The noise outside the hotel put a sharp end to a restful night. We could revving engines, muezzin's rallying their faithful, people shouting and spitting in the street. I woke in a bad mood. In addition to being in a bad mood, I realised I had lost the new bog paper we had bought the day before. Dan spilt half of our milk too, so the day was getting off to a bad start.
After porridge and scrambled eggs, we were off at 7.20am. The air was cold again but the sun was bright. We headed out to Tinerhir on a gently dropping road out in the barren landscape. It was a long run into the quickly rising sun. We shot along, speeding through villages, passing other local cyclists and kids on the roadside at a blur. We had covered 70 kms by 10am and stopped at café at the junction of the roads to Er Rachidia, Erfoud and Ouzazerte.
We had passed a group of local cycling in the small town before here they tried to keep up with us on their Chinese bikes. For a bit of fun, we cycle next to them and nudge them in the shoulder. Our greater momentum sends them off into the kerb but we soon tired of that activity.
At the café, two policemen had conveniently set up a check point and were taking it in turns to get up from their cups of coffee and cigarettes to check the papers of passing lorries and old men on mopeds. They looked pretty slovenly with their Sam Browne belts worn incorrectly which made them look very slack.
The music blaring from the café's system was Bob Marley. While sitting there basking in the sun, looking out over a flat, sandy plain with a few hills on its flanks, we noticed a man on a moped coming from the town. He looked a little odd and we soon realised why. He had his open-face helmet on back to front. We burst out laughing and he went past us looking bemused.
We soon moved on towards Goulmima across a sandy valley. I felt quite sluggish after our zippy morning and we crept into Goulmima. We cycled straight through, picking up some kids on bicycles as we left and began to climb a hill. The kids soon dropped away and we sweated up to the top, passing a man walking his mule with a 'simple' character walking ahead of him.
At the summit, we stopped, munched a couple of biscuits each, soaked up some water and admired the view. Mountains to the left; huge open nothingness with the road winding into the distance. We were passed by the two men and the mule but soon overtook them when we set off again.
When we reached 104 kms, we stopped by a ford for lunch where we ate bread, cheese, tomatoes, carrots, apples, oranges, biscuits and drinking yoghurts. Feeling bloated, we crashed out in the shade of our bikes for nearly 45 minutes. The sand I was lying was quite comfortable and my shemagh was wrapped around my head to keep the flies off. The silence, when there were no passing cars, was amazing. Only a slight breeze disrupted the silence. Despite the bright sunshine, the air was still cool.
I got up and had a drink of water and the refilled my bottles from the jerry cans on the back of my bike. Dan was soon up and moved off, limbs a little heavy. The road wound around a few small rises, past a derelict building, a water hole (which was marked on our map) and followed a line of telegraph poles, most of which were either fallen down or the wires had come away from them.
The distance on Dan's computer was reading differently to mine. While cycling, we fiddled with the buttons to see if there was a difference in the programs and, in doing so, I reset my computer to zero when I hit a bump. I swore, infuriated. Dan said “You've got to do it when its in the odometer mode”. I swore at him and set off in a rage like a spoilt child. I cycled until it hurt and came to a halt just inside the town we were heading for.
I looked up a hotel in our guidebook and we went into the town passing several army barracks and along the main street. In the first hotel I went into, the receptionist was lying on a sofa. Another man was lying asleep on a second sofa. I was in no mood for these lazy Moroccans.
I wanted a room for two people, I said. The receptionist got up from his sofa and gave me a key to look at the room. I went up some stairs and looked into the room. One of the beds was not made. I went back down and told him to go and take a look for himself.
I was shown another room on the third floor which, he said, was 68 dirhams (£5.29) a night. No chance! Fed up, we moved on towards the town square where the locals taxis were lined up. We found 'Hotel Les Oliviers'. I found a room I liked and had a second bed moved in for 50 dirhams (£3.90) a night. We piled our bikes and bags up into the room and settled in. We lounged about after paying the bill for two nights and leaving our passports with them.
Quite tired after a long day, we lay about for a couple of hours talking before cooking supper. I had a cold shower before going to bed.
Distance 139 kms Average speed 16.1 kmh Time 8 hours 35 minutes.
Will Hawkins lives in Lincolnshire with his family, works in a technology company in London and does as many micro-adventures as he can.
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