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    Monday, April 28, 2008

    My almost last sunset in Morocco. Bliss

    The Saggioro Family in Cislago (outside Milan), Italy

    Giving a ride to Marchella--her first tandem

    Big love from Italy! I realize just how blessed I am recently. My gratitude levels are off the charts and I plan to keep them there, no matter what happens. But it’s sure easy to be grateful when life lines up like this…he’s a quick play by play I gotta share…the 12 steps to remembering it all always does works out in the end:

    1) Went to doctor, he says I’m all set to ride, surf and frolic. Finally, I’m clear to rock in roll!
    2) I decide to get to Europe as spring has arrived and want to hit the window of good weather and avoid more dust. I’ll be back in Morocco soon enough.
    3) Planned a 3 day overland trip from Morocco to Europe
    4) But, 5 star surf was predicted for the days of my 3-day travel and I did not want to leave my friends in Morocco to sit 3 days on a bus/train/boat
    5) I found a flight and air cargo transport for my gear for only a few bucks more than the price of the overland trip—BONUS!
    6) I was then invited to a friend in Italy’s place just an hour after booking the flight so I had a welcome crew upon arrival in Italy.
    7) Instead of 3 days overland I got 3 days of perfect, I mean PERFECT surf, with great people, weather and good health
    8) Arrived in Italy, was picked up by my good friend Anna who I met in Tanzania, and we went to check if the bike arrived via cargo shipment
    9) Turns out it was a holiday weekend when I arrived in Italy, and I we hit the cargo area after 2PM when everything should be closed
    10) My bike arrived the same time I arrived and miraculously we were able to get half dozen Italians who were off duty and on holiday to release the bike to us so we did not have to make a second trip and could build the bike up right away.
    11) I arrived at Anna’s amazing house where 9 lovely Italians, dog and cat welcomed me like family.
    12) My entire kit of gear arrived without any harm, the bike is built up, has already had half dozen Italian riders already, and the adventure in Europe is underway!

    Off to Genoa to pick up a few FedEx packages of parts and gear tomorrow and will be rockin my way around the continent soon after! I’ll do my best to get caught up on journals, but for now the blog is the best bet  Enjoy!

    Big love!


    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    Tarhazoute, Morocco

    After almost 2 weeks in R&R and healing mode I got word from Agadir, Morocco's top pulmonary specialist that my lungs are clear of infection, but still fragile. I got the green light for cycling, but was told to avoid harsh hot to cold temperatures and to drink tons of liquid and eat well. Soooooo, I'm following my initial intuition and take a miss cycling Morocco and have a few more days of rest on a bus to Italy where I'll start my European Expedition about the first of May. I've got a new schedule up at and am very excited to get back on the road!

    Here's a few pics of my last week of rest and relaxation in Morocco. Catchya in Italy!

    The stunning waves and scenery north of Agadir

    One of many awesome sunsets with new friends

    Stunning :)

    Lovin it!

    Goodbye Atlantic, Hello to Italy!

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    Blog from Morocco-4-16-08

    My healing cocoon on the ocean, Tarhazoute, Morocco

    Greetings from my healing cocoon on the ocean in Morocco. I ended up renting a studio apartment my Moroccan Angel Simohamed found for me--total peace and quiet and it’s just what the doctor ordered. More on the healing process later. Hold on to your armchair as the ride from Mauritania to Morocco was truly a doooooozy and must read!

    It was last Monday night, April 7, 2008 which could go down as the scariest day of my entire 6 year adventure. I was waiting for a Moroccan fruit truck to come fetch me at a hotel meeting point outside the capital of Mauritania, Nouakchott. About an hour before our meeting time I heard rapid machine gun fire in very close proximity. At first I thought it might be a military drill of some sort, but when dozens of military and police trucks came speeding by full of armed men screaming at everyone to get out of the way, I knew it was serious. It was so serious the owner of the hotel insisted that I hide in the hotel.

