We were advised to dress warm for the ride over the mountains. I was pretty lightly equipped, as I rarely get cold. We would be on tarmac for a while again, so I put on the earphones and enjoyed the morning sun. Our destination for the day was Tafraoute, in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. It’s the local Mecca for mountain biking and I had done a couple of rides there with the lovely TKS-1 a couple of years back. To my recollection they also had fantastic little stall that sold fresh made to order donuts.
One of the highlights of the trips happened during a short brake we had, waiting for the support car. We were sitting on our bikes when, out of nowhere, a huge gust of wind slammed into us without warning. I barely managed to keep upright, but really had to push hard with my support leg. The shortest guy in the team wasn’t as lucky. He went clean over with the bike and everyone started laughing. I think most of the damage was to his ego, as he was immediately nicknamed “The Kite”. For the rest of the trip we would give him a bit of heat over the issue. It was all in good humour though and he carried the name with dignity. He just made sure none of us would tell his sons back home.
The day turned into a bit of a stop and go over and over again. The team was plagued with flats. Not only that but the 12 Volt compressor was acting up and we were running out of tubes. While one team was changing the tubes another was fixing punctures. I’ve always found changing tubes a bit of an irritating, if not intimidating, job. It was impressive how short work the pros made out of it. Which reminds me to practice more in the garage.
The scenery was very nice as we rode through the mountains. It did get very cold on the ride towards Tafraoute. I had every piece of equipment on. I thought I was riding light but some of the riders were in mountain bike gloves. I was really happy I brought my neoprene enduro gloves.
Dropping into Tafraoute was strange, like many sections of the ride. We did a long 70 km ride here a couple of years back and I kept recognizing a place here and there. It really is a very nice area. Even Kari and the guides seemed impressed with it, and they’ve been around everywhere.
We stopped to have some lunch, yes another tajine, before venturing out to the nearby hills. I remembered visiting “The Blue Rocks” the last time and Kari was game to got there. He scouted a pretty cool route through the hills and, despite my best efforts, found the rocks. They’re kind of impressive and not at the same time. They’re also pretty much the only local attraction, so I’ll say they’re worth the trip. The rocks were painted by a Belgian artist, Jean Verane. He used fifteen tons of paint. I’d heard previously that hippies come here from all over to….do hippie things.
We found no hippies, but some nice rocks to mess about on and catch a beautiful sunset. The ride back was short and uneventful.