Cycling Route High Atlas Mountains in Morocco
Winter really sucks for bicyclists in Stockholm. No, you don’t want to know any details. I longed for warmth and adventure, and like so many times before, I poured over maps to see where I could go. I picked Morocco, and spent Christmas Eve in Marrakech on my own. The morning after I rolled east in gorgeous biking conditions to my biggest bike adventure ever. I reached the Tizi n’ Test pass at 2100 meters well after dark in bitter cold, and took in at the tiny “hotel” as the only guest. I got a room with absolutely no heating, triple blankets and a shower with lukewarm water. That evening I had the same stew as the brothers running the place. In the morning I got to peek behind the Atlas mountains, into the vastness of the Maghreb hills and plains that slowly merges with the Sahara desert.
The road down on the other side was pretty insane, but well down on the plains I found thriving farms, even lakes. It was a humbling moment - there are people living everywhere!
The scenery is breathtaking, and every day was a feast for my eyes.
The climb up from Agdz was tough, but nothing compared to the last two days of my trip. After the spectacular Dadès Gorges I biked on mostly gravel along road R704 which just went on and on and on until I passed Col du Ouano at 2910 meters at dusk. Eventually I arrived absolutely exhausted to Agoudal where I spent New Years Eve with a russian expat family. We toasted when it was midnight in Moscow, they then went to bed early and left me alone by a huge fireplace with most of a bottle of russian champagne and half a bottle of red wine. One of the most memorable nights in my life.
The day after was even tougher. After gorgeous biking I arrived late afternoon to Tizi N'Isly, hoping for a cozy hotel. There was nowhere to stay, so I realized I had to bike for another 50 km on R307 to El Ksiba. Pitch dark, wild crazy stray dogs chasing me, sometimes long slopes of 10% uphill. I got a chain jam, and while fixing it under the milky sky I decided to push the experience to 11 by listening to Dare I Care by Julian Casablancas+The Voidz in my earbuds. After a minute, I turned off the music as it felt like I had turned it up to 12! Then the downhills, my goodness. It just went on forever. I first used just my rear brake until my right hand cramped from the effort. Then I switched to just the front wheel brake until my left hand cramped. Back to rear brake, and so on. The first thing I reached in El Ksiba was a deserted, well groomed park with street lights. It felt like rolling into Geneva. Weirdest experience in my biking life.
The next day I finished my biking in Kasbah Tadla.