    My Moroccean fruit truck--a 51 hour adventure!

    Recently four French tourists were killed by extremist Islamic groups and the famous Dakar Rally was canceled due to terrorist threats. I did not fear for my life, but my heart was sure racing. The gunfire and bombs went on for over an hour and finally mellowed out just after dark. Just as it eased off my fruit truck arrived to pick me up and take me to Morocco, in the same direction where the gun fire came from.

    As we loaded up the bike and my gear into empty fruit crates the driver and his crew were discussing what to do with me. After some discussion with several concerned bystanders we decided I would be safe as long as they hid me in the back cab and covered me up in blankets in case there was a road block. It was the scariest 15 minutes of my life, but we made it out of Nouakchott arrived at the border about midnight.

    Said and Bachir doing their time w/ a smile in the cab

    We slept in some roadside truckers stop and were up early to hit the boarder with dozens of other trucks. I had no idea what I was in store for here. Turns out the Moroccan government is doing a major crackdown on trafficking of all sorts of people, drugs, and items coming from the south. So what I hoped would be a few hours to cross turned out to be about 7 hours! And I earned my place in the cab as I had to help the loading of hundreds crates back in the truck after the inspectors were through. Nuts! I was starting to regret taking my friend Mohammed’s advice back in Nouakchott.

    After we finally made it through the border I was told to get back into the back of the cab, but now I had to share this very small space with a Moroccan man named Bachir. Turns out that the driver wanted to make a few more bucks and picked up a gypsy woman Nadia at the border to take her 1,000+ kilometers to Laayounne. I was told by my buddy Mohammed no more than 3 for sure—“I’ve done it dozens of time, mate. It’s the best way to go! You can sleep all the way in the back and stretch out!”. Mohammed is a Scottsman who moved to Mauritania and converted to Islam who I was trying not to curse as Bachir and I shared sweat from our legs and exchanged cramps for hours on end.

    Up front it was good fun w/ tons of loud Moroccan music

    Oh wait, it gets better! I noticed the truck making a turn and was hoping the agony was over and we were stopping for the 2nd night. But no, we were turning around to drive back over 100KM to the driver Rachid’s brother’s fruit truck which has flipped over! The scene was nuts—a fruit truck on it’s side at 1AM, tons of Moroccans about trying to figure out how to flip it back over on it’s wheels.

    As I got out to have a closer look our other compadre of our adventure Said told me in French that I should stay inside the cab until the police leave. Turns out that truck had a passenger I there who was whisked away in an ambulance and they feared if they saw me they might not allow me to carry on. Once again, I was hidden in the cab until the police left it to the drivers to try to flip this huge fruit truck over!

    I was eventually allowed out of the truck as several attempts were made using regular rope that snapped immediately. Hours went by as they rounded up rope, twine, and all sorts of shrapnel of webbing from drivers. But just as I was losing hope, and my patience now at 3AM, they managed to flip the truck over as the crowd roared and a massive dust cloud blew right into my face putting me into a coughing attack so strong I vomited and cried. Yep, quite an adventure!

    We FINALLY made it to Morocco with GREAT food!

    The last day of this 51 hour adventure was actually pretty fun as the delirium set in and I just surrendered to the madness. Not to mention, our passenger Nadia got out and we were all able to stretch out again. It was still a long way to go with all the military checkpoints and my cough was getting worse with Rachid’s chain smoking, but we were had some fun and even did some filming with the guys.

    But just as we were only 120km from Agadir Rachid decided he was through paying bribes to the police and he decided to take small, hilly, very slow backroads to Agadir. This would have been all fine and well, except for the fact that it brought us into Agadir wall after dark with 20km still to go to my healing cocoon where I’m now writing. Rachid promised me on the road he would take me the extra 20km to Tarhazoute but when we arrived outside of Agadir he had a change of heart.

