BM & Specialized do Agadir with Exodus - Bike Magic

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BM & Specialized do Agadir with Exodus

Justin twiddling knobs – pic. Anne Brown

‘Anyone got a pedal spanner handy?.. Ow, thanks’.
‘Um, is this one of my wheels or is it for that Enduro
over there?’
‘Ooo, extra inner tubes, lovely’.

It was 7.45 in the morning and the sun hadn’t yet
warmed the poolside where we sorted through various
bits of the rather lovely bikes parcelled up for us by
Specialized. Unfathomably, they were allowing us to thrash their 2004 bikes down (and often up, as it turned out) remote Moroccan trails for a week. As mechanic in transitence, Specialized’s Duncan had been up way before the rest of us, setting up and testing, and he fielded our half-asleep questions while fettling at speed.

Being a shallow creature, I was disappointed to see that my designated Epic was a girly powder-blue and eyed the bright yellow Stumpjumpers with a twinge of envy. That’s gratitude for you.

So there we were, nine BIKEmagic members in Morocco –
virtual strangers (ice-breaking airport beers aside) yet in an odd kind of uniform: each sporting bits of the top-to-toe kit Specialized had
bunged our way ahead of the trip, or the magnificent donkey trip t-shirts specially printed by Dangerfield. But would we get on? And, more importantly,
would we get on with Exodus’s ‘Atlas Descent’ riding?

Rocky descent – pic. Anne Brown

After a three-hour transit and the chance to get to
know at least half of the group a little better, we
learnt our first lesson: The blurb in the route description
doesn’t always correspond to the reality on the
ground. Luckily in this case it meant that instead of
a road section down to our first Moroccan village, we were treated to a loose rocky descent twisting down into a valley. We later came to realise that our capable guide, Sophie, was also occasionally less than reliable when it came to describing the route; gradients combined with distance being a particularly sketchy area.

Pausing to take in the scenery spreading out below the
sizable drop to our right on our first descent, someone asked, incredulous
‘Have you ever ridden anything quite like this before?’ And we’d only just started.

Moon village – pic. Scott Brooks

After the first batch of what would prove to be a record-breaking haul of punctures had been fixed, we rode on through rocky moonscapes and weaved through the narrow streets of an ochre Berber village while exchanging greetings with the locals in dubious French. We rode out through muscle-warming sand to pootle about on the blue painted rocks, got our first taste of gentle singletrack and established the pecking order on a steep boulder section that saw the week’s first of many entertaining spills – and the first indication of just how good Andy and Sheila’s climbing legs were. And all under the hot, and we mean hot, Moroccan March sun.

Denis and Sheila don’t say no to cold beers – pic. Scott Brooks

the end of the day there was a cold swimming pool waiting for
us on the terrace at the four-star hotel, and crucially, cold beer. Andy’s birthday provided us with the first of our string of unnecessary excuses for a celebratory beer, Anne later providing most of the others…

After a day riding together we’d discovered that we were probably going to get on together pretty well, helped of course by the fact that we were all, as Sophie put it, “really up for it”. The riding that is. Roles and reputations were already beginning to take shape and the banter kicked in over a lively dinner during (and after) which we discovered just how much food Sandy could put away when really determined: Whatever you’re thinking, double it.

And that was pretty much how the week went on, we’d look at what was coming up and grill Sophie about the day or the section ahead, and each time our expectations were in some way beaten. From that first descent to the final dash for the coast we enjoyed great, varied riding, fantastic scenery, glimpses of everyday Moroccan life, good food, and very fine company. In fact, we all got on so well that within weeks of getting back we were organising a Peak District reunion for June.

Apart from one near-death experience, when Sandy tried to wrestle with a fast-moving car round a very steep, drop-sided curve, it all went swimmingly. A few highlights of the week included: Getting to the top of yet another climb – and then going down the other side…, Justin narrowly avoiding a marriage over lunch with the locals, the women getting naked together (it was a hamman, ok?), the men getting semi-naked together (a massage parlour…), Sandy’s special drunken Dick van Dyke dance, snakes, ‘Medic!’, the night none of us could go to bed because we couldn’t stand up for laughing, and riding our bikes right into the ocean at the end (thanks Specialized – and sorry).

And the bikes? Well we had a superb ride on them, and despite some high jinx managed to break nothing other than tyre walls. A couple of people decided to take advantage of Specialized’s generous special terms for trip attendees and walked away with their own new bikes. As for me: rather a nice colour I find, powder-blue.

A huge thanks has to go to Spesh’s Carole Armstrong for her role in organising, delivering our packaged bikes to us at the airport and meeting us at the end of the trip to collect them again.

More pics of the route are below and Mike has a full write up of the entire route from his earlier trip. And to find out more about our next BM trip, check here.

Ready for the off – pic. Scott Brooks

Look what we found to play on – pic. Scott Brooks

I think someone’s done this before… – pic. Anne Brown

Day two saw us winding through rocky canyons and along river beds – pic. Sandy Thompson

Um, that’s the wrong way Scott – pic. Maria

Villages blend into the landscape and seem almost deserted, apparently some sensible people think it’s too hot to be out of doors… – pic. Anne Brown

Sophie shows us how it’s done – pic. Maria

Scott flirting with the edge… – pic. Justin Philpot

The evening entertainment – pic. Anne Brown

Anne takes a breather to survey the scene – pic. Maria

Anne and Andy tackle the Valley of the Thorns – pic. Sandy Thompson

Cream crackered, and this is before the day’s final 4k rocky ascent… – pic. Scott Brooks

Eat my dust… – pic. Scott Brooks

Medic! Sandy dusts himself down and is surprised to find his head still attached to his body after a close shave. P.S We know what’s under those shorts… – pic. Scott Brooks

The boys make new friends and get telephone numbers as they relax – photo Anne Brown

Scottish sunbathing – pic. Scott Brooks

Oh sorry, did we say it was warm? – pic. Denis Jacques

Yay! We all made it and got to ride someone else’s bike into the sea. Well, Duncan did say we could… – pic. Sophie

And then we…

…went to the Peak District, or at least some of us did – pic. Sandy Thompson


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