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To Midelt

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The road out of Fes was busy, but wide with a good shoulder and thankfully flat for the first 20 km. The extra weight from the shopping was very noticeable and hitting hills without warming up would not have been good!
I hoped to reach Azrou but after the above 20 km the road started to go uphill, gently at first but then much more steeply and I found it very slow going. I did however stop for this self portrait.

Not cycling I’m afraid, but a decent background!

It was noticeably colder, not just at night but during the daytime too and not until noon was it warm enough to take off a layer. I wild camped just 5 km outside of Azrou, but had an awful night and the next morning I decided to take a look at Azrou and pick up fresh bread and milk. As I descended steeply into the town, some kind of event was just coming to a close as I could hear the band, but when I got there they were packing away.

Azrou. Not sure what the event was, I just missed it.

Azrou is a huge town, on both the North and South side of the road which divides it, it sprawls out on both hillsides. It is noticeably much more affluent than your average Moroccan town and there were students everywhere as I wandered around. After grabbing my bread and milk I had a late breakfast and moved on.

Azrou South sprawls out on the hillside.

Just outside of Azrou I passed these rather unusual ‘jugs’. No idea what they signify, but thought they were worth a picture or two ->

No idea what it signifies, but definitely impressive!

The other one, making a matching pair.

Still climbing, the terrain became more barren and snow lay everywhere on the hills. It was hard going, but thoroughly enjoyable cycling. What I didn’t know was the treat that was in store for me.

Climbing into the snow clad hills.

The views were pretty spectacular, with the High Atlas Mountains visible for the first time.

My first sight of the High Atlas on the horizon.

I summit-ed out at 2,178 m on the Col of Zad (some name eh?) and then started a 20 km descent – absolutely fantastic. Even after the descent I rode in the big ring for many more kilometers and covered the remaining distance to Midelt much quicker than I ever expected, arriving at 3 p.m. instead of my anticipated 5 p.m. I had covered 95 km today and was well happy.

After the amazing descent, the High Atlas still seemed distant.

After two freezing nights of wild camping (though I’m warm enough in my sleeping bag), I decided to take the easy option of another cheap (70 dh) room and that’s where I’m writing this update from. It will be an early start in the morning and hopefully moving into warmer territory. I can’t wait.

 

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