Focke Meler will participate in the Titan Desert race
600 kilometres of mountain biking, Moroccan landscapes and 40º temperatures: this is the scenario of the Titan Desert race that is waiting for Focke Meler’s three workers; a gruelling multi-stage adventure and one of the hardest sporting trials in the world. Iñaki Marsal, Sergio López-Vailo and Carlos Izquieta are the three members of the cycling team sponsored by Focke Meler and who will participate in the Titan Desert race. Quite a challenge!
When does the adventure start?
We will join another 500 bikers on 29 April at the starting line. This is the first time we will be participating in the Titan Desert race and we will be sponsored by our company (Focke Meler), which has helped make our dream come true. The support of our families is also very important, since preparing for the race requires a huge sacrifice and many of the hours devoted to training and preparing for the event are mainly taken from family time.
How would you describe this race?
It is a trial that tests your physical and mental endurance. This race not only requires physical but also mental preparation to face the challenges, such as faults, extreme weather conditions, etc. Teamwork and rapport are also vital, as we will share both good and bad moments during the race and when relaxing at the campsites. The team will be the primary and best source of support.
What does the Titan Desert race involve?
Titan Desert is a 600 km race between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara desert. Participants will face very steep slopes in some stages (Atlas stages), as well as flatter stages that run through dunes and shoals (Sahara stages), plus a 140 km marathon stage and, finally, a preliminary preparation night whereby participants will need to equip their bicycles with all they require to spend two days and one night with no additional resources. There are six stages in total and participants must complete 100 km every day in each stage. In addition to the difficulty of the course, it is also very important to have good navigation skills, since the courses will not be marked and participants will need to find the fastest way to reach the points marked by the organisation. Each biker will choose the best route, some might reach these points faster, others will take longer or even get lost… The strongest is not always the winner and strategy during the race can be a decisive factor.
When will you travel to Morocco?
We will depart from Madrid on the 28th and then take another flight to Ourzazate, a Moroccan city close to Boumalne Dades, where the race start campsite is located. The race will last six days. It will start on 29 April and end on 4 May. During the race, participants will sleep at the campsites prepared by the organisation, whereby all three of us will share a Bedouin tent. This will be our operations centre, where we will discuss our day and plan the next day of the race.
How are you preparing the trip?
We are gathering plenty of information but, above all, we are reading posts on different Internet forums. We have also started to buy everything we need: GPS, tools, spare parts, etc. We also have a list of everything we need, so we can prepare it with enough time and make sure we don’t have to rush at the end.
How are you training for the race?
We have been getting ready for the past three months. We have been training what is known as the “base” until now, which involves low-intensity aerobic training and strength exercises at the gym. Next, we will start with the most specific part: intensity training on the bike, series and intense mountain pass training. The idea behind this is to train on “similar” terrain to that we will face during the race, although this is virtually impossible. In order to try and mimic the conditions of the race as much as possible, we will train on the beach and in Las Bardenas Reales, a barren and desert-like area in Navarre. We have also started to practice and learn how to use navigation systems.
In addition, the course of this year’s race goes through more dunes than in previous years… How can a biker prepare to ride on dunes in the desert?
This is not something we can train on, we try to listen to the advice of others and read about similar experiences, but we won’t know what it is like until we’re there. We have been advised to drop the tyre pressure, use wide rims and maintain a high pedalling rate. It is also important to avoid the paths followed by other bikers, as the sand becomes loose and it is easier to get stuck. We know that we will eventually have to walk on some of the hardest sections.
What do you see as the most challenging element of this adventure?
Our biggest concern is stomach viruses, which many participants suffer during the race. We know that we have to be very careful with what we eat and drink. We are also concerned about the injuries that can be caused by the bicycle seat and those caused by the special characteristics of the terrain, in addition to the 40ºC we will have to endure during the race and to the fact that campsites are perhaps not the best place to get some rest. It will be quite a party! (they laugh).
Why are you participating in the Titan Desert race? What motivates you to participate in the race?
It is one of the most important MTB races in the world and an incredible personal and sporting challenge. We want to enjoy the race and finish in one of the top spots, but our main goal is to enjoy this adventure, which is a unique experience.
What is your goal?
We are happy to simply enjoy and finish the race, but to be honest, we want to finish in the top spots of the Corporate category, that’s what we get paid for! (they laugh again).
Is it important for you to be sponsored by the company?
Very important, because this is quite an expensive race (perhaps not as expensive if you take into account what it offers and its infrastructure), but this would not have been possible without Focke Meler’s sponsorship. We also know that our colleagues at Focke Meler are rooting for us and giving us their moral support. Many are impressed with this challenge, and we know they will be with us in the desert “in spirit”.
What do your family, friends and work colleagues think about this adventure?
Our families asked us if we had gone crazy when we told them about the race, but they are supporting us because they know it is very important for us. Some of our friends also think we’re crazy, but those who love cycling are very jealous and would love to come with us.
Will you think of someone special during the Titan Desert race?
All three of us have prepared a short dedication… Sergio will participate in the Titan Desert race thinking about his daughter, who will be born on 8 April. So we already know who he will dedicate the win to!
We have already told you a little bit about Iñaki, Sergio and Carlos, Focke Meler’s bikers participating in the Titan Desert race with a lot of excitement, sacrifice, determination…and also with a sense of humour. Find out more about them and watch the story of “the last beer” in this fun video 🙂
Focke Meler wishes them the best of luck!