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At the heart of the Trophée Roses des Sables 2021 adventure


The last month before the Trophy was rather chaotic, with a lot of unexpected events to deal with... I've said it before, but the key is anticipation. I repeat it because in hindsight, that’s really what saved me. There are always things you can't control when you get started.adventure of the Trophée Roses des Sables 2021.

D-21: Surprise closure of the borders between Canada and Morocco.

D-15: The airline cancels my direct flight (logic, closed borders)

D-10: The motorcycle's registration document lost by Chronopost / Fedex (without it, immediate adjustment for administrative checks).

D-day: the 24-hour PCR test, the result of which does not arrive within 24 hours. I received my result as I was getting into the car for the airport.

In this kind of situation, you seriously question your karma but you also become at the same time a master in stress management. In fact, on the day of departure, I ate an entire box of cookies to manage my stress but shhh...I managed to leave and that's the main thing. After a night on the plane, a stopover, another plane, 2 days of bus transfer, technical and administrative checks... Here we are!

Arrival at the Trophée Roses des Sables 2021

We arrive at the premier bivouac in the middle of the afternoon. Tired but excited, we ran to get a tent and put our bags there before returning to the “mecha tent” (aka the mechanical tent where our equipment trunks and our vehicles are stored).

mechanical tent for the Trophée Roses des Sables 2021

The “mecha” tent with our trunks filled with materials and equipment.

I finally discovered the little Honda CRF300L which will allow me to cross the desert. I dress it up with my most beautiful Motoblouz stickers, and I go for a 5-minute ride to see what I'm dealing with.

motorcycles of 3 participants of the Trophée Roses des Sables 2021

The motorcycles of the 3 participants of the 2021 edition.

The discovery of the bivouac

Right in the middle of the dunes, and large expanses of desert, the 1st bivouac (there will be two others throughout the stages). A large central square entirely covered with carpets where we will meet for our meals, briefings, entertainment and news (short video summary of the previous stages). Our meeting place to chat with other participants after a day of riding. Surrounded by white tents in which two mattresses are placed on the ground, welcome to your new home. At the very back of the bivouac, a large tent with shower cabins and toilets. On the other side, the information tents, media, and the red cross tent.

premier bivouac and organization of tents

Our tents on the bivouac. Organized like a Roman camp.

Interior of the tents for the Trophée Roses des Sables 2021

Interior of our tents.

Our roadbooks are distributed the day before for the next day. This gives time to decipher them, to look at the potentially riskier passages on the ground or in orientation, and to install it on the roadbook holder (bring tape, lots of tape).

roadbok with instructions for 2021 sand roses trophy

Roadbook with instructions for the stage.

The day before, they also give the order for departing vehicles to pass… But in reality, the motorbikes always leave first to avoid the dust raised by other vehicles and the tracks in the sand.

start of the first stage Trophée Roses des Sables 2021

No matter how hard I try to describe the experience, nothing prepares you for what you experience once there.

Adventure, yes, but not only that…

A stage is between 80 and 190 km per day on average. Off-road, it can take a long time. In the sand, it's even longer. By motorbike… It’s much longer!

pass passage during the Trophée Roses des Sables 2021

Pass passage between two desert areas.

The sensations

I experienced fatigue, physical and moral, the need to be concentrated at all times, the small pains of always maintaining the same positions and the big pains (when you fall often), the fear that you have to overcome. to move forward, the feeling of being totally lost, the frustration of not getting there. The fact of being forced to settle down and take my time to breathe, to think, to return to my roadbook at the last place I am sure I passed. Finally, the fatigue and weariness of picking up the bike when no one is there to help, getting back on it as if nothing had happened...

motorcycle crash at the Trophée Roses des Sables 2021

One fall among many others.

That said, I also experienced the excitement of preparation and departure, the frenzy of meeting new people, the satisfaction of being on the right path and arriving in the evening in one piece. I was amazed by these grandiose landscapes, I discovered the meaning of the word “solidarity”, and I felt proud for having managed to complete each stage without assistance.

sand as far as the eye can see at the Trophée Roses des Sables

Break in a wadi. Sand as far as the eye can see.

Finally, I wondered a lot about the deeper meaning of my presence in the middle of nowhere... Without having an answer. Surpassing myself, at every moment, in a difficult situation or one that goes out of my comfort zone. This is what makes us move forward and continue. Finally, I told myself that I wasn't there for nothing, that I had put a year or two of my energy into raising the funds and that I had trained to be here at this precise moment. Once there, it's not the time to give up. No choice, we must move forward!

Collective

The most important thing to remember is that you are never completely alone. The 4×4, buggy and quad crews take great care of the bikers. The girls will never pass by without giving a helping hand. They will be there to help lift the bike, remove sand, provide a little water, food, fuel, and always with a word of encouragement.

