Scram Africa Rider: Carlos de Javier
I was born and raised in Barcelona, the motorcycle city. There was a time when 7 different motorcycle factories ruled the city. Derbi, Montesa, Bultaco, Ossa, Sanglas… I loved 'em all.
I studied art, but I ended up working as a professional liar. Meaning that I work in the advertising industry, which pays the motorcycle bills. I’m terribly sorry, but I’m not wasting my passion on breaking rocks in the hot sun. I put it all on riding any kind of motorcycle. As my old chap Steve once said: "Racing is life. Everything before or after is just waiting".
Well, let's put it this way: Motorcycles are my life; anything else is just nonsense.
2. When did your passion for motorcycles start? Which was your first motorcycle?
I was not able to say a word yet, but I remember staring for hours at the Montesa Cota 348 in my uncle's garage. Man, how I loved that motorcycle! I learned to ride motorcycles on that bike later on. My father was a motorcycle enthusiast as well. My father and uncle rode together many, many miles. My father had some awesome bikes. An Orange Ducati 350 Desmo, a Bultaco Lobito, and a 1970 R90 Silver Smoke. The gentlemen's mount. He raced on that bike. The first bike that I owned was a Vespa 75 Primavera. Well, it was not exactly a motorcycle, but it had two wheels.
3. Talking about Scram Africa…. When was your first time participating, and which bike did you bring? How many times have you participated, and what is the reason you’ve been returning?
I had just divorced, and I needed to flee somewhere. I saw an article about a crazy and awesome desert adventure on old scramblers. I jumped on it without hesitation. I stripped all the tin from my 2006 Triumph Scrambler 900, mounted a pair of knobbys, and off we went. Me, my camping gear, and my motorcycle. I rode from Barcelona to Almeria in one long stage. I seemed to suffer from shell shock when I finally got there. Man, my legs were really shaking. I did the Scram 5 times in a row because I was totally hooked on that amazing experience in the Sahara. I made some really good friends there.
4. Which was the most challenging situation that you've experienced? How did you manage to fix it?
It was dark, and a cloud of dust was covering everything. We couldn't see shit one meter ahead. A couple of us got really lost. Then a big light shone right at us. It was the border patrol of the Algerian army. They weren't in a good mood and asked for our documentation which, of course, was in the truck. God, we were there for ages. Their gear was in rags, and they ran low on water, so we traded information about the desert road to our camp with a couple of canteens and a bar of chocolate. After dealing with the fesh fesh for almost two more hours, we finally made it to the desert camp. They had cold beers waiting for us.
5. What’s the most surprising thing that happened during Scram Africa?
I had mounted a pair of shot gut exhausts to gain power and lightness. Anyone can tell you that they were f…g loud. We went down a road crowded with a giant flock of sheep. I opened gas, and a family of sheep got frightened and rammed my bike. They all got killed, and I found myself on the pavement. The bike was ten meters away. My camelback splashed, leaving a big water puddle. My friends thought that I was severely injured.
6. Has something changed in you after the Scram Africa?
Before Scram Africa, I loved to travel safely; I mean, I had everything booked and a perfect plan for every day. The best routes, the best sights, the best meals… Scram taught me that planning for perfection is bullshit. The best plan is no plan; it is just enjoying the unknown, flowing with the elements, and, most important, trusting your friends.
7. Do you have any advice or recommendations for the participants of this new edition?
- Prepare your bike, suspensions, tires, oil, spares… get rid of any unnecessary weight. The desert is tough on bikes.
- Bring garments for the heat and for the cold. The sun is blistering, and the Atlas ridge is pretty high.
- Get ready to enjoy both the fun bits and the not-so-fun ones. After the trip, you will be enjoying your memories for the rest of your life.