After breakfast on Saturday morning (3rd Nov), William conducted his tour briefing. We learned a little more about the route we’d take, the riding, the daily designated “tail man”, and of course some all important safety aspects.
Most bikes had 12 Litres tanks fitted although some were slightly smaller. Petrol stations would be few and far between, as for the most part, we’d be totally “off-road”. The bikes had a range of perhaps 160km, but the 4x4 support vehicle carried 100 litres of fuel, in 5 jerry cans, and we’d meet up with it once or twice a day to refill our fuel tanks. On one or two days, we’d pull into town to take lunch & fuel, but more often, we’d eat a packed lunch way out in the wilderness.
Fuel for the motorcycles wasn’t included in the price of this particular tour, although virtually all other expenses were (accommodation, bikes, all food & water, 4x4 fuel and driver). We’d initially throw in 500 Diahram each for bike fuel, and top up as necessary. (approx 16 dh per UK pound).
We also started a personal kitty, amongst the riders, to cover beers, coffees and incidental shared expenses.
Understandably, Morocco is pretty much a “dry” country, where alcohol is not officially bought or consumed anywhere, apart from specially licenced tourist establishments. By choice, and for much of the time, we’d be staying far from the usual tourist circuit. So some hotels we would stay at would be licenced, while others certainly would not be.
By our good fortune, the 4x4 happened to be equipped with a large fridge, and Francois would go and purchase some beers on our behalf. William had noticed that his English namesake enjoyed the odd Pastis, so a bottle of Ricard was packed in too.
There was a formal checking over of the bikes, and any minor pre-existing damage was noted on a form. The bikes were really quite new, all with approx 3000km showing on their digital clocks. There were in good condition with new knobbly tyres and brake pads fitted, so understandably William was keen to discourage damage to his machines. Prices of every replaceable part were itemised, and each rider left a deposit to cover any potential damage they may cause.
We’d meet for breakfast at 08:00am on Sunday morning (4th Nov), and departure would be 09:00am. There was some discussion as to whether a light jacket over our body armour would be necessary, as we’d be riding at over 2200 metres at some points in the High Atlas on the first day. William thought it unlikely, as temperatures for November seemed higher than normal this year. Besides, we’d be meeting the 4x4 for lunch, so could pick up any extra layer if we felt cold before crossing the really high points.
Formalities over, we now had the whole Saturday to enjoy ourselves before the tour began for real.
We decided to sunbathe for a while by the pool, then spend the afternoon and early evening in Marrakech – described in the next section.
To skip that bit for now though, I just thought I’d mention something before I forget….
After our day in the busy city, we returned mid-evening to the Auberge bar to join William, Sophie & Francois for a drink.
In conversation, William casually enquired, “Does anyone suffer from vertigo?”
I noticed Dave’s left ear twitch, as he paused between gulps of Flagg lager. “Why do you ask?” enquired Dave, with a voice somewhat less manly than normal.
“Oh, nothing much. It’s just that we need to ride along a little ledge, about 1 metre wide. There’s a sheer rock face to your right, and a 300 metre drop to your left. It’s not really a problem, but some people are prone to freeze up, unable to continue”
“Don’t worry Dave”, I said. “as long as it’s not all loose rocks, with broken crumbling edges dropping over into the abyss, you’ll be just fine”.