Our path to Essaouira, wind, rain and hills…

Latest summary stats look like this…

Kilometers cycled- 1278 (794 miles)

Tajines gobbled- 6

Moroccan roundbreads consumed- 23

Shouts of ‘good luck’ from strangers- 43 (inclu one ‘don’t give up’, at the most perfect time of need!)

Bike in El Jadida

Our path from Rabat has brought us to face more Moroccan hospitality. Arriving in Mohameddia (about 60 km from Rabat) we stayed in the home of Houda, a dynamic young city worker who offered us cold beers, a cosy bed and philosophical debate. Leaving the comforts of Houdas house was tough and was made harder by the heavy downpours and strong winds that darkened our moods and the sky on route to Casa Blanca.

Photo 160

Wet and splattered with road muck we looked bedraggled pedalling against the grey. We also failed to react to the warning of a large group of pedestrians who waved madly at us and pointed. As we pedalled past, gorping in their direction we disappeared into a pond that had formed on the road. Even we managed a bit of a grin as our shoes filled up with a couple of pints of water.

We’re beginning to feel like full-fledged Moroccan cyclists with superman-style vision for spotting potholes and crazy overtaking. But it has only taken a little adjustment to warm to the highway code here and we are beginning to really enjoy the rules of the road. Drivers give us space, sometimes its not as much space as we’d like but they are pretty generous with the road and seem to take obvious extra care when they see we are tourers. We have become used to faces leaning from windows and yelling to us ‘good luck’ or ‘safe trip’, the friendly cheers seem to come at the best of times, mid-way up a hill etc.

Photo 198

Yesterday we stopped in the small coastal village of Meddouza with the hope of finding lunch. As we leaned our bikes against each other and looked around us in disappointment at the lack of eateries we heard a friendly voice shouting ‘Need anything?’. Wondering over to the smiling man we ask if he knew of somewhere to eat, he offered us another big smile and said simple ‘Here of course, I’ve just made lunch!’. The invitation could not have come at a better time; delicious fish cakes made from freshly caught sardines seasoned with cumin, garlic and coriander complimented beautifully with a vegetable tajine. Naturally served with the quintisensual homemade roundbreads, doughey and warm.

M’hammed entertained us beautifully with stories of his four wives and countless children and grandchildren, we were even lucky enough to hear a song after lunch. In appreciation for his generosity we asked what we could offer him, ‘a song’ he replied. We played him and tune, said our goodbyes and got back onto the road, well fed and happy.

Munch with M'hammed and friends

That road led us to Safi, the main fishing port of Morocco’s sardine industry and a waypoint between El Jadida and Essaouira. The city is bustling with the life of the port and the food reflects the citys close relationship with the ocean, the smokey air is thick with the smell of mouth watering fish tajines and brochettes slowly cooked over hot charcoals. Given this and the sweet taste of the 10 pence Sfenj (freshly fried doughnut style fritters they make on the streets here), it’s hardly surprising that we have taken a day off cycling to enjoy the city. Tomorrow we will make our way towards Essaouira (also known as the ‘windy city’ here), but so far this coastal path has hit us with strong winds that cripple our progress, so it is likely we will wildcamp before we reach an auberge. Time to attach the guy ropes we think.

Oualidia tajine

Safi evening


12 responses to “Our path to Essaouira, wind, rain and hills…

  1. wow what a description, and soo much food!
    how lovely people are shouting encouragement, we are all shouting it from
    here too it`s just not so easy to spot.

    much love huge huge hugs and very well done you two.

  2. Happy to know that you’re on the road, motivated and enthusiastic!! Keep it up and enjoy every single step of the trip! 🙂

  3. Bon courage from N 7 as well! I guess you are the only ones on the road, so people are curious. Hope your tent will not blow away with you inside 😦
    lots of love xxx

  4. Hey guys!

    Morocco looks pretty awesome from where I’m sitting.

    How are my babies doing =)
    Not giving you any trouble are they?


    • Morocco is awesome, reckon you would love some of these hills (downhill we mean) and you’d love the food even more!

      Your babies are doing you proud, we have had to keep using the sticky grease (sorry Brendan its Mikaela and I don’t know the proper name) on the chain because the rain was so heavy and salt air so bad that it started to rust after we had a day in torrential downpours. Until we are further South we reckon this is better, what do you think?

      We bought a brush kit to clean the bikes with and its works pretty well but keeping them dust and grit free is getting tougher and any tips on cleaning would be welcome!

      NO PUNCTURES! Not one, amazing we think, the terrain has been brutal with lots of broken glass on the roads, but nada tyre repairs!

      Only issue I have had is with my hands on the bar,I have had total numbness in my pinky and ring finger for about 3, almost 4 weeks. Think changing the handlebar position might help but not sure, again if you have any ideas let me know!

