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Photo by Mark Newton, Mexican camping

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Mark Newton,
Camping in the Mexican desert



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  #16  
Old 3 Apr 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dommiek View Post
How did you get on with the mousses? ... They're changed every day or two on the rallies!
The front was getting a bit lumpy towards the end of the 7,800 km, but we hadn't actually seated it very well when it was fitted. I'm taking a replacement to Spain with me in May and will see what caused the lumpiness.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoisbest View Post
Is there any where similar to the Lhay waterfalls but farther south?
There's lots of swimming places around, where were you interested in?



This is Cascades Atiq at Tissint.
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Old 4 Apr 2015
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Errachidia
Errachidia is pretty much just a coffee break town for me. I once stayed overnight when we were following the Dakar Rally in 2006. All the hotels were full and we ended up sharing a small double bedded room between five guys—not a pretty sight. This time I stayed in Hotel M'daghra and after three nights of cold hotel bedrooms I succumbed and forked out an extra 70 dh for heating. But at least this meant I could do my washing.



An unusual example of graffiti written in Tamazight (Berber). Probably reads, "clean me".

Fuel stations
Before checking into a hotel I normally refuel so this is one less job for the morning. In populated areas there's many more fuel stations in Morocco than in Europe, probably as the high cost of fuel (compared to earnings) means drivers don't put much into the tank each time they refuel. Practically every fuel station in Morocco has attendant service. There are a few that accept credit cards, but generally Morocco is a cash society and the attendant carries a wad of notes in his pocket.

If you are prepared to visit several fuel stations you can quickly make change by asking for small amounts of fuel and handing over a 200 dh note. Asking for 'cent vingt dirham' (120 dh) will typically result in change of a 50 dh note, a 20 dh note and 10 dh coin.

Unlike European fuel stations there's no sweetie shop attached, though in some places there will be a mosque for travellers to pray, and sometimes an attached snack bar.

Hotel procedures
I'm not looking for much out of a hotel when I'm travelling, if I'm only staying one night it's really just a 'bed in a box'. Clean sheets and hot water are essential, western loos and preferably ensuite is good. Many hotels have free wifi, though sometimes this doesn't extend to the rooms.

I always ask to see the room before agreeing to stay, on the basis I am likely to get a better room that way. If you don't speak any languages just point to your eye with your finger, then up to the room. If the receptionist is any good he/she will show you several.

Confirm there's hot water and check if there's a towel (serviette in French). Check on the parking arrangements. If you want to make an early start the next morning and need an early breakfast get this agreed to before you accept the room.

You need to complete a police registration form. I have a fiche system for the passport details and I just hand over one of those—I certainly never let the receptionist hang on to my passport, there's a chance he/she will forget to give it you back and you'll have to retrace your route the next day to retrieve it.

My luggage is organised so that the twin aluminium panniers hold items that I don't normally need overnight (tools, first aid, food) and all I need to bring to the room is my roll bag and tank bag. When you bring your luggage up to the room check the bed in case there's a rubber undersheet and if there is remove it otherwise you'll wake up horribly sweaty halfway through the night.

Get your trail clothes off, do any clothes washing as necessary, then shower yourself and change into clean clothes.

Clothes and washing
I tend to travel with three sets of clothing, one that I am wearing and two spares. In cool weather or with high-tech anti-bacterial materials you can go two days with the same wicking layer. On this trip I had some long-sleeved fluffy Wed'ze skiing garments from Decathlon. These are amazingly comfortable with a fleece-type feel from the 'brushed stratermic component' whatever that is. You need light coloured clothing, I know bikers like black so the dirt doesn't show, but black t-shirts get way too hot in the sun when you take off your jacket for a coffee stop.

Sinks often don't have plugs in Morocco, so I carry sink two different-sized plugs with me plus a travel wash line with dual elastic strands that don't need clothes pegs. You can buy sachets of washing powder from small shops, ask for 'teed' (Tide). Try to avoid your hands getting immersed for too long in the washing solution as it doesn't do them any good. After washing and rinsing, wring the clothes out thoroughly, then lay a towel on the bed, arrange the clothes on top and roll them up together like a swiss roll. Then put the roll on the floor and walk up and down on it. This will remove most of the remaining moisture, and you can then hang them up.

