May 2002. Ellen and me have rejoined the ranks of the working population again (snif!) but I'm glad to say that we found a way to scare ourselves silly even in the bit of spare time left to us.We just got back from Sénégal from a great one-week guided run with a company called Motordakar (www.motordakar.com), on rented Honda XR600's which we had decided to take in order to work on our rather rudimentary sandriding skills.

We (that would be Ellen, myself and Jean-Marc, a friend from Luxembourg ) started in Lake Rose close to Dakar where we were initiated the very first day in the noble arts of crashing in deep sand, digging yourself in and out, how to somersault over your handlebars and various other recreational acrobacies. Some of those we were already quite familiar with, but with these kinds of bikes (and Michelin Deserts), it was a lot more fun than trying to wrestle a totally overloaded Africa Twin through the same terrain, I have to admit. The following days saw us riding along the beach, followed by some more dune hopping, after which we headed inland and up to Saint Louis for a little rest.

On the way down again, we rode pretty much according to compass heading, passing countless tiny villages where the people must have thought we were some pathetic leftovers from this year's Paris-Dakar. Still, they cheered us on. Very positive thinking. The locals were great in general, confirming the impressions we got when riding through West Africa last year.

The riding was a great mix of decent and less decent pistes, dunes, beach, rough tracks and savannah, with the occasional boring bit of asphalt thrown in just for contrast. The planning was very flexible, allowing us to choose our preferred routes and terrain. Accomodations were original to say the least, ranging from mauritanian tents over straw huts to luxury bungalows. Food also ranged anywhere from the typical bicycle chicken to fantastic seafood (Pointe des Almadies near Dakar is the place to go if you like vast amounts of oysters and assorted seafoods. Bring your own wine though...).

Our group was small (three people), Charly, our guide (and owner of Motordakar), went out of his way to keep us happy, the weather was bearably toasty, it was a great week. Neither Ellen nor me are great fans of guided tours, this one being the first, but as you can tell, we were impressed. It's not RTW, but for a short vacation, it's about as good as it gets. Charly also did a very cool little video of the tour that you can download under http://www.motordakar.com/ontheroad/otrmd128.wmv.

Ellen & Manou