October 02, 2008 GMT
Set Off! Whey-Hey!!

Well, I finally manged to set off from the UK after so much faffing about, getting the bike ready, quitting the job in Iraq and leaving the loved ones behind. Setting off with a lump in my throat to the adventure ahead. I'm a month into my trip and have only managed to get an internet cafe that'll allow uploading of pictures, But, the pictures are too big, Aaargh! Next time.
I'm hopefully going around the World from the UK via the west coast of Africa, across to South America continuing to Alaska and finding someway across to Russia and back to the UK! Sounds easier to say it now but it'll take a least a year, if not two. I only hope my finances and work opportunities allow it to happen. As a break in phase I went to the HU meeting in Malaga. What a good crack that was!
I've spent the last 4 years working for the security industry in Iraq and did a few years in the Army before that so have decided I needed a break from all of it and go do something completely different. Well I think I found it and biking around the world is a little different. I've previously ridden to Morocco and Norway and ridden around India and Nepal which was a blast!
I'm on a Yamaha XT 600E, a 2003 bike bought from a member of Horizons Unlimited and just so happens he was the guy who'd puirchased my extra centre stand for the bike. So not only did I get a good bike for 1250 quid but my centre stand back! Cheers Len!
I prepped the bike as best I could with a set of Touratech Panniers, Acerbis 23ltr tank, Sump Guard, tool box, spares and a set of Knobblies, 2 rear and 1 front. The rest of the bike had been looked after by the previous owner. I did paint the tank after taking advice that it was possible, only to find out that it wasn't to be and in a few weeks it looked like it had some weird disease as all the paint bubbled off!! Bummer.
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Having a good send off from Edinburgh, my adopted home town from the HU, Edinburgh Community was excellent and the ride out was fun. With the obligatory cheesy photos in view of the castle. Brilliant! Thanks guys!! I even had a member of the public enquire and after telling him about the RTW on the bike, he looked at me strangely and said 'On that.....!?! Good luck pal!' Erm, Thanks mate....

After setting off from the ferry at Santander, Spain with a couple of riding buddies, we headed off for the meet in Malaga, Mike with his XT600e and Dai with his BMW1150GS. STH70483 - Copy.JPG
Knowing it was going to take a few days to get there as we had a week spare we went to the 'Peakos De Europe' a nice park in Northern Spain to have our first camping and for me, the first time I'd set up my tent! (I'd just bought it the day before!) with a new anthemn for the trip coming from Dai of 'Shuuuut the F*****k UP!' to a local family gassing ALL night. Oh, That welsh accent, ha ha ha! Now I know why they sing so much!
Getting kicked off the pc in the caff, be back later..

Posted by geoffshing at 09:46 PM GMT
October 08, 2008 GMT
sodding keyboards

After getting down to Malaga with the boys and taking part in the HU meeting, I did a presentation on first aid for bikers and really enjoyed it. STH70522 - Copy.JPG
With the expert assistance of Elle, the organisers lovely daughter as the casualty and the nerve wracking feeling of being filmed I managed to settle into it and even have a laugh or two, if it gets on the dvd the outtakes will be hilarious.

Once the meeting was finished and all the goodbyes to new freinds done, a couple of us took of to the coast and Gibralter, where after a day or so it was time to head off further upthe Spainish coast for Portugal and meet up with Mark, a fellow rider to ride down to Africa.STH70611.JPG

As I'm also trying to do a bit of free camping I found out excatly how heavy the bike is. I went down what appeared to be a nice bit of forest on the side of the road and a strange white pathway, not feeling too fussed about it I pushed on. Only when it was too late I found it to be deep sand!! Aaargh.. and down I went as the front wheel dug into the soft sand. Bugger. it's getting dark, I'm knackered and I've just dropped the sodding worlds heaviest bike! AND deep sand in a Portugese forest, this trip is getting wierd already!
So after much humping and heaving, i managed to get the bike upright and 'walked' it out of the forest, prefering a campsite with more solid flooring and my hammock. I'll get enough sand to fall over with in Africa methinks!!

Posted by geoffshing at 01:24 PM GMT
October 11, 2008 GMT
Foum Zidgut

Mark and I met at the airport as planned and we quicly managed to get his bike out of customs without much bother. Once out headed for the campsite in Lisbon where Id been staying for a couple of days then out for dinner and getting to know each other; sounds like a mills and boon doesn;t it:
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the keyboards are still an unknown entity to me so please be patient.
Anyhow; we set off soonest south to get for the ferry port the next day and after having an initial hiccup of Mark putting DIESEL in his tank we got down to Algecieras witin a few days. Deisel; whod have thought it hey. ha ha ha.
Im jumping on this blog a bit and know Im missing loads out but the backtracking is killing me.
We met up with fellow riders; brit on their way down to Morocco on their BMWs and continued south with them quickly overtaking us doing 90 or so.