If the clothes still aren't completely dry in the morning, wear them down to breakfast and your body heat should finish the job, then you can pack them when you get back to the room.
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Old 5 Apr 2015
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Errachidia to Merzouga
Until now I had been 'far from the madding crowd' and hadn't seen a single traveller or tourist, but now I was about to head towards prime time tourism in the area around Merzouga and Erg Chebbi. This would be an opportunity to drop the luggage and ride free for a couple of days and, as the temperature was set to rise, maybe also have a swim and sunbathe. There's some 70 accommodation options in the western lee of the dunes. As I was going to be there for three nights I decided I'd treat myself, so I used booking.com to obtain a reasonable 400 dh/night dinner, bed and breakfast at Hotel Kanz Erremal.



I rode south from Errachidia following the lateral oasis of the Ziz river, using side roads parallel to the N13.



A very short ride today. What is laughingly called the R702 is mainly piste. The tarmac approach to Merzouga is on the N13 via Rissani.



And then rejoined the main road shortly before the artesian well of Bord Yerdi. The difference between a geysir and an artesian well is that a geysir only spurts sporadically, whilst the well is constant.



The water is heavily contaminated with iron, so not suitable for agriculture



When I reached Erfoud I cut across south west following the old piste that used to be the access to Merzouga before the tarmac road was laid. As you can see in the photo the piste is heavily corrugated due to the axle tramp of trucks.



Eventually I reached Kanz Erremal and had an extremely short dip in the freezing cold pool.

I did some checking on the bike and luggage, worked out a route for the following day, then chilled by the pool the rest of the day before enjoying a wonderful meal in the evening. Being a traveller is such a tough life!

.
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  #19  
Old 6 Apr 2015
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Thanks Tim, that was a good read with my breakfast this morning.
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  #20  
Old 7 Apr 2015
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Circular tour to the ruins of Hassi Bahallou
Refreshed by the half day break, I was up to see dawn breaking over the camels and sand dunes.



The previous evening I had carried my aluminium panniers to the room, and the only luggage for today was my tool roll on the rear rack and food and water in the tank bag. It was cold that early in the morning so I wore my heated jacket under the armoured jacket.



There's now a fuel station on the tarmac road into Merzouga so first stop was to refuel and have a coffee—I had skipped breakfast.



The route I had planned was south on tarmac to Taouz, then south west to Ramlia. From there follow the dry Rheris river valley north to the ruins of Hassi Bahallou which is thought to be a Portuguese fort, and then east heading back to Merzouga. Altogether about 200 km, with about 150 km of that off tarmac.

As you can see from the map there's fuel in cans at Ramlia and Jadid, though I wouldn't need that. Also a series of at least eight accommodation options on the way to Ramlia, and it would be perfectly possible to use one of these as a base for a couple of days of exploring.



There was a series of heavy storms in Morocco last November, in some places as much as 200 mm (8 inches) in 24 hours with consequential massive flash floods. One result is that this spring the desert is alive with flowers.



Lots of trucks on the first part just past Taouz.



The climb out of the end of a dry lake bed.



Coffee pause in Ramlia. The bike was performing beautifully. I was already very pleased with the handling with full luggage but when travelling light it is an absolute delight. There was some method in my route planning for the day, the piste heading west from Ramlia towards Zagora area crosses the Rheris river bed which depending on what the last rains did to the track can be up to 6 km of nightmare fesh fesh sand. I went and had an explore and quickly returned, then turned north for Hassi Bahallou.



Approaching the ruins of Hassi Bahallou.



Exploring Hassi Bahallou.



In the ruins I found a familiar plant—wild rocket. Tazahkt in Berber, harra in Darija, arugula in American English and rucola in Spanish and Italian. So many words for the same plant. Unlike the salad rocket variety it's a perennial plant, more spicy and pungent with more jagged leaves. For the remainder of this trip I nibbled extensively whenever I saw it.



There was deep sand on the first section back from the fort but then the track became lovely and smooth. In this video you can see the beautiful lilac wild orchids over the hillsides.



Camels grazing amongst the orchids.

I had intended to explore the Ouafilal hill fort and rock carvings on the way back, but I left them for another trip.



The half-board meals at Kanz Erremal were delightful and well presented, this was an elegant (and massive) salad for starters.

