Sunday, 24 July 2011

Morocco Day 5. Part 3 - Toubkal Refuge - Imlil

Lets head back :)

A small crowd had gathered at the top of the steps at the refuge to watch us leave. It was evident that what we were doing was something that was pretty rare, and we were filled with a new excitement, one of hitting some great singletrack, all 9km of it, and then a nice Tagine and shower at the end. After the disappointment of not reaching the summit, we were due some payback for all the pain endured and energy spent climbing this mountain.

So, without further ado we cranked down the stairs of the refuge and onto the singletrack. All was going fine for about 300m until I came down pretty hard on the back of my saddle and the saddle fell off. When we stopped for a look, we realised that the saddle cluster that holds the saddle rails in place had been bent, along with the saddle rails. We packed the rails up with tape and reassembled the seatpost but it only stayed in place for about another 100m. So, the final 9km with no seatpost. Great. I didn’t expect to be sitting down much anyway, but it’s always nice to have a rest when you can.

About another 500m on I noticed that there was air escaping my rear tyre. There was a huge dent in the rim, but after sloshing the tubeless liquid in the tyre around a bit, it stopped hissing and we re-inflated the tyre and pushed on. I'd been running about 30psi in the rear due to the loose dusty trails the day before so I put in about 35psi to deal with the sharper rocks on today's descent.

This trail was rough and rocky. Very rocky. In fact by far the rockiest trail I have ever ridden, and as we had come up the same trail in the morning, we knew that this would continue all the way to Imlil.

Then Brad crashed. Again. This was crash number 3 of the day, following the 2 on the Toubkal summit descent. Over the bars and down the side of the trail. A little shaken and with bruised confidence (not to mention body) we pressed on. After crash number 4 he realised his fork was still set at 120mm, instead of 160mm! The less said about that the better…..

As we lost altitude the temperature slowly got warmer. Our speed however remained painfully slow as we picked our way through rock garden after rock garden and walked over the nasty bits. But we remembered that the trail smoothed out somewhat after Chammharouch… Out of the valley the white boulder of Chammharouch slowly appeared and we couldn’t wait to see the other side of this halfway point in our journey. It was clear by now that we would struggle to make it back to the Riad by sundown.

LINK:-Some footage of descent.

Thankfully the trail grew a little wider with more line options so the speed crept up a bit. Now the riding was becoming enjoyable. If only we could have started this downhill section fresh rather than struggling with dropping energy levels and fading light. Down we went until we saw the river bed that marked the end of the descent proper. Now we had to ride across this river bed of baby head sized loose stones, but surprisingly the Mojo’s suspension dug in and found grip where I didn’t think it would be possible and it was almost ok. If I had a seat it would have been better….

Now there was just the walnut groves to negotiate, however the light had dropped significantly and under the trees we couldn’t see a thing.

We stopped at a Gite to ask for directions and were directed to a dirt road down to Imlil (about 4km) and would then have to ride back up the hill to the Riad. I had seen the road from our Riad before and knew that it switched back down the side of the mountain on the other side of the river to us. But with no knowledge of any further junctions, and the fact that it was now dark, I made the call to get a taxi. The bartering began. 600 Durhams for a taxi for the 2 of us to get home. £60! I don’t think so. So I started at 100 and eventually settled on 250Durhams. It was after all now 21.15, 13 hours after we started our ascent, and we were knackered. Absolutely knackered. There is no better word to describe how we felt.

What it's all about.

We got back to the Riad just after 21:30 and by 22:00 we had a huge bowl of lamb coucous in front of us and some soup. Houssine and Abdul had outdone themselves once again. Food first, then Houssine offered his private Hammam to relax our tired bodies. Bliss.

Tomorrow we would do nothing we vowed. Absolutely nothing.

All I remember after this was my muscles protesting loudly as I turned onto my side in the night, after waking Brad with my snoring once again.

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