Living Badlands long-distance race

After our first contact with a long-distance race in August, at the Catalunya Trail, we felt ready to achieve another big challenge, this time in the first edition of Badlands, in the South of Spain.

Andalucia is full of amazing places to visit but Granda, especially, has a lot of gems from nature: high mountains, deserts, small and beautiful villages, and much more.

This time we had the possibility to be part of Badlands, a long-distance race that is starting from Granada and make a loop of 700 km of gravel roads through the best highlights of the zone.

That opportunity was really excited for us but, at the same time, it was a huge bike challenge.

DAY 1 / Granada to Gor (187 km / 4.040 m+)

I achieved the first 40 km and my Wahoo already had 2.000m of elevation gain in its screen. You can have an idea of how was the starting of the race. The main group was split quickly into smaller ones, and every rider, step by step, took his pace.

There was a lot of race in front of us.

After some hours riding as fast as I could, I had a recovery stop to rest during a few minutes, fulfil the water bottles and take air to continue.

Accompanied by high temperatures and arid scenarios the proper nutrition and keep the body hydrated were key points to survive, and have energy to keep rolling.

Gorafe village was the official entrance of the first giant of the route, the main desert, and the one that gives name to the event because of the badlands that are part of it.

I remember perfectly the feeling to arrive there and see the immensity of the place. The sun was going down and the golden hour was just around the corner. The landscape was really amazing.

Once I did the loop through the Gorafe desert, the night arrived and I only had to ride the last kilometers of the day before arriving at Gor.

Fortunately, I found an open restaurant to eat something good before resting.

The majority of the participants stopped in this town because from there till the next town there was more than 100 km without food options. Only a few riders decided to continue pedaling during the whole night.

DAY 2 / Gor to Isleta del Moro (216 km / 3.330 m+)

The Calar Alto Observatory was the first high climb of the day, at 2168 m of altitude. It was really nice to ride because the scenario was really beautiful, the sun was going up, and the weather was good and warm.

From the top of the mountain, I started a very long downhill to Gérgal. It was funny but, after some kilometers, the path became to a technical segment, rocky and a bit tricky, especially if you use 37c tires, like the ones that I was using.

Exhausted by the big effort I arrived at the village with my body almost empty. A quick stop to recover some energy and continue my route to the Tabernas desert, where years ago great westerns were filmed.

Ride through a desert is always a challenge, it usually has surprises hidden. In the case of Tabernas, apart from the beautiful scenario that it is, it contains a lot of sandbanks where the bicycle has difficult to ride.

After a while of riding hard, I climbed the last hill of the day before going to the sea, where I had planned to stop and sleep a bit.

I descended to Nijar meanwhile the sun went down. Some riders stopped in this village to having dinner and rest but I decided to buy a hot sandwich and continue till arriving at the coast.

At the end of the day, I accumulated more than thirteen hours of riding.

DAY 3 / Isleta del Moro to Murtas (180 km / 4.050 m+)

In spite of the views that was surrounded me during the first climbs of the day, I started a flat segment thru a beach next to Almería city. Sandbanks catch me again. Oh, shit.

After leaving Almeria city behind me, I spent some time climbing a steep, long, rocky, and really hard mountain… The path went into a range of hills and the coast was just under us. I was riding all-time with beautiful views.

In the afternoon, just minutes before the sunset, I saw what is commonly called the Sea of Plastic, a huge area full of greenhouses. One of the few infrastructures made by humans that you can see from space.

Another long and very hard day in the legs. Finally, I arrived at Murtas at 2 am and I tried to rest for a couple of hours.

DAY 4 / Murtas to Granada (149 km / 3.850 m+)

Six hours and a half of climbing. My cadence was slow and there were some moments where I felt like a was sleeping over the bike. The mountain, meter by meter, became harder and harder.

The scenario seemed like Mars. An incredible landscape, a solitude feeling, and an awesome experience that I won’t forget in my life.

The scenario seemed like Mars. An incredible landscape, a solitude feeling, and an awesome experience that I won’t forget in my life.

When I reached the top, I was between exhausted and excited. But it didn’t matter, I was closer to the finish line.

From the top of Veleta, I started downhill to the Sierra Nevada Ski Statio, and there was a missing last climb before arriving at Granada.

Probably, one of the hardest descents that I ever did. Twenty-five kilometers of back and neck pain. My body was totally KO and just my mind made me keep pushing pedals till crossing the finish line.