Welcome to your “Toolbox,” a resource for motorcycle and off-road travel, adventure, and medical assistance. Explore practical tips, guides, and other essential resources to enhance your experience.

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How to prepare for a motorcycle raid or trip?

Going on reconnaissance rides to practice

As someone living in Haute-Savoie, I can tell you that it’s often challenging to find authorized trails for our beloved motorcycles!

So here’s how I go about trying to discover new places to ride enduro.

I’m not a member of Codever, but I’ve noticed they send their guide (which apparently contains valuable advice) upon membership (which costs 50€ for the year).

While I’m still deciding, here’s my approach:

On my phone:

I use the OsmAnd app to create and follow the trail. I typically look for dashed black lines representing trails in the area I’m interested in.

To check if it’s passable, I switch to the IGN Hiking app or use the Visu GPX website with the IGN Top 25 map, which also helps me understand the elevation (with elevation curves) and gives a satellite preview using the satellite map.

However, I find OsmAnd to be more user-friendly at first glance, so I start there to get an idea of the route.

On PC:

It’s much more practical!

I use the paid version of Visu GPX. I use it either to create my trail directly or to edit a trail imported from the phone. The “routing” function is very handy and allows me to trace the trail quickly. I choose the “MTB routing” so that the selected trails closely match those relevant to me.

I also overlay the cadastre on the IGN map to verify that the trails taken are indeed public (entrance and exit of trails not closed by a line on the cadastre).

Then, I simply open VisuGPX on my phone, access the trail from my account space, and finally download it to my phone.

On the field:

Once the virtual scouting is done, all that’s left is to test it on the ground to see what signs are along our path.

Be prepared to turn back and find alternatives along the way (hence the importance, in my opinion, of initial reconnaissance on a bicycle to make it less of a hassle).

In any case, if you have a GPS, you can take it with you during the first ride on the trail to record the route taken with U-turns and alternatives. Then, simply import the trail into Visu GPX, for example, to easily update it.

You’ll then have the tested and approved final trail!

Physical training

This year, I’ve realized the importance of maintaining physical fitness for enduro riding!

When fatigue builds up, I tend to drop the motorcycle more “easily,” which burns even more calories and increases fatigue… so it’s better to feel this fatigue as late as possible!

I’ve focused my training on endurance and strength conditioning (arms, legs, abs, or exercises for the whole body).

For endurance, nothing beats running in my opinion. However, as I often found excuses not to go (weather, other things to do, lack of flat terrain near home…), I ended up buying a jump rope (with a counter! Important for comparing sessions).

For strength conditioning, I came across a free app that I find very well-designed: “30 days fitness at home.”

It allows you to choose which muscle groups you want to work on and offers 30-day programs for various difficulty levels.

Tips for travel and off-road riding

Techniques for getting a 4x4 out of sand

  • First, try deflating the tires to see if that’s enough to get out. Most of the time, it’s sufficient. If you don’t have a pressure gauge on hand, count the same number of seconds for each tire (max 50 seconds, I would say, if the sand is really soft).

If that doesn’t work:

  • Dig the sand either in front of the 2 front wheels if you want to go forward, or behind the 2 rear wheels if you want to exit in reverse.
  • Place traction boards where you dug.
  • Try to get out.
  • Remember to retrieve the traction boards! Tip: Metal boards sink much less into the sand than plastic ones, making them easier to recover.

In case of a breakdown off the beaten path

  • Return to the trail on foot if it’s not far and your GPS is functioning. Wait (preferably in the shade) for the sweep vehicle or someone else to arrive. Alternatively, stay beside your motorcycle equipped with the Owaka beacon that provides a GPS point.
  • DO NOT venture alone through the dunes with limited water, even with a GPS.

In case of a radiator leak

There are several solutions to troubleshoot before repairing it:

  • Keep a large water reserve and regularly fill the coolant reservoir.
  • Purchase a product to put in the radiator to seal the hole (only effective for small leaks). Start the car and drive immediately after adding it to ensure the product circulates evenly.
  • It seems that egg whites work too…

Driving on Mauritanian roads

The “fiche,” a precious pass for traveling “peacefully”! In Mauritania we were asked countless times to provide the precious “fiche” that contained the names of all participants, vehicle registrations, passport numbers, addresses…

At each entry and exit from a village, we had to show it until we exhausted the stock Denis had printed before coming. We even laughed about it in the end, wondering what they could possibly do with it…

Field Medical Assistance

Medical Advice

These tips are derived from the A.M.I.S Enduro website and my own experience.

