Stage 12 - out of the desert
Not a great sleep as about midnight or so, the wind really picked up; blowing out of the east at a fearsome intensity (weather reports suggested gusts at >80 kph) so of course I’m thinking “…how am I ever going to ride in that sort of wind?” But shortly after sunrise, it started to abate. Bag drop off at 6:15, breakfast opens at 6:30, and I managed to get away from the hotel before 7:00 in first a tailwind, then some strong crosswinds for about 30 km, but finally after the last turn to the west, picked up following winds for pretty much all day. What a treat after Friday.
The initial hours were bleak desert landscape, really flat … lonely tarmac. But slowly some topography appears; upthrown shales and sandstones to my eyes at least. We’re supposed to be climbing over 800 m today, but the grades are almost perceptible, and with the bit of tailwind we’re getting, it’s a fairly straightforward ride. I’m away from the lunch stop just after 10:30 so it’s going to be a short day for once.
The photo above not a mistake! ghats what it looks like this morning, once away from the Erg Chebbi.
I manage to catch up with Peter and we spin along together for some time, checking out various possibilities of a coke stop but unfortunately everything seems very closed. But finally spy a few riders, Roger, Steve and Jonna at an unlikely looking ‘Ruby’s Café and Fossils’ … this is too good to miss,so we pull in and get treated to the best yet cups of fine espresso experienced in Morocco. So goo, we go for repeats. The final hour speeds by in a caffeine fueled flash and we’re into Alnif, a small and rather dusty village but with the fine sounding Palmiers Hôtel.
Gravel parking lot is the campsite! But… shower works and dispenses more or less hot water. And the terrace provides shade as well as a nice breeze. An impressive coffee machine dispenses yet more nous nous and the fridge holds cold drinks. The afternoon passes pleasantly. There’s even a working ATM just up the street at the post office, and shops from which to get a few sundries.
Steve and Ursula’s birthdays today, so dinner is topped off with chocolate mousse for dessert. A very jovial group tonight; short day with favourable winds and the promise of terrific scenery over the next couple of days helps.