Archive for November, 2010

Darren Writes 23-nov

Hi guys.. Sorry no pics this time. I haven’t really stopped to take any as we have persisted onto the Gambia to fix Russ’ bike before it explodes… BOOM! Seems like the other fork seal has gone and we’re in the process of diagnosing an over heating problem. Here we can get parts shipped to, and then there’s no stopping us!

The story so far. Weve been riding morning to night with no time to fall off. In the south of Mauritania we stopped in a village where we were put up in a communal building (a bit like a small village hall). We were entertained and supplied with endless tea and finally the best nights sleep for days.

A 60 mile track to a back water immigration post in to Senegal made the crossing a bit easier though fighting not to pay the ‘extra taxes’ still a challenge.. one we overcome most of the time. Border crossing are a pain. Leaving Mauritania we had also to wait whilst they sat around a big bowl and ate. This was the same too entering Senegal though this time we were invited to join in. Good food too. We then stayed in St louis and road to 11pm the next day to the Gambia border. Same usual stuff  and then a ferry into the capital, Banjul. We almost arrived to our camp site when Russ fell on a sandy street on top of his bad ankle. Ouch. My injuries are slowly improving but im realising it will be a while before im better. Thanks for all your prayers. I hope it’s not too cold in the UK. Till next time.

Darren writes 18/11

I almost rode off this one

Hi All, It’s great to get all your messages (including yours Ben ch). I read them last night as we are now in Atar, Mauritania. But with such slow connection speeds and a key board with keys in different places than what I’m used to, replying to them all in the time we have is tricky. Just putting the blog update takes as long as digging ones bike out of soft sand! We did a lot of that recently!

Russ digging out... Again!

 To let you know Ben, bikes have taken a bit of a hammering.. Mine seems to be ok with routine maintenance although my water pump may be on its way out and I did break my screen. Russ’ latest problem is fork oil everywhere with broken seals. We will bodge something this morning and get some more seals sent fedexed when we get somewhere sensible. Kris, you’ve done fantastic things looking after this blog and the face book page… everyone should know your hard work.

So what’s been up since the last update? Right now we are in the desert town of Atar repairing our bikes and recovering from our most challenging ride in the Mauritanian desert of mostly sand dunes and sand planes.

One of our campsites

 It took us 4 days to cross 300miles and the sun is so hot. Starting in a village of deep soft sand, Russ boiled his radiator coolant as we took an hour struggling through their streets. We were passing along a train track which carries the world’s longest train and later that afternoon, as the sun was setting, the 2 km long ore train passed… an amazing sight. With hard work, deflated tyres and determination we rode the sand and its dunes the following day. Then disaster… On one of Russ’ falls, he trapped and twisted his foot under his bike… it’s now wrapped in cabbage leaves, which seems to be the local thing to do with swelling.

typical killer sand dune

 Maybe we could get some ice fedexed? Then later in the afternoon, I rode straight off the steep side of a small dune. Through the air and front wheel into the sand beneath. Landing head first, still on the bike and upside down its weight came down on me crushing my upper torso and shoulders. Lying there after I thought I had broken ribs and shoulder and possibly sternum and back I couldn’t move and somewhat worried about being in the desert in this state. A prayer, Mandatory! We camped under that dune with the idea to wait until the morning to see if Russ would ride out for help or sit it out to recover some before me getting back on the bike.

the village of choum. kids fight for photo

 Thank God, it seemed the next day that nothing had broken though the pain was pretty intense. It would have been best to have stayed there to recover but with dwindling food and water, Russ set up our bikes, after test riding mine which seemed to escape with only a broken screen and cosmetic stuff, and we continued. It was about as far to go in both directions so onwards we went. Riding was agony and when the bike started to fall there was no way I could have a chance of keeping it up so Russ spent a lot of time picking my bike up as well as his own. And with a sprained ankle. The thing with sand is you have to maintain good speed or you sink and every dune we went up we would have to slow near the top to see if there was a drop off. If there was, then ditch the bike, if not, back on the throttle down the other side! Though extremely challenging it was a beautiful place and 2 days later we made it to the town of Atar where we have rested the last 3 nights. That said we had to change tyres back, do maintenance and sort out all our dirty stuff. Russ has done the heavy work… which includes picking up even the light things. Thank you Russell! Today we hope to mend Russ’ folk seals and travel south east to Nouakchott. The road will be tar so I should be able to just sit there on the bike and cruz! From there we will head to The Gambia via Senegal where we will service and repair the bikes.

So it sounds a bit cold and windy there… Just think of us having to put up with constant sunshine!

