I had slept wonderfully. We ate breakfast listening to Tommy Vance’s ‘Rock Salad’ on the BBC World Service and left before 8am into another cool morning. We had to wear our fleeces for the first few kilometres. It was a sluggish start on a slightly rising road for the first 28 kms after Bouarfa. Our peaceful but slow start was soon to come to an end.
I was cycling ahead of Dan by about 400 metres. A dirty, white Peugeot van came by and hooted its horn for too long, implying that I should get out of his way on the fairly wide road. The driver was about 100 metres behind me by now. I turned around when I heard his next hoot and pulled out further into the road giving him time to put on his brakes. For some reason, I was determined not to be treated like this but this shabby Moroccan driver.
Sure enough, he slammed on his brakes, the desired effect. I then pulled to the left of the road. The van driver pulled up next to me and gestured to me as though he was saying to me ‘What do you think you are doing?’ I shouted at him in English “Slow down, you idiot!” and waved my arm up and down indicating for him to slow down.
Then, stupidly, I went ahead of him and moved to the right of the road. Obviously, he was contemplating something because he slowed down behind me. The next thing I knew was that he was right beside me pushing me into the verge until I, eventually, lost control of the bike and went over the handlebars.
Fortunately, I landed fairly softly. As soon as I could, I stood up, grabbed some stones and threw them at the van and the men hanging out of the rear of the van as it sped away. I missed the beaten up old van, much to my irritation. I swore loudly as the cowards went over the brow of a hill.
I had a few cuts and bruises, and was a little shaken. I heard Dan coming up behind me shouting “You bastards! You f***ing bastards!” He came up next to me as I picked up my bike. The handlebars were twisted but there was no major damage. I was seething. Dan got out his tool kit and straightened my handlebars. It was nasty incident but, perhaps, I should have been more discrete in retrospect and just let the van pass without making such a fuss.
We carried on, thoughts of revenge going through my mind for a few kilometres but I soon calmed down. At one point, I saw a large sign with Arabic written all over it. I stopped to throw a stone at it to vent some of my anger.
The rest of the ride before lunch was fairly ordinary. After lunch, which, surprisingly, was quite chilly despite the bright sun, the road dropped down into a wide valley with steep mountains on its flanks with the road stretching out into the distance. It was quite a sight.
Half way along, four Swiss bikers overtook us, waving, and taking me by surprise! At just after 3 pm, we came into Figuig expecting to see a magnificent view like at other border crossings we had been through. But, no, there were pylons, cables and building sites on view.
We came into the town and stopped at a bank to see if they could sell us US dollars or French Francs. We would have to go back the next day. Next, we went to a camp site at the far end of town where we found the Swiss bikers. They smiled and said hello. Three of them were off to Ghana on their bikes.
We had a couple of drinks on the veranda of the bar at the site, where there was a good view, and then went to get showered. But, that was before we got hassled by the waiter to take the room he had rather than camp because it might be taken someone else. Someone else? He hardly had loads of trade coming his way. That was our first hot shower for four days and it felt great.
What a day. During the quiet moments on the bike I had started to day dream about roast pork and crackling, roast potatoes and apple sauce.
Distance 112.5 kms Average speed 15.3 kms Time 7 hours 13 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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