Rob gazing at Africa from Spain
We arrive to Cueta and make it to the Spanish African border. We are directed to a ĘspecialĘ line where we get an abundance of stares, its like they have never seen a chinese women on a motorbike before. Rob is then wist away to sort out insurance, passports, paperwork etc etc whilst I am left to guard the bikes. Its chaotic, full of in your face local tauts, some guys getting beaten up, hundreds of Moroccans in their Jedi knight robes walking everywhere. I start to get worried as Rob has disappeared for longer than expected but he finally turns up with the thumbs up. We going to africa! (like Rob says, bring on the squat toilets and no bog roll)
Rob is estatic that we have made it to Africa, he has a constant smile from ear to ear that he cannot erase. The surroundings are a fresh change from Europe, there are camels on the side of the road, people sleeping in all nooks and crannies and locals constantly trying to sell us hashish and fossils whilst we ride past.
The roads are surprising in good condition but there is definitely more oil and slick. I find it hard sometimes to concentrate on the surroundings as there are so many things to look out for......donkeys, people, carts and young children that run virtually in front of your bikes to shake your hands. Generally, a great feel to this country.
A donkey in between the gorgeous blue walled Chefchaouen
We stop in gorgeous Chefchaouen in the Rif mountains and reunite with Justin, Grant and Lara (3 Aussies in campervans we met on the ferry). We roam the souks and see dangling outside a butchers shop, a fresh camels head! This area is meant to be a haven for the best hashish in the world....called "Kif from the Rif"
We see the gorgeous Erg Chebbi sand junes. Overlook guys on bikes training for the Paris to Dakar, another Africa Twin riding through the dunes (Rob is eye gazing). We also meet some lovely spaniards who let us ride their sports quad bike that had way too much power for me but what an adrenalin rush (and I managed to bog it on the uprise).
We stay in a beautiful Kasbah right against the junes with a swimming pool, all goes well except my bout of severe stomach cramps and hot/cold shivers whilst relaxing by the pool. I suddenly have to dash to the toilet with toilet paper in hand and Rob running after me to see if I am ok. All I can say is the next events involved liquid out both ends at the same time....overwhelmed and dehydrated, I faint for the first time in my life. Rob and the lovely Moroccans squeeze a half chopped onion in my face to bring me back. After some rest and fluid intake, my bowels are back to normal. Not a pleasant experience!
A Berber on the Erg Chebbi Junes
We meet other 'adventure motorcyclists' Olly (English on a Honda CBF 1000) and Mark (English on a Honda Transalps) and change our plans to ride towards Todra Gorge. We also meet 2 Germans (Andy&Axel on KTMs) who convince our posse to ride on a piste from Tinerhir to Agoudal and back to Tinerhir....even Olly, who is on a road bike! (he creates a makeshift bashplate from a camping kitchen table that worked a treat...) Its a bliss to ride without our luggage!
CBF 1000 makeshift bashplate
Piste around Todra gorge
Little nervous as this is my first offroad experience but really enjoyed it and I feel the XR Baja is perfect bike for me. It starts off easy but gradually gets harder. Pebbles become rocks, track goes up and downhill, uneven surface, water, mud, even narrow roads with high cliff dropoffs. I try and concentrate even harder and am sure I am gripping my handlebars and gritting my teeth, ocassionally telling myself to relax and let the bike do the work! I build confidence and manage well standing on the footpegs (Rob is impressed as I use to hate it). At the end of the piste, I'm going too fast and lose concentration for a spilt second - managing to direct the Baja into a family of huge rocks.. I feel like I'm riding in a rodeo but surprisingly manage to hold on until i hit the road again and crash onto my side whilst smashing my head onto some rocks. I am temporarily stuck under my bike but manage to get out... No broken bones just a bruised knee, broken left mirror and a nasty scratch on my Arai helmet.....
Amazingly steep windy roads
I am then convinced to do another piste from Taouz to Tagounite (M6 piste by Chris Scott) with no idea what I am in for. It starts off easy with very arid but beautiful scenery. Andy decides not to join us due to a suspected fractured rib so its Rob, Axel and I. We ride over gravel with stretches of sand that get softer and more difficult. I fall a couple of times as I lose confidence but the boys just tell me to screw the throttle, so every time I hit sand I close my eyes slightly and pull my right hand back and the Baja glides me over the sand in all directions. In sand, its like the Baja has its own mind.
We then hit an Oued full of......sand, which makes us all sweat hard to get through. We all take turns falling off and getting stuck in this deep sand but there are Moroccan kids running after us to help us pick up our bikes and guide us through. We get fed up and Axel pays a kid to direct us out of the Oued and out onto some harder grounds. Phewww, we then ride across white clay pans, see wild camels, stop at wells, cross the Algerian border (by Robs GPS) and experience absolutely amazing scenery. A must do piste!
Stuck in sand, which way out?
Rob working his stuff
Then after reuniting with Andy in Tagounite for a day, we decide to do another Piste from Tagounite/M'Hamid to Foum Zguid (M7 piste by Chris Scott). We start riding to only hit another Oued but this one is alot easier and we have fun going over the sand junes. I enjoy sand now! Again spectacular scenery, no one for miles. What a great sense of achievement considering I only started riding just before this trip.
me standing and the Baja
We then meet Carl & Sylvia in Toyota Landcruiser Troopcarrier who offer to carry our luggage on another piste from Ait-Herbil to Tafroute (M12), cook us delicious meals and let us use their shower! Before we head off, we top up with Super fuel as no Sans Plomb from an old petrol station with a handpump! Ride gorgeous red/orange gorge until Rob gets his first puncture!
We ride towards the Plage Blanche to our first river crossing (where I fall in the mud) and then along the beach for 26km heating the Baja's engine. Beautiful, Yes but its hard work and constantly dodging rubbish, wooden boxes, nails and black plastic bags! We camp on a high sandjune over looking the beach and sunset.
my first water crossing
Posted by Amy Lee at October 05, 2006 05:14 PM GMT
We ride offroad to Tan Tan but we hit more sand and start to run low on fuel. I nearly fall off many times and we get hit by a mini sandstorm where I cannot see past my front mudguard. I follow Rob too closely I get showered in sand when he revs it. We hit a river crossing but luckily the sand has died down and a road has been made over it. We make it to Tan Tan safely with 300mls left in Robs tank!!!!!
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