Day 3 - 5th Feb 2019 We left the High Atlas region today, with a bus transfer across the plain to start our ride at Imi Mquorn. A 3rd day with again very different landscape and terrain. Hot, rocky and rolling...we were at lower altitudes and the granite landscape much more craggy, black rocks radiating heat ...the theme of the day was "isn't it warm"? A short ride today...we spent ~3 hours ascending, picnic lunch, another hour or so going up - my legs flaked out on this part, so was able to enjoy countering along the empty roads in the sunshine alone - and then a spectacular, cooling (cautious!!) descent for 20km down to Taufarout to finish.
Day 4 - 6th Feb 2019 Yesterday's ride was a loop from and back to Tafarout... the highlight if which, if you're kinda getting bored of fabulous switch back climbs and long sweeping descents on near deserted roads with a m a z i n g views, was the Ait Mansour valley. Descending off the first big lump of the day, into a rocky gorge...which became progressively greener with palm trees as we reached Ait Mansour Oasis. The road through which didn't seem like a thing that bicycles should pass, and the temperatures plummeting from the 20s in the sun to near freezing in the shade of the trees...but intrepid bicycling enthusiasts that we are, made it through. The scenery turned to dessert, the road weaving between huge mounds of stratified terracotta rock... some "proper" dirt roads, causing our chief guide to lose his sense of humour (winging it much?) And much amusement for us..... the group split after snack stop, 6 of us competed the 135km route as a chain gang, bullied along by the Chairman. Legs down to 6 bars. Should get me through the last couple of big days.
Day 5- 7th Feb 2019 5th day...and it's been a biggie, but THE BEST (again) riding. You gotta like mountains, I don't think there were any flat bits ... but if was net downhill today, so lots more descending practice. We rode out of Taftout, down into valleys and the landscape for this section much more like I'd imagined Morrocco to be...drier and rolling, red earth dotted with scrubby loking argon and almond trees, cloaked shepherds and their goats. Not dissimilar to Gran Canaria, but on a lot of Califorian Advil ;)... first climb of the day, traffic free but sketchy surface as they'd just laid fresh chipping to the surface made the switch backed ,descent a bit hairy. Snack stop, a lie down on the road for some dates, oranges and trail mix- not a Haribo in sight all week ! Onwards over a couple more big climbs both with brilliant views and long sweeping descents, starting to get the hang of this - and really enjoying it. Big grins all round. Jon Ellis-Smith and I agreed we didn't think a Thursday bimble could possibly be more fun. Picnic lunch in the hills, bit more riding, stopping for pictures, the last little bit dragged on as the day got hotter... retired to a cafe for cold drinks and regroup for a stinky hungry sticky bus transfer into the city of Agadir for the night. Reckon I was down to 3 bars by the end of that! ...luckily it was a buffet dinner.
Day 6 - 8th Feb Our last day was to include a ride through Paradise Valley, which I was very excited about and therefore rather disappointed by the reality when it turned out to be "under construction" and a ride along a rumble river bed with not a lot to look at, if one were willing to take their eye off the ground infront. Still, negotiating the river bed like surface kept the group together until the start of the big climb of the morning... gaining 1000m over 30km. I think it's fair to say we were all a bit apprensivd about this, and mostly resolved to settle into the least painful rhythm and tap it out gently. I was in no hurry, and operating on about 2bar by now, had no choice. Fortunately there was the usual delightful scenery to distract us...and a surprise come break after 10km to re unite the strung out riders. We were also told that only 12km to go, thus we somehow saved 8km of climbing. Great descent and by now the front pack had long disappeared, I continued to twiddle, yakinbbin the last views of this brilliant countryside. Turns out that I chose the right day to ride in the "groupetto". Not entirely my choice, but for all our chasing myself and Dylan Bogg couldn't see any sign of the legends that had apparently disappeared up the road. When we arrived at the shaded clear g that had been chosen for our lunchdtop at 80km, we were very surprised that no one was there already. It turned out that the lead pack had been lead astray, 10k up another climb.....and were at that time on their way back to the route. Dylan and Charlie Brookes were most sympathetic of course ;) Realising that we'd have an hour or so to wait for them to catch us, we elected yo roll on slowly, as a group, to the finish... hoping that the others might cstchbus before the end of the day. This made for a most pleasant ride to e d the week...an ice cream (of sorts) at the surf town of Imsuoane, and the nice warm feeling of having "won" the Tour of Morrocco by brain rather than brawn