Out of the desert
We took petrol in Tagounite and decided not to continue to Foum Zguid because of the problem with the rims. In stead we took the road to Ouarzazate, stopping in Zagora at a bike repair shop first where Mark had his rim repaired buy some guys using a hammer and an anvil. I bought an overpriced inner tube just to be sure and cleaned the airfilter which had enough dust and sand in it to fill my kids sandbox. We set off for Ouarzazate and took the road along the river Draa that led us across the mountains and some nice twisties. It was already dark when we arrived at The Bikers Home and were happy to be served a more than decent meal by Zenib and Peter. They had a little daughter Zelma that reminded me so much of my own kids which was nice.
Peter had the garage full of bikes: two 1200 GSes owned by two brits Rob and Chris, two KTM 640’s owned two elderly Swiss Hansrudi and Gilda and our mean machines. There was a good mood and Mark finally took a shower, of which I can’t remember how long ago that must have been. Mark was going to take a day so I agreed with the two Brits I was going to come with them to do the Gorge de Dades and the Gorge de Todra.
Bloody tyres again… but what a trip!
I set off in the moning after a delicious breakfast with hard cheese and yoghurt (you would be happy to have those after two weeks of expired ‘la vache qui rit’). I left Mark at the bikers home and Rob, Chris and I headed for the Gorges. Only 3 kms further my bike zigzagged over the road and I was faced with yet another flat tyre. The seal between the tubeless and the rim kept on leaking air and was not ok as I thought earlier. Luckily I had purchased that spare tyre so I left Rob and Chris and told them that I was going to try to catch up with them later. I managed to inflate the tyre and get back to the Bikers home where I put the tube in. It was the first time I tried to get off these TKC’s and despite the warnings of Mark, it was a piece of cake, even with only two short tyre levers. It was about one o’clock now as I set of to what I thought would be a 250 km trip. I rushed over the tarmac assuming the others had stopped for lunch so there would have been less time to bridge in order to catch up with them. The road to Boumaine was fast and pretty straight and had some nice remote views on the High Atlas, but apart from that nothing really special. In Boumaine I got off the main road and after about 25 kms of breathtaking views I hit the fast gravelpiste. This route is definitely one of the most beautiful ones I have done in Morocco and it makes one feel so small compared to the power of nature and the silence that surrouds you.
As I tried to follow the route Peter explained me I was faced with some very muddy terrain I couldn’t possibly get through. I can tell you that digging out a bike with the front wheel completely covered in sticky mud is not really easy when you’re on your own. My boots got filled with water and I had to lay the bike on its side, turn it on the cylinder head and then try riding it out while walking next to it. I got back to the main track and could see clear TKC traces. They must have been here that’s for sure! I met a French guy in a 4×4 who said he met Chris and Rob but they were quite a bit ahead. ‘Il ne vont jamais faire toute la boucle, ils dormiront chez Brahim’. So there was an Auberge called ‘Chez Brahim’ in Agoudal, which is the highest village of Morocco at almost 2400 m and Rob and Chris would probably be waiting for me. It’s 4 in the afternoon and it gets dark at 7. I better hurry. The track got pretty narrow and went up very steeply, crossing a couple of rivers. There were some pretty bad sections too. But the scenery was amazing. Especially because it still rained further over the Atlas mountains as impressive grey clouds packed together. I only hope I don’t get any rain here. As I tried to take another sip of my camelback, nothing came through. I discovered the whole content turned into a massive block of ice, and I was only wearing a T shirt underneath my gear. But riding the bike standing up in full concentration didn’t allow my body to cool down.
As I finally had the village of Agoudal in sight, I opened the throttle and shouted out loud: ‘woooooohooooo!!!!!!’ not paying attention to a dip in the piste that literally threw me and the bike about a meter in the air. I was surprised to land on both wheels and not being thrown off, but the bottoming out of the rear shock had been pretty hard this time. Despite the stiffer spring on my rear Ohlins, I think I was pushing it a bit too far at times and I had to be more careful if I wanted to make it until the end of the trip.
Finally I arrived at Brahims Auberge, I got off the bike to discover I had a centimeter thick layer of Ice over my rallye jacket that came off pretty much in one piece. Those water crossings definitely sprayed me wet.
‘Dit Brahim, t’as pas vue d’autres motards sur des BM’s?’ Nope, no Chris and Rob here. What happened? As I tried to call Mark saying I was going to stay here, Brahim assured me there was absolutely no network here. The only thing I could do was making a phone call in the post office tomorrow.
I met Maurice, A French cook that traveled around in Morocco and cooked in the Auberge, which as I understood was a great deal of luck. Not that the kitchen of Maurice was that exquisite, but having taken a look at the state of the kitchen, I presumed it could have been a lot worse. Maurice was a nice person to chat with and had traveled a bit everywhere after he sold his restaurant. Two Spanish mountainbikers and another local guy that worked there and the mood was great. I had a terrific day today, all on my own…
The rooms were very basic and I slept under the blankets with all of my gear on, except the body armour. I got up at 6 and took off without breakfast to get back to Ouarzazate ASAP. The most difficult part was behind me and the track now became pretty fast. The scenery was still superb and I took the time to stop, sit back and enjoy the views. The way back was kind of a bit more touristic with some restaurants next to the road, and as I hit the tarmac again just before Tinerhir, I opened up the throttle to race back to Ouarzazate.
As I arrived there, I was happy to see both Rob and Chris. From the muddy place where I got dug in, they had taken an alternative route that rejoined their original track in the opposite direction and decided to come back. Bugger, they missed the best part!
I took the afternoon off to head into town to get my camera fixed. As a result of the bumpy sections in the Atlas, the reflex mirror had come loose in my camera and it needed repair. I took the time to do some sightseeing and by the time I was back, Mark had arrived at the Bikershome. As I told him about the great trip I did in the gorges, all he could come up with was: ‘yeah right’. I could read his mind as he was grinning: ‘you got lost in the mountains and did a totally irresponsible thing’. It made me realize that I had more fun on my own and it was easier to get in touch with other people. We were two different characters, or like Paul would say afterwards we were like chalk and cheese. Besides the bikes and the route, we didn’t really have a lot in common nor did we have a lot to discuss. I still invited Mark to go out that evening in Ouarzazate which he refused, but the next day he announced he would carry on on his own for the next couple of days and it came just at the right moment. As we didn’t really need one another anymore, splitting here seemed like the best option and although we had our problems and didn’t really bond to state it euphemistically, Mark had been ok for the trip and for what we needed each other for.