WR-ing about in Morocco

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halfpint
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Re: WR-ing about in Morocco

Post by halfpint » Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:59 am

Little 250 sound like you are not used rev it flat out ,seems like a comprise against weight or cc .hard to get the beast of both worlds. Great report keep it coming

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Chris S
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Re: WR-ing about in Morocco

Post by Chris S » Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:22 am

[dupe]

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Re: WR-ing about in Morocco

Post by Chris S » Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:23 am

Well, I can't say I ever felt like I had to scream the CRF-L or KLX or XR250 Tornados (some on 100,000km) to get along at 60mph most days. I wonder if a higher tuned engine is more sensitive to variables.

Harshness seems to vary a lot. I always noticed it coming and going on singles, especially thumpers, air- or water-cooled, which was why I thought the CB500X RR might be the answer (and have hopes for a light T7).
Honda felt too heavy on the dirt for my prefs - brilliant everywhere else, but then so are many, many bikes.
I still think a light, agile ~500-cc twin (with 270° crank, svp) would make a great do-it-all adv. They say some non-Jap manufacturers have these in the pipeline.
I rode a 701 for a week last year and was stunned by the vibes (not so much harshness). Could not bear 100kph. A quick ride on a Tornado was like stepping into a bath of frothy warm milk!

I can only put this transient harshness down to:
• fuel quality (varies a lot in the US I have found, compared to UK; Morocco seems OK)
• motor/ambient temp
• road surface
• what side of bed I got out of that morning
• elevation/air pressure
• wind and gradient
• Sun spot activity
• tyre pressures/tread pattern/state of wear/temp
• insert your theory here but it's much less/never? noticeable with twins.

If the motor is having a harsh phase I don't push it. I've always ridden like this.
Same with the motor temp, more obviously. Knowing the fuel pump is prone to problems when things get hot, I had a Trail Tech temp sensor attached to the WR exhaust manifold (anywhere very hot will do) and watch it all the time. If it creeps towards 120 for no good reason, I back off.
Same with transmission strain in a sandy oued, or on a long rocky climb [talking when hauling a heavy load]. Minimise the stress on the machine - it's all you got. I am staggered by the hammering everything is getting: tyres, suspension, trans, big tank, rack. Shrugs it all off.

For example, when the WR was pulling an easy 60-65 out of Tarfaya the other day (after a fill-up at what looked like an abandoned servo), it was humming beautifully - a sound I'd not heard for a while. Was it high-octane fuel, was it backwind, was it what I had for breakfast? Sitting on a bike watching the scenery inch by, you have a lot of time to analyse these things. It's a fun game. Some days it hums, some days it sounds like a diesel. When, for whatever reason, it's the latter,, I settle for lower speeds. It's only a 250 after all.

Snowed in with good wi-fi. Could be worse ;-)
Will continue the RR shortly.

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Oop North John
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Re: WR-ing about in Morocco

Post by Oop North John » Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:39 am

Chris S wrote: Snowed in with good wi-fi. Could be worse ;-)
Is the weather expected to change soon?

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Re: WR-ing about in Morocco

Post by Chris S » Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:31 pm

So where were we? Leaving Smara.

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I pull in for cheap fuel. In Western Sahara they subsidise fuel by 30% (as well as cooking oil, sugar and flour) to encourage northerners (like the bloke in the cafe last night) to relocate among the indigenous Saharawi and help consolidate Morocco’s stake in the former Spanish territory it occupied in the 1970s.
Matey here by his ancient Landrover told me he was an extra in Harry Potter III.
There are loads of these nomad Series IIIs in WS used to move from camp to camp, wherever the pasture is.

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More wind trees. Handy for nav: they always point south.

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Talking of south, in 2015 I had some fuel buried in the WS - a place I call the Digtree.
One of my aims on this trip had been to take an ambitious ride right through inland WS to Dakhla. This would have been 600km with very little likelihood of seeing anyone or anything; not even sure of the wells are. A fuel cache halfway made this less risky. Until things get desperate, fuel is more important than water.

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I even brought my 10L fuel bag. The WR has proved reliable and easy to ride so far. Even with my worst recorded consumption of 71 mpg (25kpl; usually high 80s mpg) I could just make Dakhla on tank + 10 litres carried, without digging up the cache.

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I reach my marker on the Smara road and follow the track for a few kms.
But even though the weather is 10° cooler (= reduced water consumption), it’s clear that heading to the Digtree alone across unfamiliar terrain would be nuts. As I now know well, all it takes is one sandy oued to spanner things up. And the tension of keeping it together for 2 days or more would not make it at all enjoyable.

