I’d often seen the Moto-Aventures crew at the BMF show and watched their “hard core” promo videos of guys blasting across deserts and dunes. The kind of thing you watch, and think, “Wow!” but somehow just can’t envisage yourself doing something like that.
I’d seen photos and read descriptions of people riding the dunes of Erg Chebbi. That looked hard enough. We were going to the other Erg in Morocco, Erg Chegaga, which is even more extensive, and with dunes sometimes reaching 300m high! I’d also been advised that it was “the wrong kind of sand” down there – very fine and dry, making it very difficult to ride on.
Just once, I’d tried some sand riding in Cyprus; taking a DR 350 along the beaches of the Akamas peninsular. That had been a wake-up call, with the front wheel digging in, sliding sideways and chucking me & the Missus down the beach! Making her walk, I shoved & struggled & sweated, and succeeded in getting bogged down many more times.
I do know the theory, and I fully understand why you’re supposed to keep the throttle pinned, to keep the front wheel light, while the rear tyre powers you along. All well and good in theory, but when you’re all out of shape, and scared of being flung off yet again, the last thing your brain wants to do is give it full throttle.
I’d also read about how difficult the dunes can be. Lots of speed would be required to climb great walls of sand. Failing to make the summit wouldn’t be too big a problem I thought. The bike would dig in, get bogged down, and you’d just come to halt. Yep. That ain’t too bad.
But what if you do make it to the summit? What then? You may be suddenly confronted with a terrifying near-vertical drop of 300m over the other side of the lip. What now? You’re supposed to point the bike downhill, lean back and give it full power to keep the front wheel up. If you don’t do this, and hope to simply glide down the steep side, in a lily-livered closed-throttle style fashion, the front wheel will dig in, and you’ll be eating sand again.
Thoughts of failing to climb huge dunes or cart-wheeling down sheer drops, as well as having to pull sunken machines out of deep desert sand in the blistering heat were giving me nightmares!
On top of this, were the sheer distances involved; 220 to 280 kilometres per day, every day for 7 days. The most I’m used is about 160 kilometres in a day on my Thailand tours. What if it’s simply just too hard?
Ah well, maybe it won’t be. Maybe I’ll get fit before we leave. Maybe there’ll be some long road sections. Maybe a lot of it will be high-speed, flat, easy open desert. It can’t be all that difficult can it?
Then there’s the possibility of getting lost in the desert, or breaking down absolutely miles from anywhere. Or falling ill, or encountering deadly snakes & scorpions? Or maybe having to endure really basic living conditions, or eat appalling food? What if we had to use squat toilets? Ha! In all honesty these latter items didn’t worry us in the slightest.
We wanted an adventure, not a coach tour.
Bring it on!
To continue the story, click here