GCN Goes Bikepacking In The Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Well. Good. Morning it's currently. About. Our. Past 6:00 in the morning and. I. Am back, to 9000 meters and, the High Atlas Mountains. Of. Morocco yesterday. Josh. And I that's Josh. Over there more, on him in just a moment we. Rode, 130. K through some of the most remote, and, breathtaking scenery, I have ever been, in and then. We, decide to call a date at this very spot and then slept out under the stars, this. Is quite an introduction, to by packing. This. Is gonna be something pretty new, to me in fact I've not done anything quite like this for 17, years and that wasn't, with a bike so, as you can see I'm pretty, nervous but. Because I'm like a fish out of water I have drafted in a total, expert, to, show me the ropes this, is Josh. Bike. Packer ultra. Endurance cyclist. Formal, winner of the legendary, transcontinental. Race and a man eminently. Comfortable, with, sleeping, in hedges. We. Fly out to Morocco in three days so josh is stopped by to make sure that I've got everything that I need and nothing. That I don't we. Are traveling. A lot. Hey. Sorry I forgot three pairs of pants with you cuz. We're, going away five. Days no no you just need one pair that'd be fine, Wow. What does he know anyway I'll pack them when he's not looking next, up Morocco. This. Is, Marrakesh. This is one of the gateways to the center of the city it's, currently lunchtime, on Monday we've. Got a flight out of here on Friday, morning. In that time we've, got a route plotted out there's four hundred pays long we've got to go over the Atlas Mountains, turn, right when we get to the desert and then, all the way back over the Atlas it is, only. Eight thousand litres of climbing but. There's also a catch we checked out the route on commute while we were planning and it's telling us that there's potentially, a large amount of off-road riding on. Debris, in. Its own words it was extreme, mountain biking extreme, mountain biking cheer, by packing Josh.
Well. We. Survived, which, i think is the main thing and they're actually. Really durable like super, hectic. But. You know like you. Get into it. Control. Chaos yeah you play by the rules you're, okay you, start trying to stop at traffic lights the thing is it's gonna go wrong for you all. Horses as you found out she fell, when you're looking at that black drop with those mountains, you. Kind of always know where you're going you're. Just going to hear them calling. Come. On let's go. So. Josh, maybe you, should fill is in a little bit more. On your back story I've said that you've won, the Transcontinental. Which you have I said, you like sleeping in hedges, which, you do but. How exactly we got to, this place and so. Early as well cuz you're only 29, actually, 30 today sorry, they do that I. Fish. Their masters Rachel. Actually. Started in a very similar fashion to you so. I started racing across country in the UK yeah by. Founders, as I, got older I was just better I don't especially the longer races kind. Of Americans and. Then through, University I started in 12-hour man two boat races and. I want a few did well for, the next step was kind of 24-hour. Racing and, then, I really enjoyed stage races and. It kind of escalated from there and then I, saw. People like Michael who I raced against a new do. The round-the-world trip and then he started the transcontinental, race yeah and, one tour divided and I was really inspired and, I. Was actually really scared to do the Transcontinental, race to start with. It's. Intimidating. Exactly. And I've never done anything like it before so, I, didn't enter the first one, but. I've watched avidly I was a dog watcher and the day. Finished I booked a one-way flight to Slovenia brought. The kit and rode home and that was that and. Then actually oriented and it kind of escalated. So, actually by packing, came out of a competitive. Thing and then. And now do you, bike pack for by packing itself. I mean you went around the world yeah, bloody summer I've done extensive traveling. And I, actually, found that the, TCR, open my eyes yeah, because I've never been really outside of like. Sort of sense of the Western. Europe area yeah and, it's all very fun of, similar. And TCR. Took me to recent Europe and really, opened my eyes you're, right from your house basically a year, the first year I did it was in London, and. Then you ride all its Turkey and you see the gradual change I just love to change the cultures yeah and I wanted to see more. So. Now I have a seat mr. places in the world I want to see Rocco. Being one of them nice I love. It it's a whether, it's racing or. Just cruising around seeing the place. Some. Kind. Of sonic clip I am used to but there. Is a pair of boxer shorts in there. Well. It's time for, second, breakfast, we're, at 1400 meters in the, foothills of the Atlas and you know what. Now. See. One. Of the things I'm learning to love about by packing is the fact that you stop whenever. You want and have. A something to eat and drink the, great thing is you can pretty much eat whatever you want as well ah the. Coffee yes so this is a, Moroccan specialty. Called an lessness which means a half and half so I, think, that's this press a and milk. Sucking. Kind of a cortar day and, we're rocking flat white amazing. Listener that's what it's all about hipsters. Every hour being obscene. Oh. My. God look. At that. Oh wow. That's. The one what. A spot to ride in push bike. Last. Sighs talk this is the spot mate. Wow. Look at that. How. Nice. Poor. Cats, go peps song okay. I'm cute I'm cute ah okay. Okay. So this is apparently. A barbecue, joint so we are choosing, on, meat they're, gonna grill it for us and then there's a super cool place at the back over a suspension. Bridge or, amazing spot. You. Know didn't, believe, you, this is missed me, oh it's going to cuff top. Yeah. Engineering. Right. Here we go this is the literal high point of day, two as, you can see it is the summit of the cold Attica at, two thousand, two hundred and sixty meters it's been a pretty, long slog to get up here but it's not the most brutal climb I think we've ever done no no it's not the steepest think there's a few sections but.