In addition to this unfailing solidarity, I received the support of absolutely wonderful people: the volunteers hired by the organization to follow the bikers all day, at checkpoints and at various places along the way, just to make sure everything is okay. As we are more vulnerable on a motorbike than in a 4×4 or other vehicle, and we are often alone on the roads, a car of guardian angels follows the bikers to ensure that they lack nothing. . From a distance, of course, they don't bother... And most of the time they are even invisible. Mine, as I fell often, I saw them often. They became my traveling companions.

Mechanics, doctors, secretaries, CEOs, accountants, retirees or younger, men and women from all walks of life, people like you and me who are there on their annual leave to come and support us voluntarily and help us out with water in the middle of the desert … It takes a huge dose of altruism and kindness. We can count on them to make us laugh and relax, push us forward and encourage us until the end.

Volunteer break in the middle of the desert

Little break with the volunteers in the middle of the desert.

The motorbike

When the day's adventures were over, we headed to the mecha tent to maintain my car. Blow the air filter, clean and lubricate the chain, install the roadbook for the next day, check that everything is ok and that there are no breaks... Once again, the volunteer mechanics were there to assist and give full support. super effective advice. Do not hesitate to consult them.

the volunteer mechanics of the Trophée Roses des Sables 2021

Volunteer mechanics inspecting my motorcycle.

When I returned to the bivouac quite early, I ran to take a quick shower (a thin stream of hot or cold water depending on the mood of the generators). I quickly changed to go have an aperitif in the dunes with my friends. These moments were magical and precious. Sharing anecdotes about the day, collective wonder, sunset on the sand, selfies and other group photos... It was also at this time that I could give and take news from those around me. We had to make up our minds, in fact, data was expensive and wifi was a big luxury (€14.75 for 30 minutes).

main place of the bivouac for the Trophée Roses des Sables 2021

The central place of the bivouac

A complete adventure

After that, return to the central square to watch the news and attend the briefing before dinner. The solidarity operations are spread over the entire stay and you always have the opportunity to take part in them. Whether it's a morning walk in the dunes to form a huge Pink Ribbon before setting off on the day's stage, unloading and loading trucks with school supplies... You can participate at any time, and always to feel useful.

I had the chance to experience this adventure with a whole team of absolutely exceptional Quebecers. Having made the trip together on the outward journey brought us closer together, we were already accomplices and united when we arrived in Morocco. They showed incredible kindness, unfailing support and unfailing humor.

It is still a competition with great rewards to be had. I didn't look at the standings once during the rally. I've been rentrée for several weeks and I still don't know my place in the final ranking. And I don’t care! The only competition I had was with myself. I left to live an adventure and prove to myself that I was capable of finishing despite my lack of experience. In my head, I won... Whatever my place in the final ranking.

on motorbikes, we overtake everyone in the morning...

We double all the others in the morning... We avoid dust and traces.

My advice if you want to try the adventure

If you go to the competition, you will be served. The girls may be supportive and well-intentioned, but some have been there at each edition for more than 10 years and have well-established orientation and driving techniques. So, it won’t be “easy”! Also, some good advice if you want to do the Trophée Roses des Sables adventure.

  • Travel as lightly as possible. Not only will you avoid unnecessary baggage fees that drain your budget, but on site, you will be happy not to have 2 40 kg suitcases to lug between buses, hotel rooms, tents, etc.
  • Organize your suitcase well. You will pass through two hotels and a tent before reaching the bivouac where you will stay 3 or 4 nights. After that, you will have one night in autonomy, another night in bivouac and two nights in the hotel again. If you do like me, and you have to empty your entire suitcase or bag because your charger is at the bottom, you will quickly get tired.
  • Your equipment is your best friend. Take quality and take care of it. Pack it well. You have 6 days to go and believe me, you don't want part of your evening to be dedicated to repairing / sewing / regluing a less sturdy part. To see my complete equipment, meet here.
  • Ziplocs type bags will also be your best friends. One bag = one change per day. Otherwise, get used to the idea of ​​having sand getting everywhere. Even with this technique, at some point there will be sand everywhere. But this technique delays its appearance in clothes...
  • If you can, go with a bike you know. Maintenance and driving will be greatly facilitated. This was not my case, I was lucky because the motorbike I rented was new and not super demanding. That said, I didn't have the guidelines for optimal maintenance and I felt a little stupid when I had to take care of it. Also plan your stock for maintenance (chain lubricant, engine oil, coolant, spare handles, spark plug, air filters, etc.)
  • Don't neglect your training for the Trophy. I left having started driving off-road only 2 months before. With better training, I would have had better positions, better reflexes, fewer falls, fewer bruises, less pain and less risk of getting really hurt... They are super nice at the Red Cross tent but the less you see them, the better!
  • Manage what you can and learn to let go of the rest.
Crossing the desert during the Trophée Roses des Sables 2021

Crossing the desert…

Finally, one final piece of advice: ENJOY THE RIDE!

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