Morocco: A Country of Contrasts - Video & Photo

Apr 25, 2018
by zam  
Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride

Text: Gaspi
Photos: Míla Štáfek

It is true that I do not have super memories for my last trip to Morocco because I suffered from a fractured in five places of my ankle and instep, but it was four years ago and the Atlas is a huge and beautiful mountain range which attracts me again. As a magnet with a new idea: what about combining bike packing and freeriding whilst crossing the Atlas mountains?

On the bikes you can go to places where the car can't and you can discover a new dimension of purebred freeriding in places where no one has ever ridden before you.

Pierre Alain Renfer is a 57-year-old biker from Switzerland, who has been working for more than thirty years as a professional guide. He has been operating in Morocco since 1992 and is actually a pathfinder who has introduced the country as one of the best MTB destinations. Currently he has been focusing primarily on e-bikes tours. Because he has an unrivalled physical condition, he has accepted my challenge and became my sparring partner for the crossing of the Atlas.

After several international freeride camps and several media trips, it's already my seventh visit to Morocco, so I know what I'm going to do but I have not yet been to the south side of the Atlas. The forecast is favourable, although at the summits of over 2,000 meter high mountains, it has been the most snow in the last few years and only main roads such as the Tichka pass are open.


Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
All this has to fit on my bike and my back ... uff, it will be meat. The sleeping bag up to minus 17 ° C squeezes really hard into the podshed bag. The Mondraker Foxy trail bike will look like a lockable mule.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
There are 16 years dividing Gaspi and Pierre.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
Kasbach is the name for local buildings reminiscent of the castle. It was here that the caravans wandering from the desert were resting here. The southern side of the Atlas is stitched by them, but some have bitten their teeth and are just a clay torso.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
Every day in tiring heat, the wind on the open plains, with the vision of some villages, water, and food, might have driven us around this monument twice. Finally, we spent overnight here.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
It is a great relief to wake up and not to have a spider for company.

At night, during looking for wood for fire, the headlamp grined to the swinging ... mouse? Mistake, no mouse! It was a spider with a diameter of 12 - 15 cm, jumping over the stones. Not a good feeling, but the big wild animals are still screaming, because our cameraman Marty is scared them by his night snoring.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
Mule Bikepacking - the local looked at us like fools that we were pedalling on the bikes when the donkey was working instead of him.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
I really don't like pedalling up the hill and lungs burn already at 2,500 meters, like you breathe chili, but we do not turn around. It is waiting for us about four hours of output.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
Stop for serving local food 'tajine' (tažín). It's perfection. But the legs begin to stiffen the cold and the sweat on their back is cold, so we just fast throw something behind the rib and keep moving. We do not have time to talk out with the locals in fur coats.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
The Kingdom of Morocco is proud of its king and its flag which are almost everywhere.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
An unbelievable freeride playground opened in front of us, the high hills seemed to be without bigger stones, and Pierre already knew he would have a pause for a while. I took off my bags, put on the protectors, put on a big helmet and went to the wall. This is the best thing what I love - to find a virgin hill, to taste it up and put it down with one sharp ride. Real freeride!

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
Sometimes it is necessary to stop, chat and think about whether it is better to take it on the asphalt.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
Nothing to dig, modify and use the terrain to make it look good is not easy at all. When something comes up finally, it's often a crazy run out, as it was here - behind the green bushes was a two-meter hole with a stream.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
In the vast desert you rarely meet anyone. Either they run in front of you or behind you. And Berbers have a very hard life in the creeping caves above the dry river. There is nothing else.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
We did not count the daily portion of the mileage, only the battery capacity in the e-bikes of Cameraman Márty and photographer Mila. It was estimated at 60 to 80 km per day. And we often did not even know where we were going.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
Rescue! During the thunderstorm, we did not reject the offer of the Berbers who invited us to couscous, beer and bed so we were waiting for a 'terrible adventure'.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
Photographer Mila made a major mistake, photographed a little girl grazing goats and did not give her dirham. During the tough sprint, she followed us the next few minutes, during which he has shot her several times, and then gave her an orange.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
Suffering in the stones. We can not really freeride this one, so we went on.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
From the snow back to the desert. Morocco is a country of color contrasts from black to white. The high rocky mountains in the next valley turn into a red-colored desert reminiscent of Utah. This is where every piece of the world can be found here.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
It was almost a feast for locals to see our group on bikes. The old men invited us home for tea, and the kids were excited to see us.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
The most dangerous thing during open freeriding is a breeze. You never know where it blows you up and it really blows in Morocco!

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
My Mondraker Foxy Carbon has a normal 14 kg weight and with full a weight´s hand stops up to 25 kg. And I do not count backpacks on it. Feeling like the control of motorbike Honda Goldwing

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
Five days on the journey is very exhausting, but when opens something as incredible as the red hills without big rocks in front of you, the pump will start beat and the fatigue is gone. I'm taking off my bags again and I'm going to the wall.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
You need to keep it in red.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
You will not even meet anyone for a long time, and suddenly there is a little girl on the rock. Nobody understands what she's doing there, why she's there or how far she has come...

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
Miloš was in skate shoes, taking pictures of new foot pedals.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
We could go around, skip, jump around a huge monument for days, but we do not have that much time. And this is just a small part of the big bikes playground.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
Here's a definitely fossilized dinosaur that needs to be used and woken up.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride
With Atlas behind our backs, we come to our final asphalt to Pier's car, which takes us back to Marrakesh. He was a great support to me in situations when I was already thinking that we would turn. I have done it just thanks to him, and that is why I am very grateful to him.

Atlas Attack bickepacking freeride foto Mila Stafek
Cut down, lack of sleep, dehydration, overheating - but I have attacked the Atlas!

Marrakech Bike Action / my big friend: Pierre Alain Renfer
Fotograf: Miloš Štáfek
Camera: Márty Smolík

A big thanks to my partners! Mercedes Benz, Mondraker, Funnmtb, Fox, BikeWorkX, MitasTyres, Box MTB, Poc, Acepac, Gshock, Dakine, Pinguinoutdors, RedBull.


13 Comments

  • + 0
 My Mondraker Foxy Carbon has a normal 14 kg weight and with full a weight´s hand stops up to 25 kg. And I do not count backpacks on it. Feeling like the control of motorbike Honda Goldwing.

???
  • + 2
 The struggle is real... Both on the bike and tbe language
  • + 7
 His bike fully laden was 25kg, not counting the backpacks he wore. It was like riding a Honda Goldwing (look it up)
  • + 3
 Wow. Thanks for the story and photos. Stunning.
  • + 2
 Playing with a torchlight inside of the sleeping back like in the second picture... Just a classic move!
  • + 1
 Judging by his face, I'd say he's rock-hard
  • + 1
 Awesome...some of the places I passed with my africa twin 20years ago...look still the same :O
  • + 1
 Wonderful Images, Incredible Country! Reminds me of the US SouthWest of course...
  • + 1
 Great article. I loved my time in Morocco and wondered what the riding would be like.
  • + 1
 I'd buy a mile before riding with all that crap. How was the cheese?
  • + 1
 nice pics , nice chix

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