It's Kind of pretty gradual the thing that got the most with it was the thin air yeah, and last half hour we've been out breath quite a lot yeah and three Pharisees stopping for lunch halfway, up probably. Helped as did stopping for second breakfast, before. That so it's. Not like we've raced up is it no it's definitely not no but what we do have now is pretty, much thirty, kilometers of uninterrupted descent. To. Where were sleeping tonight and, I would like to add I, got, here first. Well. There we go that. Is day. Two done. Little bit harder than day one it's got we said we have now on the south side of the Atlas Mountains having just ridden over them what, Dex Blin incredible. Views gone from like the lush northern. Slopes on the way yet up from Marrakech to here where it's super, arid isn't it right just incredible, wood now about at the town of eggwin and this is where we're going to stand for the night to, refuel have a good sleep and tomorrow, we, head off into. The unknown but. We know a little bit actually we. Know it's gonna be some gravel we, know there's very few supply of resupply points and. We. Know it might get a bit bit. Scary yeah this, is the pointer which, kamut. Said that it's going to be an extreme mountain by ride and. Actually. We, have got no hotel tomorrow night we are bidding out in, the High Atlas so. That's. A first for me let's hope is not too cold there. Anyway. That's tomorrow first, things first a beer. And a, refuel and possibly a shower. Moroccans. Really. Know how to do breakfast that's for sure so just, finishing off, fresh-squeezed. Orange juice that was a useless coffee. Bollocks. Bread, bad. Boy is it omelet with cumin this, is miss ermine which is developer. Pancake it's. Kind of like, a Chia battery or something. Funny. So. Everyone eats for breakfast. It's. Gonna be a big day mate, and. Ironic. So. 3,000, meters of ascent today, and. What, that translates as, in. Reality. Is, 3000. Meters of ascent. Which. I kind, of really glossed over until. We start struggling up the first 11%, gradient. He. Is gonna be a big day this. Civilization. I. Was. Not expecting that maybe. Not. Entirely sure where we are this little. Village has just come out of nowhere on this epic. Descent, and pranks. Market day Wednesdays market day we're just going to see whether we can grab some some. Lunch second. Lunch before. We disappear, off kind. Of up that way into the mountains where there it's cool hanging. Out some kids they. Speak French don't. Speak my eleven French narrator. Joe. Now. By now you've probably worked out that Josh and I are not completely alone on this trip and that is very good thing because otherwise all you would be watching is a load of shaky GoPro footage and listening to a load of wind noise and you would also be missing out on all the how-to videos, are going to be coming out on the channel over the next few weeks is Josh he's taking us through the, finer points of bike packing but anyway rather than hide that, fact we thought we would introduce our little crew so this is Tom who is our filmmaker this is Pete's riding, the motorbike that Tom can sit on and then, this is Aziz who's our local legend and he is driving that 4x4. To stash camera kit and Pete and Tom's luggage in, at. This point it's worth pointing out that we. Are carrying everything, we would use on this trip if we were doing it by ourselves I'm. Pretty adamant that Saye does it properly I wanted to have a proper backpacking, experience and, therefore. We're not taking any advantage, of the full buy for the motorbike to carry stuff for us we're doing this properly we are indeed now we're going to be together for, pretty much the whole trip except this much-talked-about Wednesday, afternoon, Wednesday evening Thursday, morning, we're effectively, Josh and I are going to be using tracks that only bikes, can go on apparently. Yeah, hopefully they can go on them hopefully, the tracks exist we don't know. The. Last 20k has been amazing, gradually. Undulating, those. Are nice curves, great news yeah. A real contrast, this morning where we were climbing, up through this really, arid, landscape, and then, suddenly descending, down this valley this. Beautiful. Oasis. Next to the river the bomb that's. Just been magic and there, and. We weren't even expecting tarmac. We thought their roads all day said, maybe. Wouldn't see that after a time.
