Archive for February, 2012

48 Hours to go !

And chaos reigns ! One bike with a stripped sump plug; no restaurant wanting the business of 14 hungry bikers and their entourage for dinner;  Enough wooly hats turning up at the last minute to fill a 40ft container never mind a 6ft x 5ft trailer; cases and cooking pots somewhere in transit between Exeter and Pumpsaint.

So much left to do and so little time to do it.  Iain and I have worked out how to fit the 4 Scoots on top of the trailer, but it is going to be hellish high, lucky we have some nice strong bodies along to lift them up there!

One of the problems is a little unusual…in fact unique, in that everyone on the forthcoming trip has been just soooo active in in getting people involved that we have far more stuff to take out with us than we can possibly manage to fit in the trailer. So some is undoubtably going to have to be left behind for the next trip ! A great problem to have but a headache nonetheless.

Steve’s Ceildhe last weekend raised very nearly £1000 for the Appeal, and other donations are coming in steadily. So a million thanks to all of you wonderful people out there for your fantastic generosity. Keep it coming and we will get that new operating theatre sorted in short order. The difference this will all make out in the Bansang district is incalculable

So Saturday evening may well see us all cooking up dinner in the Travel Lodge carpark at Chichester… or of course heading off to the local Chippy!



7 days and counting

Just 7 days from now all over the UK Scoots will be being fired up ready for the ride down to our official gathering point at the Chichester Emsworth Travel Lodge just 8 miles from Portmouth. A brief overnight rest before we head on down to the ferry for the 11am Brittany Ferries sailing to Santander.

We then have 24hrs on board to enjoy a little relaxation after weeks of frenetic planning and preparation, take in a few final briefings and contemplate the next four weeks on the road, prior to starting our epic 4000 mile journey to Bansang.

It doesn’t matter how full of confidence everyone was yesterday, last week or last year; for now the butterflies rule ! All we will be wanting is to see dry land and start heading south on those little bikes with the 4bhp engines singing sweetly beneath us. We will be looking to get moving fairly quickly once we get off the boat, as we have about 170 miles to do on Monday afternoon hopefully to a hotel a little south of Palencia. Nothing is booked in advance simply because it is virtually impossible to make up time lost if anything unplanned jumps up to bite us. With the amount of mileage all the Team have been putting in, the bikes should perform faultlessly, but punctures and traffic delays can still eat mercilessly into your schedule when 45mph is your absolute top speed.


The Media Frenzy Continues

With only 10 days to go, our media team are all still hard at it. Belle, Gordon and Nadine were flying the flag (literally) at the Ace last Sunday. Mark is on  BBC radio Lincolnshire 10:10 Friday, Dennis is on Biker FM at 10pm tonight with both of them also likely to pop up on regional TV news over the next week.

I think it’s true to say that for most of the team, emotions are running high and fluctuating between excitement, blind panic and Oh My God, Why am I doing this ! Most were in fact ready to roll some weeks ago with just last minute checking and changes to kit being made. I often think that too much preparation for a trip can be as bad as too little, as one tends to lose the focus of just what is (and isn’t) important. It doesn’t matter how far you are going or how you are doing it, if it’s out of your normal comfort zone emotions are bound to run high.

For my own part, I must have checked all the paperwork and re-filed it about 50 times and I can’t remember when I last had a good, full night’s sleep! And it’s not as though I’ve never done it before either, as this will be my fourth trip and so it should all run like clockwork…but it won’t. Something always comes up and bites your arse just when you least expect it.

Roll on the 3rd March when I lock my front door and head off into the (relative) unknown




Overland Day at the Ace Cafe

Went to The Ace today for the Adventure Travel day – bright, cold but sunny, and packed with more adventure spec bikes than you could shake a spanner at. But the little scoots held their own amongst the big boys and drew lots of attention from well wishers, people wanting to come, and people wanting the website address to follow our progress. But most impressively – and for the first time so far – there was not one comment doubting that we or the little bikes would make it!


Overland & Adventure Travel Bike Day at the ACE !

A snappy little title, but sure to be a fantastic day out for all you travellers and wannabe’s. I’m sure Sam Manicon will be in attendance along with many other prominent travellers/authors. The Scooters in the Sahara Project will be well represented with Belle, Gordon and Nadine waving the flag (well 3 of them actually !) It all kicks off at 9am !

