Tuesday, October 29, 12:30. Stage 1, somewhere along the Provincial Road 1506 in the Atlas Mountains.
“Abdallah look! That little open space nearby that hut is perfect, please pull over right there!“
Willy’s gravelly voice abruptly brought me back to reality reminding me that I was there to cycle and not to comfortably admire the view from my car seat.
”All right guys here we are, let’s take our bikes off the roof, pack our stuff, fill the bottles and let’s go: the desert is calling!“
Only six months before, never would I have imagined to venture in such a trip.
It all started when, by pure chance, I met Willy Mulonia (owner of PA-Cyclism) and heard about his adventurous rides.
I was fascinated and I decided to do a new thing that I had never done before and, for which, I’ll always be grateful to him, to 3Travel and to my other two fellow traveler Rene and Yulman.
I just wrote a ”new thing“ because yes, I am a cyclist but, a road one: I’ve been biking for years in many countries where I lived or simply travelled to but, never before, I enrolled on a group bike travel and, most of all, never on a challenging gravel bike tour.
So I asked myself, why the hell should I go gravel? Why do I want to abandon the smoothness of my asphalt roads, the certainty of precise and reassuring road signs, the satisfaction of a coffee pit stop with cakes and croissants?
Then, I did not know exactly, now after Stage 1 – 42 km, Stage 2 – 84 km, Stage 3 – 64 Km, Stage 4 – 62 km, I know very very very well:
It is the pleasure of visiting places that, as a simple tourist, I would have never seen; the excitement of riding rocky and steep trails that I would never expected to climb; the surprise of being cheered and given the high five as a Tour de France winner by the children of any remote villages we rode through; the absolute and resounding silence of the desert; the crackle of the fire under a pot filled of that delicious Moroccan green tea.
This is it and, in the end, I know that I absolutely enjoyed every single moment, every single drop of sweat on my arms, every single grain of sand on my face, every single bounce on my saddle, every single glaze at my fellow riders, every single look at the blue desert sky.
Finally, adapting a famous movie ending scene to my experience, allow me to write:
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe, disc brakes on fire off the shoulder of Ait-Ben-Haddou. I watched carbon frames glitter in the dark near the Tazzerine gate, I heard cranksets screaming on the rocky trails of N’Kob.
All those moments will be lost in time…like oil…in…chains.
Time to ride!”
My sincere thanks to 3Travel and P-A Cyclism for their competence, their intriguing story-telling, their efficiency and the excellent organization of this trip.
All this wouldn’t have been possible without a properly equipped bike and the 3T Exploro I rented was excellent.
Always sticking to the context, I’d define the Exploro as a multi-identity animal: an unstoppable dromedary, reliable and calm while running across any terrain; a reactive fennec fox, attentive and rapid slaloming through sands and rocks.
I almost cried when I had to give it back to Willy.