For higher resolution photographs and maps check out the original postings at the Morocco Knowledgebase

.
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  #21  
Old 8 Apr 2015
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Riding off tarmac
The biggest danger when riding tarmac roads in Morocco is riding too fast for the conditions, especially in built-up areas. The converse is true when riding off tarmac—the biggest problem is normally riding too slowly. Without getting into the complicated physics behind motorcycle dynamics, it’s the gyroscopic effect of the turning wheels that helps keep you upright and the slower you go, the less help there is.

Novice riders who quite sensibly ride slowly off tarmac, slow down even more when they come to a difficult section, then fall off when the motorbike overbalances. So it’s vitally important that you keep to a reasonable speed when riding pistes and for novices I would suggest a minimum speed of 40 kph (25 mph) on easier sections, which allows a reduced speed of 15 kph (10 mph) on 'frightening' sections.

Some books will advise you to lower the tyre pressure when off tarmac. The theory behind this is that the extended contact patch of the deflated tyre acts like a caterpillar tread giving much better traction. This is great in principle, but Moroccan pistes are often sand/grit one minute and then sharp stones the next, and when running low pressures it's easy for the inner tube to be pinched against the rim of the wheel leading to snake-bite ‘pinch’ punctures on tubed tyres, so I prefer to keep tyre pressures high when off tarmac. This trip I was using mousses instead of inner tubes so all of this was irrelevant.

Riding sand
And then you come to sand. You might have read lots of advice about sand riding on the Internet. The perceived wisdom everywhere is to keep momentum up, stand on the footpegs, put your weight over the back wheel, whilst at the same time using your weight on the footpegs to turn the bike. It's all very well being told what to do, but the reality for a novice is that they slow to walking pace, sit down on the saddle, paddle through the sand with their feet, come almost to a complete stop and then the bike topples over.

So how do you get from being a novice to a fairly OK sand rider? I have yet to find a website or book that leads you through this. So here's some techniques I found by trial and error. My suggestion is that when you get into a sandy area, drop your luggage at a hotel and dedicate half a day to getting to grips with sand riding.



Putting it into practice, riding with full luggage through the low dunes on the western approach to M'hamid.

Shallow sand sitting down
Look for a section of sand on the piste about 1m (1 yard) long. Ride through this however you like, but sitting down. Go back and do it again, but a bit faster. Repeat several times more until you are happy going through at 40 kph (25 mph). Now move on to a longer stretch of sand and repeat. Keep repeating and finding longer stretches until you are OK with riding 5m of sand at 40 kph. Whilst practicing this introduce a very slightly open throttle so the bike is being actively pushed by the rear wheel. Now try approaching the sand stretches at, say, 20 kph, and crack open the throttle just before you hit the sand. You'll generally find that with higher speed and some acceleration the bike is better controlled. Keep practicing until you are OK with riding 10m of sand at 40 kph. If you find that you are going too fast with an open throttle, use the back brake to keep this under control. It sounds illogical to have an open throttle with braking at the same time, but for some reason it works and improves your control.

Shallow sand standing up
When you are sitting down it's difficult to influence where the bike goes, so you now need to get confidence standing up. Start all over again with the 1m stretch of sand, but this time standing up. Just stand naturally. I know people suggest you keep the weight over the back of the bike, but this means you are out of balance, pulling on the handlebars, and have less control. This is something to only add later once you've mastered the other aspects. In the meantime relax and get used to the bike moving underneath you, and use the throttle to settle it. Carry on as in the 'sitting' section until you are OK with riding 15m of sand at 40 kph.

Turning in sand
Now look for an area you can practice some turning. Try this first on a hard surface. Stand on the pegs, look in the direction you want to go, turn your upper body in that direction, drop the shoulder closest to the turn and put your weight on the footpegs. And lo and behold the bike turns without you having given any handlebar input. You use the technique for both turning and for correcting the direction when the bike's been forced off route.

Now move to a sand surface and keep practicing this for a while until you are all set. You'll find a top-heavy bike such as the Yamaha Ténéré is easier to turn this way than a BMW 1200GS which carries its weight lower down.

Deeper sand
Until now you've probably been practicing on piste on shallow sand, maybe with only 25mm (1 inch) of sand between your tyre tread and the piste bedrock. Riding on deeper sand is more difficult as it's a power robbing surface with a lot of drag on the bike, takes much longer to accelerate. So it is now really vital that you keep momentum. There can be deep ruts in the sand from 4x4 vehicles, sometimes these have compressed the sand giving a firmer surface at the bottom of the wheel ruts in which case it makes sense to ride in the ruts, but often the reverse is true in which case you are better off making your own fresh tracks.