    So I had to drop 30 bucks to go 20km with all my gear, when I just paid under 100 to go 2000km. Classic! I arrived in Tarhazoute at 10:30pm, about 51 hours after I left Nouakchott. The yoga-surf camp I had hoped to heal at was closed, locked up and they were not answering the door. But, as always, there was an Angel waiting to help me—Simohamed came out of the blue and offered me a bed in his 2 bedroom flat and we got along like peas and carrots right away.

    My Moroccean Angel Simohamed cookin it up!

    Simohamed has been like a brother to me, helping me find my healing studio on the ocean, bringing me food, finding me a new phone after mine disappeared and so much more. His good friend Nadia, a production manager from Casablanca, also come into the picture as my nurse and has brought me breakfast of fresh juice, yummy bread and great company.

    My first night out of my cocoon with Nadia, Simohamed and crew for dinner

    That leads me to where I am now, which is on night 6 of a 7 night stay at this oceanfront apartment, which I will likely extend a few days. I am happy to report that I am REALLY healing this time. I resisted the temptation to surf a lovely swell and turned down many invitations to frolic and play. I actually stayed still for 4 days straight, drinking 10+ liters of water a day, and watching dozens of movies! And FINALLY I’m not coughing!!! And my chest is finally releasing a month worth of muck one ugly loogie at a time. I just needed to slow down, admit I’m human, and heal.

    Don't think of putting on your sandals!

    I am grateful for all the prayers from around the world. I’m going to move VERY SLOWLY back into action again, likely opting to take a miss on N. Africa until next November where I’ll return as soon as Europe starts getting too cold and wet to ride down to Mauritania and maybe even revisit The Gambia. I’ll post the new general schedule of Europe soon, as it becomes revealed 

    The view from my free WiFi score on the beach where I'm sending this :)

    Over and out from Morocco!!!!

    Big love!


    Monday, April 07, 2008

    Oh, how sweet the flow is... Blog 4/7/08

    I'm 2 hours away from boarding a bit 18 wheel truck for a 48 hour adventure right to Agadir, Morocco with a total stranger from Morocco who only speaks Arabic. I though I was going to have to do a crazy public transport mission from hell, but instead I've got one truck, one price, and no hassle all the way to just 20KM from my healing retreat at Surf Moroc.

    I just happened to meet a guy who knows all about this from a Scotsman named Mohammed who lived in the dessert for 2 years and converted to Islam. Cool cat! Also turns out that the promoters of the event and many artists invited me back to any upcoming year's music festival ( so I plan to be back sometime to ride this place and catch this amazing music!

    Off to hit the Sahara in an 18 wheeler! I know I've made the right decision now--I'm in the flow and off to hit my yoga mat, hammock and some waves!

    Thanks for all your prayers!!!

    Sunday, April 06, 2008

    Blog, 4/6/08, Mauritania

    As much as my ego screams and kicks and yells, I have to take a miss on riding the Sahara right now. I got a horrible night sleep last night coughing away and it’s clear that the 20 hours of dusty travel beat up my fragile respiratory system. I thought I was okay to power on, but it’s clear I need more time. To go out pedaling and filming in the Sahara would not be smart.

    These are some pics from a cyclist heading south

    and a sandstorm that almost sent him home early...

    I had dreamed of riding the heat, dunes and unique landscapes of the Sahara for years and it shatters me that I will have to pass this time. But I have to do what is best for me and get to 100% for the big expedition of Europe ahead. I’m at 83% now so my plan is to heal up at a yoga and surf retreat called Surf Moroc in Taghazout, Morocco with some fresh ocean air and yoga sessions. Once I’m healed I’ll do a ride of Morocco then make my way to Europe.

    I hope to come back one day and pedal in Mauritania and Gambia, two countries that I had to pass on this time, as well as Benin. I’m gutted I had to miss some epic journeys in these countries, but at least I got to see em! I’ll be back! Please send some prayers my way—I need to heal up fast for Europe and beyond!


