Peter returns after 20 minutes, saying that it only gets tougher up ahead so we turn back to find the track and head to Tafraout, which is to be our home for the night, via some even more mind-blowing landscapes.
We arrive in town accompanied by Kes, one of the guys on Peter’s bikes, who is riding one-handed after a stone flicked up and caught him square on the wrist! (We later discover he’s broken his scaphoid.) After finding the hotel we park-up and get through a few well-deserved beers. The general consensus at the bar seems to be that the long checks give the event more of a rally flavour than an enduro feel, even if the refuelling points are about 70km apart. The briefing for the final day follows dinner and I hit the sack early, determined to make a better fist of it tomorrow.
Happy as a Sandboy
A proper night’s sleep, combined with Pete’s kind offer to take the bulky camera bag for the day, immediately lifts my spirits. I leave early with some borrowed knee protectors (cheers Kes) to get to the special before the first riders and I feel like a new man - blatting along twisting roads following the coloured dots meticulously marked on walls and trees along the way. (The route-marking is a credit to the event organisers and I can only imagine how long it took to do them all!)
I arrive at the test before anyone else, find a couple of good spots for some pictures and sit back with a ciggie to soak up the surroundings, before the noise of approaching two-strokes brings me back to reality and I ready myself for the first riders.
The first rider away creates an instant dust storm which increases in intensity as more-and-more bikes set off round the course, and I have to clean the camera lens after each bike passes. Not only does this special run across harder terrain than the previous day’s test but it’s longer too. Miles of coloured tape marked out a sinuous loop across the open plain, with decreasing-radius corners and little gullies to catch the riders out.