      Gears are starting to change less smoothly, suggestions here also welcome!

      But serously they are amazing and in France every tourer loved them- here they ask if they are from decatholon; that is a massive Moroccan compliment though so don’t take it the wrong way!

      Big thank you’s again!

      • The dry chain lubricant is only for dry, dusty conditions. You are right to stay with the wet (sticky) lube in rainy conditions. If this changes, and there is excessive dust in the air then you should switch to the dry lube; the wet lube will attract the dust and you end up with a chain coated in abrasive paste! With the dry lube you will not have this problem, but you will have to reapply much more frequently (possibly even every day).

        For cleaning the chains (you will need to when you switch from the wet lube), remove them from the bikes using the gold ‘powerlink’. You squeeze the two halves in towards each other, and then slide apart.

        They can then be degreased in pretty much any solvent, and then rinsed in water. Then let them dry a bit before applying fresh lube. If reapplying wet lube, I would suggest relubing with the chains still off of the bike so as not to coat the sprockets in lube. Remeber to give a thorough wipe down to remove excess lube from the outside of the chain.

        I’m glad to hear the tyre choice worked out well with regards to puncture resistance. How do you find the grip? Keep them nicely inflated all the time and with a bit of luck you won’t have a single puncture!

        About your finger numbness – it sounds to me like you are placing excessive pressure on a nerve in your palm. Try moving your hand to so that the bar rests on the thicker bit at the base of your palm. So if you are currently holding the bar in the little ‘valley’ of your palm, hold it closer to your wrist (hope that makes sense).
        Also, you may be holding on a little too tightly, so a looser grip might also help.
        You should find that once you get up to a decent speed (say 15mph) the bike will need very little input from the handlebars to continue going in a straight line. If you are not supporting your upper body with your hands then it is possible to completely remove your hands from the bars. I wouldn’t advise this of course, but I quite frequently remove my palms from the bar, and leave literally the tips of my fingers touching for minor steering corrections. Doing this from time to time (if you are comfortable doing so) should help with any numbness.

        As for the gears, the barrel adjuster on the gear shifter can be fiddled with. This will fine tune the ‘indexing’ of the gears. If the gears are ever so slightly out of index, you will hear excessive noise as you pedal. The tricky part is telling which way you need to turn the adjuster.

        For the rear gears (right hand shifter)
        Step 1: Inspect outer cable sheaths for obvious external damage (kinks, tears etc.) If you find damage, the sheath will need replacing for gears to run smooth.
        Step 2: Select the highest gear (9th).
        Step 3: Assuming there is no apparent problem riding in this gear, slowly shift down one gear at a time. If the bike is reluctant to shift down, or once you have shifted there is excessive noise, the direction to turn the adjuster is anti-clockwise. If at all possible, turn the adjuster while still riding in the problem gear. The gear should shift if it was stuck, and the noise should disappear. If you shift all the way down with no sticking or noise, do not touch anything yet.
        Step 4: Select the lowest gear (1st).
        Step 5: Assuming the is no problem riding in this gear slowly shift up one gear at a time. If you experience any of the problems mentioned before, the direction to turn the adjuster is clockwise.

        If you cannot find an adjustment balance between upshifting and downshifting where all your gears run fine, then it is likely you need to either clean or replace the gear inner cables. You can do this by undoing the bolt anchoring the cable to the derailer. Next remove the outer cables from the frame stops. This will enable you to coat the exposed parts of the inner cable with wet lube, and slide the outer cable (sheath) up and down the cables. This will relubricate in the insides of the out cables, resulting in smooth, crisp shifts!

        Hope this helps xx


  5. Grim and Grumps

    hello my intrepid travellers, we are following your progress with lots of love and pride, l said before that l wish l could do it but l think our restrictions were very good for us, judging by your tales, there are many people wishing you well, here, and wherever you go, hope it continues for the whole journey. Our love goes with you. Grim and Grumps.xxxx

  6. Hilary Franklin

    You are doing so well .I look every night to see if you have posted an more stories of your travels .It all sounds wonderful and hope the weather and terrain are kind to you .Lots of love xxx

  7. Well done you guys…I am living your journey vicariously and enjoying every minute of it.
    John H

  8. I can almost taste the food!!!!!! hmmmmm.
    Well done so far guys.

    Imran, I just got back from Havana and, before that, from Paris where I saw Loisel. Him and also Jorge Ivan and Delvis (the sax player, who by the way is now playing in a top band and touring and fat) all said hello and good luck… First reaction from them all: “Wait… Imran is WHERE doing WHAATTT?!”

    Anyway, I wish you all the best of luck and can’t wait for the next installment of the Music Cycles adventures, this is like a telenovela but better 😉

    big hugs!

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