Towards Tatouine

Hey! The guys made it well into Tata yesterday afternoon, although it was their hardest day so far. Through the Draa valley, they barely managed to keep an average of 21 km per hour! The piste was full of rocks and stone and a real challenge. Fantastic oasises along the road, though.

In Tata, the team finally met up with the rest of the teams in the Budapest-Bamako rally. “A lot of people came up to us and congratulated us for coming so far! But there is a lot further to go…” said Magnus. The guys also met up with the film crew from Travel channel which is going to document parts of their journey.

Today they are off for an early start – they have 600 kilometers to go before they reach Tatouine on the border to Western Sahara. Appearenlty, parts of Star Wars was filmed in this very special area. This is what the official road book says about it:

“STAR WARS PARTY: We’re holding our annual Star Wars Party and Planet Tatooine. We’re planning on showing Star Wars under the starry skies. You’ll get one bonus point if you submit your race sheet wearing a Star Wars costume or accessory.”

Good luck and have fun :) Kristina

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Piste driving

Today, Joachim, Adrien and Magnus left Zagora on their way to Tata, where they will meet up with the rest of the teams in the rally. Today’s main attraction is 120 km of piste driving in the desert, something the guys were hugely looking forward to.

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Operation Desert Storm

(Posted on behalf of Joachim:)

We woke up relieved that the awesome hospitality of our hosts had not left us dead from food poisoning (an interesting dining experience where our hosts would dig their arm as far as they could into some unrecognizeable carcas and tear out lage handfuls of gut, meat, bone or whatever they could get a firm grip on, and with great exitement pass it slapity-slap, from hand to hand, all the way down the table until it landed sit a loud splat on our plate… Mmmm, merci, thank you, shucran… seconds you said? You are too kind, of course I would love some more of that slimy belly… Nice rifle you have there that you are pointing at us)

Anyways, off we went as brave vespateers into the desert, a big flat pancake of sand and ruble as far as we could see, and in all directions. We dismissed all advice against riding the pistes today as we could be facing a sand storm… More about that later.

Riding here in the light we were amazed how we managed in the pitch black the night before. There was no clear defined pists, and tracks were  criss crossing every where, comprised of soft sand, wash boards, rubble, rocks, tracks, no tracks, the whole lot.

We were having a ball, riding, filming, and then Joachim ate sand as he tried to navigate som soft tracks, which was a lot of fun also. Ofcourse Magnus was filming at that very moment, and capturing the moment on film seemed far more important than to help out their fellow rider stuck under 180+ kg of loaded scooter… And then it happen to Adrien, which made it even better… What a blast!

Then the wind started picking up and the desert turned into a big brown pot of sand, with us stirring in the middle it. We had to abort the offroad riding and find the shortest route to tarmac.

Most of the remainder of the day was spendt riding with a 60 degree lean into heavy side wind while trying to circumvent thousands of potholes at 15 meter visibility and being sandnlasted at the same time. When we finally came to Zagora long after night fall, there was sand everywhere… Inside our mouths, inside our gloves, in our boxers… Everywhere!

Wow, what a fantastic day!

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Saved by a Bedouin!

Today’s Moroccan update (on a bad phone line) included tales of helpful Bedouine, sand storms and a closed hotel.

When the guys finally arrived at the “hotel” in the desert yesterday, it turned out to be closed. The three vespateers are one day ahead of the field, so nothing was open yet. They had to turn back and look for a place to put up a tent.

Around them, the wind was blowing up to a sand storm. It was pitch dark. Just as they were starting to feel really f***ed, a Bedouin appeared! He took them to his village/tent (??), gave them a place to sleep and lots of food. Talk about luck!

Today, the guys are planning to head towards Tata. More reports will follow.

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Blizzards and fog…

The short, cryptic sms I received from Magnus today contained three words only: Blizzards and fog!

The guys are well into the Atlas mountains in Morocco now, and according to the weather forcast, it is was below zero there earlier today… brrr. The arrow on their tracker keeps moving forward, though, so I guess they are all right, and that the scoots have fought off the snow (they have some experience from Norway, after all ;) ).

If anyone is interested in what the landscape up there looks like, go to maps.google.com and put in Tillicht, Rich, Meknès-Tafilalet, Maroc. Beautiful, arid landscape with a lush green valley. Looking forward to pics!