Once we got into Morocco; it was a blast down the coast through Rabat and Casablanca where we met up with Migo; another rider for the trip to Cape Town. A cool German on his KTM 950 Adventure. We had time to do a couple of touristy stuff like see the Hassan 2 mosque, which is the worlds third largest mosque and really impressive. Seeing mosques has never been my thing but this one is well worth the visit.STH70800 - Copy.JPG

Once that was done we have bomburst down south and spent the night camping in marrakesh visiting the famous market square where Mark had a monkey jump on his head, but the constant barrage of hassle from the locals annoyed me slightly and welcomed the cab ride back to the campsite.

Next day we headed down to Ouarazazate, one of the main jumping off points for desert travellers, or so it seems, with loads of 4x4 convoys coming and going with bikers on all sorts of enduro machine ploughing the roads. we had a blast getting there as the road from Marrakesh is superb for bikes and the scenery is awesome.
Once in Ourazazate, we pitched in the towns campsite and bumped into the fellow brit bikers and their BMWs again, but they were a man down after he,d had an accident with a local in another town and decided there,s no place like home.
Todays ride has taken us to Foum Zigoud, a few km;s south of Ouarazazate and closer to the desert weve been craving for and again the ride was a blast but started to run short of fuel for marks bike, ending up with a couple of litres left and bartering a price from a vendor and a hand operated pump. At the place seen below.......STH70957 - Copy.JPG

Tomorrow, were headig for a town called Tata and the great scenery to look forward to............

Posted by geoffshing at 09:39 PM GMT
October 19, 2008 GMT
Desert AT LAST

Them Thar Hills over Yonder...

Now the month and mileage is really kicking in. Im now in Nouchkutt, Mauritania after a mad few days putting in some hours on the bike and am having a wee rest in town.
After leaving Ouzazate we headed down south to Tata and Foum Zigoud it was starting to get interesting in the scenery, being dryer and more arid. i was enjoying with the bike the hill climbs and the awesome views around each corner but felt the bike was struggling somewhat carrying my fat arse and the 1/2 ton of kit ive brought with me, I need to dump sopme of this and give the bike a break.
i,ve been looking for maps again and as usual come up with bugger all for africa, only Morocco and Spanish maps on offer. Thats even in the main cities which was suprising.
Headed off to Tiznit, further south and had an admin day for the bike as we were waiting on a fourth rider to join us, Peter and his BMW. So the bike had a fresh change of oil, the chain was taken off and given a good clean and lube, spokes and tyres checked and a general look see to make sure everything was in shape. No problems found but managed to the reichmarschall off, the camp ground manager, by spilling a little oil on the gravel. So he went into a bit of a huff.
After evening meal we went to a town hotel for a beer and am not sure if the credit crunch has anything to do with this trip but its gonna be the killer of me and my thirst for beer as after paying exhorborant amounts for a beer and asking why its so expensive, the answer was....... Credit crunch in the world. ha, cheeky git!!

Pushing further south from Morocco I was aching to get away from the place and into the desert areas and into `real` Africa, not it`s european wannabe brother. So firstly Western Sahara had to be crossed and the bugger all nothingness inside it. good tarmac roads but I was glad when it was finished. When I worked in Iraq there were many days on the roads with nothing to look at but straight roads and the chance of devices left for the unsuspecting and found myself in excactly the same train of thought in the Western Sahara. (I was tempted to go counterflow ha ha ha).
I southern Morocco and wester Sahara the police checkpoints were becoming more frequent and proper checks on passports instead of the usual wave through. So with each checkpoint and extra 15 or so minutes had to be added to the trip and it didn't take long for them 15 minutes to add up to 1 1/2 hours or more in the days total.
Just before we hit the border we stayed at a the town of Dakhla and I felt as rough as a dog, waking up with D&V and as the day progressed it was getting worse, with the shivers and sweats. Obviously something I had eaten the day before which was kicking the hell out of me and riding the bike was a real struggle having to halt, hop off and either try and rip the pants down at the side of the road, luckily it was the desert, or spew like a Saturday night 4am lager lout!! Jesus I was rough so a hotel was required instead of a campsite so I could die in peace.
I had to go to a chemist and drug myself up for the forethcoming crap nights sleep and amazingly found a store that sold GPS car charger cables! As my GPS was going through batteries like a tramp eating chips then I shelled out the 200DhM's and went to bed feeling a little better with myself.
Not feeling the best after having a nights sleep we pushed on and headed for the border with Mauritania and some of the suprising sighhts we saw en route down......... Mines, Jesus Christ!! what next.... a london cab?

Posted by geoffshing at 07:22 PM GMT

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