyres if you don't want to pump by hand.

Last edited by Matt Roach; 26 Jan 2013 at 21:17.
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  #13  
Old 28 Jan 2013
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The railway piste is now much more defined and more frequently travelled than it was a few years ago. It is still a serious endeavour (as nearly all Mauri pistes are), but with 3 experienced riders you could carefully take this on without a 4x4.

There are at least two Gendarmaries enroute who will look out for you - take their phone numbers - and the slow-moving trains themselves have an emergency radio link. Water is available where you see people.
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  #14  
Old 13 Feb 2013
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We rode this route in December 2010. From memory we camped twice between Nouadibou and Atar. We were 4 loaded DR650s, including my girlfriend and also me with a 20l jerry can strapped on the back (at least to start with). It was a challenging but enjoyable piste for us, and we were definitely not seasoned motorbiking veterans. I had to drag my girlfriends bike out of deep sand occasionally, but nothing tricky.

But in the end it's up to you to decide if you think your group can do it and will enjoy it.
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  #15  
Old 20 Feb 2013
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Since late 2011 that the piste has been improved. Machines have open a clear track all the way to Choum and I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes paved in a year or two. If you stay inside the clear tracks, it will be hard to get lost. The sandy sections, despite the amelorated piste, remain sandy and will require a bit of care. Otherwise, fairly simple.
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