I set off on November 4th for the “Rally Training Camp” in Tunisia. It was a unique opportunity to learn sand riding, navigation, and prepare for rally/raid adventures in Africa, organized by France Roadbook.

I’ve prepared a brief summary to give you an overview of this week…

 

Presentation

It addresses participants who may have different goals:

  • Discover and master navigation and rallying in Africa.
  • Improve navigation skills in Africa, mastering navigation while evolving “alone.”
  • Assess and enhance physical preparation within the context of rally preparation.

Personally, my goal was to complete my technical and navigation learning in a desert environment as a trainee, hoping to become operational on motorcycle raids as a doctor.

You can find all the detailed information directly on the France Roadbook website.

Travel journal

Arrival - Saturday, November 4, 2023 - Tunis – Douz

We all arrived gradually at Tunis airport and gathered to take the shuttle that would take us to Douz.

There, Duong awaited us at the hotel with our motorcycles and bags.

We stayed the entire week in this spacious and comfortable hotel, except for one night spent in a bivouac at Ksar Ghilane.

To my great joy, we didn’t have to pack and carry our bags every day!

Roadbook 1 - Sunday, November 5, 2023 - 170 km

The day started with a theoretical reminder before hitting the handlebars. We alternated between sandy tracks, first small dunes, and rocky trails. I navigated using the GPS track to focus on riding.

Two big scares, for both me and JB who was following as a sweeper, occurred when I started wobbling on a rolling track, probably due to my position too much forward on the bike.

One small fall that broke my clutch lever. Right after the fall, Anis, the group’s doctor, noticed that my rear wheel wasn’t turning and the chain was too tight.

Greg, in charge of mechanical assistance, also checked, and they found the culprit: a small stone had wedged itself between the chain and a tooth on the sprocket. They managed to dislodge it by applying a bit of force to the wheel. It’s a simple thing, but luckily they were there!

Roadbook 2 - Monday, November 6, 2023 - 195 km

(GPS navigation track)

Almost all sand for this stage! A real treat! The landscapes were magnificent.

Unfortunately, Baptiste had a bad fall and hurt his shoulder.

Chieb stayed with him while Anis reached the 4×4 to take Baptiste for X-rays.

On our side, we took a long sandy track surrounded by dunes to Camp de Mars, where we did some exercises in the “sand pit.”

We all gathered at Café La Tente before heading back to Douz.

We ended the day by descending a large dune at sunset. It was splendid!

Roadbook 3 - Tuesday, November 7, 2023 - 145 km

(GPS navigation track)

Many small dunes on the first part until the break at Café La Tente.

Another beautiful day of riding, we climbed the same dune that we descended the previous evening.

Chieb hurt his knee in a fall and went back to the hotel by road.

As we entered the last kilometers of large dunes, I got stuck several times right from the start. Duong and Anis quickly realized it would be challenging and advised me to go back by road, which I did without hesitation!

We stopped at a restaurant in Douz before returning to the hotel (we couldn’t resist the smell of grilling as we passed by to refuel)…

Roadbook 4 - Wednesday, November 8, 2023 - 260 km out of 350

(Roadbook Navigation)

It was the big stage of the week with its 350 km of roadbook. There was a lot of wind at the start of the day. It was a first for me. We were leaning with the motorcycle, making it difficult to maintain my trajectories.

The tracks were very smooth, alternating between sand and rocky sections as we gained altitude. We also crossed some small dunes and a sandy riverbed where large “boulders” had spread towards the end.

I decided to finish the day with the 12 km of road that separated us from the bivouac at Ksar Ghilene.

Everyone arrived gradually, and we had time to enjoy the end of the day at the campsite.

Some played cards, and others went shopping 🙂

The night in the tent was super pleasant.

Roadbook 5 - Thursday, November 9, 2023 - 110 km

(Roadbook Navigation)

Last day of riding for me. The curtain falls on this fantastic week.

The day began with crossing the dunes to Ksar Ghilane. Tracy rode with me for the first part of the day. They had fun in the larger dunes, and we all met up for a quick break at the Café du Désert. The tracks were then sandy and smooth until Douz.

We made a final stop at the big dune, and we all gathered to eat at a restaurant in Douz.

Summary

This week was full of learning, with kind-hearted people brought together by a passion for motorcycles and wide-open spaces, in a beautiful setting guided by the seriousness and professionalism of Duong and his team.

I gradually gained speed, even though I still can’t exceed 70 km/h on these long, smooth tracks where the fastest riders could reach 140 km/h.

I handled the small dunes quite well, but for the taller ones, I got stuck several times right from the start, and I saw my energy disappear rapidly. I wasn’t very daring and didn’t insist.

However, I, who was previously so relieved to see “FPP” appear on the roadbook, reassured that the main track would be drivable, now prefer these beautifully outlined sandy tracks amid the dunes.

As for the dunes themselves, they remain very tricky but still fascinate me. I got caught off guard twice by a steeper descent than expected. I was reminded of the importance of a neck brace… the next essential purchase!

I still have work to do to navigate all terrains, but it now seems achievable.

The main goal is to be able to follow the group and join them as quickly as possible in case of an accident.

I hope to come back to further my learning before being effective as a doctor.

In any case, whether you are preparing for a rally, a raid, or just looking to improve your skills in motorcycle and desert navigation, this training is for you!