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Niamey, Niger; KM 50,810 to KM 53,650 July 15, 2009

Posted by marcusbest in Uncategorized.

To those who are anxious to hear that I’ve safely passed through Chad, no need to worry. Now the difficulties of that sandy route are just memories separated from the sensation of thirst and the urgency to reach the shade of a thorny tree to escape the white-hot sun.

I learned a lot in Chad. I’ve never liked riding in sand and have done my best to avoid it. Usually it’s a matter of crossing a sandy river bed or a sandy section of a dirt road. I’ve always been able to make it through, but it was always a struggle and never graceful. There was no avoiding the sand around lake Chad, because that’s all there is for hundreds of miles. Driving a motorcycle in sand is very much like skiing, when you must release control enough to allow gravity to pull you down the mountain, to let yourself float, to relax, to release but to do so confidently and with purpose. While riding you must know where you want to go and go there, almost willing the motorcycle to follow your intention, and when in doubt, when you’re in trouble, do the opposite of what your instincts demand: accelerate. The struggle to gain control results in complete loss of control. To let go and allow the bike to float across a dune is like skiing untouched powder.

The route was not obvious, and the trails we followed branched, split, wove around dunes and dried up lake beds, often connecting again, but we rarely knew for certain that we were on the right track. Driving on the track itself was impossible, as the sand was too soft, broken up and loosened by the passing of heavy trucks. So we drove offroad, alongside the winding tracks, all the while maintaining a sufficient speed to stay afloat on the sand and dodging clumps of dried grass, thorny trees, and washed out ravines. We started driving in the mornings around five o’clock and continued until noon or so, then rested in the shade until the mid-day heat subsided and continued in the afternoon.

My stomach was bloated with hot, yellow, sufurous water from village wells, but still I was thirsty. I drank till it hurt, then drank some more. As soon as I noticed a flat tire, my head instantly jerked to the horizon in search of a tree: shade from the blazing sun. The thought of not being able to find shade was terrifying. After days of driving through the desert, we were exhausted and hardly had the energy to celebrate when our tires finally touched the asphalt in Niger.

in the market; Maroua, Cameroon

in the market; Maroua, Cameroon

near Lake Chad

near Lake Chad

Chadian family

Chadian family



mud mosque; Agadez, Niger

mud mosque; Agadez, Niger


1. Barbara Satterwhite - July 19, 2009

Hi Marcus,

Glad you’re on firm ground now. Rest, quench your thrist, and revitalize for the next trek.

As always…enjoy, be safe, and know that you’re remembered.



2. edde m - July 22, 2009

Hey…got a chance to finally catch up on your website…Glad to read you’re still motoring along…good luck with the rest of the trip…and try to head North towards the the Libyan border via the Air mountains…the scenery is stunning along the Marlboro piste…

3. Jerry Vestal - July 23, 2009


Just want to connect saying Hello and encouraging you onward!

Peace out from Grapevine, TX.

Jerry & Sharrylon

ps. In Snyder last weekend, it was not but not so “dry.” Something to look forward to – You can now buy a cold beer on the square in your granddad’s preserved hotel relic – now Randall’s B.A.D. or Big Apple Deli.

4. Drew Bullard - August 10, 2009

I have really enjoyed reading about your adventures and I love your descriptive writing. This particular post is excellent, expecially the part about your relationship with Bessie. You have really improved since junior English. A++
Drew Bullard

5. Drew Bullard - August 10, 2009

Sorry I called Jesse, Bessie. I hope he doesn’t mind.

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