Oh yeah, Day 3, waking up to freezing water and a hole for a toilet. Needless to say, we do not linger that morning at Chez Lack-o-Heat, and are soon on the road again. A road that is, oddly enough, neither steeply mountainous nor careening downhill at frightening speeds. Strange.
One of the great things about cycling in a place like Morocco is that your rest stops, instead of being at a convenience store where you buy a beef stick and a Coke and are then off again, are at glorious old mosques from the 11th century, where kings were crowned and people beheaded and battles fought and princesses showered with jewels before being entombed.
Okay, so I totally made that last part up, but we DO meet up at Tin Mal, a truly incredible mosque that is centuries old, for photos and snackies. The Saddle Skedaddle people are taking very good care of us, needless to say.
Except that they’re a bunch of liars. Well, that’s how I look at. Sayeed in particular, who explains the day’s routes using vernacular like “cheeky climbs.” Calling our climbs “cheeky” is like saying Pol Pot was a bit of a nutjob. Because we’re going either uphill for miles and miles at an 18% grade, or downhill, same, with hairpin turns. I guess those would be the cheeky downhills.
Nevertheless, after we leave Tin Mal and continue on our ride, I soldier on. And on and on. And on. Wth, how long is this damn mountain? We’re doing what I think has been billed as the worst day of climbing, namely the cheekiest. At one point I make a critical error, in that I stop to wave to some kids who are waving to me across a little valley, and then they come bounding over like the mountains goats that everyone in this country is (and I say that as the highest compliment), and my god, they’re friendly! There are no shivs, no rocks, no sticks being thrown! I’m so grateful for this that I give them my candy snackies, and….my GU Chomps. Which, let’s face it, is basically like candy. I then ride on, comforted in the knowledge that not only will these charming urchins be totally hopped up on sugar for the rest of the day (and hoping their parents don’t know any Moroccan curses to throw my way), plus that I’ve just given away all my nutrition for the morning.
Luckily lunch is never too far away, and after lunch we get to a stretch of road where we’re going to cycle along for another 17 miles or so, and then get in the van for the rest of the way because it’s a busy road. And miracle of miracles, these 17 miles are FLAT! Truly flat! There might even be a tailwind! And I’m SO fast, I’m the Queen of Speed! A veritable rockstar! For once I’m not the last person in the group!
Oh, and I think my blazing speed for those 17 miles manages to ratchet up my average speed for the day to around 9 mph. Umm, yay?
The real treat comes, however, when we get to our hotel for the evening, which is truly lovely, from the many orange trees where we can pick our own fruit, to the rooms – ah, the rooms! I walk into our room, and just stand there, basking in the glory of what is clearly a heated room. I then dart into the bathroom. Omg, a toilet! I turn on the sink. Omg, hot water! Stacey walks into the room, and I bound over to her and give her a joyous hug.
Later that night, after having our special New Year’s Eve dinner and dance party special at the hotel’s restaurant, I sink into the warm comfy bed that’s probably the comfiest bed in the history of mankind.
“It’s like sleeping on the wings of angels, Stacey, angels I tell you.”
There’s no reply from Stacey because she’s doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations on what uphill speed she needs to maintain the next day in order to smoke everyone on the way to the lunch stop. Have I mentioned that she’s slightly competitive? I point this out not as a failing, but to note why at the end of our trip, Stacey winds up with a menagerie of wooden animals that she’s whittled as she’d get to any and all of our stops way before the rest of us. It’s a gift.