Monday, 6 October 2014
We woke up to a great day, it was going to be fairly hot with sparse clouds and just a bit of a breeze. The room we were in was at the very top of the hotel and we had a key for the terrace.
We could see the bikes from up here:
We had a good view of the town too because we were high up on the mountain side (posing like the real tourists we are!):
I wanted to sort out my steering bearings before we continued so I asked around if someone had a tool that would fit the large nut on the steering stem. This is one of the only things we didn't pack tools for, I didn't think we'd need it. I got lucky, one of the blokes at the hotel said he had a few tools and I can check if there's anything that I can use. He wasn't kidding either, he only had a few: a flat headed screwdriver, a hammer and a mahoosive sliding wrench. The wrench was perfect, I felt very lucky because there were very few people around with the religious celebrations still going on and people were mostly staying indoors. I got the nut off, everything tightened up and then everything back together in a decent amount of time. The steering was fixed and didn't give any other problems for the rest of the trip. If there's one thing I was confident about on this trip, it was that, bar catastrophic failure, between Locky and myself, we'd be able to come up with some sort of fix for anything that could go wrong with a Strom.
Being in Chefchaouen meant we were now further north west than we planned to be today. We decided to back track a little bit on the road we came in, going south east, and then taking a road that goes north to get us to the coast. The road going north should be a bad road/piste and this would then be the last bad/off road riding we'd be doing. We would aim to stop in a place called Oued Laou for the night as we had a single hotel there on the satnav. We got some water, loaded up and set off, the roads were still very quiet and we had a good ride to where we'd turn off for the bad/off road bit. It turns out the decision to do this was a good one, the road was very varied which made for good riding. In some places it was tarred, in others is was just dirt, sometimes it had bigger stones everywhere and all the time it would be snaking around and up and down. There were road "repairs", nothing more than someone dumping gravel in a big pot hole, fine for cars, not so great for bikes and they often seem to be in the braking zone for corners. We had to take it slowly and we did for the most part, 15-25mph was probably the average pace we moved at depending on the road surface. This road wasn't one that was travelled much, there was the very occasional car and the tiny villages it went through were looking like they were almost abandoned. People were friendly again and we kept the noise down through these villages. Some of the villages were quite obviously farming communities, there was water running in and across the road in places and we had a bit of mud to deal with, nothing serious though. We cleared the bad roads with a bit of a "why did it end, we want more" feeling and it turned into a fairly decent bit of tarmac so we picked up speed a bit.
It was all going fine, Locky was riding ahead and I was following with a gap, both of us at a relaxed pace keeping one eye on the road and the other on the views. Most of the road was on the side of a mountain, no barriers and no real space between the edge of the road and the fresh air on the side of the cliff. On one straightish bit this was slightly different, there was about a 2 foot deep ditch in the side of the road and an outcrop with some buildings on it. I was passing the buildings when a man came out and waved at me with both arms. The moment it took me to look at him and back at the road was a moment too long, I'd run out of road. There was a sharp left turn in front of me and I wasn't going to make it. I put the brakes on and leaned the bike over as much as I could to the left. It wasn't enough, I hit the edge of the road, the front wheel went onto the gravel, it slid out from under me and I fell on my left side. It was a weird fall, the Strom went into the ditch on the right side of the road with the front wheel first. The wheel hit the wall of the ditch and deflected to the left, the bike's right side hit the side of the ditch hard and then the rear of the bike, with me somewhat under it, swung around and hit me very hard on the shoulder. I got up by myself, had to pull my leg out from under the bike, it wasn't stuck, just under because the rear pannier frames had served as a crash bar. Suddenly there were people everywhere, about 8 of them, no idea where they were hiding before this, I never saw them. Locky had heard me fall behind him so he'd turned around and was coming over too. They seemed to be helpful, they helped me pick the bike up and, in my usual cautious mode, I was keeping a hawk eye to make sure nothing is going to grow feet and walk off with them. My top box was badly damaged, lots of plastic trim broken off making holes all around, the pieces are likely still out there. It could still latch so we just duct taped it so nothing would fall out. The people wanted us to come in to their house to eat and drink, but I was hurting and I wasn't keen on the idea. There were too many of them and even though they were more of the friendly kind I wasn't in the mood for it, I wanted to get going ASAP, we could stop somewhere else where there are no people. I knew nothing was broken so we set off again.