Article in the Journal

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

Kris writes

That’s the interview guys gave to a local newspaper a few days before they dived into their adventure…

Hereford journal, 10 Nov '10

Western Sahara desert

Posted: November 9, 2010 in Africa Orbital, Western Sahara

Darren writes on 9/11/10

On the piste!

We set off from Tan Tan, in the south of morocco on the 5th to cross through the desert into Western Sahara by piste (track).

The end of the tar came after 40miles where we came to a small village where we asked for directions… We got laughed at and pointed east into the desert by 4 old men who seemed to be the only residents in town. The first patch of sand sent us into a wobble…

Yes, sand is difficult!

oh dear maybe we should have put on our knobblies, but feeling lazy we carried on with our road/intermediate tyres. The desert was beautiful. A vast expanse of nothing but sand and stone, with the odd camel herd here and there and the occasional Berber nomad. The first night camping, 60miles on, gave a fantastic show of shooting stars and the stars.. there were so many of them from horizon to horizon, 360 degrees.                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Sunrise cuppa

Best camp site ever


The next day we came to Labouriat, a village a hundred miles from the nearest community..

The people who live in the middle of nowhere

They were surprised to see us and we were surprised we had managed to navigate there as we had long before lost the piste.

We then tried to navigate to a town south of there where we thought we could find fuel. We got a bit lost but found a Nomads tent where we thought we could ask the direction. We were invited in for tea and bread dipped in warm goats butter.

Yahweh provides!

Yum yum when you’re hungry! We never did find the town, Jidiriya that night and started to become a little concerned about fuel and water. Ah ha the next day we did but it wasn’t the glass city full of restaurants and supermarkets we thought, but a dozen half built houses owned by old Landrover owners. We asked for petrol and nearly got filled with diesel from a chaps drum store.. We ate some bread, oil and dates but found no petrol. Opps we had a couple of litres in our tanks and 5 each in a can.

Whoopie, fuel! Prayer answered

We left on a prayer. 20 miles down the track we met a landrover. After greetings we were offered 5 litres of fuel… The answer to our prayer! So with that and the cans we were carrying we just about made it to a town. Passed on from there and another night in the tents before the last 60 miles to Laaynoune, which was rioting and slightly on fire, and south to Dakhla.

Miles and miles!

If you would like us to publish your comments, please let us know.

Rabat to Tan Tan

Posted: November 9, 2010 in Morrocco

Darren Writes on 5/11/10

Nice Frenchman put us up in his riad

Nice French man Akim, his daughter, Tia and his Riad made for a nice couple of days in Rabat whilst we were picking up visas for Mauritania. Rabat its self is not like a lot of Morocco but more formal, clean and tidy- even the souks, comparatively.

Rabat medina

Rabat coast

From there a 340 mile ride took us to a coastal village near Agadir where we camped for the night. In the morning, doing our bike checks I found Russell’s water pump seals to be leaking… Oh no… but good job we brought along a spare. Decided to get a place to stay in Tan Tan, 200 and something miles south to do the work.

Tan Tan fixing water pump

Ouch, it took us the whole day to do it , draining the oil, coolant, and removing engine cover, which was a nightmare when it came to getting the clutch back on, but we managed it in the end and instead of celebrating with a beer as we had promised ourselves, we promptly fell asleep. Today we will take on some of the pistes through Western Sahara… Here’s hoping we fixed the bike ok! No smelly feet yet but day time temp is now about 30 around here.

Tangiers to Rabat

Posted: November 1, 2010 in Morrocco

Russell writes

We managed to grab a few internet minutes while waiting for our Mauritanian visas to be processed in Rabat. Both the bikes and ourselves are doing well, except we still have the snot! We were looking for somewhere to stay in Rabat, being a bit lost in a busy market sat on our bikes, Akim, a French/Moroccan doctor offered to put us up in his rented riad. He even bought us wine and fed us, amazing generosity, humbling and challenging – brilliant!


Posted: November 1, 2010 in Africa Orbital, Spain

Darren writes

After a great party and fantastic sending off on Sunday weve done our first 1000 miles, through spain and now were in Morocco. We have still both got the colds we left with but at least now we are in the warmth of the sun. A good job seeing how cold the north and central plateux of Spain were. This is a little village we stopped in for cafe con leche and some grub.

We stayed in Burgos with Ana for a couple of nights. Thanks Ana for the food you sent us off with. Just finished the soup and tortilla… yummy

Then a bit of nice riding in the south of Spain, north of Gibraltar, just before getting on the boat to Tangiers.