Five Minutes With... Badlands

Five Minutes With... Badlands

15 May, 2022

Badlands has cemented itself as one of the most exciting races on the calendar; it regularly draws a handful of fast riders from elsewhere in the sport but none of them are spared the challenges this race throws at them. Renowned for its diversity, Badlands has opened our eyes to the variety of landscapes and terrains Andalucia has to offer.

Keep reading to learn more about this year’s race and Badlands Rewild: the race’s new initiative to combat the social and environmental problems in Andalucia.

1. This year looks a little different for Badlands, with a shake up in the organising team, what changes can we expect to see at this year’s race and what will stay the same?

In essence, we are the same team who created and run Badlands since the first edition but with a couple of new good friends, Rafa Manso and Chris Tonge. We also have a new social media and website, just a new platform that allows us to create new projects around it, as this first one we have just launched: Badlands Rewild.

2. The introduction of the Badlands Rewild project is something we’ve never seen a race do before. What are the problems you believe this project will solve? And why do you believe it is important?

Badlands is a unique environment. We are in love with this landscape, but it also represents what climate change means: degraded soils exposed to the sun and wind, biodiversity loss, rural depopulation, aquifer overexploitation, … we couldn’t just ride, have fun and look away.

For some of us, our professional lives are related to sustainability and renewable energies for a long time, so that helped us to understand that we really needed to act. The carbon footprint of this kind of event is higher than we can imagine, and all of us are directly responsible.

But it is also about the fragility of this particular area. We have met incredible people who are working hard against desertification and climate change restoring this ecosystem, such us the foundation AlVelAl and the regenerative farm La Junquera.

Our acts, such as the Reforesting Camps, will work towards these two goals: to offset our carbon footprint and to protect this area.

3. What advice would you give to other event organisers who are interested in addressing similar problems in their event regions?

Most of the organisers are committed to environmental issues, this is inherent to bikepacking. And this includes also the riders. We are sure that they will appreciate all the efforts that the organisation can do in this sense.

To offset the carbon footprint we just recommend an audit. Also to speak with local institutions, such as protected area authorities or foundations, they will give them useful ideas for sure.

We really believe that this community can help to improve the world, but unfortunately that won’t happen just riding bikes. Our strength is acting as a collective to spread those values among the people involved, sponsors, suppliers, manufacturers and other communities.

4. The diversity of the places Badlands goes through blew us away! What kinds of challenges can riders expect to face this year?

The route is about 750km, where 150km are completely new. Basically, we have included an amazing forested area close to Granada, a new loop in Gorafe Desert and some incredible and crazy villages.

This area is surprising even for us, in every scouting we still find unexplored places, new landscapes, picturesque villages, abandoned villages, mines and cave dwellings … we just try to keep that essence of diversity while including new surprises.

About the ride, good preparation and self-sufficiency will be especially important this year, as there will be a couple of long sections without resupplies.

5. The Badlands start list is one of the most exciting announcements of the bikepacking calendar, can you give us a sneak peak, please?!

Haha! We have to wait some weeks for that, but we promise fun… a lot of fun!

All photos are from Juanan Barros on a route scouting trip.