Morocco 2018

Tanger – Meknes – Mezuga – Nekob – Marrakesh – Tafroute

The Ride

It’s the second time in Morocco. The first time I travelled here, was with my heavy loaded travel mountainbike as a part of a 7 month journey. This time is all different I got 4 weeks before the new summer season in Lisbon starts again. Therefore I catch a bus to Algeciras right opposite of Morocco. Just an hour after my arrival I got Moroccan dirt under my wheels.

I had about 10 days before my brother arrived in Marrakesh for a MTB week. I used the time for bike travelling through the Riff mountains. The region is nice, but nothing spectacular. The beauty of the region are friendly and relaxed Riff-Berber. Not a single day passes without offers for dinner or overnight-stays. I would love to accept all off them. Thanks god, I have to go, my brother is waiting.

From Meknes I finally catch a bus to Beni Mellal, where I meet my brother. The day my brother arrives, also the bad weather arrives. Good luck that my brother came with a rental car. Locals speak about snowfalls as not in ages and all higher mountain passes are closed. Instead of rough mountainbike trails, we are riding endless roads around High Atlas. Only in Azrou and Middelt we are able to cross the mountains and arrive the warmer and drier south side. Once over here we visit the stunning dune field of Mezuga and search our mountainbike trails in the lower and drier Anti Atlas. After a few relaxing days at the foot of High Atlas we arrive Marrakesh, where my brother got his flight home and I start to the next attack to the mountains.

The massive snowfalls doesn’t allow too many options to leave Marrakesh to the mountains. So I leave the city with the traffic to cross the High Atlas at Tizi ‘n’ Tichka, where the warm Sahara sun makes the snow melting much quicker. Along the crest I go up and down until a river brings me slowly down to the Agadir valley. When I was already up to start my return to Lisbon, I had a conversation about the bike region Tafroute. I’m not in a hurry! Way spending time on the way back to the cold north, if I can still get more southern? Two days through lonesome asphalt roads and highly lively dirt roads I reach Tafroute. A perfect place to spend some last days between gray rocks and green oasises. My legs are quite tired and I don’t feel in conditions to do any further big rides. I sleep until late, have a halfday ride to the oasis nearby and spend the rest of the day with trying every single Tajine and every mint tea in town.

The Bike: Specialized XC Expert.

My decision was a bit risky. I decided to go on a bike, I bought second hand only 10 days before I left. I was riding a few times and I felt good with her. The bike is not to aggressive for longer rides, but ready for some action at its moment. The bike is equipped with quality standard MTB components, what makes it easier to replace parts and cheaper if I, m equipment or a long bus ride cause some damages on the bike. The relatively cheap RockShox X-Fusion rer suspension com a real lock, which turns the bike immediately into a hardtail for long distances. For the first part I used Schwalbe Marathon Racer, later my brother brought me Schwalbe Hans Dampf for the time in the mountains

When I formally brought all my belongings on a bike journey, nowadas I try to do that with a minimum of luggage. The bikepacking setup helps a lot to safe the dynamic of a sportive mountainbike, even if it is loaded. It’s some much more fun riding with this setup, up and down the sidewalks or snail through the traffic. If you don’t ferget your luggage even fully loaded is still good for smoove singletrails!

The most luggage enters into the 15l Ortlieb Seatbag and the 12l Ortlieb Handlebarbag Classic. Beside I fixed 4 smaller bags, a bottheholder and a lock on the frame. Just as last time this setup didn’t allow me to go without a backpack. On every longer daytrip I got a backpack with m and, every hiker is using one, why should it be such a big issue on a bike journey. Even if it normally is a hiking backpack, my Deuter ACT Trail, is a perfect partner for this. Size can verify quite a lot, just as much as you carry in small cases on the hips help to keep organized and the additional case for the helmet can be quite handy sometimes.

The Conclusion

The first time I travelled with a 40kg travel bike, this time with a fullsuspension bikepacker. Morocco turned out as a great bike destination for a slim budget. Great people and impressive landscapes and a lot of culture to discover. Plenty of different cultures in the different ends of the country and such a different view to the things makes it an interesting and surprising destination for a bike holiday.

Hotel-rooms, sometimes with warm water, are available from € 5,- and even luxury hotels are available for very reasonable prices. A full menu at the local places starts with less then € 4,-. Bus transportation is available for about € 3,- per 100km. Without an expensive long distance flight also a very cheap place to spend your holidays.

Temperatures can verify quite a lot depend on place and altitude. We had the bad luck to choose the strongest winter in years. Anyway south side of the high Atlas we had great weather, with almost sunshine guaranty at the High Atlas.

Asphalted roads are spread over the whole country and make accessible every last mountain village and Sahara dune. In the same time an endless net of single and double trails cover the entire country.

It was my second time in Morocco and hopefully not the last time!