Enduro d'Agadir March 2006
The Enduro d'Agadir is a three day timecard enduro run by the
Swiss Motorcycle Federation based out of Agadir in the south of Morocco.
This year Mike Robertson and Paul Carlyle travelled out to Morocco to compete in this
event on Honda's provided by Wilderness Wheels. Jointly run by the Joel Udry Organisation (Joel is a former Dakar
competitor) and the Agadir Enduro club the event mainly attracts Swiss competitors (both
German and French speaking all briefings were in both languages) but this year
Wilderness Wheels provided an American, two Englishmen, a couple of Canadians, a UK based
Kiwi and of course les Ecossais.
Gray and Brad Cairns of Wilderness Wheels rode the event and also (with their
team of mechanics) provided and fettled the bikes for all the WW riders. The event was won
by Guy Giroux on a stock CRF450X provided by Wilderness Wheels. Sixteenth in the 2006
Dakar, Guy is a factory Suzuki rider in Canada and quite something to watch on the
Our excitement had
built up to a crescendo by the time we landed at Agadir and the cold was a shock! This was soon sorted out when I awoke the next day
to bright sunshine and warmth.
Our first day
was spent acclimatising at the beach cafés, drinking the local Flag beer. Shake down day, the next day, introduced us to our
bikes and I elected to use an old but trustworthy and mechanically pristine XR400. The
bike was a lot less powerful than the CRF but I figured, bullet proof for when I fell off
which I did a lot of in the subsequent days.
We took the
bikes out to try some of the terrain we would experience during the event. Riding quickly in sand was not always successful! We returned to Agadir for scrutineering and
signing on for the event which went without a hitch, thanks to the efforts of Yvonne at
the SACU for the paperwork, Wilderness Wheels for our gear and Organisation DAgadir
for their procedures.
Day 1 Our start
time soon arrived and I worried about the bike starting when really I should have been
more worried about what lay ahead. We headed
out of town towards the airport then turned off onto 15Km of sandy track until the first
special. This was my first experience of
Moroccan sand and I suspect I may have been the slowest through the test, with the deep
sand and cut up corners. After the special,
the going wound around the edges of fields, then onto gravely tracks and ultimately rock
and boulder strewn roads, then finally onto what can only be described as a trial section
that seemed to be about 12 Km long!! The most
technical part for me was the 20km of dry riverbed with the moving boulders: I was so glad
to get passed that section and onto the road to Tafroute, our destination for the day and
the location for the second special.
Day 2 started at
the final special of day 1, with me riding in my customary slow fashion but ensuring that
I managed to get round. The route back to
Agadir was not nearly so technical as the previous day, but there was still some
excitement riding on rocky roads, next to steep drop offs, over the top of mountains and
along the sides of a reservoir. Maybe its
because I was beginning to get more used to the conditions and the bike, but I found it
slightly easier than the previous day. The
second special of the day had been set in sand dunes.
This was the longest test of the event and for me at least, one of the most
difficult. The combination of deep loose sand
and fairly steep severe dunes (with several falling off incidents) meant that I posted a
very slow time. Nonetheless I managed to get
through and set off on my way back to Agadir.
with the efforts in the dunes and my lack of awareness, I managed to take a wrong turn
that cost me about 10km so I was now up against it to get home in time. Thankfully the police took a benign view of all
riders in the event and certainly didnt apply the speeding laws (at all!) and so I
made it back to Park Ferme, but I did need my late allowance minute.
Day 3 started
with the beach special in front of the towns promenade. Locals and tourists looked on in curiosity at
riders lashing around in the sand. After
this deep sandy section, we headed out on sandy and wide-open tracks, arriving at the
second special in a wooded section. I still
wasnt fast compared to well anybody else but I did feel the most
comfortable on this section. My speed was
increasing all the time as I was becoming more used to the conditions and it was a lot
less technical. The section where we turned
round was shrouded in mist, so we couldnt really see the cliffs or the ocean,
although we could hear the breakers at the base of the cliff below. The ride home was via the same specials on the
way out and they werent any easier, given that we had all been through them already.
The prize giving in the evening was held at the
poolside in the hotel and gave everybody a chance to swap stories and congratulate each
other on a very successful event we even managed a splash of Tartan to keep the
Scottish end up.
I think my most
enduring memory of this enduro will be the friendliness of everyone - riders, locals and kids lining the route, as well
as the police who stopped the traffic to allow riders uninterrupted riding on the roads to
and from the going.
I would like to
thank the Enduro DAgadir organisation, Wilderness Wheels, the SACU
for all their help and everybody else who made us feel so welcome. Will I do it again? Well it has to rank as one of the best enduro
events I have been lucky enough to compete in so yes I think I shall.
started fitting tyres (Michelin Baja for me) and mousses to the CRF450X. Wednesday was
spent setting up bikes, signing on and on a short ride out to some sandy piste. I made
sure I had some "Ecosse" stickers for the bike so everyone would know who they
(290km) started with Mike and I pushing our bikes up onto the start ramp with Matt from
London for a start time of 9:21. The route was marked with orange spray painted arrows on
road surfaces, rocks, lamp-posts, cacti and anything else the organisers could find. 50
bikes arrived at the first special test at roughly the same time and the timing equipment
meant that bikes were starting about a minute apart. We waited about 30 minutes to get
into the test so making the first control by 1106 began to look difficult. It turned out
that the control was about 75k from the start and although I pushed I still came in about
4 minutes late. I joined in the general loud protestation in my crap French (I may have
complained about a lack of ham sandwiches) then threw some fuel in the bike and headed
stage was very rocky and climbed up into the Ante Atlas mountains crossing and re-crossing
a dry river bed with increasingly high drops from the edge of the piste. I passed a guy
working on a WR450 and discovered he had flown off the edge of a tight corner, landing on
loose stones over a river. He was ok but his bike looked a little "modified".
