There’s more to Morocco than tagines and camels. Easy to reach, and with perfect weather, the roads and mountains south of Marrakesh make for an epic cycling venue.
I’m riding in a cloud of white exhaust smoke. The pungent (and strangely pleasant) aroma of burning two-stroke fuel seeps into my lungs, my mouth gulping the fume-filled air as I work hard to maintain the back wheel of the moped I’ve just latched onto after swinging left out of Tahnaout, the last big town on our 177km loop.
Several things are going through my mind. First, I hope the enormous, precariously attached hay bale that’s weighing the moped down considerably doesn’t fall off. A trip to a Moroccan hospital this late in the day is not an appealing thought. It would also be cruel to hit the deck now, having already completed the majority of this epic route. I examine the thin twine holding the bale on, and decide that it looks safe enough.
I could back off a bit, but this tow is too good a slipstream to pass up. Besides, the possibility of the moped making a sudden stop, given the size and weight of its load, not to mention the likely state of disrepair of its brakes, would be like trying to stop a runaway freight train. So I conclude that the chances of being crushed are minimal enough for me to stick a few inches from the spluttering exhaust of the moped and get pulled along the endless Moroccan highway.
How we got there
We flew Emirates to Marrakesh via Casablanca.
Our hotel, Riad Kaiss (www.riadkaiss.com), was nestled in the narrow back streets close to the main square in central Marrakesh. It was luxurious and tranquil, hidden behind its tiny door from the street. The rose petals sprinkled over the bed would have been a romantic touch – had I not been sharing the room with photographer Paul.
Thanks to Faical Alaoui Medarhri of the Moroccan National Tourist Office (www.visitmorocco.com) for all his help organising the trip, and Charlie Shepherd of Epic Morocco (www.epicmorocco.co.uk) for being a valuable contact in Marrakesh.
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