In 2019 our friend Teo decided to go off on a solo bike packing adventure but instead of taking his gravel bike he chose an Omnium cargo bike. We wanted to know why, so we decided to ask him a few questions about his trip.
What were your motivations to go on this trip? And why Morocco?
It’s pretty simple, two years ago I cycled from Bordeaux to Milan on a fixed gear in a little less than two weeks. Since then I wanted to try the experience again but going further and for longer; I had about 2 months free before my winter departure to Asia and I was looking for a destination with pleasant weather in October / November, a low cost of living and a beautiful landscape. I immediately thought of Morocco! In addition I had never set foot in the Maghreb so that motivated me even more.
We understand you sold your gravel bike, choosing instead to take your Omnium, what were your reasons for this decision?
Before my departure I had two bikes available but not enough cash for a two month trip, so I made the decision to part with my gravel bike. On the one hand, the road would have been simpler and less tiring on a gravel bike, but on the other hand the cargo bike allowed me to bring more stuff, more easily. I went with the idea of going on a holiday and having an adventure rather than for the sport.
You must really like Omniums. What is it about them that you like so much in regard to other bikes?
It’s just the perfect all-rounder: empty it’s almost like a regular bike, and as soon as you have something (or someone) to carry you don’t worry about it, just load up and away we go!
Did you take a lot of equipment with you? We suppose you must have had a lot of space, what else did you pick-up along the way?
No, not especially, I like to travel light and everything is thought out and optimised. The only thing that I changed along the way is my « electric autonomy » system, but more by obligation than by choice. I left with a large external battery but lost it along the way and switched to a solar panel (I preferred the first option).
What route did you take? And how did you navigate?
My first idea was to reach Portugal more or less following the St Jacques de Compostela, then to follow the coast to Algeciras, but a few days before departure I remembered that a friend was on Erasmus in Madrid, so change of plan. I crossed Spain through the center, Bilbao, Madrid, Cordoba, Malaga then Algeciras.
Once I arrived in Tangier after an hour and a half of crossing I continued along the Moroccan coast without a specific destination … Then one fine morning I received a message from two French friends « We are arriving in Ouarzazate in a few days, what are you doing? » A few searches on Google (itinerary, places to visit, flight back to France) and then the answer a few minutes later « I am 400km away, I’ll come join you. » So I plotted the route in the evening for the next day using Google maps. I’ve tried several bike GPS applications but get lost each time.
Was it easy enough to find camping spots?
Overall yes. In Spain I only did wild camping, I just looked for a small park (often in advance on Google maps) and I pitched my tent at nightfall. Once in Morocco, I alternated between youth hostels, camping, wild camping, surf camps and even homestay accommodation; everyone had advised me against wild camping in the north but from Essaouira onwards I often camped on the beach or in the fields and I never had the slightest problem.
You must have had a lot of people looking at you funny and asking questions. Did you meet a lot of people thanks to your mode of transport?
Yes, a lot, especially in Morocco, no one had ever seen this kind of bike, it was an open door to lots of charming conversations with the locals. I also met a fair few cyclists on a trip, some going north, others going south, but the ritual was the same each time, stop and talk without a doubt!
How was the ferry crossing?
Very fast, it only lasted thirty minutes with the time difference. Here is a little anecdote about it though. I had booked a hostel for the night in Tangier but after arriving at the end of the afternoon I realised the port of Tangier was more than 50km from the city center. I had a bit of a panic when it was necessary to smash 50 unplanned kilometres before the sun went down. Cycling at night in Morocco is out of the question.
Was the cycling in Morocco very different to that of Europe?
Not really, you see a lot less bicycles, cars tend to brush against you a little more, and the police officers stop you more often just to talk, but it’s still cycling.
What was the hardest part? Did anything go wrong?
At the end of the trip physical fatigue and loneliness on the bike, but it’s only mental, it’s part of the game.
What was your favourite part?
The feeling every time you arrive in a new city or a new spot. The feeling of being 100% independent and having everything you need with you with you. The arrival in Ouarzazate was also incredible, on the one hand it marked the end of a long journey of personal fulfilment, and on the other I found my friends.
Did you ever regret taking the cargo bike instead of the gravel bike ?
Not at all, it even motivated me to leave again in May this time direction Albania.
The departure is scheduled for the 10th of May 2021 and you can follow my adventures on Instagram: @mazurrre_