The inaugural edition of PEdALED Atlas Mountain Race is officially in the books, and after yesterday’s celebration party of finishing the race, most of the riders are somewhere on their way home right now. Everyone with their own stories, experience & different plans for the future, because these four stamps we collected were real heavy!
Here’s my story. This wasn’t only the inaugural AMR in Morocco, for me it was the first ultra-racing experience where i packed my Bombtrack Beyond+ ADV bike with all the necessary stuff for the race (FYI this is my firsts mountain bike i ever had and I received it only two months before the race, so i was more than excited to try it out). I’ve had really little bike-packing experience so far, therefore- lots of heavy decisions on how to complete & pack my bike and my gear, so in the end I went for:
- H+SON Hydra wheels with a TFHPC Dynamo hub up front that powers a Exposure Revo light;
- Eagle 12-speed groupset with a 36T chainring;
- Brooks Cambium C15 saddle;
- Ergon grips;
- Mitas Scylla Tubeless 29 x 2.25” tires, that worked out more than perfect, as i finished my race without any flat tire (the tubeless sealant lived up to it`s name).
- Custom frame bag made with love by the man with golden hands behind PESA Customs;
- Restrap saddle bag and bar bag strapped to the front, plus 2x snack packs from WOHO;
- GoPro HERO8 Black camera to capture my adventure and the amazing landscapes;
- Wahoo ELEMNT Roam to keep me from getting lost;
- Voile Straps to keep everything together;
- HJC FURION 2.0 helmet to keep my head cool’n’safe.
So. All set and ready to go-the weight of my bike&gear before the start was around 28kg (water and snacks included)! Yeah, I know it’s f****** HEAVY, but I’m doing this without any expectations, so lets rock it..
On February 15th, 9:00am more than 180 riders are full of optimism and ready to hit the 1145km fixed route from Marrakesh, through the Moroccan Atlas taking them through the Anti-Atlas and towards Agadir on the Atlantic coast towards the finish!
Day one was fast with smooth tarmac in the beginning, turning into a nice gravel that brought us straight to the highest point of the race – Telouet Pass at 2600m. When I reached the descent part, it was damn rocky and loose, so it was more like an advanced down-hill hiking experience with carrying the precious 28kg of my bike and stuff… After this hell of a descent the CP1 was around the corner- first stamp, first hot meal, first chat with other riders, but the clock doesn’t stop, so neither do I… back on track! Suddenly the daylight was switched off, the temperature drops significantly and it’s time for some warmer clothes. Lights on. I shred it through the night…at some point the romantic dude in me kicks in, as I’ve never seen such a starlit sky (goose-bumps all over my body, might as well be the fatigue talking..).
at some point the romantic dude in me kicks in, as I’ve never seen such a starlit sky
After a bit more than 200km, 14h 21min of moving time and 10’784 calories burned it felt like a perfect time to set up my tent and get some rest! My plan was to sleep 3hours which turned out to be 5hours, so most of the riders were already back on route while I was still stretching my legs in tent- what a shame, I thought…
Day two came hot & sunny from the very early hours of the morning as I entered the barren desert-scape of Quarzazate Province, or the entrance to Sahara, as locals call it. So. Day 2. I’m starting to feel a few saddle sores, but that doesn’t stop me from flying over every canyon, because, as i said before – I slept like a baby and now it was time to trade it to some superpower skills. One by one I chased all the riders who overtook me while I was sleeping (shame on you!).
One by one I chased all the riders who overtook me while I was sleeping (shame on you!).
Evening came and I was still pushing hard through the darkness and crossing a few rivers without stopping, until I was forced to an involuntary swim session in one of them (unfortunate stone in river-bed), so this was kind of refreshing moment which made me go even further to dry my clothes a little bit and only after a few hours of climbing the rocks I thought it was the time I deserved to have some rest. After 2,5 hours of sleep my clothes were still wet and in order to keep my body warm I had to wear rain-jacket and overshoes. The morning starts with a small exhaust and suffering during the first climbs, but the full breakfast set in next village gives me wings for the rest of the day (another Berbers omelette, fresh squeezed orange juice and first coffee during the race)!!
