Monday, 12 March 2012

Mark fell over on his bike yesterday, nearly went headfirst into a rock. Steve fell over trying to rescue him. Not many injuries thankfully. Though Mark had to do a few repairs to his bike.

We got out on time today. A few of us were ready early and went for a jaunt into town. School kids everywhere waving and laughing.

Carolyn fell off her bike on a downhill gravel slope. Iain led today, with few mishaps. Did some more small roads with incredible scenery in the Rif mountains. It is a lot greener than we expected. Some of the roads were really rough and we had trouble getting over 20miles/hr. Great fun, but not great for the bikes. Shook them apart a bit. Though we got away without any major breakdowns. The only slight hiccup was Debz’ bike started to lose power again, but it was good enough to keep going to the campsite.
Will also take back everything derogatory I’ve ever said about C90 brakes. They actually work very well when if you stand on the brake pedal and scream very loudly at whatever you’re about to crash into. Saved me every time today. Hurrah
The scenery changed  from mountains to lush valleys  before we hit the campsite. We did long hours today, but not too many miles due to the road conditions. The campsite we have bunked down in tonight is in Moulay Idriss. The campsite manager is confusing everyone because he is mixing his languages. He has next to no English, so he switches between German and French. Gets the message across eventually.
What a day today. Went wrong from the start when Debz bike wouldn’t start again, but that was Ok because we went to the Roman ruins at Volublis while Iain fixed it. We’d missed them day before because we were running late. Despite loathing Roman history with a passion (and the Saxons and all that other school  history lesson stuff) even I found the place impressive. Massive site, complete with a Roman fuse box in the middle.
Then we got going for real – for about an hour before Steve’s bike broke down. That was just the clutch though and we were back on track soon after. Then the truck broke down. Radiator hose got a hole in it. A Mitsubishi dealer was near by but shut so they had to trawl local backstreets and lockups for help – which they got, particularly after they gave the owners son a football. Poor old Iain got to practice his mechanicing skills again, while the rest of us got to hang  out in a square in Meknes, becoming the biggest side show they’d seen in a while. Kids, bus drivers, motorcyclists, three brothers with a box of chicks they’d just aerosoled different colours, tramps, women with children all stopped to chat to us. Took  wander into a nearby market, where again we became an impromptu sideshow. Tried to sell Nadine for a few camels to a nearby bus driver whose bus had broken down; he was interested initially, but backed off when he realised she was unlikely to make an obedient  wife.
Then it was all go again. Traffic in Meknes was incredible – not so much the volume but the accidents. Sitting in one spot for two hours we saw five, right next to us. But people were really friendly.
Off again, some incredible roads and stunning scenery. The light was going by this time , so we looked for a wild `camp and turned around to find the road we thought we’d missed but then spotted a hotel in the middle of nowhere. Camped in their garden for £2.50 each, including full use of all the facilities. The owner was very keen to point out that the hotel had a ‘piscine’ – which indeed it did. But it had no piscine water in it. Bummer, as we could have done with a swim. But they had a bar too with superbly artexed walls and ceiling of artex stalactites, a Christmas tree and accompanying decorations a plenty. And they even let women in! Yippee.
Up and out almost to plan, but just a bit slower than we’d hoped. Bright sunshine but a bit cold to start with, more empty roads with great scenery. Climbed up from the foothills onto dry plateau with camels grazing at the side of the road. Those of us riding at the back of the possee were swooped by a huge eagle with a rabbit in its mouth.
Went through more busy little towns with people, dogs, buses, cars, bikes all over the place, none of them obeying any road signs or even staying on the correct side of the road. But the good thing is that our arrival causes such a stir that they all stop and stare, which usually gives us a relatively safe passage.
Saw a procession of men walking down the centre of the street with a box. Wandered up to take pictures, but only then realised it was a funeral procession and the box had a dead body in it. Whoops. But nobody seemed to mind.
Now very hot and all of us had to take layers off. Stopped at a garage in the middle of nowhere, and met a couple from Wandsworth on a week’s holiday with their baby. They’d flown in and seemed a bit surprised to meet a gang of dusty bikers on small bikes, bound for the Gambia.
Improvised a bit on the sun protection with a bit of cake wrapper and some gaffer tape. Worked well and smelt nice.

Some very intensive riding today, and covered a long way. Now in Marrakesh at a posh campsite, complete with a pool ( and water). Lots of posh French people here in plush motor homes. They looked a bit alarmed when we rolled up, all covered in the dust of a day’s riding, stripped off and jumped in the pool. Don’t think we left too much of an oil slick on the surface though.
Decided to  treat ourselves tonight and have all hired  permanent tents with proper beds and a shower. Just off to the town now in search of flood.

Unfortunately the internet is very slow here, and will not upload any more photos. Hope to do so at a later date.