What I’m Seeing

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03 – The “Go Do One” Tour 2006

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The “Go Do One Tour”

Ride from UK to Morocco and back in ten days over Easter. That was the plan and thats what we did.

Friday -192 miles – Nottingham to Folkestone

I got away from work at four and pulled into the Premier Lodge in Folkestone at seven thirty, the same time as the others who’d booked rooms. Five pints of Flowers bitter a mediocre chicken dinner then some kip did it for me.

Hotel Folkstone

Saturday – 577 miles – Folkestone to Bordeaux

We were on the nine thirty crossing which went to plan apart from Wapping, realising he’d left his credit card at the hotel after he’d checked in at the tunnel and parked up at the terminal. He managed to check out, retrieve his card from the hotel then check in again. The crossing was fine.

We slipped onto the French auto routes at midday after fuelling up and changing our clocks to French time and set a steady pace of 90mph. We reached Bordeaux at ten pm. Tim Collis was on an earlier ferry and being ahead of us booked us all into a Formula One hotel. We found it and dined on bags of nuts and crisps out of the vending machine. Nothing was open near it so my bottle of brandy (for emergency/medical purposes only you understand) and Blowzorns cans of Scrumpy Jack got passed around.

On the way

Sunday – 715 miles – Bordeaux to Granada

Up and on the bikes early, still dark, not much chance of sleep for the other residents of the F1 when all the bikes got fired up in the car park. More slogging South on the auto routes and a bit of fannying around at the end of a long day saw us in a hotel in Granada. What I thought would be the hard bit, getting around Madrid turned out to be easy.
We ended up with a couple of guys further south in a roadside Motel and three guys North of us in a parador on a hillside above a small town called Jaen. We dined in Granada on raciones (large portions of tapas) and drank pints of San Miguel.

Monday – 383 mile – Granada to Fez

Yet another start in the dark. The aim was to get the ferry across to Morocco and get down to Fez. We arrived at the port in Algeciras and bought return tickets at one of the many travel agencies there. Then managed to get straight onto the next ferry departing at ten. On the ferry we changed our clocks back two hours to Moroccan time.

I took the obligatory picture of Gibraltar as we sailed away from it.

Bye bye Europe

We sat and looked at maps and filled in the immigration cards (entrance & Exit) the travel agent had given us in advance of negotiating the Moroccan border on the other side.

Paperwork

Paperwork

The border was, as we expected, chaotic. You needed to get a vehicle form and fill it out with all the details of your bike. You then need to take your passport and immigration entrance form and queue at a booth to get a stamp and a CIN number in your passport. You then write this CIN number on the vehicle form and take that along with your bikes V5 document, your green card and your passport and queue at another booth to get that stamped. When all this has been done you can ride to the customs checkpoint to queue up to hand in the top copy of your vehicle form and show your passport again.

I took a picture and got told off by one of the officials.

As we got through one by one we met up in a large car park area. We were now on Moroccan soil and the difference was immediately noticeable. Two young boys were already hassling Steptoe for money, they were a sorry sight, one had obviously been in a fight and had grazes all over his face. Steptoe gave him his water and a couple of the guys gave them some change. When we were all through the customs check we set off, the first sight that gave us a taste of the things to come was a man on a pushbike with flat tyres riding along with a huge chest of drawers on the back of it.

Fanum led and took us on a diversion through a small scruffy town that had dug all its roads up and replaced them with sand and rocks. After doing a full tour of the town we found our way out and back onto the right road. After escaping the coast and heading inland we stopped a roadside cafe to have some brunch. I was amazed at how green everywhere was, it reminded me of German alpine scenery.

Wapping made a few business calls…

Man about town

Man about town

Fanny tried to get to grips with Forry’s Northumberland accent, something that we all would struggle with on the trip…

Fanny and Forry

Fanny and Forry

And Steptoe sat on his own and planned our fate, such is the hardship of leadership…

Steptoe Ponders

Steptoe Ponders

I had my first “Berber Whiskey”, mint tea, very refreshing…

Berber Whiskey

Berber Whiskey

It was decided that we’d make a detour from the direct route to Fez as we’d made good time by getting an early crossing. The road would take us off the N13 just after Chaouen to a small town called Zoumi. Steptoe assured me it was tarmac all the way.

He was mistaken.

The first bit was in places, a strip about a metre wide ran down the road..

Fine Road

Fine Road

At Zoumi the tarmac ran out and we were treated to gravel for 20 km.

We stopped at the junction in Zoumi to wait for everyone to regroup as the road had spread us out a bit.

