Monday, 18 July 2011

Trip Report 1 - Before Departure

In 2009 I undertook my first motorcycle trip abroad, to Dubrovnik and back on a Kawasaki W650. This was a eureka moment for me as I had found a way to combine my two passions in life: motorcycles and travel. In addition I found the joy of riding on unpaved roads whilst riding to the Southern tip of Istra (the North Westerly heart shaped peninsular in Croatia). Some of the most beautiful landsacpe I experinced on this trip was only veiwable on unpaved roads.

After returning to the UK I wanted to buy a dual sport motorcycle so I could get more experience on unpaved (green) roads. I settled on a Harley Davidson MT350 they had been the British milatry's main motorcycle for the last 15 years and they were now being removed from service. Soon after puchasing this bike I went for a ride and I found out how tough my new hobby was going to be, after almost giving up on the first lane I attempted as it was a tough rock climb on the outskirts of Keynsham near Bristol. From then onwards I was hooked going green lane riding most weekends where available. In these early days I broke the golden rule of all outdoor pursuits "never go alone" and with hindsight I was lucky I never seriously hurt myself, as I didn't have back up, but in my mind I could go alone or not at all and this was no choice for me.

In June 2010 I got married to my girlfriend/fiancĂ©e of 6 and a half years and at the time we were talking about moving to Canada in 2012, although this ambition has been put on hold for now, at the time I wanted to ride a motorcycle accross Europe to Morocco before leaving. I decided that my summer holiday in 2011, would be to ride my MT350 to Morocco and into the Atlas Mountains and hopefully as far as the desert. I thought would be the ultimate adventure I could take on two wheels in three weeks riding to and from Bristol.

Through the MT Riders Club I met another rider, known as "Pirate" or Simon who became my usual riding buddy as we were able to be free at similar times in the week. As time went on Pirate and I have become good mates. In the spring of 2010 I told pirate of my plan for summer 2011 and his immediate reaction was "can I come?" to which my reply was "of course considering everywhere I'm intending on visiting is public road, so I can't really stop you."

After Pirate got on board we offered a space on the trip to some of our riding buddies unfortunately noone could make it due to work or family commitments. One good mate of ours, Franc really wanted to go and I think if there was any way he could have made it he would have.

Another thing that put many people off joining our adventure was the time window we choose for our adventure, late June/early July when the heat has the potential to rise to 50 degrees centigrade. It emerged that it wasn't going to be an easy trip according to the information we had. It was suddenly becoming a real and challenging adventure to the Sahara in summer. The challenge aspect of it prompted me to try and make some good out of this adventure and I started raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Campagin.

In the Autumn of 2010 I got involved with another internet based motorcycle club: Horizons Unlimited. If you are ever inspired to take a trip on two wheels yourself this internet based forum aand travel advice website is an esstential travel accessory. It was through Horizons Unlimited that I met both Paul and Geoff who we goiong to join us in the trip.

Eventually we had our team and I got to planning a route. I didn't want a ridgid itineary, instead I wanted a rough idea of where we were  heading at each stage of the trip, so although there was no set agenda there was a plan. Our plan was to get through Europe as quickly as possible hopefully in three days but to give ourselves a fourth in case of unforseen incidents; then route around Morocco losely listed as Tangier - Meknes - Midelt - Bolamane Dades - Zagora - Ourazazate - Marrakech - Tangier  and finally with four days left to get home.

In the planning one of the major issues that came up was the vast difference between the machines, Paul's Honda XR650L was similarly capable to mine and Pirate's MTs, but Geoff's BMW R1200GS was much heavier and much more road biased than the other bikes. With this in mind we made sure that at all times on this tirp there had to be an altenative route on tarmac incase Geoff or the machine wasn't up to the tricky sections.

Eventually the 17th of June 2011 came around and we were set to go!!

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