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Titan Desert Over the mountains and through the Sahara
Toward The Unknown Conquering Oneself
Humans have always had a desire to discover the unknown, to walk where no one has walked, to go beyond the mountains and chase the horizon. The Titan Desert is a cycling adventure that appeals to those desires. It brings riders from more than 20 countries on an itinerant adventure in the Atlas and Sahara Desert in Morocco. In a region far away from typical mountain biking destinations, the participants seek the silence of the desert, the simplicity of cycling, and true human connections. They ride for hours, overcome mental and physical obstacles, dig deep in their heart to find the resources to reach the finish line and become Titans.
The Titan Desert is a 6 days mountain bike race of 600k. The 13th edition began on april 29th in the Atlas village of Boulmane Dades and finished in Maadid 6 days later close to the Merzouga Erg. Every day, the 600 participants take the start at 8 am with the objective of linking the 7 mandatory GPS waypoints of the course: 4 checkpoints and 3 waterpoints. During the navigation stage, no gps track is given by the race staff, and be careful: the shortest way is rarely the best choice. With stages from 70 to 125K and sometimes more than 2000m of elevation gain, the Titan Desert is a physical and mental challenge.
“We came to Morocco with a group of 30 girls to show that every woman with the proper physical, mental & mechanical training, can finish the race. I know that after 3 stages of Titan Desert, you move forward with you head, not your legs. That’s why we made it.”
- Marta Garciapons, Bib 212, leader of the Domenica Team
Morocco and the Sahara Desert have millennia of history of nomad tribes moving along the oasis and dunes of the region. The Titan Desert is now part of it, with an itinerant caravan infused of Berbere hospitality: 24000m2 of camp, 200 haimas of 3 participants, showers, catering and even recovery zones. It is where the magic happens, where the spirit of the race takes form: people talk, share, get along, laugh and cry. Teams strengthen, and new friends come in. A disconnected reality where time stands still and the Titan community glues. After a daily bivouac routine of cleaning, eating and resting, participants receive a briefing from Felix Dot & Manuel Tajada, the directors of the race, where they share tips for the next day.
“You are struggling on a plateau full of sand, then you reach an unexpected climb in the middle of nothing to get to the checkpoint, without any trail. Some participants climb on foot, but I managed to stay on my bike until the end. On the downhill, you see riders on the dunes as if they were snowboarding; and it continues again with an endless flat trail. Unbelievable landscapes.”
- Thibaut Riviere & Julien Verlay, Bib 475-476, T
Following two mountain stages near Boulmane Dades, the race reached the Erg Cherbi dunes. After a few kilometers, the peloton streches out and the participants gather in small groups to face the desert together. A mental challenge as landscapes are endless, and the checkpoints can be seen miles away on top of a dune. Dune crossing is tough for mountain bikes, riders are often force to push their bike through heavy and hot sand, which hammers you mental strength. A stage can bring lifetime of emotions. The race is as much of a mental challenge as a physical one. A mechanical problem could mean the end of the adventure, but with a bit of hope, experienced riders will stop and give a hand. We are all in it together, this is the Titan Spirit.
“At kilometer 28 of the 5th stage, Greg broke his rear derailleur. We thought it was the end and that we wouldn’t be able to fix it. Another rider stopped and offered his help. He pulled out some tools and in 10 minutes the bike was fixed, converted to a single speed! We reached the finish line a few hours later. The Titan Spirit is no bluff!”
- Gregory Mollet Vieville & Aude Baron, category Mixt Duo, Bib 313 & 314
Some of the riders knew the desert before coming to the Titan Desert, some didn’t. Undoubtedly, they all leave with a true spiritual connection, which attracts them to come back to find themselves in the silence of the Sahara. From crossing an abandoned village to riding along with camels, Morocco creates unforgettable memories. Two riders have done all 13 editions of the race! They are called Titan Legends.