Sahara trip Epilogue

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June 3rd 2012
Published: June 3rd 2012
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I normally finish these trips with an Epilogue which is kind of a Gary’s Do’s and Don’ts of the trip. A mix of lessons learned and things I would do better/differently/avoid like the plague next time.

I have travelled a fair bit – in my early twenties I spend 4 months across the US and then subsequently 18 months across Australia and South East Asia. Latterly on the bike I have also made several trips – although sometimes ending in broken limbs. Always I have set off solo.

However Biking around Morocco on your own would be pretty hard work and I wouldn’t recommend it at all. There was so much hassle that you needed two pairs of eyes, so one could watch bikes et al whilst the other changed money or whatever the order of the day was. And that was if there were no problems. I was pretty sick in the desert and the Kasbah owners were almost insistent that they take me in a 4x4 across the pistes to hospital. Being sick there it would have been very difficult on my own as I physically couldn’t get up to get water. I dehydrated enough with a constant supply of water and rehydration salts, it doesn’t bear thinking about how I would have fared without a mate to help. And when the hassle sometimes overwhelmed you it was good to have someone to laugh about the ridiculousness of it all with. So that would be my overriding advice – go with a mate.

I am a geek so I love tech and on this trip all the tech had worked a treat. The Schubert intercoms were brilliant; the GPS was essential when you were off road in the desert (well for me anyway) although the Morocco map as good as useless for actually finding and routing you to a specific address; the Go Pro video cams were superb and I have a huge library of video that I will condense down into a more watchable video later; camera gear all fine – the combination of a snappy always in your pocket and a higher quality SLR in the top box a good one, although the SLR kit took up nearly half the top box so it was an extravagance; wifi is prevalent enough in Morocco (Sahara excepted) to allow blog publishing and this Samsung Netbook fine for that task – although the mousepad drove you nuts and when writing you had to turn it off. Even my iPhone worked ok. From a guide books perspective there is little to choose between the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet works – just go with the one that has the most recent publish/research date at the time. I had the Lonely Planet guide in PDF form which was actually not that convenient on a laptop – if I had my time again I would have taken a Kindle e-Ink reader and downloaded all the guides I wanted to that.

As usual the tools and 3000 options I had for fixing a puncture hadn’t gotten used – they filled nearly a whole pannier and I hadn’t turned a page of the Haynes manual. But they were a good insurance policy I reasoned.

The option of stashing gear at the bottom of Spain worked well and I left my Givi rollbag full of my heavier winter riding kit at BMWMoto – and looking at the forecast I will likely need it again from the ride to Portsmouth home.

The lightweight Richa jacket I had was perfect for the elevated temperatures of Moroccan riding. Less sensible was the full thick foam back protector that I wore under it – it was like a goddamn duvet. Sure I may have survived being rolled over by a tractor, but that wouldn’t have mattered because I would have already expired due to overheating. If I went again I would take, the woefully inferior but better than nothing, foam insert that came with the jacket for Morocco. My Hein Gericke Air trousers though were rubbish. Mainly because they were jet black they absorbed the sun like a solar panel and I failed to understand the moniker “Air” at all as there were no vents – perhaps “Vacuum Seal” would have been a more apt title for them? They were no cooler than my heavier Hein Gericke winter kit and I will be seeking a replacement for summer riding – at the least something that isn’t black. The BMW lightweight summer gloves were superb. Generally I think BMW GS riders in full BM gear look complete tossers, but it was hard to argue with the quality of their clothing and these gloves are highly recommended. Vince finally had to give up on gloves due to the heat – this led to the Saharan sun initially blistering the cr&p out of them until he realised sun cream was essential and then finally to just have ridiculously sun-tanned hands!

The Schubert helmets were good and the flip up option allowed you to ride with in effect an open face helmet through town. An off road helmet with goggles would have probably been the best option, but having the intercoms swung it.

Adios amigos...


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