After a mid stage check point the track narrowed to a goat track and we headed up over a
high pass with constant 2 foot rock steps. No room for rest for 3 or 4k. BMW rider Dirk
Thelen was parked up near the top with his tricked up works HP2 bleeding oil from one
cylinder head. On one step the bike was more successful than me so the renthal bars got a
wee bit bent. Coming down the other side of the pass was fun but the track slowly got
easier and wider, then hit tarmac for 20k before time check 2. I was still late
this time by about 10 minutes.
With a last
check time of 16:36 I arrived at the final test at around half past three. Yet another
queue the test wasn't ready yet. After another 30 minute wait the bikes were set
off with 5 to 10 second intervals and the time check was just beyond the end of the test
so I made the final control on time. 58th overall at the end of the day. All
the time penalties were cancelled due to the delay at the first test. My target for Day 2
was the top 50.
Day 2 (285km)
started at the bivouac early with some bike tweeking. Straight into the first test -
without delay this time - then off up a river bed climbing back up into rocky mountain
pistes. After getting lost for a bit I hooked up with Peter and Kiwi Mike Shepherd to ride
the twisty mountain piste.
I was getting
more comfortable using the power of the CRF450 out of the corners, sliding the rear into
the rock wall on the left handers and out to the edge of the drop off on the rights. My
speed and confidence were rising, I was ahead of the other two guys and I was certain I
wouldn't be late on this check. So obviously I locked the front and went over the
popped by right shoulder back into it's socket teaching the locals some new words
in the process and checked that my bent left thumb still had most of its movement,
I set off again, riding rather less well than my Granny.
I still made
the control with 10 minutes to spare. We then had a further wait as this was also to be
refuel point one for the day but the truck with the fuel had got lost. After about 35
minutes the officials agreed to waive us on for another 15k to where the fuel was. We were
sent off in threes in race number order.
I was passed by some quads and the dust they created meant I couldn't keep up with them
and still see the road. Mike Robertson and I came across a Swiss rider who had missed a
turn, gone over the drop and into a ravine of pointy rocks. He seemed to have a broken leg
but a marshall soon turned up so we gave up the language battle and headed off. We stopped
one of the organiser's 4x4s later and sent them back. Apparently the guy was able to limp
around later in the day.
for 25k then a stunning climb along a twisty valley piste to come out high above a
reservoir. The almond trees were in flower and the scenery was beautiful. 100 bikes were
making very little impact on this hard and dry landscape, not like Scotland.
At the second
control for the day (around 2pm) all times were put back by 25 minutes because of the
earlier delay. Test two was on open sand dunes, taped out off camber turns and steep
climbs with minimal run up ace. Post-crash I decided to ride carefully so promptly
dropped it on the first turn. About half way round I moved to the left to allow a Husky
through but he couldn't hold his line, slid wide and banged me into the left hand tape. I
lost the rag and if I could have caught him I had every intention of ramming him off his
bike thankfully I couldn't get close enough. I had him to thank for taking maybe 30
seconds off my test time.
From the test
the course back to Agadir came out of the dunes onto fast packed clay tracks like potholed
concrete. Eventually I had to slow down as my left hand wouldn't hold on top the bars.
Kiwi, Mike Shepherd, stopped in the shade next to the official's quad at the last check
point and promptly had his CRF rammed at full speed from behind by a KTM. Mike's helmet
was wrecked and his exhaust a little bent but he was OK. The KTM was totalled and its
rider was carted away with a broken hand and collar bone.
The tarmac run to
the final control back in Agadir became very tight on time and required some
"interesting" traffic techniques (off road up the central reservation anyone).
The Agadir gendarmes were at every junction waving us on and turned a blind eye to
"borderline" speeds. Fantastic. Still 58th overall.
Our Kiwi vet
gave me a horse pill sized pain-killer which, washed down with two large pints of
"Flag Speciale" beer saw me on the start line on the morning of Day 3, a loop of
183km. The first test on the beach twisted over soft sand good practice for Lossie
- I was very slow. The second test was about 30k later in a national park among trees on a
hill of sand. My granny would have lapped me. Sadly we had more delays at the second test
as we waited our turn for well over half an hour. The route then ran on sandy fast pistes
and through a cultivated valley under and over irrigation ducts to the first control.
At the first
control a sign stated that all times had 30 minutes added. I was late by 5 minutes (a
number of missed turns in the dust and another "over the bars" excursion).
Stupidly, I was to compound this later on by starting my final stage at the appointed time
(i.e. five minutes early). 10 minutes lost in one day.
second check we had a 10k blast along a cliff top beach next to the ocean flat out
on the white sand was amazing. We all arrived early at the second check to be greeted with
glasses of sweet mint tea and Moroccans selling hot food if we wanted it you don't
get that at a Scottish enduro.
pistes today were fantastic to ride and we were soon back at the final tests of the event
the second test from this morning repeated then a run into town back to the beach
for a final 3 minutes of torture. I managed to improve my times on both tests by more than
a minute each and rode up on to the finish ramp with 2 minutes to spare.
Even with the
10 minutes penalty I managed 59th overall and 30th in the licensed class. In
retrospect I could have done better if I'd stayed helmet up/wheels down but there's
always next year.