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Belated update !

The 2013 Scoots team is slowly coming together with 9 riders so far confirmed following the Throckmorton meeting and several others awaiting meetings when I return from Gambia at the end of April. The year has started off as it looks like continuing… Hectic! Having only returned home 2 weeks ago after spending 3 weeks out in Bansang, I am just about to fly out once more; this time for about two months ( I have an open return ticket). However, as soon as I get back, my plan is to jump on my faithfull old BMW Airhead and head back down to Bansang to sort out some new routes through Morocco and Mauritania whilst also trying to get a feeling for the security (or otherwise) for the region, prior to taking the Team through to the Hospital in October.

This years trip is scheduled to leave Portsmouth on 18th October returning 4 weeks later by air. It looks as though we will have a twelve seater minibus as our backup vehicle which is being provided and prepared by Dave, our driver. The vehicle will be well used at the hospital, amongst it’s many and varied tasks will be to take staff out to work on the hospitals farm project which is about 15 miles from Bansang, close to the Senegalese border along some rather dodgy tracks.

As on previous trips we will be mainly wild camping along our route and I’m hoping that by leaving in October, the weather through Spain may be a little kinder to us, although it must be said that last year we were luck enough to have good weather all the way. So far I have only got one returnee on the run, Jim Cunliffe who came with us in 2010, but I’m hoping that we may see a couple more joining later on in the year before out first full team meeting on 6th/7th July.

A new Virgin Giving page will be up and running soon, but if you wish to donate please don’t wait as it all ends up in the same pot… The Bansang Hospital Appeal.

Scoots 2013

With Christmas done and dusted, Anita well on the mend and my ankle finally allowing me to get out and about it time to start some serious planning!

Next weekend sees the first meeting for Scooters in the Sahara 2013 at the Throckmorton Arms Hotel, Coughton. So if you fancy a REAL challenge for 2013 drop me an email and come along to find out what it’s all about!

I’m hoping to have a couple of previous participants in attendance, eager to ride again who will be happy to share their experiences with you and answer your questions as will I. contact me via www.scootersinthesahara.co.uk or message me on Facebook for more info. Either way let me have an email address so I can send you through some pre-meeting information.

Whilst a few have already dropped by the wayside as is usually the case, it looks like being a well attended event with the venue having been chosen for it’s ease of access from the M5. So if you’re interested get in early…

It’s Good News Week!

Well, apart from the end of the world tonight!

Anita’s hospital appointment yesterday went without a hitch and I know you will all join with me in rejoicing that she doesn’t need any further surgery! Her next appointment is in January to set up the schedule for Radio Therapy which will run between 3 and 5 weeks and some medication which whilst quite long term, should not cause her to much of an inconvenience. So it’s Christmas as usual in the Smith household always providing the Mayans have it wrong for tonight. If they are right then it won’t make a lot of difference to any of us… as we won’t know much about it!!!!

Focus now is on January 22nd when I fly out to Gambia along with Dr Bella Noel and Jeanette & Chris to try to keep the projects on schedule for Anita. I for one can’t wait to get back as along with the work at the Hospital I am hoping I will be looking at a couple of compounds that Sulayman has found for me! It will also be my longest stay at Bansang at 3 weeks so should prove to be quite interesting on many levels.

Planning for next years Scoots trip are pushing ahead with the selection meeting on the 12 January looking as though it should be well attended. Interestingly, it looks as though the trip will benefit from the experience of some past participants from both 2010 and 2011 repeating the experience. I can’t divulge names yet as nobody (other than Jim Cunliffe) has given a definite commitment yet. So all looks set fair for a fantastic 2013.

Once I return from Bansang on 15th Feb I will be setting off back to Africa almost immediately to recce some new routes and hopefully different border crossings  to add a little more spice to the mix as well as smoothing our passage in a couple of places.

Dennis 21/12/12

Here we go again!

The dates for the next Scoots trip to Bansang have now been confirmed as 11th October – 12thNovember 2013. As usual the team will depart from Portsmouth for Santander for the four week adventure. As yet it is unknown how many participants there will be but interest is very high with inquiries being received daily.

The trip will once again be led by Dennis Robinson making his 5th overland trip to Gambia aboard the trusty C90s and it is hoped that some previous team members will also sign-up for another little ride…

On the 13th November, Dennis  will fly out to Gambia with Anita Smith for a two week trip to establish just how things are progressing at the Hospital and to work out an action plan for the next few months. Amongst the many tasks already on the schedule is a meeting with the Minister of Health and at a rather more down to earth level, a survey of the plumbing and an inspection of how the waste disposal operation using the incinerator is now working.  A holiday it certainly will not be, as having seen Anita in action at the hospital many times now, she is rather like Superstorm Sandy hitting town!

 

 

Look out world we may be bursting onto your TV screens soon !

At the moment I’m sitting at home in rural Wales awaiting a phone call from John Hunter as to whether the BBC are going to take up the film of this years Scoots Trip !

