Here I am… it’s been three weeks since I returned from Morocco… my mind is still a bit there, to be honest!!

What an adventure, what an experience!! I was warned… “be careful, once you get a taste, you won’t want to stop”… I now understand why!!

I really didn’t grasp what awaited me! I made plenty of beginner’s mistakes, but I also learned a lot as a result.

Firstly, physically, I wasn’t adequately prepared. My 22 kg could have used some reinforcement, my heart needed more endurance, my lungs less tobacco, and my arms more muscle.

Technically, thankfully, I had undergone those training sessions. They allowed me to complete all the stages I participated in, riding at my own pace but on all kinds of terrains (well, except for the first day, which I consider the acclimatization stage).

In terms of equipment, my biggest mistake was not bringing a trip master! How do you navigate with a roadbook without a trip master?! But how could I have forgotten it??!!

Since until shortly before departure, I thought I was going for the Trophée Roses des Sables and believed it was mandatory to rent from them, I completely overlooked this little “detail” when switching to the Raid Passion Désert… until the day the first riders arrived in Fes… that’s when I realized my mistake!

I also regret not bringing a wheeled bag and, most importantly, loading it way too much! Some hotels were enormous, so lugging the bag from the truck to the room often turned into a chore.

Regarding navigation, I didn’t dare ride alone during all those stages; I was mainly focused on driving. I sometimes helped avoid taking the wrong track, and conversely, I sometimes led us astray. I understood that it is crucial to trust oneself, not always rely on the tracks of others, and in case of an error, go back instead of trying to cut through to reach the GPS point!

Les étapes

I participated in the start of 7 out of the 10 stages in the Raid. I completed all of them except the first.

October 15 : Fes -Midelt

The first day was challenging both physically and psychologically. I rode with Eric.

After 150 km, we found ourselves in a riverbed, the passage of which was complicated by the rains of the previous days. As soon as we arrived, we saw three 4x4s waiting to cross large rocks, and the rain started to fall. I felt stressed; my heart was racing, and I was tired. When I encountered the checkpoint a few kilometers later, we decided to load my bike and stop for the day. I finished the afternoon in a 4×4 with Dan and Pascale; we were the sweepers. We returned by road.

Unfortunately, Eric, who continued on his own, injured his knee falling 7 km further and couldn’t ride for the rest of the days…

When I got back, I was quite shaken, and I thought it would be challenging to complete the remaining 10 days.

October 16 : Midelt – Erfoud

On the second day, I rode with Pierre. Completed the entire first stage, which was over 300 km. Glad to arrive!

The landscapes were stunning; the tracks varied between rocky riverbeds, smooth paths, mountain passes, and the first sandy trails.

During a small fall in a riverbed, I broke my right footpeg, just before reaching the section of the roadbook that announced “Rough track for 20 km”! Perfect!

At first, I tried to balance my foot on the frame, but it was not practical at all! Sitting wasn’t an option either, too tiring and ideal for falling!

But the mechanical assistance pickup is never too far away! We were able to temporarily fix the footpeg with a cable tie, and I could finish the stage like that without any issues. Thanks also to my 22 kg for that!

Arriving in the evening, I was super proud of myself, and I think Pierre was too! In fact, given how it had started the day before, not everyone had placed their bets on me finishing the stage…

I was also reassured about the future and began to think that maybe, after all, I could make it…

October 17 : Erfoud – Tazzarine

When I woke up, my hands were on fire, and the blisters on my palms from the previous day didn’t help matters! I thought it would be difficult to ride and decided not to start. In fact, I had a lot of apprehension as well… not being with a team or another person to start with made me nervous. The tracks the day before were impressive, and I couldn’t see myself venturing alone into this environment, which can quickly become hostile.

So, I spent the day in the pickup with Billy, following the riders on the track and closing the rear.

I experienced the first sensations on small dunes and took the opportunity to practice navigation with the roadbook, even though Billy had the GPS track.

We enjoyed Roro’s famous merguez sausages at the coffee checkpoint… A great day!

I discovered the joys of 4×4. My hands rested, and the blisters dried up! Enough to be in good shape for the next day!