(Happy for others to chip in with sand riding advice for novices...)

.
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Last edited by Tim Cullis; 8 Apr 2015 at 14:59.
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  #22  
Old 10 Apr 2015
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Riding On Sand

I am not a biker but have driven extensively in 4x4 on soft sand.

One routine i was taught and works well is to do your sand traverses very early in the morning before the sun totally warms up the sand.During the night the surface of the sand is slightly 'hardened(compacted)'by cold air especially if you are in an area where there is good dew during the night.

This 'hard' top definitely makes a difference when traversing virgin sand and will work well in travelling parallel to existing tracks on unbroken sand.

A bit esoteric but hope it helps someone

Happy trails.
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  #23  
Old 10 Apr 2015
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The hard crust is turned to soft sand after the first vehicle goes over it .. pick another line and you get some advantage. On a motorcycle sometimes the center of the tracks gets you a good solid path .. it can also have hidden rocks .. hidden by some vegetation. Oh and sticks that get picked up by the front wheel and flung on to your shins.

Depending on the angle of the sun it can be too hard to pick the wheel ruts .. in deep sand you want the wheel rut as that has the hard bit .. and you track better there .. go out of it and the rear wants to go there while the front wants another place .. Once the sun gets to that angle .. stop riding or find a track that heads in a different direction. It is not fun falling off in deep sand at 80kmh where the sun has hidden the track from you!

Nice report .. as always Tim.
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  #24  
Old 10 Apr 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warin View Post
It is not fun falling off in deep sand at 80kmh where the sun has hidden the track from you!
80 kmh in deep sand??...isn't that a bit too fast?
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  #25  
Old 11 Apr 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dommiek
Hi Tim

It's been great reading your posts recently and helps me look forward to my next trip.

I seriously considered fitting mousses a few years ago but was put off speaking to people who had raced on them saying they can overheat (especially on tarmac liaisons) leading them to breaking up then having to insert a tube.

Punctures are a pain so I'm very interested in hearing how you're getting on with running mousses.

You say the front was getting "lumpy" !!?? I'm wondering if you are using the Michelin Mousse lubricant and using rim locks? as I believe without them, problems such as you're experiencing can happen.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts at the end of your trip; there has to be an alternative to tubes and punctures.....
I have had advice from quite a few people stating that if you keep the speeds down you can cover fairly high distances with mousses. I had a 'tube alternatives' thread running over on ABR which was useful apart from some pillock who kept jumping up and down trying to get attention. Towards the end of that thread I was advised only to fit particular combinations of tyres and mousses.

I had brought a huge tub of mousse lubricant over from the UK and we slapped it on with a paintbrush, so not shortage there. Michelin recommends
(1) don't ride on tarmac—but riding on tarmacadam is surely practically the same friction/whatever as riding on non-tarmaced macadam roads?
(2) don't use rim locks
(3) don't exceed 130 kph (80 mph)

In four weeks in Morocco I covered 7,800 km. Generally I was travelling at 70-80 kph, the last 24 hours I covered over 1,000 km at speeds of up to 115 kph riding back to the Spanish base. With the best will in the world towards travelling off tarmac I reckon I covered less than 3,000 km off tarmac, the other 4,800+ was on tarmac.

Yes, the front got lumpy at the end of the trip. OK when cold, then lumpy as it warms up. I'll be back in just over a month with fresh tyres and mousses and will report back on what I find when I remove the tyres for inspection. I've seen ways of extending the life of mousses by cutting and inserting a segment from another mousse, other people have used old inner tubes to pad them out as they wear. Not sure I will go down these routes, what I want more than anything is reliable riding without punctures.

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  #26  
Old 12 Apr 2015
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Slavery in Morocco
If you ever read Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, you might recall the book opens with Robinson being brought into the port of Salé on Morocco's Atlantic coast as a captive of pirates.

The Salé Rovers were part of the Barbary Pirates, a yesteryear network akin to today's al-Qaida. The pirates operated out of ports along Morocco's Atlantic coast and the Mediterranean between the 15th and 19th century, raiding the European coastlines from Ireland, Cornwall, Brittany, Spain, Italy and Greece, capturing whole villages of people for slaves.

