Following in James Bond’s footsteps
H.O.G.® member Chris Martin recalls how his fascination with 007 took him deep into the Atlas Mountains
I have always been a fan of James Bond movies, so when Spectre was released at the end of 2015, I had to see it. I had heard some of the filming had been done in
After the movie I did a little research and found that this was actually the case; I was surprised I had no knowledge of such a dramatic landmark. Its name is Gara Medouar and there is much debate about how it was formed – either by volcano or meteor being the two most popular theories. Either way, it was a pretty cool-looking crater and a great excuse to take my XR on another road trip.
Into the mountains
I called a friend of mine who is also a Harley® fan and asked if he was up for an adventure. To nobody’s surprise he said he was, so I agreed to meet him there. I began my journey by heading north from
From there I headed east into the
After hours of amazing scenery we arrived at Rissani. Rissani itself is not that old, but it incorporates the ruins of Sijilmasa, which existed during the time of Christ and was a part of a major trade route across the
Off the beaten track
The next morning we pointed our bikes towards our goal – Gara Medouar! On arrival we found there was not even a gravel road, but only a small dirt path. My XR was only equipped with street tyres so we took the path very slow, remaining in first and second gear the entire time. At one point I hit a patch of sand, and the front wheel dug in and took a sharp right turn. I thought I was going down but somehow remained upright. However, now I was pointing in the wrong direction – off the path… big hole… rock… scrub grass… still upright! Hallelujah! I stopped to let my friend catch up and my heart slow down.
We headed on to – or should that be into – the massive crater. I have to say, it was an incredible sight. Once inside we parked the bikes and explored a bit. I found it amazing that, so far out in the middle of the
Lost in the desert
After leaving Gara Medouar we had intended to go to the city of
We headed into Zagora, fuelled up and had a bite to eat. We decided to push on to Ouarzazate – this turned out to be a very bad decision. About 80 per cent of the road between Zagora and Ouarzazate was gone! They had removed the asphalt and were in the process of repaving. Asphalt, then gravel, then mud, a little more asphalt, and a lot of dust. It was more difficult than riding off-road!
We arrived in Ouarzazate after dark. Ouarzazate is a city famous for film production; one of my favourite hotels is inside a film studio. We arrived at Hotel Oscar only to have them tell us there was “no more room in the inn!” They were shooting a film, and the film crew was using the hotel. As we contemplated in the parking lot, the hotel manager came out and said one of the crew was a no-show and they had one room for one night. “We’ll take it!” we exclaimed without a second’s hesitation. It was so, so good to have a hot shower, a nice meal and a soft bed.
In the morning we decided to stop in at Aït Benhaddou, the city where Gladiator was filmed. I took the XR down the steep path to the river’s edge for a photo. We then went back up to have a coffee before heading on. From there we crossed over the mountains and through the
This trip had some unexpected perils, but was a great adventure. Riding