Zoumi Main Street

Zoumi Main Street

Steptoe referred to the town as a running cesspit as when he’d been there in January the roads were just sloppy mud not the dust and gravel we found. I think they have plans to put in drains as there was a large pile of concrete pipes in the centre of town…

Zoumi Town Square

Zoumi Town Square

We pressed on and found another café for a drink; I was a little hot and bothered…

Hot and Bothered

Hot and Bothered

The sight of meat hanging in the dust and heat outside all the cafes and shops was novel and made me a little concerned about whether my sensitive European digestive system would be able to cope…

Butchers

Butchers

We made Fez and rang the Ibis where we’d planned to stay, they said they were full as it was a Spanish holiday and the town was very busy. Steptoe found a “Mr Fixer” on a moped who said he could get us rooms. We followed him in the dark through Fez to a hotel, we parked up and tried it but it was full too. We waited in a carpark while he shot off to find another. We waited over an hour and Blowzorn cracked open the last cans of his Scrumpy Jack.

Mr Fixer eventually returned and showed us a dive of a hotel first and then a decent one after we kick that into touch. He said he could organise a good meal for us in the old quarter of Fez, so we got him to sort some taxis out for later.

The meal was excellent but expensive for Morocco. We got in at 1 am and worked out we’d been on the go for twenty two hours since Granada the previous morning.

Expensive

Expensive

Tuesday – 300 miles approx – Fez to Marrakech

We left after a lay in till eight. The first stop was the ski resort of Ifrane. An odd place with Swiss chalet style buildings and a real European feel to it. The king of Morocco has a palace there apparently and we stopped at a café and talked to some French riders we’d seen at the port the previous day.

Steptoe made sure we didn’t stand out from the crowd by blending in with the locals…

Steptoe Knobbing About

Steptoe Surveys His Empire

Steptoe Blends In

Steptoe Blends In

At the next fuel stop he had his bike washed for some unknown reason, I think the heat and the responsibilities of leadership were putting a strain on his powers of reason…

Bike Wash

Bike Wash

As we rode through the towns we drew a bit of attention. Kids at the side of the road always waved, shouted or threw stones and we devised a tactic to throw them off guard. As we approached them we’d point at them and carry on pointing at them as we rode by.

Main Street

Main Street

The scenery was still surprisingly green and the roads awesome. We stopped to take pictures of a large lake just after a place called Kasba-Tadla..

Water

Water

My final drive was looking a bit oily but the fluids weren’t low……

Oiled up and Dirty

Oiled up and Dirty

In Marrakech we stopped and asked a guy on a moped if he could direct us to a hotel and he led us to a decent place with a bar. On the way we did a U turn and Blowzorn collided with a lad on a moped in the middle of a busy street. They came off, got back on their bikes and rode off, it seemed to be just part of what happens on Moroccan roads.

I think Fanny had caught a bit too much sun as he had a certain glow in the evening…..

Red Fanny

Red Fanny

The moped man returned to take us to the souk but seemed to want to walk us there, we wanted taxis so paid him for his help in finding the hotel and all seven of us jumped in one Merc taxi. The souk was all that I’d expected, food stalls, smoke, people arguing, street artists, people selling and bartering for everything. We ate at one of the food stalls then I picked up a couple of good fake watches for silly money. A good night.

Marakech Mayhem

Marakech Mayhem

Busy Dinner

Busy Dinner

Wednesday – 248 miles – Marrakech to Todra Gorge


After fighting our way out of the city we stopped for fuel. Wapping swapped his bike for a lighter version…

Man On Push Bike

Man On Push Bike

And the lad who owned it had a go on mine and Tic Tacs were dispensed…

Boy On A Bike

Boy On A Bike

At this fuel stop James Burton caught up with us. He’d been with Richard Stavely and Maclip since southern Spain and had decided to join us. Steptoe issued him with his sticker in a formal presentation on the petrol forecourt. A few speeches were given and there was a good round of applause from all present…

Burton Catches Up

Burton Catches Up

We rode up the Tizi-n-Tichka pass, which was as good, if not better than any road I’ve ridden in the Dolomites or the French Alps. On the way up to the summit Novice had an interaction with a lorry and ended up with a damaged pannier. While we were strapping it back on this poor creature was spotted in his engine, he remembered a bird hitting the bike in Spain….

Dead Bird

Stow away

The area at the top was full of chaps trying to sell crystals found inside rocks on the hillsides. I think everyone succumbed to there insistent sales techniques.

Floggers

Shopping

From the top we descended on brilliant roads to the town of Quarzazate…

Roads

Town

We then headed North east to the town of Tinehhir through the Valle du Dades. Real desert scenery on either side of us…

Forry and Fanum shot off for a play in the desert…

Fanum got to the top of a large hill then dropped his bike, we all had a giggle and took pictures of him, true to the UKGSer tradition…

Arty farty shot……

At the entrance of Todra gorge we found a small hotel run by two brothers, we checked in and a few guys went for a ride through the gorge. Steptoe riding Spanish style….

The hotel was small and the rooms simple but clean. The bar area was typically Moroccan…

Easy Going Bar


They didn’t have any beer or wine but offered to take one of us to the nearest town to buy some, which we could have with our meal. James went and returned with bottles of tonic and a bottle of gin. The town was all out of beer and wine….

