Few have experienced the beauty of Spain's gravel backroads but 120 riders will soon be straight into the deep end. Brought to you by the organisers of TransIbérica and Transpyrenees, Badlands is about to light up the ultra-endurance world and leave dotwatchers in a cloud of dust.
At just 700km, it's one of the shortest events on the calendar but make no mistake, this does not mean it's easy. Riders will be treated to 16,000m of climbing with most of it in the second half of the route.
Beginning and ending in the Spanish town of Granada famous for The Alhambra, a World Heritage Site and one of Spain's most visited monuments, riders have signed up for a grand tour of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
- Hoya de Guadix - a geological wonder in the plains of the Sierra Nevada, it has the highest concentration of cave houses in Europe.
- Gorafe Desert - think cliffs, sandstone and dolmens (monolithic tombs - I had to google it!).
- Tabernas Desert - officially the only desert in Europe and the origin of the race's name because of the sand filled gullies a.k.a. Badlands.
- Cabo de Gata - arguably Europe's most unusual landscape with its volcanic rock formations, fossils and barren landscape on the coast of Spain.
- Veleta Pass - the TransIbérica races have a close relationship with this mountain having used it as a checkpoint in last year's TransIbérica event. Contrary to the off-road nature of the race, Pico Veleta is Europe's highest paved road though riders will come at it from the depths of dusty wilderness.
I'm beginning to think a limited calendar makes for even better dotwatching since all riders have to do the same races. Let's take a look at the start line shall we? Brace yourselves.
- Ingeborg Dybdal Oie: A veteran of the Transcontinental Race, Transpyrenees (Lost Dot) and FRTHR, Ingebord knows a thing or two about riding a bike a long way.
- Bruno Ferraro: fresh off the back of Transpyrenees and with a third place during last year's TransIbérica, Bruno is in fine form for Badlands.
- Óscar Pujol: just one of the former professional riders on this start list and we reckon he's still got the power.
- James Hayden: read his pre-race thoughts here. He's won a bunch of races over the years even as recently as FRTHR where he beat Christian Meier by just seven minutes. Speaking of which...
- Christian Meier: he may have scratched the Atlas Mountain Race but the lessons he's learnt since will put him down as a favourite for Badlands.
- Hippy: There's no better rider for comedy value than Hippy. We'll take bets on how many beers he has throughout the race.
- Sònia Colomo: A new name for us but by the look of it, she's raring to go with a history of cycling, running, yoga and climbing to take into the race.
- Lachlan Morton: The Girona resident is up to his new tricks again. A GBDURO win and a successful Everesting record on his palmares, we're keen to see how he does against the other hitters on this list.
- Hayden McCormick: the Kiwi rider who has represented his country and used to race on the European circuit has not turned his hand to ultra-endurance (they all do eventually, it seems!). He regularly trains with professional riders so he must be in some good shape.
Over to you, Harry
Harry Griffiths will be bringing you regular updates throughout the race starting first thing tomorrow as the race gets going from 9am local time. Remember, if you'd like to commentate a race, all you have to do is get in touch.