We had about an hour and a half to 2 hours to go to get where we wanted to be. We rode for a little while and found a place to stop where it looked like no one would bother us. It was time to access the damage, first to myself.
I'd damaged some ligaments in my shoulder, they still aren't healed properly 6 months on and I recently tweaked the same shoulder falling while playing football. I had a hole in my right elbow where a stone had poked me, on the inside of my arm, it was bleeding and soaking my armour and my MX jersey. I wasn't really dressed for road riding, I should've had the summer textile jacket on, but I've been riding with only armour and an MX jersey for most of the day (lesson learned, one that I should've already known!) You can see the blood on the right elbow and the clothes I was wearing. I always say boots and gloves are very important pieces of gear some people don't spend enough on, I stand by that, if it wasn't for wearing good boots I could've easily had a broken leg/ankle that day. I had a large graze on my right hip, had another large graze on the top of my left arse cheek going up into my lower back on the left, good thing I was wearing textile trousers. I also over extended my neck muscles on the right side and sprained my right wrist a bit. Overall I was lucky, I could've gone over a cliff...
The bike had taken lots of damage too, both sides of the crash bars were damaged and hit with enough force to bend in:
Other than this the left mirror and handguard were scratched up, both side tank panels were scratched up, the front black plastic cowl around the headlight had big scratches, the headlight had a deep scratch in it (luckily out of the way of the main beams), the forks had twisted in the triple clamps and I later, months afterwards, discovered that both forks were significantly bent. The front mudguard had lots of scratches in it, the left foot pegs, front and rear, had damage, the rear pannier rack also had damage and my seat had a small tear in it. If I bought new parts to repair it all then it'd cost me more than what the bike is worth. Needless to say, I was extremely fekking pee'd off with myself since I'd only finished completely restoring the bike a few months before we left for Morocco.
There was no time to fix anything, we needed to keep moving to get to where we wanted to be so I could get cleaned up. We still had an hour and a half of riding to do to get where we wanted to be. We continued and got onto the coastal road, it was a brilliant road, I was riding in front so I could go at a comfortable pace, but I wasn't taking it too easy. The road was good grippy tar with a smooth surface and this time there were barriers everywhere. It would've been better to not be hurting and to have a bike that had straight forks, but even so this was a great road to ride, a little consolation prize after the fall. We got to Oued Laou and found the hotel, I was hurting like hell so Locky went in to go check it out and get prices. He came out looking very unimpressed, this was bad news as we hadn't seen any other place, the town is very quiet and we don't have any other hotels on the satnav. Then our luck changed a bit, a bloke came over and said he knew about an apartment we could rent. We decided we'd check it out and if it was shitty we'd figure something else out. He ran up the road and we followed him and ended up at a lady's house. Apparently she managed the apartment for someone else and she went and showed us around. The apartment was right on the beach and it had hot water, I was sold! The price wasn't bad at all, I didn't bother bargaining and gave the fixer bloke some money for his trouble (well, he insisted and I thought it was fair enough.) We carried our stuff up and they even locked the bikes away for us in a weird little room they had nearby.
Right on the beach:
We were in the top one:
There were some chickens scratching around outside:
I took my gear off, cleaned up my bleeding arm and Locky patched it over for me. At this point I'd lost a bit of blood and I was feeling a tad light headed from the pain for the last 2 hours. I had a sit down, as I were, and wasn't all that impressed that Locky was pointing a camera at me.
You can also see the damaged, duct taped, top box.
A close up, not that you can see anything much. It was still bleeding, in hindsight, it probably should've had two stitches, but there was a slim chance of that out there anyway:
We were hungry so we took a walk up the road to see if any shops were open, asked two girls and got pointed to a little shop not far from where we were. When we got there the selection was very small so we picked what was in tins and packets that looked like something we'd eat.
This was dinner:
Tinned sardines, various sweet "cakes", some water and some orange colour drink. It went down pretty well, I hadn't had sardines in a while and I really like them, they were good.
We got showered, I washed the blood out of my armour and MX jacket and hung it up to dry and then it wasn't all that long before we went to sleep. Being the injured party I got the double bed, Locky was a good friend and didn't complain about the couch bed. I slept fairly well, but I was randomly awake because of the injuries causing me discomfort and pain.
It was another day we'd remember.