In collaboration with Ibai Fradejas (Gsport Ambassador) & Fernando Márquez (Gsport CEO)
Badlands are a landscape type with arid characteristics and shale-rich lithology, extensively eroded by water and wind, due to the lack of vegetation. It is a type of terrain where canyons, gullies, hoods and other incredible geological formations abound. Often difficult to navigate on foot, we have explored it by bike.
Badlands (Transiberica) is the unsupported gravel challenge on the edge of Europe. An adventure to live at least once in a lifetime if you are a Gravel lover in bikepacking mode surveying mountains, deserts and sea, being 100% self-sufficient.
The route has an approximate length of 725 km + 15.000 m+ and crosses some of the most remote and challenging places in Europe: Hoya de Guadix, Gorafe Desert, Tabernas Desert, Cabo de Gata Natural Park and Sierra Nevada National Park.
In ultra-distance races, every detail counts. The clothes you wear, what you choose to carry in your travel bags, the spares, how you plan your nutrition and rest hours... every element plays a very important role. However, despite all the preparation beforehand, you never know what the adventure will bring. This is one of our favourite parts, the adrenaline rush that gets you hooked on this type of event and leads to unique experiences.
The day before we travelled with the whole team to Granada to collect the bibs. The desire and nerves were palpable in the atmosphere, we took the opportunity to talk to the organisers, get the latest tips for the media team and get our bikes ready.
The pace at the start was high, as is almost always the case in this type of event, however strange it may seem. So the group soon dispersed. Once we reached km 150, the Gorafe Desert began, with a 100km loop. We knew that this was one of the most complicated sections. On the map it looked difficult, an area with little water and no villages. The original idea was to complete the whole loop and rest at km 250. But the extreme heat, the lack of water and the pace led us to succumb. We stopped earlier than planned to rest, taking a slight detour off the route to a village to do so.
The night was not particularly cold but we remember how the wind prevented us from sleeping at night. With only 4 hours of sleep left, we started a new stage.
The second stage was especially hard, the fatigue and the hours on the bike were beginning to take their toll. It seemed that the goal was close... it started to get dark and we only had 20km to go to Tabernas. A few kilometres that took forever. The uncyclable sections added to the deep darkness in which we found ourselves made our motivation dissipate. Finally we arrived at Tabernas at 2:00 am really exhausted.
On the third day of the stage we woke up knowing that we would finally reach the longed-for sea (and its squid). Our legs were starting to get used to pedalling, and it was no longer so hard to get going. However, the extreme heat made us stop more than we could have imagined. From fountain to fountain and from bar to bar, almost like a game of goose.
We finally reached the coast, but what seemed like a good objective turned into torture. The last endless kilometres over the dunes slowed us down a lot... until we reached Almeria at night. At 10:00 pm, we refuelled at the first petrol station we came across and set off again, heading for Felix at kilometre 608, where the first two pairs were.
On arrival we stopped for lunch and a rest. After learning that the 1st and 2nd pair decided to continue, we were tempted not to stop for the night. After thinking twice, we knew that our body and mind would need a few hours of sleep to face the last stage of this adventure.
Until kilometre 703 in the village of Cádiar (45 kilometres from the finish) we didn't see the end close. Running through the Alpujarra of Granada was a nice finish, not stopping to taste its famous hams, a tough challenge. What we needed most was to finish.
In this edition only 40% of the participants managed to finish. A really hard race, because of its unevenness and the high temperatures. We don't know if we'll see each other again... but you have to experience Badlands at least once in your life.
We have already done it.