October 18 : Tazzarine – Tazzarine

Back at the starting line, Jean-Louis had volunteered the day before to ride with me.

It was a short loop stage, enough to reassure me at the beginning.

The fact that it was a loop meant we didn’t have to pack and lug our travel bags in the morning before departure!

The problem with riding slower than others is that you ride in the dust of everyone who overtakes until they get far enough away… that morning, it bothered me quite a bit to start… but then it was really nice. I found my pace, and the view was beautiful… We arrived in Zagora where we had a delicious Tajine.

For the return to the hotel, we could take either the track or the road. We intended to take the track, but we made a mistake, leading us onto a really rocky section right from the start… I released Jean-Louis, who continued on the track, and I joined the road to finish, happy to be able to rest my bottom on the seat and relax my right hand on the handlebar…

October 19 : Tazzarine – Erfoud

I was accompanied by Florent for this 4th stage.

Like almost every morning, a lot of apprehension at the start, and that day it took me more time than the other days to get into it and connect with the bike. I had slept about 2 hours, every time I moved my right hand, I wondered how I could hold the motorcycle handlebars all day…

I took some painkillers, and after a few hours, I finally started to enjoy riding the motorcycle!

The landscapes were beautiful once again, and we really felt like we were in the desert: a sea of sand, small dunes, sandy tracks… a joy after all those rocks in the previous days!

We came across bivouacs, 4x4s from the Trophée Roses des Sables, and riders from the Africa Eco Race… One of them was followed by a helicopter…

The ascent into the sea of sand was exceptional! That feeling of freedom…

We continued the day, including a sandy riverbed of nearly 15 km… enough to warm up the arms…

It was truly a great day, considering I had once again hesitated to start! That day, I really enjoyed riding in the sand for the first time. That feeling when you feel like you’re one with the bike, and you can go anywhere… exhilarating!

It just goes to show, “never give up at the bivouac!” You never know what surprises the upcoming day might hold!

October 20 : Erfoud – Erfoud

Rémi and Greg accompanied me for this much-anticipated day in the dunes of Merzouga.

That morning, I was more relaxed than the previous days when starting. I was super motivated, reassured by the day before, and ready to apply all the advice I had received in the previous days.

Still, the closer we got to the checkpoint at the entrance to the dunes, the more their imposing silhouette became impressive… But once I started, apprehension gave way to the joy of riding surrounded by such landscapes!

On the technical side, I tried to apply everything I had heard and learned… and finally, I managed to enjoy it!

When we reached the top of that immense dune, it was hard not to be amazed! Everything looked tiny below, even a hot air balloon in the distance, which also seemed quite small… The expanse of sand, on the other hand, seemed immense…

The bike fell more than once, and the camelbak quickly emptied! The coffee checkpoint in the middle of the ridge comforted me before setting off again!

Almost at the end of the sandy ridge, eager to arrive nevertheless, I got thrown off the bike by a clump of camel grass… I saw it at the last moment, no time to avoid it… but no harm done!

With the stress and fatigue, I finished the last few hundred meters in the lower dune bottoms with a harder surface.

Everyone had a big smile at the checkpoint! We were all super happy with our morning!

Some did a second loop in the dunes, and the afternoon was free… we had a méchoui (roast lamb) by the pool at Brahim’s place, a delight!

An excellent day!

October 21 : Erfoud – Missour

No courage at waking, my hand on fire, worn out from the previous day… I decided not to ride and to go in the pickup with Abï and her dad.

It’s from this day on that Abï and I were inseparable!

I took advantage of the trip to catch a little nap, we all had lunch together with the other members of the organization, and we arrived in Missour quite early, just in time for the midday couscous… well… that was without counting the 2 hours of waiting for the couscous… 🙂

We settled into our rooms/tents, and all the riders arrived little by little…

For once, it felt good to be at the hotel early and to enjoy the late afternoon with everyone!

October 22 : Missour – Missour

In the same vein as the day before, not feeling up to it once again. Fear of getting into trouble, of hurting myself… It was a short loop stage. Several riders didn’t ride, either to rest or to address mechanical issues.

I stayed at the hotel with Abï as well. We took advantage of the quiet to have a good morning nap, and the grilled dishes for lunch delighted our taste buds!

