Warning! This post is too long, but so was the day!!
On our rest day we did a short ride in the afternoon for 20 km up the R 704 and into the Dades Gorge. We just rode up to the mirador or viewpoint and the lower gorge, since we will be riding back down the upper part of this road the next day.
The plan for today was to ride up the Toudgha gorge across the connecting “road” and down the Dades gorge. After that the plan was to back track to Ouarzazate and then go north to Ait Ben Haddou in 408 km.
First we had 53 km to Tinghir and then another 36 km on the paved road to the cut off road, which is 47 km back to the pavement.
On the road up you pass thru the Toudgha gorge, which is as narrow as 10 meters in spots.
The ride from the cut off 54 km to the viewpoint of Dades took almost 6 hours. This was mostly in the last 16 km. This “short” cut was some seriously challenging riding for all of us.
Initially the road was a good dirt road with some steep switchbacks and the pass was at over 2500m.
There are a few people living out here in total isolation in tents with a few horses and animals.
From here we thought we had it made since it was only 16 km more down to the pavement, but here is where it got really hard. We were more often driving down the riverbed, which was large rocks at times. Poor Dan had to ride some of the more tricky parts TWICE!
The worst part was at times where the road was not washed away it was quite goo, but around the next corner it was even worse than before.
Getting in and out of the riverbed when there was road was sometimes a challenge.
Sara whacked her right pannier on a low-outcropped rock and took a spill. No damage to her, but we had to take a rock to get the pannier back in shape.
We finally saw a 4 WD vehicle after here so at least the way was passable! We were mostly riding in the riverbed as the road was washed out. There were some stretches with large rocks to ride over and lots of just riding down the river.
When we got 4 km from the road we met 2 guys on big bikes, who by the way turned around when they eventually saw what it was like the way we had just come.
When we were 1 km from the road we made a left on the track and not a right across the river and Daniel almost made it thru that way, but ended up buried in the deep mud. Thanks to Bramed, who was “guiding” the other bikers as he helped us to unsuction the front tire and drag the bike back to the dryer ground.
Sara’s bike was having issues again and now would start, but stall in first (side stand sensor) we flicked the stand up and down a few times and it worked. Later we saw that the side stand sensor must have been damaged after hitting all the rocks. As well as one of the bolts from the side stand was sheered off making it unusable.
When we got to the viewpoint it would not stay running. Lucky Dan had read ADV Geeks and we had been joking since we left Vancouver about “cutting the brown wire”. We removed the sensor, took apart the connection, cut the (center) brown middle wire, and reconnected and installed the sensor. Voila bike running!
The problem now is that it was 630 pm and we had 204 km to get to Ait Ben Haddou.
We raced the sun and made it almost back to Ouarzazate by dark. We hate riding in the dark. The road north is on the main N9, but the last 10 km was on a road paved only in the center, which made it a challenge when there was oncoming traffic. We had reserved a hotel on bookings (as we do in Big cities, tourist towns, or when we may be very late in the day) and had the GPS coordinates. When we arrived at then GPS location the hotel was not of the name we had booked at. We checked next door and the owner said she had never heard of this property. So we checked back at the first place. The guy came out and we showed him the name and he said that is their booking.com name and he had our reservation. Long story short both were lying. The first lady owns the hotel next door to the one we booked at! The second guy did not have our reservation! Bookings is sorting it out for us.