Over the period of their operation it is estimated the pirates captured and enslaved more than 1.25 million white Christians. White Gold tells the story of one of these slaves who worked under Moulay Idriss in the building of Meknes.

The BBC History website has a chilling account of the likely fate of many of these slaves.

Slavery in Morocco goes much further back, however, and since the late 7th century it is estimated about 20,000 slaves from sub-Saharan Africa were traded each year into North Africa, which works out at about 2 million for every hundred years. Although some of the slaves in Morocco were deployed as domestic servants, many were used in the army and it was these 'black moors' who were at the head of the forces that invaded Spain.

Going off on a tangent, the English 'Morris Dancing' is thought to derive ultimately from Moorish dancing, and some of the dance troops still blacken their faces before performing.

Slaves in the Tafilalet
Slavery was outlawed in Morocco when the French protectorate was established in 1912 but it continued in the Tafilalet until the region was finally occupied in the early 1930—so this is still just within living memory. Previously the slaves had worked in the oasis and fields, but as they didn't have land or resources of their own, when freed many of them went to work in the mineral mines that were established at nearby M'fis. Some of these workers lived close to the mine in what in marked on the map below as 'ghost town'. Others settled in Khamlia and Taouz and today Khamlia is well known as a place to go and the traditional experience Gnawa music of their ancestors.

As well as lead, the M'fis mines produced white nickel and barite which is an exceptionally heavy non-metallic substance that is used in a wide variety of applications, from the filler in playing cards (makes them easy to deal) to x-ray shielding.

The mines of M'fis
So my plan for the day was to go and explore the various mining sites.



First though, breakfast overlooking the dunes.



After filling up with fuel I headed over to take a look at Dyat Srij, a seasonal lake that forms along the route of the Ziz river.



Three of the mining spots are marked on the map. There's two main ways to get to the mines. I took the easiest route which is to head south from Merzouga for about 10km, through Khamlia until well past the dunes, then take a piste to the north east.



The water table is near the surface all across this area. I turned south east after the well on a faint track to explore some more.





After a big loop round I came across the first of the mine workings, very much an amateur hand dug affair.





Heading west I then came across a much more professional setup with pumps to drain the water and mechanical hoists to raise the rocks.







And just before regaining the main piste I came across the main mine plant which closed around 1990. Clearly some form of processing was carried out here but I have no idea what it was.



I went through the mine workers' lodgings (ghost town on map).



Carrying on across the main piste I came across the workers' graveyard.



had done a lot of off-bike exploring, so when I reached the southern tip of the dunes I headed down onto the piste then south west to drink a well-earned coke in Cafe Nora in Khamlia. Then back to Kanz Erremel for a swim, sunbathe and plan the next day's route.





Nicely presented healthy and tasty food.

.
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Last edited by Tim Cullis; 12 Apr 2015 at 12:05.
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Old 12 Apr 2015
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Visiting 'The Mummy'
The first part of the day's plan was to revisit what I now know to be the crater of a domant volcano to the west of Rissani. This was used as one of the locations in the 1999 film 'The Mummy'. Morocco has a pretty strong film industry which brings much needed funding to the country—around 800 crew and extras worked on the Mummy.



I would normally have travelled cross country to 'The Mummy' but the water levels in the Ziz were high.



This is how the location appears in the film with Egyptian style obelisks to represent the lost city of Hamunaptra.



And the reality of what was probably a French Foreign Legion fort. And yes, I made a right 'pigs ear' of the climb.



The Mummy's backside



On the satellite view of the volcano you can clearly see the round rim of the crater with the entrance wall at the bottom and you can just make out the second wall to retain water part way up. What I have realised since is that there are items on the ground that need further investigation. The rectangular shape to the bottom right could be a parade ground—I’ve seen similar at other forts. And then just to the bottom left of the entrance wall there’s a series of round dots arranged in a 4x5 grid…

Dakar piste to Foum Mharech
The next part of the route was heading south on a piste used in the 2006 Dakar Rally.

I'd been following the 2006 rally with friends and we were supporting the British teams—Si Pavey/Matt Hall/Charley Boorman in the BMW Race to Dakar team, Nick Plumb from Touratech, and Patsy Quick/Clive Town from Desert Rose.



