Riding the Atlas

There’s always a conflict on these long epic-type motorcycle rides. You’re on the bike day in, day out for 3-6 months and so the need to manage risk, get to the end of each day without gear or body broken is simple common sense. But on the other hand, as we ride through each region, there are off-road adventures that beckon down every side road.

Shall we do this one, it’s only a couple of hours? What if we crap out in the back of beyond, who we gonna call? Will the mud and the slush drop the bike and break a leg (memories of Laos)? – or a cheek (memories of Russia)? – or a shock absorber (the African affliction, 4 shocks, kaput) – etc?

Oh bugger it, come on let’s do this one – it looks too good to pass by. A run across the top of the Dada Gorge road, what can go wrong – there’s tarmac at the end of it (there always is), and we get to run up to 3,000m and down over one of the best passes in the Atlas.

Yeah but, but – no buts about it, we’re off.

And then the stream of BMW1200s coming back down the mountain begins, telling us to turn back, that the wind and the mud will be our downfall like it was theirs. Bike after bike, windscreens broken, riders caked with mud offered us the caution.

To be honest the prospect of sliding and slipping back down the steep side of the mountain holds far less appeal than going on. So on we go.

The wind – that’s the real issue. We’ve got these bikes loaded up for continental traverses, they’re not really light and nimble as a day’s cross country ride would have it. We’re taking juggernauts to do a job more suited to ballerinas.

Oh well.

Now that was a good day out.

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