The Great Atlas – road cycling – Morocco
Since the beginning of our trip to Morocco, we have traveled with new MTB Morocco, whom we met at a campsite in Tangier. They have just started a trip around the world in tandem, so we decided to join them for a part of Morocco. We did our first kilometers of adaptation of Tangier to Meknes (they have written an article that describes really well what we lived!), then change completely landscape: go in the Great Atlas.
I do not really know how we decided to go to those mountains, but in any case it was a four-way decision. Thoughtful? I do not think so, because when we reached our first pass near 1900m, a man who was working on snow removal told us that at the same time, last year, there was already a meter of snow ... is really at that time that we realized what kind of adventure we had embarked on.
For the first night, we wanted to ask a shepherd, who did not know a word of French, if it was possible that we put our tents on this ground. After a good 5 minutes of mime, our friend Alexi finally managed to understand what we wanted. The man immediately accepted our request. The cold settled quickly and as soon as we finished eating, we entered our tents to warm up. Ronnie and I, really slammed, we are asleep around 20:30. The next day Anysia and Alexi informed us that the owner of the land had come to see us around 21h to know if we needed some things. They talked together for 5 minutes, right next to our tent, and we never woke up! We did not know that our sleep was so heavy. We will continue to properly lock the bikes . It was really a cold night, the temperature reached -7˚C. It may be deserved when you decide to go 2000m altitude in December ...
But this could never make us regret our decision to face these mountains. The landscapes were in the most beautiful we have ever seen, and beyond that, the most beautiful were the people who lived there. Another evening spent in the Great Atlas, we asked again to sleep at a house by the roadside. The lady to whom we had made the request accepted without hesitation. So we set up the tents and started the meal. A few moments later, tea and homemade bread was offered to us by the lady. We were delighted, but it was not over. As soon as her husband knew our presence, he and his children came to pick us up. Although they knew very well that we had already eaten, we still had a second meal that we ate as if it was the first. The tents were already all up, but there was no way for them to let us sleep in the cold. They finally accepted their offer, leaving the tents outside. The next morning, we regretted this choice. The stray dogs loved having two new toys ... The two tents had urine and tears to the canvases ... A new opportunity to redecorate the tent with lots of scotch! We will know for the next time that we should never leave the tents unattended.
Another morning, during a very big climb where we had nothing to eat and were "dying" of hunger, we stopped exceptionally at a small inn for lunch buffet. The owner was practicing mountain biking and told us about a trail that followed a small river. We had the choice to take this dirt track that went down all the way, or the paved road that crossed mountains. We opted for the risky ATV trail, knowing that anyway, it only lasted 20km. We never thought that 20km would have taken 2 days to cross ... We had no food reserves for all this time, but fortunately, with the generosity of people, we have never been hungry . The track reminded me of when I was mountain biking, except that I learned that with all the luggage you had to ride carefully. In a descent where I was going too fast, I slipped and I fell off my bike ... I had a violent blow to the knee, my handlebar bag has flipped (where all the important things are there) and I broke the lever of my rear brake ... After finding everything that was scattered everywhere, we took the road despite my knee pain.
It was getting dark and we saw a woman who lived in a house completely lost in the middle of nowhere. We asked if it was possible to put our tent on their land and as usual, there was no problem. We then met met her husband, Lahouysei, a wonderful man who will never be forgotten. We had a magical evening in the warmth of their home. By cons, when going to the tent, I realize that I was not able to bend my knee and he was very swollen. It was really not the time to have an injury to where we were. Lahouysei and his son IMG_0795 IMG_0803 IMG_0802The next day, fortunately, my pain had decreased and I was able to pedal. The friends took some of my panniers to help me and we were on this track again. At the end of the afternoon, we finally rolled on the pavement and rangers offered to host us. Awesome! The asphalt was appreciated, but despite everything, the last kilometers of riding before going to their camp were very difficult. We had really given all our energy on the track ... Once there, we took a good shower and ate a good meal. This is only a small part of what we experienced in the Atlas. Hot encounters like that we had several. These people who live in the mountains have shown us that it is really those who have the least money who are in fact the richest, and the most generous. Another thing we learned too is how much we lost our skills. Lahouysei's family, who lived in the middle of an impassable road by car, could make their own bread with their own flour, grow their own natural vegetables, produce their yarn from their own wool, and I on the way. Inspiring people who prove to us that it is possible to have a small, self-sufficient farm. It was really impressive to see for the first time people who live so much in autonomy.