Si, Matt and Charley on the piste. Charley crashed out later that day with injuries to both hands. The emphasis for most riders is not so much to compete for positions, but to actually finish the gruelling event, which Si, Nick, Patsy and Clive all did.





Car and truck competitors. Just shows how much instant video technology has improved in the last nine years.



It's bit nerve wracking heading off on an unknown piste that's been used for the Dakar—surely it must be very difficult? But no, quite beautiful in many places, though I doubt competitors would have been admiring the orchids.





Apart from a few sandy stretches, some of which you could just ride around, it was very enjoyable.



One possible stop enroute is Auberge Petites Dunes which is the first of the two accommodation options I've marked on the map.



Auberge Mharech is situated in a narrow oasis at Foum Mharech where the (normally dry) Mharech river passes through a defile in the rocks and out onto the plain below. Foum means mouth in Arabic so is similar to Aber and Inver in Gaelic, from where we get UK placenames such Aberdeen, Inverness and Plymouth.



More orchids.



It was still early in the day so I carried on a little way south to refuel from drums at Tafraoute Sidi Ali, then returned to Auberge Mharech for the night. Did some washing, enjoyed yet another tagine and had an early night.


For higher resolution photographs and maps check out the original postings at the Morocco Knowledgebase
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Last edited by Tim Cullis; 13 Apr 2015 at 10:53.
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  #28  
Old 12 Apr 2015
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Hey Tim! Great read! And nice photos too. For the sand riding: I first rode sand on my KTM exc 450 with no offroad experience at all. I was really surprised how easy it was. Lots of lean possible cause the wheels dig banked turns as you go. Couple of weeks ago I went to Dubai and Saleh (if you read in the middle east section you'll see that he's the guy taking care of bikers in Dubai) hooked me up with his friend's GS 800. I had no luggage on the bike cause I just borrowed it for the weekend but sand was a complete different deal!!! The bike was way more shaky and tended to tip over a lot more. I'm 183cm tall and in petty good shape but I was struggeling to keep the bike upright!!! I don't even want to know what that will be like on the Africa Twin I just boght With full luggage! Good thing thou: Sand is very soft to fall and won't damage the bike either, so you can go for it! Momentum is definitely key and try to stop facing downwards only... In dunes Skiing offpiste and skateboarding in pools will help find your line. Low tire pressure makes a huge difference too.
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  #29  
Old 22 Apr 2015
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Great report Tim. Plenty to see if one looks closely.

Wrt to ‘overnight sand compacting’, a German Ergoholic explained to me once that – car or moto – it’s actually down to overnight tyre cooling, though the impression is the same. Static tyre pressures can increase by up to 20% over the course of a hot day on the piste, making them less effective in sand. A heavy 4x4 on saggy ‘overnight’ tyres will be more effective – a relatively light bike much less so, especially on stiff Mich Deserts and the like.

It's commonly mentioned but away from the less arid desert fringes where dew can occur (like Mk), I’ve never noticed a sand crust firm enough to make any difference.

Not surprised to hear an unloaded KTM 450 is a gas in the sand. Light weight is the key on a moto on loose surfaces: knobbly tyres help but it makes it physically easier for the rider to react to slides and other deviations in the wheel tracking.

Quote:
… Happy for others to chip in with sand riding advice…
Well in that case… Another factor worth mentioning with motos in soft sand is the sand that builds up in front of the front wheel rather like a bow wave in water. This has the effect of messing up the machine’s self-centring steering geometry: the caster effect is reduced or even reversed (first pic below - riding downhill, admittedly). Result: bars flop to the side and over you go. That’s why on soft sand it’s so common to fall over (usually harmlessly) as you either pull away or slow to a stop (brake gently).

Once on the move the speed and the momentum that comes with it all help, but of course on a 250-kilo bike that takes some nerve, especially in dunes. That XRL in the bottom pic was close to that weight but shows a good stance: weight back; on the gas. Knees pressing into the seat/tank also makes a huge difference when standing – the 3rd point of contact ‘triangulates’ your body with the bike and helps stability.

Low tyre pressures make a huge difference but I have the same view as Tim when riding alone on desolate pistes. Unless you are ’44-second man’ avoiding punctures trounces traction - and Morocco is barely sandy anyway . Keep pressures high and let the tyres’ knobs do the work, not the contact patch. In a car it’s different.
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