What inspired you to participate in the Atlas Mountain Race?
Having finished several bike-packing races in Europe, I wanted to explore a completely unknown area. After seeing the pictures and hearing the stories about the AMR, I quickly decided to participate in this one.
How did you prepare yourself physically and mentally for such a challenging race?
Having the race in February made the physical preparation a bit more challenging compared to others. As I don’t really enjoy “training”, I normally rely on just riding my bike a lot and being stubborn.
For this specific race, I rode a lot more on the indoor trainer than I normally like to do, but the constant, never-ending rain this winter had to be dodged somehow. Mentally, I think you can never really be prepared. You will experience ultimate highs and lows during these kinds of rides, but that is, in the end, the beauty of it.
What specific challenges do you anticipate facing during the race, considering the terrain and conditions?
The long climbs in the Atlas mountains are of course something I am not used to, nor the weather, nor the terrain. I will try to anticipate that anything can happen and change at all time, but also not overthink it.
Can you share any strategies or tactics you plan to use during the race?
As I do not have a real “finish time” desire (except to finish) I will ride until I’m tired, then eat and sleep, and do it again the next day. I plan to try to ride as much in the daylight as possible, as it seems a waste to pass beautiful landscapes in the pitch dark night.
How do you approach bike setup and gear choices for an endurance event like this?
My bike has the same setup that I use for other long events, comfort over speed. Low gearing and a suspension fork to keep the body as relaxed as possible.
What role does nutrition play in your race strategy, especially during long, demanding rides?
Getting food in is one of the most important things to keep my body going, so I will be bringing a lot of snacks (thanks Chimpanzee Nutrition!) overall I try to get at least one decent meal a day and restock when possible.
How do you manage fatigue and stay motivated during such a lengthy race?
I will try to ride at a slower, manageable pace and sleep every night for a few hours. My body does not respond well to not sleeping at all.
What aspects of the Atlas Mountain Race course are you most excited about?
All of it, the high mountains, the long empty stretches. the different culture. And afterward meeting up with my wife and kids at the finish line to enjoy some more time in Morocco
Have you encountered any unexpected obstacles or difficulties during your training, and how did you overcome them?
Except for a very wet winter, everything was relatively smooth. Although I usually take it easy in the winter and pick up the long cycling trips in early spring, the preparation for AMR made me ride my bike more during the winter… Let’s see if it was enough.
How do you strike a balance between pushing your limits and staying within your capabilities during the race?
Just finishing a race like this is already pushing the limits for most people, including myself. On long rides like this, keep listening to your voice of reason. If you get too tired, stop. If you want to sit and enjoy the landscape, take the 15min to do so…. Just take it as it comes.
And lastly, what’s your bike setup like?
- Frame – Sour Pasta Party, size large, 120mm SiD fork
- Groupset – Shimano XT 1×11, 30t chainring 11-46t cassette
- Wheels – Tandell 35mm rims laced to a SON 28 dynamo hub up front and DT Swiss 350 hub out back.
- Cockpit – BLB Hobo bars with simple aerobars on top and a Garmin eTrex mounted in between the aerobars
- Bags – Revelate seat bag containing a bivy bag and some warm clothes for the night, Merit Custom frame bag containing a water bladder for and some spares, Revelate top tube bag for electronics, Topeak harness with a sea to summit drybag containing my sleeping kit and down jacket, Two Miss Grape grab bags, one containing a water bottle and one containing some more snacks
- Lighting: kLite MTB dynamo light