dimanche 17 décembre 2006

25-10 Tinerhir Zagora 310Km Italians lost

As usual, 4h30 Am Muesin, 6h00 get up, excellent breakfast . We go to the hospital to take the bikes, we don’t see the guard and nobody else, the bikes were well watched, but Morocco is a country very safe and that does not fear nowhere.

We load the bikes and leave at 8 Am. 25 Km on a road before tacking the track to Alnif. This track is in preparation for a future tarring, what Gandini calls a “Inch Allah road”, the old track which curves around the news is more interesting.

Passage of a small pass and we arrived to Alnif without problem, refueling the bikes and we set out again for Zagora.

After Alnif we drive a dozen of km towards East then on the right hand, direction South, we cross some villages and then in Tabourikt at the exit of the village, I take a wrong track. The GPS indicates direction SW and I’m going towards South straight to the Djebel (mountain), we try to find the good track while going off road but there are a lot of big stones and that becomes like trial. We go back, find an other track which seems to be good, but once again it brings us towards the Djebel, once again we try off road and finally we find the good track.

We are riding now in a stony plain, I stop to a well, the water is only at three meters . Patrick goes a head, but he misses a change of direction, it does not have a GPS, and just at this moment he loses a part of his headlight , I wait him at the crossing tracks. When he realizes, he makes half turn, we collect the plate and we set out again.

When we leave this valley, we approach a great plain which seems to be a shott ( dry lake ), the wind rises and blows rather extremely, and becomes into a sandstorm. We move right towards the cloud of sand which masks the horizon, a small anguish goes up, at the same time we ride on a dried ground and completely cracked (like chips) there is no more track. The dry ground plates, 20 or 30 cm of large and 3 or 4 cm of thickness, crack under the wheels, the more we advance and the less we see there, the visibility is less than ten meter.
We stop and decide to remain close together and avoid to lose sight of the other. We follow the direction given by the GPS, we hear the noise made by the dry ground under our wheels, It doesn’t take a lot of time, but what a feeling. Finally we get out of the cloud of sand, the wind is blowing quite strong.

Sand storm

Ground chips

Then we arrive to a village in a sandy area, we go around by the east side before to head west towards Zagora. Some kilometers further we see an auberge in the middle of nowhere. We stop for the lunch. Tajine Kefta, fresh water, it’s great regarding where we are. The young guy who serves, talks to us about the many rallies which pass here.

Auberge Marabout

On the track again, in fact there is not really one track but many parallel tracks. I go a head and decide to step on the gas, after a moment, having a look behind, I don’t see Patrick, I turn and go back, then I see 4x4, I head for them and ask if they have seen a bike, they explain to me that he is stopped not so far. Gas.

I see Patrick and in the same time a band composed by 8 bikes are going up to me, the Italians we saw the first day, they give me a wave. Patrick has already removed the front wheel because of a puncture. Mechanical workshop in this windy area is not very easy and the sand penetrate everywhere, there is a lot of sand inside the tyre, on the axle. There are many thorn planted in the tyre. Patrick has waited the last minute to prepare his bike, and as he couldn’t get tyres “Michelin desert”, so he put normal tyre type T63, “ it will be ok, you will see “ he said. We change the tube and put back the wheel. Now, if we want avoid riding by night we need to change pace, Gas.

Suddenly 4 bikes stopped in front of us, the Italians. They ask us if we have a GPS, I return the question, No they haven’t, a compass ?, No they haven’t, a map ? No they haven’t.

In fact they are lost. Because of the sandstorm the group has been divided in two and they lost sight of the others. Good. They ask if we can guide them to Zagora, If they pay a beer it’s okay. “Andiamo”, Welcome on board.


There are a BMW 1200 GS (without plastics wears ) the guy is a very good driver ( he has made 5 Dakar and three time finisher), a Greek with an Africa twin who speaks a little French, one guy with an old Honda 500 XLR and at last a guy with a BMW 1150GS who is not a very good driver. He seems to be afraid and anguished. Our bikes are smaller and loaded but they have some difficulties to follow us, we have to stop after 2 or 3 km waiting for them, with this speed we are not yet arrived. We go through Oum jrane, once again at the exit of the town, I take a wrong track, as often, thanks to the GPS, I go straight off track in order to find the right direction, we cross a small stony field following a sandy area with very small dunes, this way is not very complicated but the guy with the 1150 is not able to follow, the Dakarist turn and go back to help him to cross over. We continue, finding the right track. We have to stop each 5 mn. We stop for drinking some water, the guy with the 1150 arrives, I give him my bottle of water ( they haven’t water also ) he throw the cap on the ground and after the bottle, “hola I don’t agree man “.

The Dakarist is anxious because the gas, hours are going on, everything’s going well

We start again, the front wheel of Patrick’s bike is becoming flat once again, but slowly he decides to continue like this. I would like to take the track which pass south of the Djebel Adafane before Zagora, but showing behind every time, I didn’t take care to the GPS and we took the North track more comon, anyway it will bring us to Zagora. Once again we have to wait for the Italians. I stop, Patrick decides to continue slowly because of the puncture.

I’m waiting for the Italians on the side of the track when two little girls, around 4 or 5 years old, come towards me. I can see far away a nomad camp. They are watching me without saying a word. In my backpack I have a part of the today picnic we didn’t touch, I give them bread water and chocolate. Regarding the clock, it’s possible that we stay this night on the track, anyway.

The Italians end up arriving, they pass in front of me without stopping, Patrick is coming back and, in the same time, the Greek arrives with two new Italians guys of the group, there are a lot of people suddenly, their group is reconstituted.

They succeeded to contact with the other group, thanks a cellular phone. So we can go now, Arrivederci raggazzi.

We let the Italians waiting the rest of the group. Before leaving, we blow up the wheel with a special cartridge for mountain bikes, It should be ok. But now is getting dark, we drive side by side, because the headlight’s bike are not on the top and we don’t see a lot, 5 or 6m no more.

I must to drive only with dipped headlight otherwise the GPS is shutting down. One eye on the GPS the other on the track or what I suppose to be in the dark. The GPS is set on the map mode, and thanks to the cartography I get on internet I can see where we are. Without this tool it is almost impossible to follow a track in the dark. We didn’t drive a lot of kilometers, but it seemed quite long.

Finally we arrive to Zagora, escorted with a lot of young beaters riding mopeds who propose hotel, garage, restaurants and so on.

Zagora has changed a lot during the last eight years. We stop in front of the new palace of the governor under a lamp. In the guide we select a guesthouse named Dar Raha at Amezrou close to Zagora.
(http://darraha.free.fr)/, good choice.

We are escorted by Said, mechanic in a garage, in the competition department please !!!

We park the bikes in the lobby of the guest house, there is not other customers like us. Fresh beer, hot shower, kefta with red wine from Meknes, the house is splendid and the hosts are friendly.

I sleep on the flat roof under the stars.

‘’ Hé Patrick, on est moulus, hein !!! ‘’.


The lobby of the guest house