One rider got lost that day. He was riding without a roadbook and eventually ran out of gas in a place inaccessible to the assistance 4x4s.

An entire team went to look for him in the evening. They ended up walking to reach him around 5 in the morning. All’s well that ends well!

October 23 : Missour – Matarka

Jean-Louis offered to ride with me again for this stage.

It started off poorly because we got lost right from the start, and we ended up doing almost 40 km extra…

But then everything went well!

Nevertheless, we were happy to arrive at the bivouac in the evening, once again at the back…

The atmosphere was already lively!

After a quick shower, Jean-François had already turned up the volume in the SSV… the tone for the evening was set!

This evening at the bivouac would end with harmonica tunes played by Cédric, all gathered around the fire, under the starry sky…

24 octobre : Matarka – Saïdia

Last departure, last stage… the sky at wake-up is fiery red… I rode with Florent that day.

We immediately got into it with a little technical section (for me, at least) where I found myself having to jump over a fairly deep but not too wide ravine thankfully…

After that, bliss for kilometers and kilometers… super smooth and easy tracks in vast expanses with no one around for kilometers…

Then I struggled more and more… my hand still painful and stiff, it started to obsess me! I was riding even slower than usual, and I had to take several breaks.

A little adventure for the last stage, coming out of a riverbed, instead of taking the track, I continued straight on what I thought was the right path, and suddenly I was stopped dead, almost going over the handlebars… looking down, I immediately understood: a mud puddle!

The boots and the bike were suctioned and sucked in with the slightest movement.

Fortunately, the assistance 4x4s were there, and with 5 of us, we managed to get the bike out! With just two, I think we would have struggled…

We didn’t see the place where we could eat, and I had to settle for cereal bars… I couldn’t stand the sweetness anymore; I was dreaming of a good Berber omelet! Fortunately, the assistance 4x4s eventually caught up with us, filled my camelbak, gave us cured ham and sausages! Exactly what I needed at that moment!

The end was tough; I was counting the kilometers of tracks before reaching the asphalt… I didn’t know how to ride anymore…

But the landscapes were splendid! We went through a path that wound between the trees until reaching the seaside and Saïdia…

This time it was over; we returned our Owaka tags and took the time to realize that these 10 days had passed quite quickly after all!

The rhythm of the days

If I had to summarize in one word: INTENSE!!

In the morning, the departure was either at 8 am or 8:30 am. Breakfast started from 6:30 am.

By the time of gearing up and loading that cursed bag (for the stages that weren’t loops), the departure time quickly arrived.

The days often covered a little over 300 km, so with my pace, there wasn’t much time to stop except for the eagerly awaited coffee checkpoint, in late morning, refueling, lunch break, and stops at various checkpoints.

Generally, if we arrived after 5 pm at the last checkpoint, we had to finish on the road… I don’t think anyone was in that situation.

Often, we could refuel just before reaching the hotel.

Upon arrival, we exchanged the checkpoint cardboard and kilometric tag for the next day’s roadbook.

Then, I would go pick up my bag and the room key to take a good hot shower and change!

Afterward, it was the mechanical moment if needed and preparation of the roadbook for the next day.

If there was time, I could enjoy the aperitif-fries at the bar before going to the briefing.

There were osteo students who could take care of us in the evening, but they were often in high demand!

During the briefing, Yves gave us a little recap of the day and provided information on the next day’s roadbook. It stressed me out a bit sometimes (often) because he announced the dangers of the day. But it’s true that it mostly concerned the 4x4s; on a motorcycle, it often went very well, in fact…

Then it was time for dinner. Always a great moment together around the buffet!

After that, there was the last mission: installing the roadbook for the next day in the holder, before heading to bed!

Thanks !!

To my partners who helped me materialize this project from the beginning and who were present when I asked for their help !

To my loved ones who supported and encouraged me !

To Pro Raid Organisation for their work, kindness, and for the wonderful photos that allow us to preserve these memories outside of our minds!

Finally, to all the people I met on the raid, who helped me, motivated me when needed, reassured me, encouraged me, and sometimes pushed me a bit!

These 10 days will stay etched in my mind!