through Eric Lee Dors
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On October 15-16, 1987, a very violent storm hit northwestern France. Henry Blanchard, mayor of Caerforn (Morbihan) and head of Armorican Frameworks, then equipped himself with a 504 pickup to reach his construction sites.
Since then, Yannick (52 years) and Sophie Venant (47 years) took over the company in 1999, offering the pickup a second engine and new life with over 500,000 kilometers on the clock.
Not for his company specializing in traditional framework, wooden houses and extensions, no… but to launch the 504 into another dimension, that of the barren expanse of the Moroccan desert, dunes and camel tracks!
Yannick, a carpenter, trained on a mechanics job in 2019 to restore a pickup and take part in his first Bob Al Ride with Sophie.
“An extraordinary adventure!”
Three years later, the couple decided to do it again, to relive the experience, “an extraordinary, unifying and human adventure”.
Organized by Maïenga, the creative agency of the Ralye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc, Bob Al Ride offers “an extraordinary experience, combining navigation with the roadbook, fun and playful challenges, and monotony”.
On their 504, Yank, the pilot, and Sophie, the co-pilot, will depart from Carrefour on the morning of this Saturday 4 February 2023 to arrive at La Rochelle. The 69 hp powered tarpaulin pickup will be checked by the organization.
The car should be equipped for the tracks…with solid protection under the housing, a spare alternator and shock absorber, a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit, two cell phones, a TripRoad Pro GPS application, and ice. Tires that grip well…
With them, more than a hundred crews in two-wheelers of all brands will depart to cross France, then Spain, before crossing the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco on February 9.
From Tangier to Meknes, and then the desert…
Yank and Sophie will hit the road from Tangier to Meknes, before hitting the Moroccan desert for six days…
“It’s not a race, insists Yank, who set up the 504 Pick Breeze Association for the occasion. It’s a regular test, averaging between 35 and 45 km/h. We’ll sleep in a tent at the start, Then in the back of the pick-up when we distribute our load. A sponsor gave us very thick sleeping bags in 2019, because it can get very cold at night.
Clothes, bags and handbags…
Under the tarp, couples will actually carry clothes for women, men and children.
It is still possible to donate clothes until the evening of Friday 27th January. We will also take about forty bags donated by Pontevey’s sponsor, which will be given to children at a school in the desert.
Sponsors may, until this date, also finance the purchase of dates on the site. “With all the participants, we will spend the afternoon planting in a palm grove in Margoza, south-eastern Morocco, where around 13,000 palm trees have been planted since 2007 thanks to these raids”, explains Yannick who adds are:
We bring something concrete… For example, dates are an important resource for the local population…
Sponsors will be thanked. Stickers with their logo will be affixed on the body of the pickup. A picture of palm trees in the desert with the company name; “And eternal recognition of our team 254”.
“We know where we’re going, and we know why.”
254, this will indeed be the pickup number for Yank and Sophie, after 2019’s 154…
In 2019, we were heading into the unknown… there, we know where we are going and we measure even more the reasons why we are going there…
“This Bab al-Ride is 7,500 km, with a little road and a lot of tracks, underline Yank and Sophie. But it is above all a human adventure, responsible for the environment, and in a small village. “There are incredible encounters that we try to bring support to.”
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