Monday, 8 February 2016

Paradise Valley (and a lot of climbing)

Day 1: Taghazout – Imouzzer Ida Outanane
Time: 4:42:27
Distance: 64.7km
Average Speed: 13.8km/h

Based on google maps and the Michelin road map I went North of Taghazout against the advice of the hostel owner. The way he recommended was the bus route so I thought it may be busier. The coast road was very busy with traffic and had an Atlantic view on the left. After about 5km I took the right turn that Michelin recommended and the road started to go up.

The gradients of the hills were brutal, some of the toughest I've done. After about an hour and a half of climbing the road started to descend and the surface changed from paved roads to dirt. Bringing the cyclocross tires was a good choice. I ended up on the main Imouzzer road after the dirt track and went to the first restaurant that I'd seen all day.

I've never had to wait almost an hour and a half for food in a restaurant that had barely any customers. This was going to put me under severe pressure to get to Imouzzer before dark. At least the food was good (chicken tagine and potatoes). I finished up as soon as possible and hit the road again. The first 5km were pretty flat and then followed about 20-25km of climbing. The area I passed through is called Paradise Valley and despite how tough the cycling is I'd recommend it for the scenery.

I arrived in Imouzzer just before dark and went to the first hotel that I saw. There was no food there and it cost around 50 Euro (a lot for rural Morocco) so I decided not to stay. The man working there suggested that I meet his friend in the village since he had an apartment to rent. I descended the 4km into the area of the village with the cascades and Mohamed was waiting near the very first restaurant and flagged me down. He took me to the apartment, gave me keys and said he'd be back later with some couscous. I had a freezing cold shower in the meantime. Mohamed showed up later with a huge bowl of couscous and vegetables, showed me how to use the TV and headed off. I watched the end of Face Off and the beginning of Mystic river on TV then fell asleep. Tomorrow I'll have a look at the cascades early and then hit the road for Taradount.

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