Carry-On First Aid Kit

Here is a non-exhaustive list of what appears essential to have on hand. It should be adapted to your personal medical history. If you have specific health issues, consult your primary care physician before leaving; they will advise you and prescribe any necessary medications for your journey.

Opt for a lightweight and sturdy container.

  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen (prescription required)
  • Tramadol (prescription required)
  • Betadine 5% solution: 2 10 mL ampoules
  • Saline solution: 2 ampoules
  • Cohesive bandage: 1 roll
  • Adhesive tape: 1 roll (not essential… you might have tape in your tool kit)
  • Sterile compresses 7.5cm X 7.5cm: 3 packs of 5
  • Survival blanket: to cool the rider, the silver side should be facing outward (towards the sun). Conversely, to keep the rider warm, the gold side should be facing outward.
Mnemonic device: imagine the silver side as a mirror: facing outward, it will reflect the sun’s heat away. Conversely, facing the rider, it will reflect their own heat back towards them.

To prevent blisters:

When I participated in the Raid Passion Désert, I quickly discovered the issue of blisters! Indeed, by the end of the second day (and mind you, I only rode half of the first stage), both palms of my hands were covered in them.

I had not anticipated this at all! I won’t make that mistake again!

There are three main solutions to prevent their occurrence:

  • Wear neoprene inner gloves or apply Elastoplast on friction areas every day.
  • Use foam grips throughout the entire raid/journey.
  • Try not to grip the handlebars too tightly… but that’s another story…

"Exercise-induced heat illness" or "Exertional heatstroke"

It is a condition that I fear, whether I am participating in an enduro race or riding in high temperatures.

It corresponds to an extreme increase in the body’s core temperature, following intense muscular effort, which can lead to multi-organ failure.

It’s as if the body overheats and can no longer regulate its temperature due to the exertion.

It is a life-threatening emergency.

Contributing factors :

  • Intense and prolonged physical exertion
  • Weather conditions: high heat, air humidity, lack of wind
  • Poorly ventilated clothing
  • Taking medication or consuming alcohol

Prevention :

  • Light and airy clothing
  • Regular hydration with water, with or without ionic supplements (salt, potassium, calcium, carbohydrates).
  • Manage effort levels
  • Know when to stop
  • Combat heat and dehydration: use a scarf on the face, ride standing up with elbows apart.

Clinical signs : a dramatic presentation occurring during exertion, including:

  • Neurological distress (loss of consciousness, coma, convulsions)
  • Hypovolemic cardiovascular distress (dehydration) with: tachycardia, low blood pressure, hyperthermia (above 42 °C)
  • Skin signs: lack of sweating, burning skin
  • Muscle signs: tense, painful, hard-to-touch muscle masses (to be differentiated from cramps)

Course of action : Life-threatening emergency

  • By the first witness:

Cooling by any available means immediately :

    • Undressing
    • Seeking shade
    • Creating airflow using a “fan” system (on bumps, not in holes, in the case of dunes)
    • Spraying or misting water to facilitate heat exchange (it’s better to leave a T-shirt than spray bare skin, using the heat pump technique); at this stage, one cannot administer fluids (due to altered consciousness)
    • Applying ice to major arterial trunks (ideal but less available in the field except for cryogenic packs)
  • By the first medical responder :

Vascular filling (pre-hospital phase), infusion of isotonic solutions (about 1.5 liters in the first hour), before evacuation to a hospital setting.

An overview of the healthcare system in Mauritania

  • The ambulance that arrived on-site was the one “affiliated” with the public hospital (Spanish) in Chinguetti, while the other one was private, associated with the (American) hospital in Ouadane. Once the “public” ambulance was mobilized to take the first injured person to Atar, negotiations were needed to use the other ambulance to Chinguetti. We had to obtain approval from the chief physician at the Ouadane hospital, but he was absent for 2 days and unreachable. The dispensary doctor couldn’t help either. Eventually, Momo made a phone call, and we got the ambulance. He once again greatly assisted us (he had guided the first ambulance to our GPS point in the dunes).
  • There was no morphine available on-site, neither at the dispensary nor at the Chinguetti hospital. I had left painkillers with my injured patient, but they were only giving him Paracetamol.
  • Patients are not provided with meals, so if no one brings anything, they do not eat.

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