    Blog from Mauritania 4-6-08

    I’m in a shared 7 seat Peugeot taxi now with 12 people in it heading from the border of Senegal, fresh into Mauritania, and off to the capital called Nakouchett. It’s now 11PM and I have been on the road since 6AM with at least 4 hours to go due to the constant military stops, police checks, and picking up and dropping off all sorts of colorful characters--another unforgettable African transport doozy in the works. More on this later…but first…

    I’ll take you back in time a bit, to just after my last blog of the ride in Senegal. I was one sick puppy after the ride and headed right to the doctor when I crossed into English speaking Gambia. My new friend Ousainou who I met online at Hospitality Club was eager to host me. Despite being rear ended by a taxi and turning my rear trailer wheel into a minor taco, my first day in Gambia was great! The doctor set me up with some antibiotics and told me to take 5 days of rest. So I headed to an eco resort called Footsteps in S. Gambia and started my healing process.

    A guest rider Mohamed who I rode w to Footsteps

    "relaxing" at the Footsteps Eco Resort

    I did take 5 days off but did not heal nearly as fast as the doctor said. Luckily, I got an unexpected visit from a friend Emma who I met over a year ago in Zimbabwe and we hit up a local music festival in S. Gambia together to do some filming with plans to ride together into Eastern Gambia afterwards. The festival was lovely with amazing dancing but not so great musicians, but the dust, long hours and attraction to the surf did not help my healing process. I need to learn to do nothing—not my strength. I was still coughing tons and was worried about going out filming and riding.

    Emma arrives from the UK and off to Music Fest

    At the music fest with Ousainou, Malik and Emma

    Filming the action with a local gal

    Some of the local talent!

    Amazing percussions!


    I scored some good waves in Gambia--very rare!

    After the festival we decided to start our ride east with a stop in Brikama to film one of Gambia’s most well known traditional musicians with a new friend Steve Pile we met, a fellow Bay Area recording artist. On the way we were invited on the air of the national radio station where we did a ½ hour interview with several people calling in with a guest rider Tin-Tin and Emma on the air. It was a hoot! At the show I realized just how far I still had to become fully healed as my cough was just as bad as it was on day one and I had problems even talking at times. The next morning Emma and I decided it would make more sense to relax and heal than push a bad situation and we rode back to Footsteps Eco Lodge to seek refuge on their lovely grounds.

    Emma on her mini-bike enroute to Brikama

    Going on the air with Tin-Tin in Brikama, Gambia

    Filming some amazing musicians in Brikama

    Our "home" for several days at Footsteps Eco Lodge

    The owner of Footsteps David and I had built a strong friendship and he treated us like family, giving us a place to stay for several more nights. Emma then came down with some stomach sickness from the food and water in Brikama and now the care giving shifted to me as she was vomiting and had major diarrhea for 24 hours. But we finally were feeling better and decided to head back to Dakar where Emma was going to fly back to UK and I was to make my way to Mauritania.

    We returned to my favorite place in Dakar at Silvi’s house and we made our way to the Dakar hospital to get one more opinion on my chest infection. We were blessed to meet a cool young intern named “C” who treated us like family and rushed us through the normally long, expensive and complicated process of meeting with a specialist. I got my chest x-rayed and the doctors confirmed my guess that I had pneumonia and showed me the infection on my lungs and told me that the antibiotics that I was taking before would not take it down. So I was again given more medication to take and told to take about 5 days of relaxing.

    Hitting the national airwaves at RTS

    So Emma extended her flight and we took the doctor’s orders and did quite a bit of relaxing on the beach and sleeping in. We did have to make a trip into town to pick up some parts to my bike that arrived and stopped off at the national television and radio station RTS to see if they wanted to do a story on Peace Pedalers. We were told to return the next day and we would go on the national evening news. It was a hoot seeing myself and Emma on national TV speaking French to the nation.

