Tarka in Search of Surf: Bikepacking Morocco (Film)
“In Search of Surf” is a 30-minute documentary that follows two friends on a weeklong bikepacking journey across Morocco. With surfboards and camping gear in tow, they pedal through the mountains and along the coast on a quest for waves. Find the film, a gallery of photos from behind the scenes, and a written reflection here…
It all began with too many grey skies and too much office time. We had just five hours of sunshine time in Lithuania last winter, and we needed some ecape. Since we are running a bikepacking brand, TARKA, that needed some fresh content, and with sales admittedly not going too well, we decided to go all-in and spend it all on a big trip abroad. If it didn’t help our brand survive a tough time, at least we’d have some good memories.
As we were a little burned out on cycling during that time, we decided to combine two passions and make it more fun—and also more challenging, as we’d find out later. Surfing and bikepacking sounded about right! Pius had a proper BOB trailer, and we needed to find another one for me. Not having enough time to grab another one from the US, we found a Chinese copy in Poland and decided to give it a try. After a week and some modifications, I thought it was ready for the trip. Apparently, it wasn’t, and I don’t recommend using untested gear for such trips. A wrench and zip ties were my best friends.
Since this trip was meant to be for creating a documentary of our trip, we obviously needed a cameraman. We have a friend, Linas Mažonas, who we’ve known for some time, and he seemed like a cool dude to join the trip and capture everything. We didn’t know how we’d to cover his expenses, but having him on board opened some doors as we were able to finance the trip with the help of another company for which we’d create some additional content. I guess it’s true that struggling sometimes helps unlock the best ideas.
We flew to Marrakech, Morocco, and created a route of roughly 500 kilometers through some high deserts and along the foothills of Atlas Mountains. It stretched to Essaouira and all along the coast, eventually reaching Agadir. Our loaded bikes were pretty heavy as we thought we’d need computers and some other unnecessary stuff to do our regular work during the trip. Yeah right, great idea.
Our first day started with a real challenge to get out of the tiny Marrakech Medina with our setups. We spent more than four hours trying to arrange the shipment of our belongings that we wouldn’t use during the trip. After we got out of the city, we understood that the plan that we had for the first day wasn’t going to work. Had some technical difficulties fixing my shoddy trailer, our bodies weren’t used to cycling, and we were facing the reality that there was no turning back. Slowly but surely, we reached Amizmiz, which is located in the foothills of Atlas Mountains. We decided to crash at a local camp as the open fields didn’t look very inviting, and our bodies were refusing this idea. With roughly 70 kilometers and 1,000 meters of climbing in our legs, we felt completely destroyed. It may not sound or look like much, but the weight of the trailers behind us made it far more difficult than we’d imagined.
The second day of the trip started painfully, but along the way to our second destination, our bodies got used to the feeling of cycling and towing a 45-kilogram load behind. Even though snow was falling in the mountains around us, we were pretty lucky with the weather. After roughly 100 kilometers and another 800 meters of elevation, night was setting in, and we started to feel worried about the amount of food and water we had and also where we were going to sleep. We happened to be in a high desert with a valley, and there was no potential for our campsite. We stopped at a 10-house village called Zahra Bent Amar to get some food—where we luckily found some tomatoes and crisps—and got an offer from the shop owner to sleep in his shop. As kind as the gesture was, we ultimately decided to find our own spot. As far as we could see, there were rocks and sand everywhere. After several kilometers, one of us saw a fence that looked like a good shelter to set up camp. As we’d learn, it was just outside of a cemetery. We agreed that it was one of the creepiest overnighters we ever had. After getting four hours of sleep, the cold started kicking in, and we decided it was time to move on.
Day three started with chilly weather, but we knew it would be mostly downhill until Essaouira. Spirits were high, jokes started to flow, temperatures were rising, and we were getting closer to the ocean! Two hours in, we finally found some proper food in the local village. It was time to drop our jackets and enjoy the ride. I didn’t notice at the beginning, but my trailer was all crooked, and I started feeling pain in my shoulders and achilles. Apparently, the whole left side of my body was getting more pressure from uneven weight distribution. After sleeping in the cemetery, we decided that perhaps it was a good idea to let our bodies get some proper rest.
Starting Essaouira, our fourth day began with some proper food and headwinds. We pedaled along the coast and finally reached our first surf spot. The waves weren’t the best, but we welcomed some time in the water after three days of body destruction. We savored our time in the ocean and then started making our way further toward the destination. We decided it was time to have our first sleepover at the beach, and after two hours of surfing and another 60 kilometers with 800 meters of climbing, it was time to have some rest. We have settled at Sidi Ahmed Essayeh Beach, which we’d later learn is a protected area by the military. We had no idea until we’d gone to sleep and two officers came to wake us up. Thankfully, after some chats, we got a permit to stay the night.
Dave five began with one of the toughest uphills of the trip. It was impossible to cycle, and we just had to push our loaded bikes uphill. Straight after that, though, we were treated to views that were out of this world. The vistas were amazing: ocean, camels, wild nature, and the idea that we were there, right then, in the present moment. It made that day one of the best of the trip. After reaching Imsouane, we decided to stay for a couple of days and just surf there.
After our stay in Imsouane, it was time to move as our filmer and friend Linas had to catch a flight back to Vilnius. The cycling day started with a 21-percent uphill, which we could see waiting for us during days we were surfing in Imsouane. A few hours later, the climb was done, and we were rewarded with a proper downhill and the tailwinds that followed us until the end of the trip.
This was easily one of the most memorable trips of our lifetime. Fortunately, we were able to shoot everything on camera, resulting in a proper documentary and plenty of clips and photos we hope will help tell the story of our small brand. We hope this will inspire you to get into the unknown and drop everything that’s holding you from living and experiencing life in the way you’ve been dreaming of.
Lastly, we ask that you don’t forget to have a look into our bikepacking gear over at TarkaCo.com to support our journey further! Go Fast. Don’t Rush. And enjoy our movie!
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