Thursday 14 November 2013

Morocco Offroad

Morocco Offroad

Morocco offroad from Simon Lister on Vimeo.

Morocco Offroad - by Simon Lister

If you want to ride on rocks, harsh arid land and mountains I guess Morocco would be the place to go, and yep thats what I found. This is definitely a hard barren place and the country is all made upon rock. I arrived by plane into the town of Ozauzazite at 2:30 am and met my guide who was going to take me on my tour. I wanted to travel by myself on this trip as I love to take photos and wanted the opportunity to stop were ever whenever I wanted and take photos without holding up a group. The experience of getting out of Casablanca to Ozauzazite was something out of a circus and arriving in a strange place in the early hours of the morning kept my guard up a little, and traveling for over 22 hours to get to this desert town I was eager to get my head onto a pillow and get some sleep. My guide informed me that a tour group of girls had just had an accident and had been hurled out of a car with no safety belts on and were in a very bad way staying at their house waiting for a plane to arrive to take them back to Holland. One of the girls was too beaten up and had to stay in hospital with 6 broken ribs and a punctured lung, the other 2 girls at the house had a broken foot, broken back and shoulder and various cuts and grazers to the face and other parts of the body. Welcome to Morocco!

It certainly was a wake up call in how dangerous this region is and with my 8 day trip off road on dirt bikes certainly made me rethink my safety. I got to sleep at 3:30 am and was a wake again at 6 am, I had breakfast with the girls and we then carried them on stretchers to the ambulance to take them to the airport to be flown out, I think their travel insurance company were eager to get them home and away from the local medical "state of Morocco"!. By 10 am we were off on day 1, I was riding a Yamaha TTR600 and my guide was riding a KTM 950 Super Enduro, I had the option of getting a KTM 630 but as I was filming on the bike, the Yamaha gave less vibration for the camera, I was using a GoPro HD camera mounted to my chest, this is a great camera and is full HD, even though other parts of my male anatomy wanted the KTM (mustang) my safe brain intelligence suggested I should have the Yamaha!. We were off, we first rode to the foot hills of the High Atlas mountains, we crossed over flat desert type terrain and we rode on rock type roads in the mountains, occasionally we would go of the track and head up and over hills and also a lot of riding up dried river beds and also wet river beds, I enjoyed getting wet in the streams while riding as this cooled me down a little.

The terrain is epic in Morocco, at some stages you feel you are riding in the Grand canyon, and traveling between 60 and 100 km's,took on a fast adventurist and thrilling ride the lack of people and cars around meant we could open the throttle a little and experience what its like to do Dakar style racing!!!. We spent a couple of days traveling to the dunes on the edge of the Sahara desert, to get there we rode for 8 hours in 47 degrees C,the amount of water I had- would be in the gallons AND I didn't expel any liquid at all the whole day, the body really needs the fluid in these conditions, I had a camel pack on my back and I was drinking hot water from it all day, I would drink litres in one session and still be thirsty, in this dry heat and the type of clothes I wore while riding I didn't sweat much either, I guess when I get back home in 2 weeks i'll be sitting a lot on the toilet!!!

We rode over sand dunes in the evening as it was a bit cooler to ride in. It was a different way of riding in the sand, with deflated tires we would ride over the dunes at about 40 k's p/hr to keep the momentum going so we wouldn't get bogged down. Also a technique you need to have is to slow down at the top of the dune as you can't judge the other side, I found this out fast as I cart wheeled down one slope after I went over too fast. Another moment was when I was climbing one dune and released almost at the top that I was riding over Erg Chebbi, the highest sand dune in Morocco with a height of 300 meters I realized that this girl was to epic to go over, so I freaked out and rode off to the side, the video footage of this is hilarious as all you can hear is me freaking out whoa whoa whoaaaaa!!!! might have to put it up on you tube for a laugh.

Lines on the horizon and thats about it, just flat hot dry land, we would cruise across these parts sitting on 100ks/p/hr awesome riding occasionally standing up to carry the bike over the occasional ditch, if its a deep ditch or hole the bike at this speed tends to glide over.

I loved the ride through the mountains, the terrain changed constantly, some hard tracks than others, we would venture up rivers with no tracks and you would see the odd Moroccan Berber riding his horse or donkey somewhere in no-mans land, what were they doing out here! surely I thought if they just moved twenty kilometers that way there is a oasis with palm trees and spring water to wash in. I guess the view up in the rock house in the side of the mountain with the dirt is better. I certainly shaw a lot on this trip, the way people live, the way animals were treated and also the harshness of the land and what religion and culture can do to shape a land, its certainly different to Australia from were I am from.

The last day of riding became the biggest day of the week, we weaved our way around mountain after mountain, one track was very rocky and demanding on the body, lots of technical riding around a road that was very busted up, we got to a village in the middle of nowhere, beautiful, surrounded by green lush fields, it was picturesque, I was told it has been used for film shoots in the past, and I can see why. We headed on the track around the back of the mountain and came across a slip that had taking the road out, a huge boulder had also dropped right in the middle of the once was track and the edge was a good few hundred meters straight down, we might of got the bikes around, maybe with ropes but the support vehicle had no hope of making it through, we had to go back and again over that darn rocky track, o' my arms were feeling today. So we headed back the way we came, all two hours of back tracking, at one stage I lost my guide (he goes ahead a bit!!!) it really concerned me as I was catching a flight in the morning at 5:30 am (why such crazy hours!)and I knew we were no where near home, after 30 mins of riding in whatever direction looked right at the time,I came across Peter resting under a Olive tree,phew saved!, these trees are hundreds of years old and there are thousands of them all perfectly spaced throughout the Atlas Mountains. By evening the sun was fading and rain set in as we rode over the mountains still, there came a time were I could not see in front of me, the light on front of the bike gave me only a few feet in front me, it didn't even reach the roads surface, I couldn't go on and Peter was too far ahead for me to stick close to to see where to go, I had to wait for the support vehicle to catch up and then it could guide me down the mountain with its high beam lights. This worked the vehicle caught up to me and stayed on my back wheel for the next few hours, big day, we finished our trip into Qzauzazite at about 10pm that night, we stopped and had dinner in town then unloaded washed the dirt off my gear, as I know it want get through customs in the state its in, I collapsed at about 1 am, the flight out left at 5:30 am so was up again at 4, to sort out damp washing and motorcycle gear. Goodbye Morocco.

This ride is one of the most epic things I have done and experienced, at the time I'm holding on and steering the bike down unknown tracks and paths that lead us into the unknown, but we hold on and we go forward, we know its dangerous, but we don't think of the consequences of coming off and doing injury.

Each year I go and each year I come back, the experience of traveling over these grandiose landscapes is absolutely full filling and satisfying. What a great World we live in.

Guide: Peter Buitelaar Bikershome Tours Morocco

Music by Scott Langley and Moog Nylon Studios

#MoroccoOffRoad #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

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