Slimbo (aka Graham) from Biker FM will also be in attendance picking up all the latest news and gossip for his wednesday night show. 10pm till Midnight at 

This coming wednesday Dennis will be live from the studio in Swansea ( Slimbo’s Den !) giving an update on the latest news from the forthcoming trip to Gambia and spilling the beans on the rest of the team  as only Old Grumpy can !

Busy, busy, busy….

Yes, the whole team are now just about reaching fever pitch with their preparations and would you believe it, at this last minute we have one last participant to add to the roll call; Welcome John Hunter, film maker extraodinaire. John will be travelling with Iain in the backup truck most of the time, at least untill we can entice him onto the back of a scoot !!!

As many will have noticed our PR team of Sue, Belle and Bernie have been VERY active over the last week or so with the whole team giving interviews both to the press and on  a variety of Radio programmes. Nobody has broken onto the TV screens yet, but don’t be surprised if one or more of the team suddenly appears before your very eyes……

Sunday sees at least 3 of the Team at the Ace Cafe in London for the Overland & Adventure Travel Bike Day  so look out for 3 (or more ) Scoots flying Scooters in the Sahara flags.

The following weekend sees at least 3 of the Team at the Horizons Unlimited Mini Meet in deepest, darkest Cornwall, Post code is PL14 5JA . Whilst also on that weekend we have a Ceilidh with Music and dancing to  ‘Spinach for Norman’ at:

Tedburn St Mary Village Hall, EX6 6EZ. Saturday February 25th 7:30 – midnight
Bring and share snacks and finger food.
Cash Bar
Entry £3 (on the door)
All profits from the evening which will include a raffle and collection will be given to the Bansang Hospital Appeal (charity number 1064469).

Looks as though at least 4 of the Team will be present at that one!

Our Route from the Med to Bansang

Click on the link below to bring up a basic map of our route through Africa.

Our route through Africa

Starting from the new Tangier Med port, we first meander through Morocco for a couple of days before tackling the barren war zone that is Western Sahara, it’s then across what is reputedly the largest minefield in the world into Mauritania. Here we hit the Sahara proper as we ride through the dunes and at times, right along the beach, for about 300 miles. Next it’s the vibrant chaos that is Senegal before hopping across our last border into Gambia. Turn left, and ride a further 100 miles deep into the bush, across one of the tiniest car ferries you will ever have seen on to Mcarthy Island. Off the othe side, over a brand new bridge and you’re just about at Bansang.  Total distance ridden from home will be just shy of 4000 miles


Our Route from the Med to Bansang

Africa Routes 2012 b


Almost There ! Last Planning weekend about to start!

Yes, the last planning weekend really is just about to kick off at Ledbury this afternoon and it looks like being a really busy one. All the main stuff is in place. We all have our Visas for Mauritania, the ferry out and the flights home are all booked. The tinned and dried food is all nicely stored away. Everyone has their bikes running nicely, other than some last minute fettling and servicing.  Our backup truck is on the road and looking good, with Iain due to collect both roof rack and trailer on his way home after the meeting. So we are virtually there…..

Well, yes but… ! It’s now just all the silly little bits and pieces left to sort, the bits that can make or break the trip in terms of overall contentment within the group whilst on the road. I’ll be handing out check list of things that people may not think of or may forget, things like sun screen. In 40°C that makes a huge difference in comfort levels. Spare glasses for those that wear them, Insect repellant, etc, etc.

We also have the full route schedule now in place. Once the Visas had been obtained it left the door open for a much revised route down through Morocco and, weather permitting, we will be crossing the High Atlas mountains no less than three times. Although there is a contingency plan just in case the snow is too deep or the roads washed out !

Sunday morning then sees us getting a film making Master class from a top TV Director/Producer, John Hunter, to help prevent us making the same mistakes that were made filming last years trip. John has also very kindly offered to assist with the post-trip editing to help ensure that this year’s DVD will be as professional as possible. We have a plethora of cameras already but I’m sure a few more will join our armoury after the weekend.

The next four weeks will simply fly by for all the team, there are a number of events organized at different ends of the country that team members will be attending. I’ve still got a fair bit of work to do on the web site, including setting up a Scoots forum so that we can all keep in touch with each other, family, friends and other interested people. Then it’s look out Bansang, we are on our way.

We will try to update this page as we go along, but please keep in mind that there are sections where firstly there is little internet access and secondly other areas where we wouldn’ want to be too specific on our location !