Gin Driven Thing

The food was good and they seemed keen to impress us. We had a breakfast of coffee fresh bread and jam and paid the bill the next morning. I seem to remember it being ridiculously cheap for bed, breakfast and evening meal.

The owners knew the score….

Brothers Hotel Owners and Staff

And were happy to display a couple of stickers….


Thursday – 280 miles approx – Todra Gorge to Meknes


Steptoe and me got up at 6 to have a ride up the gorge before it got busy. It’s a stunning piece of road…

We spotted a chap doing his early morning yoga in across the other side of the river….

Yoga Twat

After breakfast it was back on the bikes for more desert roads, they had an odd bend every now and again…….

A Bend Every 30 Miles

But mainly just straight blasts of tarmac….

Desert Straights

At one of the fuel stops we spotted a mobile farm…

Mobile Farm

And Blowzorn tried to sell some necklaces to a group of Spanish riders in an effort to get enough money to pay for his phone bil when he got home, he’d been surfing the net on it every night….

Selling Shite To Yanks

He didn’t have any luck; his phone bill would have to remain unpaid…

Blowzorn Phones A Freind

James kept his cool and also amazed us by never getting his riding gear dirty. We all looked like we’d been rolling in dust while he looked liked he’d just stepped out of a BMW dealers….

Fat Lad

Wapping turned out to be the tour Dad, always there with sensible advice and the chap who sorted things out when we were all getting hot and bothered…….

Tour Dad

Forry slept a lot……

Idle Bugger

We got to the Hotel Rif in Meknes in the evening and re-grouped in the bar after cleaning up. Beers were drank, wine was ordered, food was eaten, more wine was ordered, a hubba bubba pipe appeared, we moved on to the night club and Gin and tonic was bought. We danced and shouted a lot. At four I went to bed. Nothing like burning the candle at both ends.

Pissed Up

Friday – 250 mile approx – Meknes to somewhere near Estepona

The morning was a bit of a blur, we left the hotel and rode for the ferry….

Stinking Heads And Sun

We did the bendy roads at Ouezzane again and they seemed more like hard work this time, oh the evils of drink. At the port we bought earlier tickets as our return tickets stuck us on a ferry at eleven pm rather that the eight pm one we wanted. We went back to the ticket office when we got to Spain and got a 50% refund for the return trip we hadn’t used. Useful to know that this can be done in the future.

In the dark we found a roadside Motel, dined in its restaurant, formulated a dodgy plan to ride up to Tossa the next day to get a photo of us and a signpost and then went to bed knackered. It was raining hard.

Saturday – 740 miles – somewhere near Estepona to Tossa


Everyone up early apart from Fanum and Blowzorn who had problems working out time zones. Eventually away and blasting up Spanish auto routes in the rain. The miles ticked by and we made Tossa for eight pm. Found a dive of a hotel and went out for beers and a Chinese meal. We appeared to have completed our mission today. We now devised another plan for Sunday, the Millau Bridge was a possibility. He who dares eh?

Tossa Doss House

#

Sunday – 542 miles – Tossa to Orleans


Back on the bikes and a quick run up the road for a photo of Tossers in Tossa. We made the bridge after getting split up when we missed a turn. Forry and Blowzorn got to the bottom for some stunning photos. Us in the “lost” group had to make do with a quick stop on the hard shoulder for a picture. It really is the most impressive man made structure I’ve ever seen…….

Millau Bridge

Being Easter Sunday and not wanting to be struggling to find a room I got Liz to ring ahead and book us rooms in an Ibis in Orleans. She texted me the address and we rolled into it’s underground car park at six o’clock. We did the whole beer, food and wine thing and went to bed tired and emotional again. Another successful day.

Monday – 485 miles – Orleans to Nottingham

Home legs always seem to take ages and this one was no different, the day dragged and even a few miles off the auto routes on route nationals didn’t make it seem any quicker. The tunnel had delays and we got to the UK an hour later than we should have. Spotted someone we knew at the tunnel taking his new bike out for a spin though. Pint6x seemed a little shocked to see us…….

Gay Bike

A slog up the A1 to Grantham then twenty minutes more riding saw me at my house.

We had no plan at the begining, just an idea from Steptoe to ride to Morrocco and back in a week. We stopped where we ended up at the end of the day and looked at a map that night picking a road to ride the next day. We had no itineray or tour leader, although I joke about Steptoe being the leader it wasn’t the case. We all decided what we wanted to do, some guys wanted less miles and did that which is fair play to them. I think we all enjoyed the easy going nature of the ride.

The week was memorable in so many ways, the scenery and roads, the different cultures I saw, the amount of distance we covered but mainly I’ll remember it for the Tossers I rode with.

Thank you chaps

Written by whatton

November 25, 2008 at 10:02 pm

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