Twenty four hours later and Tobi's bike went in the luggage compartment of a bus from Laayoune to Tangiers (about 1500 kms) he also took a bus, while I rode on through torrential rain - the frst rain I had seen since setting off six weeks ago, it turned some of the desert road into a quagmire of mud, the following day I was hit by vicious sandstorms, then the bolt on the broken shock absorber snapped - whoops!
In Marrakesh, another bike traveller (Sam) helped me to pack old rubber bits around the spring on the shock absorber to try and make the ride a bit safer; everyone seems a bit shocked at the state of the suspension. We also replaced the broken bolt.
Having been delayed by these repairs, I then had to get on my way, a last minute chance to buy some Moroccan slippers and it was hit the tarmac with a vengeance time, making it to Madrid from Marrakesh in 26 hours.
North of Madrid I was in extremely snowy conditions – riding along with wistful thoughts of the heat in the desert. In Bilbao I bought another battery, caught the ferry and arrived home in one piece.
For several days now it has been Ethel to the rescue as first Tobi ran out of fuel and then got a puncture.
Whilst the major event of the last 2 days is that he has broken his gearbox - it happened on the desert highway - we then had an epic of a day (too long to go into here) involving a refrigerated lorry, the police and a team of Japanese people in a minivan.
The upshot is that I ended up TOWING Tobi on his R100GS (that’s a big 1000 cc bike for those of you not in the know) for 125 kms - it wasn't much fun as I had my nearly bald desert tyre on the rear and NO suspension, and naturally the desert winds were blowing as well.
Ethel coped well though and we reached the nearest small town where the bike was transferred to a ...Mitsubishi taxi - bit of a squeeze but we managed it and got to Laayoune – the biggest city in southern Morocco at 10pm that night.
To rebuild the exploded battery in Nouakchott -as I had discovered that the replacement battery had turned out to be a dud and actually there are NO 12 volt batteries in this country. Loo and Gary (bike-riding friends from Cornwall) had arrived in Nouakchott with a tube of weld stuff and so the operation to rebuild was undertaken.
The next morning I set off with some trepidation - 450 kms to cover to reach tarmac and Morocco - with a dodgy battery and no suspension. Thirty miles into the desert we realised that the battery was leaking, and so I have put a sanitary towel on it. It seems to be slowing the acid leakage, Tobi has now taken to rolling his eyes whenever I say I have got an idea.
We ended up camping in the NO-Man's Land between the Mauritania and Morocco borders - us and about 50 dodgy-looking people trying to reach the Mecca of Europe.
We crossed the last of the sand and entered back into Morocco – the last country before Europe.
I am in Nouakchott and the sand storms are blowing. it's like being in thick fog but more painful.
Ethel and I limped into Mauritania from Mali -her suspension has gone - Ooooh yes, just 300 kms south of Timbuctoo so it has been a painful ride over hundreds of kms of corrugated dirt tracks and as for the sand - trying to steer though it while the bike is like a bucking bronco is almost impossible at times.
reached Nouakchott and relative sanity (as well as cold beer courtesy of the chinese restaurant- getting quite a liking for this rice beer)
We returned to the hostel where they have been storing my jerry cans for the next bit of desert crossing.
Met an English Honda rider at the hostel - complete with badly broken collar bone and ribs where he attempted the desert crossing.....hmmmm, gives me food for thought as I contemplate what lies ahead. It then turned out that he is a fellow Horizons rider - Simon Fitzpatrick, who has been stuck here foir a while waiting for his collarbone to heal, the good news is that he is having the third operation this evening, which is to remove the pins and so he is hoping to continue his journey next week.
There have been a few ups and downs....
There is not a lot I can do about the suspension, so I am concentrating on the chain - meeting everyone's expectations I have been abusing it badly (as I only have experience of shaft driven bikes) and it has fallen off a few times - usually at a dicey moment.
I knew it was time to change it and yes, I DO have a spare with me. A German bloke called Herbert staying at the hostel has tools and know-how and so helped me with it, all was going well until he took the angle grinder to the old chain (assuring me that is how they are removed) there was suddenly a loud pop noise and the battery exploded- luckily both Ethel and the various spectators are OK.
Whilst Herbert continued his demoltion of my pride and joy I had to take to the streets in a taxi in search of a battery aided and abetted by Hassan and Barry - local guys. Finally ended up with one that is half the depth and a bit wider but have squeezed it in, got the filling with acid bit correct and then was overuled by the blokes present about charging it up... so I have a flat battery stuck in the battery compartment - oh well, open another rice beer.
Other parts of the bike are safely duck taped on; and we are going to set off early in the morning for the final bit of desert - actually I should re-phrase that as the final bit of "sandy desert " as there is tarmac in Western Sahara - whilst Mauritania is a country with just 4 tarmac roads.
The good news is that the bike dropping tally now stands at:
so I'm not doing too badly.
HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!
"The calendar is magnificent!"
"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"
We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!
Next HU Events
- Thailand Mini: Jan 9-11
- NEW! USA Virginia: Apr 9-12
- NEW! HUMM Morocco: May 13-16
- Germany: May 14-17
- Canada Ontario: Jun 18-21
- Ireland: June 26-28
- Colorado: July 17-19 TBC
- Canada West: Aug 20-23
- USA California: Sep 24-27
- Aus Queensland: Sep 24-27
- USA North Carolina: Oct 8-11
- Aus Perth: Oct 9-11
- Germany: Oct 22-25
What others say about HU...
"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA
"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada
"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia
"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders
10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!
NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!
Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!
What turns you on to motorcycle travel?
Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!
New to Horizons Unlimited?
New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!
Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.Read more about Grant & Susan's story
Membership - help keep us going!
Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.
You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.
Books & DVDs
All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.
MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!
Story and photos copyright © All Rights Reserved.
Contact the author:
Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.
Hosted by: Horizons
Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!