Thursday, 12 February 2015

High Atlas - A Bonus Trip

Riding the High Atlas - I got More than I bargained For...

I don't really consider myself to be well travelled but my bikes have taken me to many amazing places but none more so than Morocco.

Its 2000 - 15 years ago now ! I had got my first decent bonus at work and blew some cash on a Mountain Bike Holiday to ride across the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. The trip looked amazing and combined my love of cycling, mountains and photography !

I must have been fit back then as I rode the 70 kms a day off road carrying a 35mm SLR camera, tripod and a spare lens ! Plus my spares etc ! That was despite the fact that the days were fully vehicle supported - I don't believe in slumming it on the bike - I like to do the best riding I can and enjoy it!!

I rode a steel KHS hard tail, with V brakes and terrible forks on reflection but It was always in tip top shape and ready to role. I always had hand built wheels on to mavic rims.  I lived in Sheffield at the time and rode up to 8 hrs in a day at the weekend (i was single) so I tended to go through a rim about once every 6 months ! I learnt to descend better purely to save cash!

The high atlas was a truly amazing place - to today its the best riding holiday I have been on, Riding through vast valleys where Star Wars was filmed, 18km long climbs off road, huge descents, sleeping on the roof of a Gite under the stars.  Getting chased by people in villages and laughed at because in their culture a t shirt is underwear! Letting the kids ride your bike and wondering if they will come back only to see them turn around at the end of the village - they have never been further !

Its a vast dusty but strangely beautiful landscape once away from the crazy bustle of our arrival city - Marrakech.  The riding was tough but mostly on vehicle width "roads".  It wasn't a technical trip but you get a real sense of remoteness and as a point to point trip a sense of a achievement moving through the landscape.

What I didn't realise however, was that this trip would prove to be a life changing event.  There was a girl on the trip - riding an obscure bike to me Handsome Dog - fully teched up with Pace Carbon forks and all the toys ! She wasn't fast but rode steadily all day without seemingly struggling or pausing conversation ! That is with the exception of eating which she did on a very regular basis it would appear ! Eventually we got chatting and i found myself sliding down the group to chat to her as much as I could before riding off to take more pictures !

The woman in question is of course my Wife now and that trip seems a world away from our life now  but it remains the foundation of our lives together and a shared passion.

Today with two young kids, riding together has been a challenge, riding with the kids is great fun though and we have already had some amazing adventures together mostly in France - our youngest riding quite far even when he was so little he had a balance bike and would climb into the trailer and sleep for miles after tiering himself out!  But as the kids are getting bigger and with a new T130 in the fleet, Mrs T is getting back into her riding - In fact as she now works for Cyclist Training Limited, its pretty much compulsory ;-)  Last year we enjoyed the Vendee and this year we will explore the Jura with me fitting in a few hours on the road every few days.

So that one holiday changed my life and built my cycling family and I am grateful for that. So if you are looking for something to do over the summer but are not sure - my advice is booked that trip to in a group and you never know what might happen next !

And of course if you need a bike for that big adventure - then I know just the place ;-)

Happy Valentines day !

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