School Adventures Consultant Cat Goward tries mountain biking in Morocco
The Atlas Descent - it’ll be just like riding a bike, I thought! But with 6,000 metres of exhilarating downhill cycling (not forgetting a few ascents thrown in for good measure), 75% off road – it turned out to be just a little more than that. This trip challenges the experienced and stretches the novice. Being at the novice end of the scale, I must admit I have a newfound respect for this sport. From the technical rocky ascents, to donkey dodging at great speed on gravel pistes, to whizzing down the James Bond style tarmac roads, this is not for the fainthearted.
When I had the nerve to un-grip the brakes and look above my handlebars I had the opportunity to take in the fantastic views of the Anti-Atlas and High Atlas mountains. The scenery is wild and varied and you cycle through beautifully cultivated valleys, lush palm-filled oases and explore crumbling Kasbahs. Riding at speed and covering great distances allows you to experience the diverse range of scenery in this awe-inspiring Moroccan mountain range.
Cycling through Berber villages, the children wave as you ride past, which, I must say, was well needed at times for that motivational push, especially if there was an ascent coming up. Sometimes I would even imagine I was in the Tour de France and found myself cycling faster with the cheers. Evenings are spent resting your weary limbs and discussing the day’s events, which usually involved the questions: who got the most punctures, how many times did you fall off and who had the best, and most elaborate fall?
The best day of cycling - and in my opinion (now I am an expert!) - the best day of ultimate mountain biking, is the last day. There is an exhilarating 60km of off-road descent to tackle, which makes the ascent before all the more worthwhile. As the route drops to sea-level you pass the best and most varied Moroccan landscape before arriving at the beach for a well-earned swim!
All in all a great trip that I would definitely recommend to secondary schools which have cycling clubs!
Please note: The holiday mentioned above is specifically tailored for School Adventures.
If you are an adult wishing to do this type of adventure, please see our Cycling Atlas Descent page.