Words by Olly Wilkins
Photos by Rupert Fowler
When I received my newest SAM I fell in love with the colour instantly and could only think of one thing. I had always wondered whether it would be possible to ride the steep-sided dunes I had seen on nature documentaries. The Sahara seemed a far fetched prospect. Certainly not a good one for riding purposes. The SAM was a sign though! I had to do it. I called up my friends Roo and Ben and we booked our flights.
We travelled to Marrakech knowing that the entire process might be fruitless. The 10-hour drive across the Atlas Mountains was filled with excitement for the dunes despite this. The lack of anything but SAND as far as the eyes could see. The 10-hour drive through amazing baron scenery finally came to an end when the dunes first caught our eyes on the horizon.
I built my SAM before nightfall and pushed my bike up the nearest dune. I repeatedly went over the bars and retired for the evening worried that I might not get a single turn in the deep sand. We decided that for our best shot at making the dunes rideable we needed to head to the tallest dunes in sight. Upon dropping into the steepest face we could find I had a run that mimicked powder snowboarding. It really was amazing. From that point on I knew it was possible and we searched for the perfect dune run. In all the shots we took you can see it was our first runs down as we didn’t want to taint the next shot with our tyre prints. Now I know how snowboarders feel!
"I don’t know about anyone else, but I spend my life wondering if I can ride down stuff. The fields at the side of the road become doubles. The roof-stair gap at the local shops consumes my brain when I should really be thinking about other things. Well, maybe I shouldn’t. I’ve been lucky enough to look at features and ride them. Fortunate enough to travel to weird locations on a whim. Maybe, just maybe, the subjects of my thoughts might be rideable. Even if the riding doesn’t work, the adventure will be fun regardless right?!"
To summarise our trip: riding on sand dunes is NOT easy. It took me a lot of crashes to work out how easily the front end digs in and puts you over the bars. It’s physically exhausting moving through the dunes and pushing up is very difficult. The sand is unpredictable and you don’t know when it will be too soft. BUT, every now and then you have a run which makes it all worthwhile. Huge roost, big speed, powder bike turns!
The full trip was documented on my dad cam as well as some amazing shots from Roo. This is easily the craziest lengths I’ve ever gone for a bike check but an amazing adventure all the same. Great colour match between the dunes and the bike you MUST agree!!!! Worth it? I think so.