Marrakech is best known for its souks and medina. Bikes? Only on the ramshackle rust buckets that locals tear around its tight streets astride.
Just slowly, though, it’s carving itself a reputation as a go-to place for lycra-clad roadies. We rode the first Marrakech Atlas Etape sportive four years ago – a 140km out-and-back to one of the premier ski resorts in Africa, atop the Oukaimeden mountain, 2,600m up.
And now HotChillee, best known for their London to Paris ride, have added this event in the Atlas Mountains to their 2018 calendar (which actually begins with the Atlas Etape). The HotChillee guys have been doing tons of gravel riding at home in Surrey and further afield, but is their first stab at a gravel event.
The first event proper takes place between 21-26 April next year; this recce saw us act as guinea pigs, testing the routes through desert and over mountains, getting lost occasionally but always enjoying the wild ride that is ‘gravel’ riding in Morocco.
We’ve got a full report in issue 336 (28 December) but in the meantime check out the video below from Francis Cade, who joined us on the road in Morocco.
Senior writer and tireless domestique John has been putting in a shift for Cycling Plus for seven years. Despite having been a ‘proper’ road cyclist for the last decade, he still can’t work out what his main motivation for punishing all-day rides is. A freewheeling attitude towards cake is the popular theory, however.