Accidents and culture
So there I was, on my own and more than ready to ride for another week or so. But the bike wasn’t what you would call in immaculate condition anymore. The sound of the starter motor was more like a death rattle and it kept on sucking my battery dry. My wheels were dented and the panniers were attached to the bike with a couple of nylon straps, but the engine was still going strong and the beast didn’t drink a drop of oil. So nothing a bush mechanic wasn’t able to repair.
I decided to head for Telouet as my good friend Michel had recommended me. The weather was great and I had fully recovered from the night out. The piste to Telouet was just what I needed. A bit rough at times but nothing really to put your foot down. Scenery was great but I wasn’t alone on the track. I was held up from time to time by slow 4×4’s and not too much space to pass them just like that. One managed to hit me slightly with his bumper against my front wheel when coming out of a blind curve, wich resulted in a bike on its side a broken mirror and a few extra scratches here and there. What the hell, my beast can bear that as well on top of the rest. The track is mainly stoney in the beginning and goes up and down. This is not the kind of piste to make high speeds, certainly not in the first half. Later the piste becomes stoney but still pretty curvy before hitting the tarmac a couple of kms before Telouet. An American girl coming from the opposite direction on a mountainbike stopped to ask if the route was getting any easier further on. I had to disappoint her. Unfortunaley I didn’t have a second helmet 😉 Damn she looked good.
I decided to stop at the first auberge next to the ancient Kasbah. It seemed I was the only guest in the hotel and I was welcomed by a friendly berber named mohammed who I could chat with and who happened to be a guide in the Kasbah as well. I didn’t even believe half of what he said but I didn’t care much as the absolute truth was not what I was after right now. He served me good food and showed me around in the Kasbah which I appreciated. But late in the evening a bunch locals started setting up a tent on the roof terrace 10 meters from my room. It woke me up and I was really annoyed. I wasn’t playing the difficult customer but this is just something you don’t do, even with only one guest in the hotel, so I decided not to pay the full price for the room, much to the unhappiness of the hotel manager but hey, I came here to sleep and I didn’t pay for midnight construction site noise during 1,5 hours! On top of that, there was an electricity breakdown and as a consequence of that, no hot water. I decided not to go for the icecold shower as temperatures were already pretty low and I didn’t have the feeling I was extremely smelly thanks to the anti bacterial T-shirts I was wearing, although I might have got that one wrong…
The next day Mohammed showed me around in the Kasbah which looked pretty shitty from the outside to be honest. It had more of a rubbish dump and I wouldn’t risk visiting certain areas because of the danger of the building collapsing. But it had some well preserved treasures on the inside which made it really worth visiting. It was a shame that not more was done to protect this kind of historical sites, but on the other hand it was nice to be in a place like this without crowds of Japanese with a camera.
As we walked back from the Kasbah, I got to take a peek in some of the houses and I must say that I know places in Belgium where animals have more luxury than these people…
I shook hands with my friend Mohammed and set off for the next trip.
My last stretch of off road
Until Agouim there is a fast road with some twisties but nothing really special. I took the opportunity to scrape my boots and give my beast some good throttle in the curves. Bloody amazing what these my TKC’s can still handle after all the abuse of the past weeks. I didn’t push it too far though because I only wore my MX protection harness and no jacket. I wouldn’t want to ruin my precious skin…
I met a group of British bikers on an organized tour along the road mainly on GS’es and had a quick chat with them. Nice guys but not my kind of trip. Too many people and no off roading at all.
I stopped In Agouim to deflate the tyres and make a call to my wife and kids. Since my cellphone got nicked in a taxi in Ouarzazate, I had to take every opportunity to make a quick call form a phone shop. I hit the piste which was gravel surface and pretty fast, albeit a bit boring at times. I left the Asif Tifnoute at my left side, which wasn’t as indicated on the map, and it was only after having crossed the river heading east, the tracks got really, really nice. There were a lot of chicanes and pretty steep slopes and the tracks were pretty narrow and sandy at times which didn’t do any good at the straight through stability of the bike. As a result, I knocked off the last plastic attachment of my panniers against a rock. What the fuck. Touratech panniers for me next time!
As I arrived in the village of Askaoun, it was already 6 PM. I didn’t know what to expect next, but I gave it a go. I had a tent and a sleeping bag after all. I changed my mind after a very rough section ahead of me. I was pretty tired and it was getting pretty cold now and I didn’t fancy the two cans of tuna in my panniers at all, so I decided to head back and look for an auberge. I met another mohammed who was the director of the local school and had a nice conversation with him. He spoke decent French and I offered him half of my Tajine, which tasted great this time but was way too much for one person. A good cold beer was what I needed the most right now but sugar with tea was fine to accommodate the socializing.
I didn’t try the sheets and slept on my thermarest in my sleepingbag. Sanitary accommodation was near zero and I didn’t feel like showering in a stand up toilet so I decided to further test the effectiveness of my antibacterial clothing. A breakfast with bread, tea and la vache qui rit and I was ready to go.
The next track sections were getting a bit rough with numerous small river crossings and rocky sections. I was above the clouds now and the views were amazing. There wasn’t a living soul around until Tachokchte and I really enjoyed myself on the more technical sections.
From here on the road changed into a construction site. This used to be nice piste but it was now being converted into tarmac. As I saw a huge bulldozer that blocked the road, I stopped to see what he was up to until all of a sudden he decided to pull it in reverse gear without looking back. So I hit the beep-beep horn thingy on my bike with no effect. The guy was wearing hearing protection and he was nearing fast. This was it, this is the end of the trip and probably the end of the bike so I prepared myself to jump off and abandon the bike, till all of a sudden about three meters in front of me, the guy looks back and hits the brakes hard! All that crazy fucker did was waving his hand goddamned! I shouted at him: ‘conaaaaaaaaaard!’ and some Eastern Flemish dialect! He made way and I showed him the finger as I passed by.
The remainder of the track was what they call pre-route. In fact this is the base layer of the final road, which is good quality gravel and very flat which means 140 kms/h. Adrenaline rushed through my body again and a handful of throttle at speed made the rear break out. Amazing! This was it, this was the last offroad section of the trip.
I stopped in Anezal to have a drink and a bowl of pistache nuts. Two kids came at me looking at the bike and my gear and asking all kinds of questions in decent French. One of them asked me if I did the Dakar and as his big brother gave me a wink, I told him I was last years winner which the boy believed and enforced my status of divinity…