Patrick's daring attempt at the Atlas Mountain Race
Meet 59-year old Patrick van de Walle - a Belgium Santos Rider who took on the challenge of the Atlas Mountain Race. This fixed route, unsupported, single-stage cycling race is not for the faint of heart, as it takes riders through the rugged terrain of Morocco's Atlas and Anti-Atlas mountain ranges. With little tarmac and great distances between resupply points, Patrick's journey was a test of endurance, strength, and determination.
The official start was on February 3rd, 2023 from Marrakech. Over 200 ultra-endurance adventurers, including Patrick, were ready to push their physical and mental limits. Ahead of them lay 1302 kilometers with 20,200 meters of elevation that had to be completed by Friday evening, February 11th.
Patrick gave it his best shot while his supporters were dot-watching his progress, cheering him on online. He faced all the challenges with great stamina. Focussing on being self-sufficient. Sleeping outside in the mountains, braving the cold at night and the heat during the day. Trying to maintain the right balance between riding and resting. Taking on huge climbs and hiking through dried up river beds. Trying to ignore the fatigue and bodily pains….
After a few days, Patrick was facing a race against the clock – the dreaded “Red Snail” was closing in. If the virtual snail catches up on you, it means you are at risk of arriving late at the next checkpoint. Despite his best efforts, Patrick eventually had to get into the control car and abandon the race. Nobody wants to be left behind in this very remote territory.
Despite not being able to finish the race, Patrick has gained a valuable experience. The overwhelming scenery, challenging conditions, and hardships have taught him a lot and made him reflect. He realized that, with his height of 2.00 meters, he might be too tall and heavy for this race, as half of the participants did not reach the finish line and those who did were smaller and lighter.
Patrick is not defeated by the tough Atlas Mountain Race. He will continue to pursue his adventurous spirit by redirecting his focus to bicycle tours where he can take in the stunning surroundings and go at his own pace, covering substantial distances along the way.
BAGS: All Apidura Expedition bags, 17L saddle pack, 14L handlebar pack, 4.5L accessory pocket, 14L full frame pack, 1L top tube pack, 2 Backcountry food pouches and a backcountry downtube pack. Patrick is carrying a 20L Dirt Roamer Patagonia backpack for water and food.
GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: an EXPED bivybag, a Valandre Mirage 3/4 sleeping bag with a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite sleeping pad. His navigation is the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus with a Garmin Edge 830 as a backup. Batteries are 2 Anker power banks. Patrick switches between 2 Lezyne Lite Drive 1000XL as a helmet light.