    The day finally came where Emma had to head home and I felt strong enough to make my way north into the Sahara Desert to Mauritania. I took Emma to her 3AM flight on the bike and hopped the crazy shared taxi to the border, which ended up breaking down and needing a 3 hour repair. This delay brought me to the border after hours where I had to wait, kiss butt, bribe and cry my way into the country since the office was closed.

    Emma's trip to the airport and I'm off to Mauritania

    I finally made it to the capital of Nakouchett at 2AM after paying way too much, being ripped off and lied to twice, and not feeling super good emotionally or physically. Mauritania is VERY different than Senegal or anywhere I’ve ever been, with folks walking around in long robes, speaking Arabic and a totally different vibration all together.

    Now 36 hours after arrival I’m just settling into this new world and am going to be making some kind of plan. I met the promoters of a big music festival, Festival of Nomads, that just happens to be going on from the 7-11 here in Nouakchott so I am considering staying around to do some filming and catching some truly legendary music from around the world. But the road is calling too, and I’m eager to get pedaling. We’ll see where I end up 

    Over and out from the Sahara! Big love and hugs!


    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    I was asked to write a short article on my trip to Casamance for a magazine here so I decided to copy it here in the blog. It’s a bit rough as it will be translated and edited into French…but you’ll get the drift  More later…

    I decided to do my Senegal cycling tour in Casamance as I had heard so many positive things about the region from my Senegalese friends. The media has portrayed the region as still unstable politically and cautions travelers to take great care in the northern part of Casamance due to activity with the “Separatist Movement”. I could think of no better place to do some Peace Pedaling and was inspired to ride right in the middle of the region where this “tension” was supposedly going on.

    I started my expedition in Ziguinchor and made my way up to Tubor where I turned onto the dirt roads towards Affiniam. The media and government agencies caution traveling in Northern Casamance but I knew in my heart it would be amazing and totally safe. Within a few minutes I made my first friend Ibrahima who stopped to say hi when I was resting in the shade. He took me to meet his family in the small village of Niamone where they cooked me an amazing meal of rice and couscous, set me up a mat to rest in the shade, and introduced me to the entire family and many friends.

    Later that day Ibrahima and I rode together to meet his friends and spend the night in another small village called Diengue. Again, they cooked me a wonderful meal and showed me around the village, making me feel totally welcome. That night we slept in the house of the chief named Bourama and I slept right next to his son named Ansoumana, or Ansou for short. The next morning Ansou joined me for a full day of cycling through the village of Tandouk and onwards to Baila. All along the way we met lovely people who took us in for tea, meals and great conversation. I invited Ansou to spend the night in Baila with me and we had a lovely time together building a strong friendship.

    Ansou left back to his village the next day and I rode by myself towards Kafountine. I was only about 20km outside of Baila in a small village called Ebinako where I was greeted by a young boy named Ndey Coly who invited me to relax in his village. He introduced me to his father Ousmane who was the chief of the village, as well as his mother Yama. Yama prepared a bed in the shade for me to relax and take a nap as I was feeling quite sick with this growing pneumonia. After the nap I taught some yoga to a few of the boys and then went out to play some soccer with the guys around sunset. Yama created a great meal for us and I was invited to spend the night in their house after an amazing meal.

    The next day the chief Ousmane decided to accept my invitation to ride with me to Kafountine. Ousmane has never been to the beach in 40 years so he was very excited to come for the ride. We did an amazing 35km ride where we had time to talk and build a great friendship. I invited him to spend the night with me and he loved relaxing in the hammock, swimming and running on the beach with my Ipod. We are still in touch today and I’m very close with him and his family.

    Overall, I have to say that Casamance was one of the best places I’ve ever discovered. I met some of the nicest and most hospitable people I’ve ever met in my six years of cycling. Every person I asked said the region was at peace and if you travel there you will feel it. There is nothing to worry about—I highly recommend a journey out there!