Well. This is the point at which the, guys are gonna have to leave us so. We're gonna do a ceremony you'll hand over of, camera. And. Well. This is it now Josh I guess. The. I. Guess the point, is gonna go down yeah. A little bit maybe. Fine I've. Seen them I've seen them do this all the time. So. That. Is it the guys are leaving us it's. Currently just after 6:00 in the evening and. We've got another couple of hours of riding before josh reckons, it's gonna be time to bivy out so, it's converse you gonna depend a little bit on location, it's going to depend a little bit on altitude, we don't want to be up too high. We've got to go over about 8,000, feet so. We. Better do some peddling hey mate. So. Now at 2,000 meters and, we find our way up this valley, and. It's not quite what we're expecting it's actually we've. Been passing loads of tiny villages, all this green land. And. The little villages here were fully self-sufficient yeah. It's incredible it's like a secret Kingdom, totally. Wasn't expecting, to find like. Well, so many people up there like there's just enough water in that stream down below to irrigate, enough. Land that, you can grow wheat. Old barley there's, a load of fruit trees down there there's. Nut trees yeah walnuts, almonds, it's, just this incredible isn't it's like a little mini paradise, hanging, mm, it's not the Atlas Mountains and really isolate any way yeah I mean this this, road probably and. It's super-new so, I guess, they. Really. Let's. See if that continues oh, yeah. Right. We've got our gravel, at last even if we can't fully appreciate the. Majesty, of it given, there is pitch black but basically, the. One who is telling us that we are on the summit platter and we're just about to drop off down into what. Looks like a sheltered, Valley, so given, this a little bit of spindle split up here we are gonna head, down before we actually get into, our sleeping bags and camp for the night and also we've, got a bear mind there's a rather impressive lightning, storm going on just over there and, so this doesn't feel like a particularly, sensible, face to stop and back.
To Fair it's. Pretty cool up here the stars are absolutely, incredible the. Riding is great we've got enough enough. Lumens, between us to enjoy it properly, fantastic. What do you think Josh I'm, loving it right oh, there you are my a minor you regret right now is that we can't see the view I know I'm a meeting. Oh. Just. To appease Josh, I am. Gonna. Be in Miami tonight. This. Is it baby, time. Wait. Here Josh I got. Some, boat riding today when. They had me coffee here mate. Maybe. We'll get a few Cairo belts and get warm and then stop. For coffee speak, for yourself my time very warm, very comfortable. I'm, quiet for a lion I'm quite honest anyway. You. Think quicker, the more you practice. It. So. This is attractive, found ourselves on last night we. Slept down here just off the side of the road and. Then. You basically, descended. From. These mountains up here. You. Can see the Sun rising now. Says. Great, you awesome really okay. I. Think you get the big camera out for this shot. Right. Now. This is one of its the trip that I've actually been most looking forward to thing and I know it sounds silly but, stopping. Somewhere absolutely, incredible early, in the morning for, breakfast, and a, coffee now that, is our master barista just there yeah that's Josh. We. Got water. On the go. We've. Got our. Drip. Coffee, that's right and then, we've. Got a, selection. Of the coffee beans this one is. Sent. In by mate this is ember, ground coffee for, the travelling cyclist oh yeah. Well. Yeah yeah, this is me now -, oh. Yeah. Look at that that's. Just it. That. Is actually a bag of quick. So. How was that descent. Awesome. How's, the food awesome. Pretty good right now about second. Breakfast go this is amazing. Yeah, pretty, much pretty, much one of the best days riding ever and it's still not even lunchtime like, that was just incredible. Yeah. True. True highlight. So. Sorry last night was the first night out under, the stars in. The middle of a mountains we're back on the tarmac now how, you feeling. Mate. I'm buzzing to be honestly like, it's really funny when we were talking about it Josh and I beforehand. Joslyn. Said ah I don't really see it is day three and day four it's one big day with, a bivy in the middle I didn't. Really understand, but now I do like it's. Hard to separate, but. You