Stage 27 - Rick’s Café
So Wednesday night was our last night on the road, and possibly what might have been the best sleep of the tour what with that thick bed of grass beneath my tent. Might have been, but then the sheet lightening and distant thunder soon followed with repeated rain squalls hitting the tent all of which interrupted that bucolic concept. I wondered if it would be raining all morning for the last ride. As it turned out, a really good rain from about 06:00 to 06:30, but then stopping momentarily it allowed me to pack up everything inside tent, keeping dry … then throw the bag outside in the lull to pull down tent. It started up again as I was hauling the now noticeably heavier than usual bag to the van.
Chef Mark and co. moved their field kitchen into a shelter and did their usual great job of getting lots fuel onto our respective bowls. No lunch van today, so pb&j sandwich made up and placed in jersey pocket. We departed Oualidia in hired passenger van a little ahead of schedule under threatening skies, and we’re driven north up the coastal road and then onto a freeway (first I’d seen in Morocco) for maybe 90 minutes or so. Eventually disgorged at a seemingly random petrol station, but at least they were serving coffees to us types.
Stepping off the bus akin to stepping into an oven; the weather had sure changed, now still slightly overcast, but temperature in high 20s, and quite humid. This I’ll admit was a downer … didn’t really feel like riding for something approaching 3 hours in that heat. But what heck “suck it up Princess“ as Douglass would say. Couldn’t find Brad in the moment so Mark and I set off … first 3 km up the road to where the day’s route officially started according to the GPS track. Then followed that on a somewhat circuitous path which got me a little concerned when it swung east, then southeast and then finally south. Casablanca by my reckoning was north. However, it did in the end straighten itself out and swung all the back to north and northeast. Recent road upgrades threw another 10+ kilometres of gravel at us at some point in the day, which didn’t help the mood.
All said and done, we were eventually successful in re-discovering the Atlantic Ocean; the last 15 km or were actually pleasant. I forced a stop at one of the mobile coffee vendors who park along the busy routes, with a full-on coffee-machine set up in the boot, and perhaps a table and a chair or two, curb side. Nous nous here was only MAD 6 or 7, a bargain.
Then along a designated bike path on the corniche which led us to within metres of the final hotel. The ride was over. Bikes packed up in record time that very afternoon. Adjourn to the bar for a restorative beer followed by obligatory shower and change into street clothes of a sort. I felt no need to worry about laundry, either.
A great group dinner later that evening, with accolades to all the TDA staff for what was clearly a very successful tour by any definition.
Friday spent in a little wandering about old Casablanca, taking in the Hassan II mosque (huge and somewhat overwhelming, but very much impressive), followed by lunch at Rick’s Café. The latter stop undoubtedly touristy but still I wanted to tick that final box off. Now all packed up and will start the flights home to Vancouver tomorrow.