The long of it:
I struggled to write a testimonial for the Marrakech – Atlas Etape as I felt I was in danger of mimicking the sort of travel journalist I dislike, the one who writes gushing articles about this unspoiled corner or that and, thereby, opening it up to the masses for it never to be the same again. That, and the fact I have spent the last week struggling to find adequate words to describe this event (while I defrosted).
I feel that I am extremely privileged to have ridden in the first of, I hope, many of these rides. It is everything you can want as a cyclist, an off the beaten track, adventurous challenge with great people in aid of a great cause. Although it was a tad misty when we did it, the unspoiled – there I said it – scenery and mountain views are awe inspiring.
The event was extremely well organised in a charmingly understated way, the climb is long – very long, but never too steep as to be a killer – and is punctuated with food and drink stops cunningly placed around 50 yards before you need to get off and walk. The summit was at the edge of my pain barrier and made me question doing this on a Brompton, however, a fine selection of food on arrival soon sorts things out and adds a little extra weight to aid gravity in the descent.
The descent – well, wow, my word. Unless the Garmin is prone to exaggeration then the Brompton hit 50 mph which is beyond exhilarating to say the least. The landscape screams past leaving you wondering how on earth you managed to climb so much of it. In a flash you are down and level out to a final straight 30k run in with a slight slope in your favour – storming your way triumphantly back to Marrakech riding as a bizarre team of two Bianchi’s and a Brompton is a memory that will take some beating.
Have to thank my riding partner Chris Gurney, Tiffany and Stewart for locking wheels on the run in and Mike and his team for organising everything – fabulous!