know sleeping under the stars. From. The amazing trails of the road, in order to get down to a second breakfast. We're, up in traffic jam. Okay, so according, to the old wahoo we've got just thirteen and a half cage, to go until, Marrakesh. It kind of feels a little bit mission that comes it's on it despite the fact that for, the first time in our four hundred K trip we, found ourselves on, slightly, uninspiring, roads, really and with a massive, block, headwind, but, it's been a pretty good day up to now yeah. I mean this morning is incredible, waking up in the mountains, and so. Brightening our way through the deep gorges, has been amazing, and. That's. Nice just have a platter. On into the finish yeah we're behind me we've, descended to gnaw thousand meters today and climbed, only a thousand, so that. Gives you a pretty good idea of what kind of a day it's been now. Josh I've got a question for you mate so now I've got a little, bit of experience, of bite backing a little bit I'm, really intrigued so you've. Done like big fight packing tours but. You've also got your ultra endurance racing, which is I guess like. Competitive, fight, packing, for want of a better phrase to. Help you have. You combined, the two like what what. Took you from by packing to racing. Or vice versa which. I actually win the background so I went from racing, and kind, of the old to endurance bike back in races towards. Touring I found. Like. Especially the transcontinental race I really. Enjoyed seeing new countries, new cultures, and, I've always had that competitive, aspect to me as well yeah I'm sure you know that from your history. So I, found that I love the. Kind. Of a trillion of in ultra. Durance are really stripped you back to the bare basics I mean this new Bunch there's no set. Course there's no tape, on the side of the track it's. Just you and your bike and. You're essentially surviving. And it almost to me feels like, it's. Kind of natural instinct. Essentially. We are kind of we've evolved, from, plants. To gatherers and I feel like when we're when. You're racing you. Kind of revert back to those instincts you're thinking about food you're. Thinking about shelter, and, you're. Thinking about being chased and chasing. People yeah Korey Kuhl it's really nice to strip I like insect. Does it differ very much for what we were doing it.
Does In the sense that we're, not racing, non-stop yeah so we have quite a luxurious villa I'm not gonna lie luxurious, Vivek it was it was a gentle instruction. But. Yeah. So there's the main difference is in a race you probably do that one here the. Less than 300 miles out that would be a non-stop. Er yeah, well. I tell you what I'm glad we stopped yes sir. There, we go mate the, koutoubia mosque. Built. In the 11th century namely, in Marrakech and it's, gotta be said has a fitting, spot to, finish our Morocco epic, Marrakech over the Atlas over, some more Atlas Mountains and then back over the Atlas to, finish here 400 caged 8,000. Meters of climbing we, did it may be dipped yeah, I tell you what I've got to say a huge, thank you to Josh, for coming, along and show me the ropes it's, been a fantastic experience for me there's gonna be loads more videos coming up on the channel showing exactly how we've done that what we've done I would've. Been lost without you mate and speaking, of which I see thank you for the route to be using your experience, it. Looked, a little dicey at one point but actually it worked out brilliantly so, mate thank you again no problem at all thanks for inviting me it was a really really tough ride actually although. A look pretty short on paper, compared, to some of the rides I've done it, was certainly one of the toughest so. I just want to say on behalf of the flight pack as well world wise. You've. Earned, the. Right to finally, clip, your mark once your saddle packs. On. Buddy. Ok, Josh now I'm gonna suggest that we break from, GCM tradition, and rather than going and heading, straight for the bar maybe. We're gonna have showers first what do you think really after, all effort, ok. So we are going straight to the bar do. Make sure you give this video a big thumbs up if you've enjoyed it and, if you can't wait until, our bike packing content begins in earnest then why not head over to the tech channel right. Now where, there is an in-depth video about, this very bike the one that has just survived a bike, back in epic.