Quinda’s preparation for the Atlas Mountain Race

I’ve just sent my application in for the Atlas Mountain Race, my first ultra, and I’m so excited at the chance to participate in such an event. My first plan is to use my 90’s Trek mountain bike, upgrade the parts, and point it towards the horizon. This idea makes me happy for any number of reasons; it’s a great bike that has and will take me anywhere I please, it fits my budget (Hi! Broke artist checking in), and how rad is it to take on something on a bike nearly older than I am?

Fast forward to little more than a week before the start. Nearly 6 months ago, in the middle of October I sent in my application, hoping for a spot in the Atlas Mountain Race. Between then and now the idea of competing on my old mountain bike faded away and the bike has been replaced with a monstrous Sour Purple Haze, something enough people would argue is just the modern iteration of the 90’s MTB. But this one fits big wheels and tires, is quicker not he long stretches, and agile enough when the going gets tough. More than I could ever dream of. So here’s my shout out and big thanks to Sour Bicycles and Parallel Handbuilt for putting together such a dream bike!

Preparing for the Maroccan mountains

The past six months have been a rollercoaster. I knew that this first ultra-race meant a ton of preparation squeezed into the nook and crannies of an already tight schedule, but damn, it was even more intense than I thought juggling training schedules, work, prep, and some semblance of a social life. Part of the pressure in my preparation was just learning and reading about what would save me from a cold nights sleep, or what would keep the Giardia at bay… going through all the options on gear, food and kit. Slowly things fell into place and I started to feel ready and prepared for Moroccan mountains.

Break to the final few weekends before the race and I’m laying on the ground with a bunch of other bike dorks testing out new camping gear. The temperature was around zero the whole night, so it was a good test to see if what we all had would be sufficient for a cold bivy somewhere in a ditch. A good timing to test my sleeping system that I planned for the race. To upgrade my current sMy shelter is a bivy bag, while finding comfort on a THERM-A-REST sleeping pad that only supports the upper body. The layering of my sleeping system enables to actually wear a part of my sleeping system. Perfect when you come of your bike all tired and need to isolate that build up warmth with the pants and jacket, while setting up the rest of my system and prepping food. While at the same time, I can peel off layers when the night is warm enough and add layers when I’m cold, being comfortable at all times. And it worked, I was comfortable throughout the relatively cold and moist night. 

Wanderlust

It was 2015 that the two wheel wanderlust began to emerge, it just seemed to fit, I’ve always been drawn to adventures and exploring different landscapes, and a bicycle is often the best way to do that. The day to day life, full of beautiful projects, also builds up stress and expectations that put me in a headlock. Travelling, soaking in the new environment and getting away from the work rhythm really helps to put things in perspective and creates space for new ideas and work. It was 2016 when I first took off on a open-ended cycling trip, where I did not set any goals, nor destination. I wondered around Europe by bike, ending up travelling in Morocco, and later through Asia. To be able to travel far under your own power is something magical. It proved to me once again that the human body is capable of so much more than we often think. Adding on top of that the freedom and the rhythm of this sort of trip, it melts stress and releases bunched nerves. Wind, breath, noise and pain. Eat, breath and push the pedal. Keep your balance, don’t fear, just go. 

You do you

I’m beyond grateful to have people around me that support this weird hobby and help me to achieve my goals. Lately I’ve found myself often in an explanatory conversation about the whole concept of an self-supported ultra-race. Being on your bike 1200 km trying to be as efficient as possible, limiting stops and hours of sleep to a bare minimum and praying for no mechanical problems, keeping your head on straight and keep moving forward. But in the end, you do you, you don’t ride for anyone but yourself.

Here we are, with some healthy nerves and in the last steps before the race sets off and I’ll be throwing myself in this new adventure of through the Moroccan landscape. Though “racing what you can replace” is more than enough, having help from Sour Bicycles, Parallel Handbuilt, Teravail, and Hope providing solid equipment upgrades, Wahoo for getting me my first proper navigation tool, Apidura and Detour making sure all gear gets well packed away, and I R I S having me wrapped up with colourful stylish roadwear.

By Quinda Verheul

How to follow Quinda?

Quinda will be wearing a live GPS tracking device so everyone can get real time information on where she is at all times: Follow Cap 115, at this link: https://amr2020.maprogress.com/?bib=115

And on her instagram account: @avoidthevoid

Also, keep an eye on the following media if you want to follow Quinda and other participants of the race at the Atlas Mountain Race instagram @atlasmountainrace & facebook page