For international gravel jet-setters, the 2020 season begins at the latest with the PEdAL ED Atlas Mountain Race. We sent Stuttgart’s finest “TERRIBLE HEAVEN” to report back to you from Morocco. Read on to find out the who, how and what.
The road bike and gravel scene around Stuttgart is small and it didn’t take long for the GRAN FONDO team to cross paths with the local heroes. When Alex and Marc told us that they were going to tackle the Atlas Mountain Race, we immediately knew that we wanted to share their escapades from you.
What is the PEdAL ED Atlas Mountain Race?
The PEdALED Atlas Mountain Race is an independent, multi-day bike packing event. The start of the event is on February 15th in Marrakech and the route runs over the Moroccan Atlas Mountains before going through the dry anti-Atlas to Sidi Rabat, a village on the Atlantic coast south of Agadir. The first edition of the race follows a 1,145-kilometre route with around 20,000 meters of climbing. The route takes riders over gravel roads, single tracks and old colonial pathways. There are only a few asphalt sections on which the participants can “rest” and to make the whole thing even trickier, a lot of the supply points are far apart. However, the Moroccan hospitality and the breathtaking landscape are sure to make the more difficult times in the saddle a lot more bearable.
What is TERRIBLE HEAVEN?
TERRIBLE HEAVEN is more than just the combination of words from the Stuttgart based bicycle projects Terrible Twins and Heaven and Hell. Rather, it perfectly symbolises the upcoming project: Atlas Mountain Race. Terrible – all the hurdles that have to be overcome to get to the race. Terrible – the uncertainty as to whether everything is going to go according to plan. Heaven – the satisfaction of stepping out of your own comfort zone and arriving at your destination in one piece. Heaven offers the opportunity to enrich your memories with unique experiences and after 20,000 meters of altitude, you should have come a good deal closer to it.
Who are in the team?
Hardened from countless gravel commutes with GRAN FONDO editor-in-chief Ben, the two riders Marc and Alex step into the spotlight of the international gravel scene and hopefully don’t step on each other’s feet. We left the introductions up to them:
Alex about Marc: “special adventures require special people. Apart from Marc, I can’t think of anyone who would answer yes to the question of whether he’d be in as quickly as Marc did. If I hadn’t sold my old track frame to him, he would surely still be hanging on a cliff face somewhere instead of sitting in the saddle. Ironically, his alpine experience makes him the perfect teammate when it comes to tackling the heights of the Atlas Mountains. I like that he’s generally a bit crazy, I’m very excited to take on this challenge with Marc and simply to be able to have a good time on the bike with him in addition to all the hardship we’ll endure. His positive attitude and his do-or-die mentality will carry us far over the demanding terrain as a team. My anticipation couldn’t be bigger!”
Marc about Alex: “a link to the Atlas Mountain Race via WhatsApp and the question of whether I’d be in was reason enough for me to say yes. Alex’s projects are always ambitious, crazy and performance-oriented, but never too extreme. Always to my taste and hopefully this time as well. And besides, when will you ever get the chance to spend a week in Morocco with an absolutely bike-crazy family man, riding the Atlas Mountains? Alex’s puristic nature and retired racer’s heart are the perfect ingredients to riding in the wild and having a lot of fun. We’re the perfect team of Swabian thoroughness and Hanseatic reliability. Let the games begin!”
Insofar as the internet connection in the Moroccan outback allows, Alex and Marc will keep us up to date live from the Atlas Mountain Race and report back on their impressions, all the oddities and other events after their return. Have fun and have a good trip, boys!
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Words: Benjamin Topf, Terrible Heaven Photos: Nils Laengner