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Mountain Biking in the Morocco

Anti Atlas and High Atlas Mountains

Northern hemisphere winter in Morocco

In February 2006 I joined the Exodus Atlas Descent, group mountain biking trip to Morocco. The southern area of Morocco where we were biking is an equivalent latitude to Coffs Harbour in Australia. In summer the biking concentrates on the High Atlas mountains and the trails are slightly more challenging. In winter two thirds of the route is in the Anti Atlas Mountains and the rest in the lower sections of the High Atlas Mountains. In winter the peaks of the High Atlas mountains are covered in snow and some of the higher sections of the ride route can be cold, but generally because of the latitude the climate is good for mountain biking. I had intended to do a summer trip in the High Atlas, but a too good to miss chance came up to do the winter route and I went for it.

This was a fabulous mountain bike trip. Not as technical as the French Alps or even the Pyrenees, but plenty of interesting sections to keep you on your toes. Long days which keep someone like me who just likes to ride and ride happy. Morocco is a friendly and fascinating country with lots of variety and interest in the route. I can thoroughly recommend both this ride and a visit to Morocco in general.

 The leader and all the other participants were from the UK, and as I have found on all other UK run adventure tours a great bunch to holiday with. The leader on this tour was Elizabeth Proctor. This was the first time I have ever had a mountain bike ride or tour lead by a woman, and she was tops. Happy to follow her anytime.   The other riders were, Simon Coles,  Piers Faulkner (crushed me on the toughest climb), David Bush,  Simon Greenway (Downhill flyer), Ruth Griffiths (good sport, took the ribbing I gave her well) , Ian Parry (Fat boy who beat me on the handicap climb-his own description), Patricia Wren, Graham Bunyan , Matthew Richards, Nicola Davenport, Romeo Szakal, Maggie Bass (one tough rider champion of the river crossings), Alexander Kontofrios ,  Clare Kontofrios, Helen Clarke (Miss glamorous), and author, David Walsh.

Exodus have a comprehensive website with itinerary, trip notes, maps, pictures and slide show so I will not waste space by repeating it here. Just go to their Atlas Descent Pages

Go to the first photo gallery of the mountain biking part of the trip

Go to the second photo gallery of the mountain biking part of the trip

 

Exodus Critique.

This was my first trip with Exodus, so how do they rate.

They get bouquets for;

  1. The Leader Elizabeth, who went above and beyond to make the trip enjoyable for everyone. Perhaps she even did too much for some people.

  2. Getting me on the trip at the last minute. I tried to get on the trip via the website a week before the trip started. At first they directed me to their Australian agent Peregrine, where the consultant did not know anything about Morocco or this particular trip and left me with the impression that trying to book someone on a trip only a week in advance was not worth her effort for the commission. When you have a 24/7 e-commerce website it seems to defeat the purpose to direct the queries to a bricks and mortar agent.  When I e-mailed Exodus UK again for help I received first class help particularly from Peter Hunt who understood my need to simultaneously lock in my place on the trip and my discount airline booking at the same time.

  3. A program made up of route, locations and events which would keep the majority of a varied group of mountain bikers happy.

  4. Quality facilities and support. Prior to the trip I felt that it looked expensive for a trip in a relatively low standard of living country. However having experienced the comport, quality and support we received, I considered it relatively good value.

They get brick bats for;

  1. In common with other operators I have done trips with, where they have used local operators , Exodus were let down on this front. One driver in my opinion was not the safe standard that I would look for. I quickly moved from his Landover to another. Some people might find this strange considering the way I ride both on and off road.  In addition to this whereas the other drivers could not do enough to make the tour run smoothly, this driver did not pull his weight as a member of the team.  In a country with 20% unemployment Exodus does not need to employ drivers like him. I understand that Exodus was addressing this problem shortly after the trip.

  2. Time wasted due to maintenance on their rental bikes. Exodus instructs participants bringing their own bikes to have them properly prepared. They need to heed their own advice in regard to their rental bikes. They simply do not have enough staff on the ride to repair all the punctures and the daily breakdowns that are occurring on the rental bikes. What is happening at the moment is neither practical or fair on the leader. My suggested solutions are;

    1. Rebuild wheels and replace group sets more frequently. This should be built into the rental price, and when it is don't be stingy give the renters the performance they have paid for.

    2. Either tell both the renters and people bringing their own bikes that normal running repairs such as punctures are primarily their responsibility, and every participant should bring a basic tool kit and know how to repair a puncture before the trip. Alternatively if Exodus are going to maintain the perception that they are renting bikes that never get punctures, then they should either fit new puncture proof self-sealing tubes for each trip and include them in the rental, or add an extra support guide to resource the gold class roadside assist service.

    The Bottom Line;

    Overall it was a great trip, and I am extremely satisfied with Exodus despite some things they can improve. Without question I would do another trip with Exodus, and I would also go to Morocco again. I hope to do the summer High Atlas trip in the next three or four years.

    Simon Greenway has put up a photo gallery of his photos of this trip here is the link http://www.greenwayholidays.com/gallery/Morocco06

     

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Revised: April 01, 2006