The 3rd day course included lots of sandy roads and technical terrain, which kept me focused and my mind was targeted to get the next stamp in CP2 ASAP. It started to get dark again and after a long day on the saddle I finally reached the last resupply point in Tamskrout ( the last chance to get some food before CP2) therefore I made a decision to have proper diner (another Berbers omelette with coke) and to continue to ride 55km straight to CP2, where i could have some more food, maybe even get lucky and sleep somewhere on the floor. Eventually my plan turned out to be even better – proper hot meal and a chance to sleep in bed, so I took another long power nap, almost 5 hours, and saved precious time on setting up and taking down my tent etc… The next morning starts with a sunrise as I continue on the old colonial road. The heat is high and the few breezes of desert wind you get periodically felt heavenly! Lots of hours on a smooth tarmac- the most boring time on a bike for me, but, at the end of the day, the tarmac was gone and a beautiful descent on the old colonial road started. Those were roads I enjoyed the most, my bike was literally flying and needles to say- I was hyped! The Issafn village was my last resupply point before setting up my tent and continuing my way to CP3. This time- a bit more than 4 hours of sleep, but at that point I didn’t realise this will be my last sleep during the race…
This time- a bit more than 4 hours of sleep, but at that point I didn’t realise this will be my last sleep during the race…
I arrived at CP3 around noon, and it turned out to be the place for a very short but significant recovery- good food and the only SHOWER during the race (except my accidental midnight swim in the river)! While shoveling calories in my mouth in CP3, I decided to get rid of my tent (gave it away to locals at CP3). At this point my adrenaline was pumping and I had no intention of stopping nor sleeping until I reach the finish line! I started the final section to Sidi Rabat towards the finish and soon noticed some car on the road, and a man- leaning out of the window, yelling something in Arabic, trying to stop me. Well, pardon me, but my mama taught me better than stopping and talking to strangers, ha ha! This man was persistent though, by now, riding besides me and through his open car window giving me, as later turned out- a freshly squeezed orange juice! So I stopped. I was given more juice, huge avocado, peanuts and some freakishly tasty local sweets. The man also told me that it’s from a friend from my hometown who managed to send him to give this all to me during the race! Well, cheers to not talking to strangers, mama!… This man was following my GPS tracker to find me literary in the middle of nowhere…so, obviously, I was so impressed and thrilled, it gave me an extra power and a true sense of “one love” in this world! I mean, it’s almost always nice to experience some affection and attention, but in given circumstances, location and state of mind- Priceless! Thank you!
After the sunrise the hype was gone and it was literary the beginning of survival till the finish line. There was a tricky moment when I lost the route – the GPS signal was weak, it was impossible to re-route and my phone was already out of battery…so I did some extra kilometers on other road and after 20min of off-routing, luckily, I was able to get back on track. Not long after I met another rider Thomas Taut and we kept riding together. There were lots of times when I thought I’ll fall asleep on my bike, and I was really close.. Around 15km before the finish line I got “second breath” and the sensation that the finish is just over the hill, but, oh well, hail to the final torture test – the sands! It was impossible to ride, we were falling and rising nonstop, the energy was literally gone and the feeling of never-ending-story started to grow on me.
oh well, hail to the final torture test – the sands! It was impossible to ride, we were falling and rising nonstop, the energy was literally gone and the feeling of never-ending-story started to grow on me.
My shoes were filled with sands, my mouth was dry and pushing felt, well, never-ending, but the riding was way more impossible.. Then out of nowhere, heavenly choir, a vision of smooth tarmac and, poof, the end of my suffering! Also, as I crossed the finish line – the the end of my very first ultra-racing experience. I couldn’t believe I made it in 4 days, 19 hours and 20 minutes and overall I’m sharing 11/12 position together with Thomas.
Definitely a lifetime experience and now I can only guess where it will bring me from here..