Covered head to toe in dust and shaking like a leaf I finally come to a stop on the small incline of a hill beside the shop front. Quad biking had always been something I feared and even though I agreed to whizz around the deserted countryside with friends it was with trepidation rather than excitement. The dread that I felt leading up to the event was evident only to myself thankfully but it was with anxiety that I climbed onto the mammoth monster quad.
The Art of Quad Biking in the Desert
I anticipated that I would get onto the bike and after a couple of minutes I would have mastered the basics – meaning driving in a straight line and being able to turn a corner – simple right???? It was soon obvious to our instructor that I was going to be the headache of the day; very quickly moving me to the front of the pack so I couldn’t get left behind. We went around in circles until he was content that even the imbecile (Me!) who had been given control on one of his precious bikes was capable of continuing with our trip.
Two minutes later he realised that the imbecile was not ready when, on turning a corner, and not a sharp corner, I nosedived into crater of sand and came to a halt. Now at this point I should have said enough was enough and climbed onto the back of one of the others but I didn’t. Instead they pulled me out, grazes on hand and leg and put me onto a lovely little green machine that was clearly meant for 12 year olds – surely I could control this one!
Morocco is a hive of filming activity, although many don’t realise it, and we soon arrived at our first stop; the film studios where scenes from Lawrence of Arabia and Kingdom of Heaven were filmed. Sitting in front of the impressive doors looking out over the scene props dotted about you could envisage 100’s of extras lining up to run at the building behind me in one of the many action shots that have been filmed here. From the vantage point at the top of the hill we could see more clearly into the building itself and looking around, you can understand why this particular area has been chosen for a certain genre of film – baron, remote and dusty – it creates a certain atmosphere.
We then sped off across open land, that’s the bit I liked, straight lines and nothing to hit! My hopes of this continuing however, were quickly dashed when on crossing the empty road we take a sharp bend and head down into the largest pool of water and into a small village setting. To make it worse it seems that all the locals had come out to see the ‘tourists’ racing around their quiet setting – great, how many could I take out? The nerves once again kicked in and without really breathing I slowed until I almost stopped to make sure that everyone survived my passing through. Once out the other side I breathed heavily thinking the worst was over, meaning that I probably gained a little in confidence which would go on to explain my next nosedive – this time I lost control on a straight, albeit very bumpy bit of ground, committed the cardinal sin of taking my foot off the platform and came to a halt in my second ditch of the morning; taking most of the skin of my right calf with me. Alarm bells were now ringing, could I quit at this point? Would someone come to get me? It seemed my instructor had other ideas – he was going to make sure I could ride this damn thing by the time we got back.
We progressed on, passing through generous amounts of open space, thankfully meaning that I relaxed slightly although my head was now screaming out to me that ‘never again was I to do something so stupid’. Before I even realised we started on the incline up the mountain face and onto narrow pathways. Now, people is one thing, small corridors of pebble like roads with sheer drops over the edge is something quite different. Taking the turns slower than if I had got off and walked I manage to survive the morning and sighed with relief when we stop for 5 minutes to take in the scenery around us.
Smiling for the camera, although I know my husband had already gauged that I was mentally screaming out to stop, I don’t think our friends could tell that I was living a nightmare – they were however, probably questioning why I had agreed to do something I was definitely not capable of.
Back on the bikes and we head off onto what appeared to be a main road for service vehicles, meaning not too much for me to drive into or take out. Picking up speed I actually enjoyed this part of our adventure and before long the others were being attacked by the dust I was spreading with my speed – had I mastered the beast?
We stopped for lunch at a lovely little place which had the most inviting swimming pool, although I think I would have been pushing my luck if I asked to be left here for the afternoon. To get there we passed local women happily washing their laundry in the local river, sliding across the river bed ourselves to a built up village with yet more hills and turns to make. School bells clearly rung just as we were passing through as a swarm of children came rushing out of one of the nearby buildings right into my line of sight – please don’t let me hit a child!!!!
Over lunch our friends reassured me that the worst, as I saw it, was over and that on the way back they normally just follow the road – thank you – someone was listening to my pleading brain cells. Clearly not! Our instructor decided to head back over the mountain range again, this time with a passenger of his own. A boy of no more than 10 sat on the back keeping an eye on me, how embarrassing; a child was willing me over the potted roads, across the rocky terrain and around bends that we really should not have attempted. At one point I stopped; I made the mistake of looking over the edge and I froze, the sheer drop was not something that if I went over I would survive with only scratches and it frightened the life out of me. The instructor had to physically get off of his quad and come and talk me round, with his companion watching throughout. I can imagine now the conversation he had when he got home that night.
Finally, we get back to the start and the hillside next to the shop. Slightly more bruised then before, both physically and mentally, shoes full of sand from my slight detours, I step off of the bike, my legs like jelly, I am exhausted. I have an overwhelming sense that I want to cry and relieved to get off of my nemesis, that’s exactly what happens. For many, the fear that had overwhelmed me throughout the day would not have existed and some of you may be reading this thinking how ridiculous I am but my fear comes from the fact that someone I knew had an accident and ended up in a coma, meaning that quad biking was something I never anticipated doing.
Would I do it again? Unlikely. Do I see however, why many people enjoy this sport? Definitely. If you want the freedom to explore areas less travelled this is a great way to get out and about.
It was an experience that, looking back now, I can say I was glad I completed but it will be the one and only occasion that I do.
Have you been Quad Biking? Perhaps you have completed the same route as ourselves in Ouarzazate. Is it something you would do again? Perhaps you have tried another adventurous activity only to realise it was not for you.