Longing for dunes, sand and learning to drive and navigate in the desert? This is how the internship in Tunisia with Oscar Polli works, for Maxi Enduros and single cylinders.
There are many senses of freedom and we have discovered one that beats almost all of them: riding a motorbike in the desert and among the dunes. Of course, not an activity to do without experience or with any motorcycle, but in this article we will explain how to get there.
Why Oscar and Freeracing School
Oscar Polli is not only World Champion of rally-raid, which often leads us to think that he is one with easy throttle, on the contrary, "the coach" is primarily a long-time Federal Technician who has been training riders for years from an early age, on the cross and enduro fields, and from just as many train amateurs and prepare athletes for competitions, from the most accessible to the most extreme such as the Dakar Rally. This is one of the main reasons (in addition to those that will follow) for which we decided to go to Tunisia, not just to "go for a ride" but to return home with an enormous amount of technique and extra knowledge.
Desert Stage and tour in Tunisia: differences
First of all, it is necessary to understand that it is an internship, or rather a training course that begins even before leaving. It is therefore not a walk in the desert at camel speed, but a tour guided by a technician who, before, during and after, teaches you the real driving technique to adopt on various terrains, corrects mistakes, teaches you the navigation with routes and much more.
Training begins even before departure, both on a practical level for those who need to refine their skills and on a theoretical level for the equipment and the many questions that arise spontaneously when going for the first time. Furthermore, at the end of the week, there is a field verification test on what has been learned and I guarantee you that it is not a mere formality, but a rewarding one.
Levels and types of motorcycles
There are distinctions, and it is right that there are. Course participants are basically divided into three categories (and related weeks) based on their level of experience. For this reason, there is no risk of having either someone breathing down our necks, or someone who hinders our desire to give gas on the dunes. Everything is calculated and nothing is left to chance, above all because the aim of the internship is always to have fun and do it in safety.
You can therefore choose to do the week dedicated to those who go for the first time (or want to return without raising the bar) or the one dedicated to those who have already been there and want to increase their pace and driving technique. And if you are competitive and have in mind to approach and/or train for the great Rally Raid, don't worry, there is time and space for you too.
With regard to motorcycle, the most suitable vehicles remain the single cylinders from 250cc upwards. But if your challenge is to go into the desert with a Maxi Enduro (and this year there was a KTM 1290 Adventure with us) know that there are also weeks dedicated to heavier bikes, with routes obviously designed ad hoc.
What if you're not ready and you don't have a bike?
Nothing serious, because with the school Freeracing, Oscar Polli trains and trains all types of pilots throughout the year on the national territory. So you can get ready in advance with a few enduro and/or cross track outings and even rent a motorbike, both for ordinary activities and for the desert, prepared ad hoc according to use.
We ourselves, before leaving, went a couple of times to Ottobiano and a couple of times in the Oltrepò, to train ourselves on the different terrains that await you in Tunisia and the hard work the dunes entail.
Technical and athletic preparation
Never overestimate your physique and its capabilities. We tested it on our skin right in the sand. The dunes don't make discounts for anyone and several passages require a fairly fit body and breath. In particular, we noticed it at the first trivial fall, where picking up the bike and starting off again require a certain commitment and, if they are repeated after a while, they often take your breath away.
For this reason, however for enduro and cross in general, it is necessary to follow a program of training also aerobic well in advance of the departure. In this too, the figure of the athletic trainer counts, because a sports professional will always make you do the best thing in the best way, which translates into the maximum return on investment (physical and economic).
Organization and security
Safety is a sort of mantra and mission for the Freeracing team: primarily so that fun is constant and to amplify the desire to ride a motorbike and perhaps return to the dunes, then because there can be many pitfalls. For this reason, there is no shortage of support jeeps, always nearby, marshals who accompany and follow the group, satellite phones and the necessary knowledge to deal with any type of emergency, so that even family members at home can sleep peacefully.
The base of Douz is then an oasis of peace, where only a small lake is missing (which you will find in the desert anyway). Here you sleep, in a single or in a double room, eat together with everyone, fix the bikes, do briefings and de-briefings, and in a few minutes you can go downtown to browse the boutiques, drink tea in the bars , pick up spices and dates and not just ride your motorbike through the dunes.
Instead, during the week, in the middle of the desert, two separate accommodations are provided, also based on the level of the participants. The more experienced will spend 2 or 3 nights at the "lakes" with their tents and with a real bivouac in the desert, to savor the true experience of raids. In our case, a group of newcomers, we took advantage of the comforts of a tented camp, with showers, beds and a restaurant, certainly more comfortable but no less authentic for this. The desert is a marvel of nature, in all its forms.
Motorcycles and recommended equipment
For the desert stage, on Oscar's advice, we used our 350 Husqvarna FE 2020, adequately prepared by the Oddo Garage workshop in Milan with:
- Tyres Event Extreme goat
- Enduro mousse di Risemousse
- Increased tank 12 litres Acerbis
- Bags giant loop: Mojavi saddle bag (side bags) + Armadillo bag (fuel) + Buckin' Roll tank bag (tank) + Pronghorn straps (fixing straps)
- Plastics Polisport: Nardo gray plastic kit, engine and crankcase guards, hand guards
- navigator Garmin Montana 680t with mounts Ram Mount
As for the rider, we used the following equipment and protections:
- Fiber helmet Alpinestars Supertech M10
- Boots Alpinestars Tech7
- Harness Alpinestars Bionic Plus V2 Protection Jacket
- Full Alpinestars Techstar Arch (shirt and pants)
- Jacket Alpinestars Venture-R Jacket
- Maxi travel bag Alpinestars Komodo travel bags
- Mask Ram 8k Deserts (specific for these conditions)
- Waist Bag ETC zulu with water reserve 1,5 l backpack USWE Raw 12l with 3l reserve.
When and how to go?
The Desert Stages are held twice a year, around March and November, in the best period for temperatures and length of days. Whoever has the motorbike delivers it to Oscar a couple of weeks in advance, whoever rents it finds it already there. Then you take a nice flight to Tunis and upon arrival you will find the transfer to reach Douz without problems.
All the information on prices, material, activities, rentals and much more can be found on the website Freeracing School at freeracing.it where you will also find all the details on the school, the team and the various courses held throughout the year.