John, a hugely experienced TV Producer/Director traveled out with us as an integral part of the Scoots team this year and filmed tirelessly for the entire trip. As if shooting over 4 hours of footage every day for 30 days wasn’t daunting enough, John then had to spend many hours each night we were away down loading, previewing and cataloging the footage whilst the rest of us retired to our beds.  Then, on returning home to Cardiff he had to start the even more daunting task of editing it all.

Having had the privilage of seeing John at work on the project AND of having a sneek preview of the taster submitted to the BBC today, I can only say FANTASTIC ! The man is a genius, and has produced what promises to be a very remarkable, amusing and poignant film. Even though I was there, I just can’t wait to see the finished result… Let’s just hope the BBC are as excited about it as I am!

 

 Team 2012 Final Figures

Just had some figures through from Anita regarding the monies that have been paid by the Team and sponsors into the Bansang Hospital Appeal account, and it gives me great pleasure to announce that the Grand Total to date is:

£11,697

Additionally:

Bike spares to the value of £1154 were purchased from funds and donated to the Hospital.

Mitsubishi Pajaeo used as back-up vehicle was purchased from funds for £2000 and remains for the use of the Project on the 2013 Scoots trip.

A 3/4 ton Ex-Army heavy duty Trailer purchased at £500 also remains ready for the 2013 trip

Title of both of the above is vested in the Scooters in the Sahara Project and any funds raised from their eventual sale will also be added to the above total.

A fantastic effort by all concerned with the 2012 Trip… THANK YOU!

Dennis Robinson

8th June 2012

 

At the moment I’m sitting at home in rural Wales awaiting a phone call from John Hunter as to whether the BBC are going to take up the film of this years Scoots Trip !

John, a hugely experienced TV Producer/Director traveled out with us as an integral part of the Scoots team this year and filmed tirelessly for the entire trip. As if shooting over 4 hours of footage every day for 30 days wasn’t daunting enough, John then had to spend many hours each night we were away down loading, previewing and cataloging the footage whilst the rest of us retired to our beds.  Then, on returning home to Cardiff he had to start the even more daunting task of editing it all.

Having had the privilage of seeing John at work on the project AND of having a sneek preview of the taster submitted to the BBC today, I can only say FANTASTIC ! The man is a genius, and has produced what promises to be a very remarkable, amusing and poignant film. Even though I was there, I just can’t wait to see the finished result… Let’s just hope the BBC are as excited about it as I am!

Dennis 15 May 2012

 

 

Now THAT was a trip !

For the first time ever the Scoots Trip was run overland both ways… Whilst 10 of the team flew home from Banjul on the 30th March, 3 of us Iain, Debz and Dennis together with Anita Smith, the CEO of the Bansang Hospital Appeal made the return journey in the back-up truck. Following a very similar route to the outward trip we arrived back on UK soil at Portsmouth on the 17th April where we were met by Belle, Nadine & Gordon . The return trip had been, thankfully, fairly uneventfull in spite of the well publicised problems in Mali which had also led on to demonstrations in Nouakchott !

Anita has been travelling out to Bansang Hospital for over 20 years but had always flown to and from Banjul, so it was the first opportunity she’d had to experience the thrill (?) of doing the journey by land. Another first for her was wild camping, which she took to incredably well in spite of lugging around a rather large suitcase through the sand dunes !!!!

If you would like to read more about Anita’s adventure have a look at the new Bansang Hospital Appeal web site at www.bansanghospitalappeal.org

With many of the team, including myself, in the throws of organising their own trips to various far flung corners of the globe the resat of 2012 will I’m sure continue to be an exciting and possibly life-changing year for many of us.

No descision has yet been made with regards to future Scoots trips, although with the back-up truck and trailer just needing a little TLC before being ready to go again… The only thing I can guarantee is that it is unlikely that there will be a further trip before October 2013… although, possibly… maybe.. well, just watch this space !

By the way, if anyone else fancies putting together a similar trip I am happy to offer any assistance that I can to the organiser.

More updates will be added in the near future as will photographs from this years trip as I get them (and myself !) sorted out over the next week or so or you can search on Facebook for Scooters in the sahara to see what else is happening with people from this and in some cases provious trips.

Dennis Robinson

And so it Begins !

With some of the team already on the long road south, the 2012 Scooters in the Sahara trip has well and truely kicked off. The backup truck and trailer is loaded and ready to roll. My scoot is looking something akin to the Star Ship Enterprise ! Adventure bikers…eat your heart out. These little C90’s are ready to kick ass!

This time tomorrow we’ll all be in our Travel Lodge, except poor ol’ Steve who has a sever dose of Man Flue and will be flying out to join us in Southern Spain on Wednesday. Up nice and early Sunday morning for the little ride to Portsmouth, then look out Spain here we come! 2 1/2 days later and we are in Morocco and the start of the trip proper. North Africa comes in like a bolt from the blue with sound, smell and sights that just take you breath away.

The next post is going to be dependant on finding Wi-Fi along the way, possible from on board the ferry!

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

Dennis

 

 

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!

Belle