Tackling Morocco’s roads

What are the drivers and roads like in Morocco?

The National Sport in Morocco is overtaking, they are never happier than when overtaking they are even happier when overtaking someone that is already overtaking.

As a General rule drivers will beep prior to overtaking this can mean:
1 )Hey mr cyclist I am overtaking
2)Hey mr cyclist I am overtaking real fast and there is not enough room for my manoeuvre-so fuck off onto the hard shoulder
3)Hey mr Cyclist I am coming through and there is no hard shoulder so fuck off.

They will beep you to let you know they are going to cut you up however If the road is clear they will be courteous and give you space and perhaps a friendly little beep.

Zebra crossings are a game of chicken nobody knows the rules even Moroccans.

Taxi drivers, everywhere is a pick up point especially that 1 metre in front of you, yeah that 1 metre is there’s by right there will be no use of mirrors or indicators.

Zombies or otherwise known as pedestrians will walk in the road even if there is a path and the path is empty, they will walk out without looking at anytime for any reason.

Moped riders behave they same as cars they trump you in the road stakes and let you know, they are also allowed to use Cycle lanes and will swerve and stop for no good reason at all.

The roads themselves are very good ( better than uk) unless there is no road. When they re tarmac a road they will rip up miles of it and leave it as craters this happens quite often.

Whilst I exaggerate the responsibility is with you to be aware at all times and as a general rule the drivers are attentive and courteous.

Beucoup Neige

As I made my way out of Marakesh Médina towards the start of my route (more walking than riding I can tell you) I was really looking forward to hitting the road.

The traffic was gradually petering out until it was just mental rather than suicidally mental.

The roads were in good condition and the drivers courteous where the road allowed.

I had planned 100K which gets me just in to the hurty stuff the weather not to hot not too cold.

Gradually the population petered our also and I began to grasp the attention of the locals who were on the whole polite.

As I sat Eating the first meal with my fingers I instantly regret scratching my arse earlier that day.

The communities and the shops were very rural indeed by now with all manner of animal being tortured and hung up for purchasing later.

After a pleasant 100k I start to look for a hotel that didn’t exist and finally reach another that was a hotel and had rooms but seemingly no keys to the rooms.

I was informed that there would be rooms at the Cascades des Ouzard which was the destination of my second day and a further 60K, or I could go back up the freaking big climb I had just descended 30k. Well what would you do?

I must have been still looked no strong as the locals continued to try to sell me carpets.

As the light began to fail and the storm that had been threatening me for most of the day broke I realised I had bit off a bit more than I could chew.

After some more climbing I started huge descent into Ouzard it flattened out and the town looked empty.

A dog broke out from the right and was proper angry chasing me quite a way and getting alongside me, I swerved into oncoming traffic and the dog eventually fucked off.

As my heart began to drop to a rate of less than a humming bird I saw a man sitting at the side of the road not just any man but a “Hotelier” a god a person to treasured and indeed hugged.

Ascertaining that there was a room coffee was procured.

A meal was ordered and as I sat in my room I hear the squawking of a chicken Instantly I regret my choice of poulet tagine.

Once I had eaten I shared my route with the God and he sucked air over his teeth and said Beacoup Neige and informed me that there would be no accommodation for 300K until May!

He proposed a deferent route to FES which he stated was very nice and hotels could be found in the big towns.

My next question was where the nearest cash machine was? Once again he laughed and shook his head 50K to the side or 40k back.

The money on my prepaid card was NOT the best bit of local advice I have been given.

I had a little cash and had planned to use credit cards “this is Africa you dick

The Kindness of a Berber

As I slumped over my handlebars not quite able to take in the information that I had just been given.

After 120K of stressful hard miles over roads that West Sussex County Council would be proud if I am told that the Hotel I was promised did not in fact exist.

The even more shocking news is that it was a further 40K away it was getting dark and it was cold and wet.

Africa is big yeah? Morocco is big and the bits that are not touristy are famously not touristy which means there are yawning gaps between big towns where the hotels are.

Morocco is going through an extensive-road building program which in effect means that actually for quite a lot of time they cannot be classed as roads at all and for those periods of time normal rules don’t apply and cyclists can basically fuck right off.

So here I am in a one horse town at my wits end.

A gravely voice appeared in my ear saying “Taxi” I looked up to see a very tall Tanned and craggy Berber gentleman who flashed at me his life saving which were impressively where his original teeth used to be.

I said Taxi to hotel, he lobbed my bike into the nearest Mercedes which surely must have of had a matching panel somewhere so we are off I thought?

Not so, the berber gentleman wasn’t going to let that taxi or indeed any other taxi leave until it was full. Through a series of clucking noises he was carrying out an auction the prices lowering as the cans filled up.

This gave ample time for the local kids to take the piss out of the crazy old man and his bike.

As time went on the older kids were getting a bit more brazen and a fucking nuisance.

All of the sudden the Berber swung around growled at them and they legged it l, I take it this was not a man to mess with.

He turned to face me his face broke out in an enormous smile he slapped me on the back and laughed, this was the point at which I fell a little in love with this Star Wars extra.

1 hour later I am in the only hotel in the town, no lock on the door, no toilet or shower it was freezing but hell they had coffee

 

Morocco the start

Arrival at Marakesh airport was exciting but not without incident the flight arrived on time and customs was easy and timely.

I must have of cut a lonely figure as I sat by the baggage claim waiting for my bike to arrive.

It didn’t , nor did 1 complete set of family luggage and partial pieces missing of another.

So off we trek to lost luggage. I asked the guy about oversize luggage and he pointed to a spot where my bike should have of been.

After waiting patiently an hour while others filled the claims forms out it was my turn. It must have of been the thought of filling yet another form out that he decided that he would get somebody to check airside. This took another 30 minutes as it involved a customs officer.

I peaked through the flaps and there it was in all its glory “Arti” my bike.

I have to say I hugged the customs officer which saw him reach for his side arm not the first time I have had this reaction.

After changing my cash for a huge amount of money (bank teller insisted that I put half on a prepaid card which comes back to haunt me later) I made my way through security again and out into the brilliant sunshine.

This was the last I was to see of the sunshine.

Finding a discreet corner I began to assemble the bike, by now of course attracted quite a crowd who were firing questions of at me in many languages that I don’t speak.

Bike built panniers on I had to find somewhere to dump my box and suitcase (sadly bins few and far between).

I am following a route into Marakesh its very hectic but the Garmin is doing well, overtaken by a donkey which is demoralising to say the least.

What an assault on the senses I saw my camel in .75K which answers most of my friends questions. As soon as I reach the back streets I gain a “friend” who for the sum of 40p got in my way.

Once at my Riad I found that they would not let the bike in and thy wanted me to park it elsewhere. After an argument eventually they let me in and my Morocco adventure begins.

 

Mountains

Mountains

As I fly into Marakesh for my next big solo cycling adventure it’s hard to believe that the route I have chosen was planned deliberately by myself.

In the planning phase I quickly realised that Morocco is too big to do everything in one trip of 10 Days. You either do the Haut Atlas and the Dunes or you do the Dunes and the beautiful coasts.

I Chose to do the Atlas and drop down into the desert roads and make my way to Millia and the ferry.

As always my head space is the issue, starting out with a few butterflies and sleepless nights and gradually building up to where I am now feeling sick the odd dry heave and hypersensitive to every risk and dreading the Mountains.

This making a truism out of what I and anybody close to me will already know.

My biggest Mountain to climb will be my mind.

Although to be fair there are some beasts out there ahead of me as well