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Out of curiosity I load the Digtree waypoint. Only 200 clicks, south by southwest.
I’ll head for the dig tree, another time. But not alone on a moto.

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Further on down the road, tucked into the usual headwind, I spot the famous Bou Craa phosphate belt. Part of Morocco’s motive to grab WS was to get its hands on the largest reserve of phosphate in the world (or so I read in the inter net).

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The belt (or series of belts) runs some 100km towards the coast, bridges the N1 highway and dumps it at a deepwater jetty south of Layounne.

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I inspect the half inch thick belt and polished rollers. If the rozzers caught me looking and taking pix of the conveyor they’d flip their lid. I was told later it only runs of windless days so the phosphate doesn’t end up like the trees.

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Someone very generously offers me a stay in their house in Layounne. I get my laundry done, am fed like a fois gras goose and catch up on admin.

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The house is on the very edge of the city, overlooking the Saguia el Hamra (‘red river’).

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The recent storms (which brought on the desert wildflowers), broke through this dam-bridge on the N1 highway into Layounne.

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Hold on, I’m going the wrong way if I want to take the new coast road to Tarfaya, not the main N1 desert highway. The Garmin map puts me right. It’s a marvel to have routeability in the desert.
Initially the coast road is not so interesting.

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Lots of grubby fishing shacks and the Atlantic.

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I pull into the lee of a barchan (crescent) dune on its southward march. Yes, it’s a new direction but the headwinds adjust themselves. What gets me is why don’t all the barchans end up down south? The mystery of dunes, or maybe the Atlas mountains are a huge reserve of rock to grind down into grains.

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Diggers keep rogue dunes off the road.

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Tracks actually use this road, as it bypasses the drop in and out of Layounne if headed far south.

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Up ahead I spot a strange thing in the sea, is it an island? Turns out to be the famous beached Armas ferry which ran aground a few years ago.

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Iirc, it was to serve the Canaries, just off Layounne, but didn’t make it past it’s maiden voyage. Smells a bit of a fishy insurance job. Plus a ferry to Spanish Canaries would bring up all sort of issues with migrants trying to get to Europe. Up north, Tan Med port is like Alcatraz. So are the Spanish enclaves.

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Tarfaya was known as Cape Juby in the French era, a refuelling stop on the early Aeropostale service to Dakar (or St Louis) in Senegal. St Exupery wrote of it evocatively in Wind Sand and Stars mentioned earlier - an existentialist classic, fyi. He would have been based at the fort behind.
St Ex was lost at sea during WWII - they built this plane sculpture in commemoration, but it looks a bit crap, like a big toy. Maybe its supposed to; he also wrote the famous Little Prince children’s book about a pilot lost in the desert (as happened to St Ex). I read it recently - W, S&S is better.

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And just off shore there it is: the famous Mackenzie trading post set up by an enterprising Scot in the late 19th C. Built on a tidal reef, if was perhaps exempt from taxes, or at least immune to Reguibat raids. I must read more about Mac when the internet is better.

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I approach the ruin for a better picture. Locals boys are gallivanting on the rocks and, seeing my camera, assume I’m some sort of perv. They start shouting and throwing rocks: ‘F-off, peado-scum!!’
I ignore the onslaught; they don’t realise I’m much more fascinated in the historical monument behind them. Been wanting to see this for years - a few jibes won’t stop me. I get my shot and scarper before they call the police.

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Up the road I pull in for the last cheap fuel in Afkhenir. Normally I try to skip lunch, but after the generous gorging in Layounne my stomach has expanded and will take a day or two to re-shrink. I order an omelette, the guys suggests fish. Oh go on then, I’m right by the seaside after all.

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He yanks a sole out of the fridge, grills it and brings it over with lots of lemon. 7 quid for a whole battered sole with sidesalad. Quite a lot but well worth it for a treat.

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A fisherman drops in with his catch and rests his Moby on a plank.

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Just up the road is the Gouffre Afkhenir, a collapsed sea cave fenced off right by the road.

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Below the clip edge the heavy swell is booming against the wave-worn cavities, crashing in and rebounding in all directions. Nice to watch.
That’s a radar station nearby. I think they built the new whiter one back from the edge a bit, just it case it got ‘gouffred’.


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Where shall I stay tonight? I can go back to the place in Tan Tan, but that would be too easy. Let’s see what El Ouatia, right by the sea, has to offer? Hotel de France? That will do nicely. 230d half board, great wi fi and a nice Spanish-continental ambience and old-school waiter. (Spanish influence still persists on this coast).
They help me push my bike up the steps for the night.

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And proper coffee too. Nice spot.

