Seeking an epic location for photos and video production to highlight the 2017 KTM 1090 Adventure R and 1290 Super Adventure R, KTM traveled to Morocco. Located in North Africa, for those with an interest in geography, Morocco offers the beauty of the ocean as well as some of the most desolate deserts. Morocco also used to be the home of the Dakar Rally, before it moved to South America. The logistics of a big photo and video shoot in a third world country demands a lot of planning, with a sprinkle of luck. Leaning on knowledgeable locals as drivers helped get us through police stops and line up edible food. The production crew handled all the logistics, locations and bike needs. We spent a lot of time in trucks and vans, crossing the vast landscape to locations far from what we here in the states consider civilization. In order to make the 2017 video and photos come to life, it required riders. The video team worked with riders Paul Bolton and Adam Riemann. For the photos, South Africa racer Ross Branch and I joined a six-person team. Throughout our nine days of shooting we crossed paths with the video team and traded locations.
After 26 hours of travel from Los Angeles to Agadir, Morocco we all landed just in time to grab dinner and go over the trip’s rough plan. We were then told to get some sleep, as call time was an early 3:30am. Over the next 10 days I learned the value of always stealing a hotel pillow for the car rides to our location. Not having any idea of where we were going the first morning, I awoke from the back of the truck and heard waves crashing on the beach in the dark. Ross and I geared up, mounted our 2017 adventure machines and followed the trucks through the dark out onto the sand for a 30km run down the beach along the water to the first location as the sun attempted to break through the fog. Riding on the hard sand, teasing the water on the coast of Africa and mounted on an adventure bike at 100mph is a pretty cool experience.
Ross and I quickly found out how soft and fluffy the sand was away from the water’s edge as soon as we moved inland toward the dunes to the location base. The bikes wanted to plow to a stop unless the throttle was pinned. Our first day of“work” in the dunes along the ocean was a learning curve and we took every opportunity to slide and wheelie along the water’s edge.
The next few days we left the comfort and relatively cool temps of the coast and headed to the desert. A day by a river bottom and weaving through an old castle was awesome and provided way more traction than our day of digging big bikes out of soft sand. Trying to catch sunlight in the dunes along the ocean, we headed back to the soft sand to do speed runs down the beach.
Both Ross and I topped out the bikes at about 105 mph along the water’s edge, giggling the entire time. With the needed shots in the dunes complete, we again loaded up and headed inland, into mountainous terrain sprinkled with old settlements. Not a lot has changed in these areas for hundreds of years and the sense of one’s smallness is overwhelming. The rest of the days blended into a routine of some sleep in a hotel, more sleep in the back seat of a truck, some questionable food, more time sleeping in cars and lots of miles on the KTM 1090 and 1290 adventure bikes. Because there is a certain look to the photos, we had to keep the jackets and vents zipped up. Not a big deal when it’s 75 degrees out, but when it’s 115 it is a different story. The bikes weren’t much happier about clutch slipping photoshoot style riding in the heat either, boiling over a few times in protest. Every night I washed my jacket and pants in the hotel shower to get the salt stains out for the next day.
One of our last days was riding through the chaotic streets of Tafraout, trying to dodge pedestrians, cars and trucks to get cool shots of the KTM’s amongst the city life. Just turning around and navigating the streets where driving rules don’t exist was more stressful than wheeling a 500 pound adventure bike at 60 mph.
I made it out of North Africa only slightly wounded. A simple tip over while turning around on one of the last days trapped my foot between the crash bar and the ground- adventure bikes aren’t light. Luckily it was only a deep bruise and not anything worse. A trip to the hospital there might have been more dangerous than whatever injury was sustained.
The time between photos perched atop a resting motorcycle with the solitude that only comes with sitting in the middle of North Africa, I reminded myself that no matter what is going on in life, motorcycles are pretty damn cool. My eleven-day adventure to North Africa to be a photo rider for the 2017 KTM Adventure bikes is not a trip that is in danger of fading from my memory and was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity.
20 years ago I spent three months with a backpack and a camera floating around western Africa and never would have dreamt I’d return the continent (the northern part) to do wheelies and skids on a bike no one was allowed to see.
As somewhat of a freelance guy not tied to any publication as a full time employee, it has allowed me to be the guy on the bike, not behind the camera.
—By Adam Booth