A couple of weeks ago we were able to travel to Morocco to live from within one of the toughest stage cycling events that an amateur cyclist can face: the Titan Desert. This test, which in 2018 has celebrated its thirteenth edition, travels through the Sahara desert in the area of Morocco through almost 700 kilometers in which both the legs and the head are tested. Inside video!
What is the Titan Desert?
The Titan Desert is a staged cycling event that takes place in the desert of the Morocco area. In total, almost 700 kilometers are traveled in a total of six stages of different types, with the different number of kilometers and different routes: there are more technical stages and others that require completing a larger route.
The test, created by Juan Porcar, reflects the best spirit of the classic Dakar, changing cars for bicycles
The test, created by the legendary Juan Porcar, a former pilot and first Spaniard who participated in the Dakar in 1982 (and which our fellow Motorpasión interviewed a few years ago), reflects the best spirit of the car competition: yes, changing the engines of cars by the legs of cyclists.
The whole test takes place in the desert of Morocco: in this edition, the first stage came from Boumalne Dades, in the center of Morocco, and the last stage had its goal in the Merzouga area, very close to the border with Algeria.
The winner of the test this year was Josep Betalu, who repeats the title for the third consecutive year; In the women’s category, in which the participation grew significantly this year, the winner was Ramona Gabriel Batalla, who also won the Titan in 2016.
The last two stages of the Titan Desert 2018
This year we have been able to enjoy the last two stages of the Titan Desert 2018, as well as the day-to-day activities of the participants, sharing meetings, meals and free time with them. A very special way to see how this original test really is.
Upon our arrival in Morocco, the fifth stage of the race was being played, in my opinion, one of the toughest of the whole race. This was the navigation stage, in which participants are offered the locations of the crossing and hydration points along 94 kilometers, but it is they who must find the most favorable path (the shortest or the one that is less technical or less uneven, according to the priorities of each one) by their own means.
Personally, I am very capable of getting lost inside the Country House and many times even using GPS, it seems a feat to be able to find the right path in the middle of what is literally a sea of sand. . The first to reach the goal took between three and four hours to finish the stage, but the flow of cyclists did not stop until the almost ten hours elapsed since the beginning of it.
The final stage, the next day, began and ended in the Merzouga area, very close to the border with Algeria. It was a stage with less mileage but with greater technical difficulty, as cyclists had to face slopes, stony terrain, dune cords and even cross a small river a few kilometers before reaching the finish line.
The Titan Desert 2018 inside
Above all, the Titan Desert is a test of personal stories: the fact of living with participants and family members for a few days in the same desert made us participate in everything they were living and that we had the emotions in full bloom.
Perhaps two of the most incredible stories of the participants of the Titan Desert 2018 were Alex Roca and Pablo Antuña. Alex Roca was the first person with cerebral palsy, with a physical disability of 76%, who participated in the race. He did it in tandem with his uncle, who was pedaling with him, his brother and two other friends. Alex was able to complete the first three stages of the race: more than 350 kilometers by bicycle through the desert that makes him a champion.
Pablo Antuña, only 16 years old, is the youngest participant in the history of the Titan Desert : last year he traveled to Morocco to see his father run, who participated in the 2017 edition, and this year he decided to put on the coves , take the bike and travel the almost 700 kilometers of the test with him. And, despite the difficulties (he suffered a strong episode of dehydration in one of the stages) he managed to complete the test and become a whole “Titan”.
The Titan Desert is undoubtedly a story race: that of each of the 600 participants who take the exit
These are only two very striking stories, but among the 600 participants of the test there are many others: some of self-improvement, others solidarity, many speak to us of the desire to be tested. All these stories are those that give a human dimension to the Titan that, personally, I had not seen in other races.
The coexistence between all the participants in the jaimas camp , which moves along with the cyclists along the entire route of the Titan Desert, is also noteworthy. A camp where everyone is equal, they all sleep in camel hair tents, eat together and share leisure time. A true “mobile community” that gives meaning to the race.
Perhaps the most striking part of the test is that, although at first glance it may seem like a “bullshit” (700 kilometers through the desert by bicycle is not turkey mucus) the participants are amateur cyclists, and most of them finish the career.
A great experience and a nice way to test yourself if you have two wheels.