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Sideburn Morocco Women Riders Q&A

Earlier this year, riders from around the world were brought together on Sideburn’s first ever women-only Morocco adventure.

We have another coming up in March 2020, so we thought we'd share the experiences of the first group. The ten riders were quizzed with three tour-related questions about their experience, namely:

What brought you on the trip?

What part did you enjoy the most?

Which section did you find most challenging?

With most of of the group relaxing around the swimming pool at the close of the last day, here’s what they had to say…

Lucia Aucott

Slovakian. Flat track racer. Hard as nails.

'I came on this trip to have fun and because I wanted to push myself. My favourite part was riding in the fesh-fesh and dunes. I found the mountain passes the most difficult because I'm scared of heights!'

Nadene ‘Dienks’ Freysen

South African. Freediver. All round adventurer.

'I follow Sideburn on Instagram. I saw the post advertising the trip and thought it looked incredible. I knew I couldn't miss out! I wouldn't usually go on a trip like this because it's too challenging and generally speaking, guys only do these trips which demands a certain level of skill and for you to be a certain level of rider. This tour appealed to me because of the mindset of women. We try to stick together. It's about a community feeling and enjoying it together as more of an experience and less of a race. My favourite part of the trip was all the unplanned bits, the riding that caught us off guard. These moments were so special. The colours, the scenery... I found navigating the technicalities of traveling downhill from the high hairpins the most challenging of all.'

Natasha Farrar

London sunshine injection. Keen as a whip. Accomplished dune rider by day 3.

'I saw the trip advertised on Instagram and experienced acute FOMO [fear of missing out] so I knew I had to do it! I was the last person in, grabbing the final spot! I loved the desert - the bivouac, the camels, the mountains... all of it! When we'd be riding for hours and suddenly you'd see a random man at the side of the road. How did he get there? I didn't like the fesh-fesh very much. I found the sandy stuff hard. You have to concentrate all the time. Riding without sleep was tough.'

Caylee Hankins

Our very own Pocket Rocket. Talented photographer.

'I was asked by Sideburn to act as a rep for the magazine, an opportunity I thought was amazing and one I couldn't turn down. My favourite part of the trip was a section of challenging terrain with mixed flowing roads, stones, and prickly bushes. It was great to ride such varied tracks with a few jumps - cutting corners and picking up speed. I loved the sand dunes. I've only ridden sand once so getting on the dunes was pretty spectacular. I managed to stay upright, Watching the sunset was idyllic. I found the pacing the most challenging element. And later at nighttime, dreaming the routes but without much sleep due to the adrenaline... but that's my overactive brain reliving everything. There was a bit where we were stopped by the military. I was tired and making mistakes - I broke my brake lever.'

Claudia Schulze

German. Refined. A precision rider.

'My friend Stephanie (Solar) told me about the trip which was a longtime dream of hers so I thought it would be good to accompany her. I found the fesh-fesh the most challenging, but that might have been because Johnny told us it was going to be difficult. Now, I think it was possibly the most interesting part. I believe that everybody has a hidden talent and I have discovered mine is riding on sand! I had a lot of fun in the dunes. I didn't like the rocky sections at height as I too am afraid of them. We had such a nice group on this trip. All the girls were so nice.'

Stephanie Solar

Also German. Always stylish. Determined in the fesh-fesh.

“I came to get some off-road experience and to meet other female riders. Exploring the dunes was exciting! I found the sand hard but enjoyed riding the dry riverbed. I like the stones!”

Lucia Stano

Italian. Level headed, calm and collected.

'My only purpose was to survive... and I did! So I'm happy about that. I loved the fesh-fesh and now I love the swimming pool! My biggest challenge was the experience in general. I was so out of my comfort zone. I was pushed hard and I had so much fun.'

Leah Tokelove

UK female flat track prodigy. Pigeon fanatic. Swift around the hairpins.

'Coming on a trip like this one is something I have always wanted to do. I think it's such a great idea. I knew on an all-women's trip I wouldn't be under pressure to ride a certain way which was very appealing. It was also the kick up the arse I needed to get my full licence as I had yet to pass when I booked my place. My favourite part was riding in the mountains but I also loved the dunes. I found the final section of this last day the most challenging because we were so close to finishing and had to do a detour (a military blockade sent the group on a 40km diversion). I would definitely do a trip like this one again.'

Mariuxi Taranto

Ecuadorian. Chic as can be! Sleek rider. And FAST.

'I came on the trip because I love bikes and I needed some girlie time! My favourite part was when we were all together and laughing - even during the stressful moments and the crashes. I found the fesh-fesh the most difficult part.'

Leonie Watkins

Freelance writer, film/TV editor. Part-time snorer. Full-time idiot [her words, not ours]

'I had no preconceptions ahead of the tour. I knew, without question, I would find the experience concurrently intimidating and electrifying. The uncompromising nature of the terrain – namely that of the unforgiving dry stone riverbed, was by far one of the hardest obstacles I have encountered in 20 years of riding - both figuratively and literally speaking. Traversing the fesh-fesh was exhilarating and quite addictive. Napping in it up to my eyes was not.'

Photos: Caylee Hankins

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