Name: Wrong Way Round Sahara
Destination: Sahara desert
Distance: 6,950 kms (4,350 miles)
Vehicle: Yamaha Townmate
Two wrongs make a wrong
Two wrongs make a wrong
Calling a trip the “Wrong Way Round” was always tempting fate. About the only thing we got right was the prediction of something going wrong. There were many reasons on the first Wrong Way Round trip why we “fell a bit short”. Mostly we like to blame Charles. And the Transnistrian Chief Prosecutor who deported us.
The plan was all going to plan until we got the news. Matt had finally gone to the doc’s after spending a few weeks failing to put on his own slippers. The diagnosis was that a life of banger racing, drunken trampolining and generally dropping himself on his head, had not been kind to his back.
Suffice to say, the doc was not impressed with Matt’s intention to ride a moped for 7,000 kms off-road. Matt was grounded. Enter last minute stunt double Greg McBride, Extreme Trifle Co-Founder. A seasoned veteran of many previous events including the Plymouth Dakar Rally, Rickshaw Rampage and Cheesy Rider.
Greg was raring to go and seemingly unperturbed by the fact that he did not possess a bike licence. Mind you neither did Kaspars, a fact he admitted on the day we were leaving.
A blind chimp is better at riding a bike
Matt nobly handed over his beloved “Purple Peril” in the full knowledge that a blind chimp is marginally better at riding a bike than Greg.
To add insult to injury, as Matt waved us off through gritted teeth, the headlights on the Transhit packed up. We sat around drinking tea while Matt had to fit a new switch.
Kaspars was still waiting to be picked up from Gatwick and now we were running late and in danger of missing the ferry. We had to limit ourselves to one pitstop for essential travel supplies and a nip to the bog. Arriving triumphantly with twenty minutes to spare, we then got pulled over for a customs search.
The sniffer dog did what sniffer dogs do. It sniffed in the back of the van and momentarily barked loudly before needing resuscitation. It had found Charles’ socks. We waited for the inevitable “what is the purpose of your trip” . “Riding mopeds across the Sahara.”
I hope he doesn’t put on a glove
This could have gone either way. Either they would decide we’d consumed a good portion of the drugs we were obviously smuggling, or they might believe us and let us on our way. Since no one seemed to be slipping on a marigold we assumed it was the latter. They weren’t done though.
We all had to empty our pockets and walk through a scanner. This was largely drama-free until Kaspars’ went through. It lit up, and made a few squeaking sounds like it had found something but wasn’t quite sure.
Mr Customs then wielded one of those wands like they have at airports. With a flurry of wrist movement he proceeded to scan Kaspars with his government issue light-sabre. It lit up and had defintely found something. Turned out Kaspars’ pink clogs had metal toe caps.
After a few shakes of the head we were let on our way to join the ferry queue. Bellend last obviously.
The next two days consisted of a spank down through France and Spain. There is nothing further to report of proceedings until our arrival at base camp in Marbella. You will already have correctly assumed that we had the typical mishaps on the way down such as getting the van and trailer stuck in a churchyard and ordering spaghetti bolognese for starter AND main course by accident.
Thanks to Roger Bruton, Plymouth – Dakar Rally veteran, for putting us up on the first night with dinner and wine at his gaff. It was a welcome retreat after 15 hours on the road.
The campsite in Marbella was a bit of a result. It had a compound where we could store the Transhit. The campsite owner needed some persuading though since he assumed none of us would make it back alive and he’d have to pay to scrap the van.
Once the tents were up, we gathered for a team “talk” in the bar. Things went downhill once Kaspars spotted a bottle of “VAT 69” gathering dust on the top shelf. The next morning our camp was a disaster zone. We expected bent tent pegs and tangled guy ropes but this was much worse.
Gelert had kindly sponsored us. We each had a tent of a similar shape and size of a small wedge of Stilton. This meant you could only lie flat in it so it had to be entered and exited in a sleeping position. This would be hard when sober and after some practice.
We were drunk and had not even tested the tents beforehand. Evidently we got in them but struggled to get out. Oz had woken up in the night and got disorientated by the fact the tent didn’t have a porch. Unable to find his way out he pissed himself.
Charles faired a little better. He at least got the zip undone but failed to get his cock over the lip of the tent and also pissed himself.
It’s bad enough putting away a wet tent. Worse still when it’s covered in piss and it’s your only home for the next few weeks.
Even hours later, Charles wasn’t quite as fixed as we thought having spent 20 minutes at the ferry port in Algeciras looking for his sunglasses which were in fact on his head underneath his helmet…
He knows the King of Morocco
The Moroccan border experience in Ceuta was fairly standard with everyone claiming to be the best fixer in town, “I know Chief of Police”, “I know the King of Morocco” or in top spot “Do you support Manchester United?“.
It’s hard to fathom quite how it took over two hours when the actual border process went like this:
1) Hand over terrible quality photocopied customs form – STAMP
2) Hand over passport – STAMP
3) “Have you got insurance”, “No”
4) “Will you get insurance at next town”, “Yes”
5) “OK go”.
We went to the next town. We didn’t get insurance.
The plan was to head down the Mediterranean coast and find a place to rest up ready for a long slog the following day inland towards the Atlas mountains.
We found a beach front cafe and stopped for some mint tea which was so loaded with sugar it actually crackled. Eventually curious locals started to mill around until a chap called Aziz asked if we wanted to stay the night as his place.
With an expectation of pitching tents in his back yard, we were surprised to be offered the whole floor of a beach-front house, with its own kitchen, bathroom, and walled garden to park the bikes in.
Weapons grade hashish
The only thing to top this off would be some cold beers. Aziz took a deep intake of breath, shook his head, saying it was not possible. By way of apology he promised to get us weapons grade hashish within five minutes if that helped. We politely declined.
As if fraught with guilt, Aziz then summoned his 10 year old son, gave him some money, and sent him off in to the night. About an hour later he came back with a couple of carrier bags of…cold beer! It was now us that were fraught with guilt, although only until the top came off the first beer.
Aziz said we could drink on the strict condition we didn’t wake up his wife. Assuring him that we weren’t likely to go all Magaluf on him, he bid us goodnight and woke us the next morning with breakfast of hot coffee and cakes. He really was first class host.
After the customary round of photos, swapping of email addresses, and false promises of meeting up again in the future, we headed out for the next leg of the journey out towards Fez and the Atlas mountains. Things had gone way too smoothly up until now so we knew we were due an incident.
On the outskirts of town there was some temporary roadworks which in Morocco means a hole that could swallow a tank with a traffic cone marking the edge. We all slowed to a halt to let a taxi through coming the other way only to hear a faint cry and the sound of a T80 sliding past us with Greg in front of it, rather than on it. Normal service had been resumed.
It was definitely looking like two wrongs make a wrong.