I’m returning home from Rabat today 76 days after leaving Cambridge. Although I’ve returned back to the UK a couple of times. Once from La Rochelle and once from Zaragoza both times with Ryanair. Total days in the saddle including the time when I was biking around Ibiza with Sally was 39 days and distance covered 2,218 miles (3549km) and ascended 92,287 feet (28,129 metres) or 2,300 feet per day 🙂
It’s been a very pleasurable ride and I really enjoyed Spain, apart from the dreaded section from Malaga to Sabinillas. Which interestingly I met at breakfast this morning a guy from Munich who is cycling from Malaga to Agadir and he agreed 🙂 I don’t envy his rde today in thunderstorms and the dreaded headwind! I wonder if he will hop on a bus again.
All the hotels have been OK with the most expensive at well over £100, of course at to be a pub in the UK. The cheapest were a couple of places in Spain charging £21 per night. Overall I’ve spent about £2,500 on accommodation for the 58 nights I’ve slept away so about £44 per night mainly with breakfasts.
The reason for returning earlier than anticipated is that the weather in Morocco is now atrocious, heavy rain & high head winds. So really it’s gone from a very pleasant ride to a bit of an ordeal.
Ryanair insist the bike is in a box, so the very friendly owner of Hotel Lutece in Rabat took me around to the local courier in the next street who gave me free run of their empty used cardboard boxes. I at to dismantle the bike a lot more than I normally do to get the bike in a box that would fit in Nick’s car back at Stansted.
I’ve blogged every moving day and the text of all the posts is in a pdf here or you can view them all in this link
I woke up to the rain and finished my ride in the rain, in between I saw blue sky for perhaps 5 minutes.
Thank goodness today was only a short ride of 24 miles and 559 feet of ascent as it just hammered down. The worse problem was the gigantic puddles everywhere, as my son Nick will tell you, cycling through puddles is very fraught, as you cannot see the potholes! but going around is equally fraught with the oncoming traffic. So not very pleasant. The road was also very busy since the motorway is a toll road everyone seeks to avoid it 🙁
Coming into Rabat over the bridge was equally a problem as cyclists aren’t allowed so I had to navigate over to the footpath on the other side of the bridge.
I was soaked, but was very pleased to arrive at the previously booked Hotel Lutece. The hotel is very pleasant so I’m here until I go home on Saturday.
Yep, I’ve decided to go home on Saturday via Ryanair, after 2,000 miles of biking. I’m leaving mainly because of the weather as rain is forecast at least for the next week. Cycling on wet, busy roads in Morocco is not the most relaxing. Also the bike is in need of TLC, the saddle bag mount has broken and the gears are not at their best after 6,000 miles of wear plus the rear wheel is slightly buckled.
Now the problem is to locate a cardboard box for the bike or do I go to the souk and get a carpet bag made…….
The weather forecast yesterday was so, so right 🙁 I awoke to very wet roads a very threatening sky and a wind that was going to be in my face all day long and a very long day at that.
The breakfast at the neighbouring cafe was excellent 2 fried eggs, bread, coffee, orange juice and a small pudding all for less than £1 🙂
I finally hit the road at 8.11 a whole hour after sunrise, must be getting old. The wind was awful, straight into my face especially with the frequent rain squalls 🙁 plus the road was quite dull essentially like the fens with long straight roads and abrupt bends .
The tiny poverty stricken roadside settlements were marked in Romanian style, loads of rubbish dumped on the village boundary. The kids run out and try a grab stuff of the bike, very annoying. One advantage of the rain was it kept the number of kids down.
I reached the area where they are constructing the new Kenitra – Tangier rail link. What a mess they are making of the road, it now comprises islands of tarmac separated by gravel/sand potholes. Totally a nightmare to bike on.
The rain became heavier and me more and more fed up with the traffic, I eventually reached Kenitra in the dark and raining heavy, not a good combination. I eventually found the station hoping to get a train to Rabat. Suddenly I heard shouting when I was wheeling the bike to the info boards. A very brusque guard made it clear that bikes are not allowed in stations and certainly not on the trains 🙁 He escorted me to the parcels office outside (identical to the Red Star at Cambridge Station of old). They said my bike would go overnight to Rabat. I said no way and left.
I found an equally miserable coffee place to rethink. Booking.com hotels were all sold out 🙂 so I checked maps.me to find there was a Hotel Europa. I zoomed around arriving like the proverbial drowned rat. They had a room on the fourth floor as long as I didn’t mind the bar music! after 80 miles biking in those conditions they could have had an orchestra playing and I would have slept, especially after lugging the bike all the way up the staircase.
Apparently I started on Twitter 10 years ago today 🙂
However, today was another toughie with a strong headwind most of the way plus I discovered Moroccan garages only sell fuel and oil no fridges full of cold drinks and chocolate 🙁 I did find one selling bottled water from a locked fridge. I guess its a poorness indicator the shops are also poorly stocked.
Lots of cyclists coming the other way on their Sunday rides giving me a wave. It’s amazing the different styles of driving, cars overtaking coming the other way seem very common forcing the cars on my side of the road into dangerous manoeuvres around me. I haven’t at to leap off yet like in South Africa but I’m certainly keeping my eye open for the ditches.
Tanger beach is stunning with new apartments selling for £23,000 but it’s miles from anywhere and you have to cross the busy road to get to the beach. Every village and town has massive apartment construction underway all very cheap in European money terms.
Arriving in Larache I tried to find the previously booked Lukus Hotel, The pin on the booking.com website is in the wrong place and Google couldn’t find it. Eventually after asking loads of people someone said ask at the Hotel Espanol down the side street. I did, and the reception guy had a scruffy bit of paper with a note of my name, spelt Jeff, so obviously it had been telephoned to him. By far the worst booking.com experience to date.
Larache itself seems to sell trainers and track suits in every shop and on the pavement. My main problem, apart from the lack of beer, is that every one speaks French so you can imagine I don’t get understood very much!
Strava says I did 56.7miles and 2,068ft of climbing at a very pathetic 9.6mph but that contains a lot of riding aimlessly to find the hotel and also leaving The Medina in Tangier another tricky part of the day.
Tomorrow is a long one especially since rain is now forecast for the next week. So maybe the train will be taking some of the strain…