Kristina

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Heading towards the Atlas mountains

Hey! I heard from the guys earlier this morning, when they had just had breakfast in Ceuta and were headed for the Moroccan border. They hoped to make it well into the Atlas mountains by nightfall.

Via the tracker in the column to the right, you can follow their journey live. Kristina (Magnus

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2 breakdowns on day 1

90 km, 9 hrs = avg speed of 10/kmh, but we are first o-ha. 30 min into our first day, Joahim had hos first break down. His spark plug cap had come undone. Problem identified and fixed in a jiffy, but we missed the ferry and entered Ceuta one hour and thirty minutes behind schedule and missed our wondow to cross the border into Morocco and get to Tetuan before night. Not that it would have mattered as “Murphy” decided to be a “stow away” on our trip, making everything go pearshaped every chance he get.

Right after entering Ceuta, Adrien broke down – a vital part of the throttle was lost – out of hundreds of spare parts, the one we did not bring as it was the least likely to fall. A three hour cilicone bodge repair and we are ready for tomorrow… and Magnus pinking problem has hopefully been resolved after adjusting the ignition timing.

Three riders, three repairs, one day… what’s next?

A good hotel and a great dinner, that’s what.

Did we forgot to mention that we are loving it Even though we’ve only slept two hours since friday?

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Dubbed on Hungarian TV

A surprise, but a good one (never been dubbed before). Fast forward to about 2:50 or watch all of it. Watch it here

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Can’t sleep..

It is is quite hard, actually. Joachim is shaking and has been awake for the last week. After countless hours studying the sattelite maps of google earth, that is all I see when I close my eyes.

On Saturday, we get up up at 0230. We’ll put on our helmets, riding boots, riding jackets. We’ll sneak out of the house to make sure we don’t wake the wife and kids. At 0400hrs we should be at the airport. There we need to figure out a way to get a tap and die, a timesert tool and a leatherman through the security. We’re not checking in any luggage.

Some call this ATGATT. All The Gear, All The Time.

The plane for Malaga departs at 0600hrs. We will not sleep on the plane. At 1010 we arrive in Malaga.

Oscar, the Swede/Spaniard, picks us up and drives us to the scooters. A couple of hours later we are on the ferry to Ceuta. A few hours after that again, we’re probably pitching a tent some place in the Rif mountains.. Hopefully, by then we should be able to get some sleep.

***

The organizers of the rally have put up an SMS-wall. Every participant in the rally can send an sms directly to that wall. We have added this to our website, so that friends, fans and family can get direct updates on what is going on from us and the other participants. Check in every now and then. We’ll text frequently!

The SPOT live-tracker now has a direct link to SPOT’s dedicated page on the right hand menu. Click on it if you’re wondering were we are. Call us on the sat.phone if you see that we are riding in circles! The tracker updates our position every 10-15 minutes.

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Visa mania and other stories – a short update

The last few weeks have been hectic, sorting out all the lose ends, so here is a short update:

Only yesterday, four days before departure, and two months after the application was submitted, Joachim finally received his visa. Getting it was manic, and to keep a long story short: In the end, Joachim had Norwegian diplomats located in; Liberia, Mauritania, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, and Norway, all working for him. He had the organiser working for him, Adrien was making calls, his wife was making calls, the rally organizer was making calls… In the end, all that was needed, was a simple phone call by the Mauritanian consulate for Norway, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mauritania – a call that Joachim had stressed repeatedly for two months that they needed to make (nothing goes through in Mauritania without luck or push, often you need both). We also started looking into alternative plans – splitting up to get Joachim to rabat to try to get a visa there, or to fly him from Morocco to Senegal to meet up with the team and the scooter there…

It looks as though our offroad tires are not going to make it – we shipped them after the scooters to Jorge in Portugal, who was to bring them to Spain for us. They have still not arrived. But, we can deal without… 10 inch wheels with street rubber or offroad rubber, it is to Bissau or Vallahalla trying.

We’ve also been busy making roadbooks (a low tech navigation tool consisting of turn by turn instructions on a scroll of paper and a bracket to hold it). It a bit strange, navigating by landmarks, compass courses and GPS coordinates… How does that work at night – riding with a flashlight looking for a big rock where we need to turn to the right onto the mule path?

The president in Guinea bissau died in France two days ago, which can make things interesting for the rally – a coup in the making???

Besides that, we are just about ready. All our papers are scanned and copies printed, all items aquired and set aside to be packed, teeth are checked up and fixed, hair is cut…

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