Encouraged by our part descent by bike of the Parenzana earlier this year, seduced by a holiday sales presentation I attended, and intrigued by the title of the tour (Atlas Descent), some time back I booked an Exodus cycling trip to southern Morocco, for this coming November. When Lindsey looked in more detail at the trip notes, she saw that the Challenge Level was 5, meaning “You have a good level of fitness and are looking for a physically challenging holiday. Previous experience is essential for activity based trips”.
Hmm. The most challenging Exodus trip that we have undertaken so far was the Singalila Ridge, last year. That was Challenge Level 3, and below you can see what shape I was in after a week of it. I visibly aged by about ten years.
Then Lindsey read a review of the Morocco trip in which the reviewer wrote that for a ‘descent’ there was a surprising number of uphill sections, and that some days were definitely ‘red grade’ rides.
We had no idea what that meant, and so Lindsey started to put together an educational and training schedule for the trip.
When we were up at Loch Insh last month we had a starter session in mountain biking, given by Mitch, who was also our guide for the kayak trip the next day. We learnt a few important basics about mountain biking, especially, for example, when to stand up out of the saddle.
Yesterday we continued the schedule down at Glentress Forest, where we hired two bikes and set off up the various trails.
There are excellent trails of all levels at Glentress, and they are well signposted. We enjoyed the time we spent cycling around the hills above Peebles.
The grades (green, blue, red, black) seem to be similar to those used for skiing. A green and blue are shown above.
We managed the green and blue grade tracks fine.
We got suitably covered in mud.
Next time we’ll do a much longer blue grade track, with some red grade bits in it. We must also do some distance training on our own bikes, as the longest day on the Atlas Descent is 75.0km. I doubt if Lindsey and I have ever cycled that far in our lives. Fortunately, there are support vehicles for the trip, which means that at any time you can say “I’ve had enough. Take me to the bar in the next hotel, please”. Of course, neither Lindsey or I would ever consider such a thing.