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How to Ride in the Desert

By We Love Cycling

Sand and cycling have never seemed the most likely of partnerships, but in a couple of days, they will become the best of friends in Morocco as a group of hardy cyclists take on the ŠKODA Titan Desert Race. It is a tough race where preparation is hard, due to the incredibly challenging conditions. But Filip feels right at home on his mountain bike.

Filip Adel, a pro rider with a wealth of experience across the world of MTB, is perfect to give We Love Cycling the lowdown about this brutal race and how you should tackle the desert dunes.

Speaking about the equipment he was using during the Titan Desert, Filip explained: “Just like the classic marathons, I chose the all-suspension Superior Team XF model for the Titan Desert, equipped with DT Swiss components and Mitas tyres with Textra protection. It’s important to have a proven material that can handle even such a challenge as the Titan Desert undoubtedly is. Nobody wants to deal with technical problems, least of all in the desert away from civilisation.”

Titan Desert race
Some cyclists are happy with the typical disciplines like road, MTB and time trial – and some love to willingly subject themselves to a little extra suffering. © Titan Desert

He’s right. Taking risks can prove to be your downfall in the vastness of the dunes. So how do you make sure you are always on route? “The difference from normal terrain – it is considerable,” Adel explained. “The landscape we were riding in was absolutely arid. There was a lot of dust, sand and rocks everywhere. Some sections were over sand dunes, it was quite specific. But it is practically impossible to prepare for it in our conditions.“As is true everywhere, competitors should certainly not overestimate their strength. Each rider carries a GPS tracker and can call for help if there is a problem. Overall, the race is well secured and if any danger arises, the organisers will respond.”

Over the course of six stages, competitors will tackle a route that will truly test them. Filip, who also won the Czech Republic Mountain Bike Marathon in 2020, found his first time out in the desert challenging.

Speaking about the race’s toughest challenges, he adds: “With the Titan Desert, it’s a combination of high temperatures and good route choice. I didn’t experience many positive feelings during the race. It was challenging both physically and mentally. But in retrospect, I remember the race fondly and I am glad I did it. It is the final frontier for me.”

Like Filip in his first year, many riders will be tackling the ŠKODA Titan Desert because they want to experience something new and test themselves in an alien environment. For Filip, it was a tough week, but he is back once again, which shows the allure of the race. Here is his one piece of advice for the next batch of rookies:

“I would tell them that it can be extremely challenging mentally and that you need to hang in there.”