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Re: WR-ing about in Morocco

Post by Helicoptermanr22 » Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:54 pm

Fantastic trip and adventure. can I ask, when you have to leave the bike out of site, do what type of locks do you use or chain etc??

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Re: WR-ing about in Morocco

Post by Chris S » Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:55 pm

Re weather - don’t know. I take it as it comes but it must be getting warmer, right?!
Morocco is complicated on bikes. Could have used my heated jacket on at least 3 days.
3 other days needed a saline drip! Hot desert and high mountain.

I don’t carry locks - too heavy, but don’t leave bike outside in cities.
Hotels nearly always let you bring it in - without even asking.
Last year I used a cover - better than a lock IMO.

Best tip - just avoid cities - like much the world.
No one will meddle with your bike in rural Mk, away from tourist axis.

Thanks to all for continued interest.

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Re: WR-ing about in Morocco

Post by WIBO » Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:25 am

Checking in to this every couple of days still.....great stuff!!!

:)


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Re: WR-ing about in Morocco

Post by SIF » Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:19 pm

Loving this, gonna have to read the book again, thanks for the write up, great effort !
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Re: WR-ing about in Morocco

Post by Chris S » Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:14 am

Ah yes - D Travels. Wrote that over 20 years ago. Have to say I think my writing has improved since then.
Try Street Riding Years - same era but set in squatty, druggy Thatcher’s London


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Anyway. Leaving Tan Tan Plage.
Up the coastal highway to Guelmim, then inland into the mountains where the skies are about to drop.
I Rukka up. Not in a £1000 two-piece suit, but a classic 1980s PVC onesie off ebay for 40 quid.
If you positively, absolutely do not want to get wet (other than what runs down your neck), classic Rukka PVC is the dog’s. Just be careful what you search for – some uses of Rukka PVC onesies are unorthodox and NSFW.


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I start climbing. It looks grim up there.


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No PVC onesies for these two. Woollen jelabas rubbed with goat fat does just fine.


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Between the downpours you can smell the scent of the herbs off the hillsides.
Riding a bike all day makes it easy to dodge food, but at this little village shop I pull in for some bread, cheese and yogs.


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Laughing Cow - one of the great travel foods of Africa. You’ll find it all the way to the Cape and back.
Rumour has it that Damien Hirst got his idea to pickle a cow in formaldehyde after finding a 15-year-old packet of Vache down the back of his sofa one night while on the munchies, and finding it tasted unnervingly fresh.


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After Tafraoute the road climbs steeply onto the western Anti Atlas. It gets bleak and darn chilly.
I watch the elevation rise to over 1900m or 6200’ and get colder and colder and colder.


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Back again at the basic Igherm hotel - 7 quid rooms. If the footie was on there'd be standing room only in the bar, but it’s just some bint reading the news.
Luckily, hot chorba (soup) is on. I get me two bowls worth then retire to my cell to warm up from the inside.


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Next morning - chilly - but WR fires up on the button. I love that about efi.


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Down the road towards the High Atlas.


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In Taliouine I decide I’ll try the Jebel Sirwa transit (MH7), seeing as I’ve not done it for years.


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I ride the switchbacks up to Askaoun. A few kms out of town is a rough sign for Anzal.


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Last time I did this route I met two locals in a VW Golf, but the track is a lot rougher than I remember – a bad sign as it means it’s no longer used by locals. Sure enough I get to the gorge and the track is now a streambed. A fourbie could crawl over this in Low 1st and so could I, but alone, I decide not to risk it. As many of us know well, it takes just one unlucky fall-over to do in a shoulder.


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Instead, back at Askaoun I turn west. They’ve sealed the other half of MH7 - a lovely spring afternoon’s ride down to…


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… the dam which is brimming over with a winter's rain.


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Another £1 vache stop at the village shop. A couple of KTMs and a DRZ shoot by. The first bikes I've seen.


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It’s pizza night at the Bab Sahara in Tazenacht! The staff dress up like pantomime gondoliers and Pavarotti booms from the speakers. "Just one Cornetto... Give it to meee".


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Tazenacht is a normal market town and a great place to buy Berber carpets at good prices and zero hassle. I can’t resist a couple.
That’s £120 quid’s worth - a lot of money really, but all dyed and woven by hand.
I only hope the women who weave them out in the villages on the Issil plane get their fair share, but I doubt it.


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Another photogenic ruined mudbrick kasbah off the Oued Draa valley.


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The dam up at Ouarzazate releases water daily to irrigate the gardens and palmeries all the way down to Mhamid on the Algerian border. Produce, eggs and meat as fresh as you like (vachish excepted).
I pull in at Tamnougalte. Tomorrow I’ll try a gnarly new way over Jebel Sarhro, then over the High Atlas and home.

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