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  #1  
Old 23 Jan 2003
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To Tent or Not to Tent?

I'm planning to ride solo on the tarmac on my road bike from Tunis to Djanet and back again early in March.

I usually stop in cheap hotels where I can find them, but I think on this route I am going to need to camp out in the DZ a few times at least, and besides I think it'd be quite an experience as I haven't done it before. I seem to recall reading in Chris's books that the main reason for having a tent is psychological, rather than comfort and protection.

Anybody have any experience or advice on the subject?

I am thinking mainly of:

Weather - Any chance of rain early March? What sort of minimum temperature could I expect at night? I assume there will be little wind at night(?)

Safety - It surely must be better to be able to see if someone's approaching?

and lastly - don't laugh - creepy-crawlies? Is this something I should concern myself with if I'm virtually on the ground? I seem to hear different things - on the one hand, that they're nothing to worry about, and on the other that snakes in particular are attracted to heat (such as me in my sleeping bag!), and that scorpions are nocturnal! Am I being a bit of an old woman, or is sleeping on the ground a bit foolish?! Although I doubt I'd encounter more creatures than I did staying a night at the fuel station on the Atlantic Route between Guergerat and Dakhla last year!

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[This message has been edited by IanC (edited 22 January 2003).]
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  #2  
Old 23 Jan 2003
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Hi Jan
I am smiling from one ear to the other....
Since many many years I dont "tent".
In march there is little risk for rain in Algeria, but I have always a survival blanket with me in case there is a wet exception.
I have never been bitten by whatever. I saw a few snakes and scorpions, but they were afraid of me. There can be ants, near wells you can get some camel ticks, look around for mice where you are camping. Don't sleep too close to bushes or grass, they are inhabited for sure! Look if there are traces/tracks/marks or a hole/nest around.
Happy travels!
An old woman...
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  #3  
Old 23 Jan 2003
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for temperatures:
> choose a town
> click on history
> choose march 2002 and minimum temperature

http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/Algeria.htm
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  #4  
Old 23 Jan 2003
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Thanks for your advice - I'm glad I made you smile!

I followed your weather link - that's a very useful site. I've discovered it's actually not that warm in early March.
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  #5  
Old 23 Jan 2003
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My argument for the tent is more for a little protection against the ever blowing sand than anything else, but with the very restricted loads for a bike it's one of the first things I'd leave behind. However I suggest you do take along an insulating matress - not a bulky foam one, you can get thin metal foil covered ones that pack 1/3 the size of a foam one. On cold nights it's not so much the air but the cold soaked ground you need protection from. Be prepared that spring is the sandstorm season, it can be very unpleasant with or without a tent.

As for the rest, just pick places with soft sand and wind protection (as well as out of sight from the road). The many legged and legless friends stick to their own business as long as you don't camp in their territory (as Ursula said, keep away from vegetation).

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  #6  
Old 23 Jan 2003
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No tent required, sleep under the stars!

Sam.
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  #7  
Old 23 Jan 2003
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when on two wheels, rather than four, a tent can be a psychological as well as practical thing. if you're in a car, sleeping under the stars is ace cos you've always got somewhere to retreat to in bad weather or when feeling lonely. although I slept out a lot on the last trip, it IS comforting having a tent available.

on the route you plan, you'll find camp sites at Illizi (just south of town) and Djanet (centre and outskirts). they have huts that you can use. they may be other campsites elsewhere. the hotels at Hassi Messaoud and Illizi were full around 22/12/02.

weight/space-wise, I made a two man tent that suspends between two bikes. it weighs less than a kilo and is a handy groundsheet when you've had enough of sand in your sleeping bag.

enjoy
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  #8  
Old 24 Jan 2003
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You might want to consider a goretex bivvy bag - light and compact, also wind, sand, insect and rain proof, and some even have space for a small rucksack at the head.

The trouble with the smaller ones is that it is a bit coffin-like when you are zipped up, and you can't easily keep an eye on your bike, etc.
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  #9  
Old 27 Jan 2003
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Thanks for your advice guys!

I think I like the idea of no tent and a bivvy bag just in case, I'm going to go and have a look next weekend in my camping shop (unless anyone has any especially good online sources?).

RichLees - I did ask a question a month or so ago about fuel stops, and you said to make sure I visited the Bermuda Triangle - where is it, and why should I visit it? I've looked at your photo. I'm guessing it is HbG/4Chemins/Tin Fouye or possibly Square Bresson/Ouargla/Hassi-M?

Should I be able to find plenty of camping spots hard enough to ride a couple of kms away from the road without sinking? I swore after getting stuck repeatedly last year trying to get to Nouadhibou ( http://ichapp.users.btopenworld.com/...s/DSCN4411.htm ) that I'd never take that bike off the tarmac again! Maybe though its a bit like having a blinding hangover and saying you'll never drink again.

[This message has been edited by IanC (edited 27 January 2003).]
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  #10  
Old 27 Jan 2003
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Something I always travel with is a 'bache' (small tarpaulin) with eye-rings, bungees and string and a couple of pegs. Takes no space, cheap and thoroughly practical.

Rain = tent (ish)
Sun = shade
picnic = sand-less ground sheet
gearbox dismantling = clean, dust-free work surface
Dodgy parking = less attractive lump

etc. etc.

Top kit...

Sam.
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  #11  
Old 28 Jan 2003
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Sam - I started reading your "bache" post and wasn't sure if this was meant as a tent or a sand-mat!

It's hard to describe the effort, by yourself, to extract last time I got 290kgs of motorcycle sunk up to the pipes. I think it would be fair to say that I'm fairly physically strong, but it almost beat me. I even got Chris's book out of my luggage in the heat (literally) of the moment, and went to the "last resort" of placing my prized leather jacket under the back wheel, but it was immediately spat out. Whereas a piece of tarpaulin and some pegs, or even one just long enough to go under the front wheel as an anchor, could well be the answer.

I think it could be the thing to "kill two birds with one stone". I did think about trying to make a sort of "rope-ladder", of something like 2x1" battens at 6" centres with lightish rope threaded through.

If you see any reports of some fool trying to ride a Pan European on a beach through some westcountry sand-dunes in the next month or so, it'll be me testing my sand-extraction techniques!

I suppose I could buy a trail bike.

What sort of size are you talking about - 2.0 x 2.5m? or smaller?

[This message has been edited by IanC (edited 27 January 2003).]
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  #12  
Old 28 Jan 2003
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Mine is about 3x4m - you don't really want any smaller.

The other good thing is that this highly technical bit of kit is available almost everywhere in the world. (so when it gets shredded during a particularly tough extraction, you can replace it without difficulty).

Makes me wonder about starting a thread: "Uses for a tarpaulin" - wild!

Sam.
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  #13  
Old 28 Jan 2003
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the Bermuda Triangle is on the west side of the road between Hassi Messaoud and Hassi Bel Gebour. 100km north of HBG? I don't recall. we didn't stop this year cos the old man's pack of dogs came out to "play" as we slowed down. I rather think they like the taste of biker.

if you fancy a goretex bivvy, I have one available for sale. its the pole-less type, but if its just for "emergencies" ...
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  #14  
Old 28 Jan 2003
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Hi again

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=34874
- thats what I meant with "Survival blanket"

Ursula
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  #15  
Old 28 Jan 2003
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sorry - not canvas but PVC
http://www.kitex.co.kr/images/tarpaulin.gif
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