Namibquest 2017 - MTB in the heart of Africa

By Jorge padrones || Photos: Jorge padrones and NamibQuest | 20 September 2017

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Almost without planning it, due to the call of a friend from Portugal, called Pedro Campos, who asked me to replace his partner who had broken his collarbone, I participated in the NamibQuest, a test by stages totally unknown to be faced by couples.

From the INTERIOR to the coast

It consists of six stages that unite the capital of the country, Windhoek, located in the center, and the Atlantic coast, until Swakopmund, to complete a total of 478 km and 6280 meters of positive difference, divided in stages of between 55 and 130 km, of different physiognomy.

The first days are made hard by acclimatization to the African country after a long 20-hour flight. Thus, we shot through the stage of the first stage one day before the beginning of the race, broken ground that in some points exceeded the 2,000 meters of altitude, although it would be fast. We adapt well and we get to finish third parties.

We spent the night in a camp perfectly conditioned for all the bikers, who would accompany us every night until the end of the crossing. The next day the race began to complicate with a hard day of 78 km and 1,400 meters of unevenness that ended up being the queen of the race, not for the mileage and the ascension meters, but for the state of the tracks, authentic roads of farms with many stones.

Our tactic to place ourselves in the head positions was not to stop at the supplies and to carry enough water and food. In this second stage we began to encounter the force of African nature. A herd of kudus crossed a stretch of the route and we had to slow down the pace to let them pass. Despite the setback, we crossed the first goal of the men's category.

STEP BY THE DESERT

Third day for mountainous landscape and savanna. Broken terrain, stones, steps by farms and farms, the NamibQuest encloses many traps that test our forces and coordination. The heat also made an appearance, although the organization anticipated the departure almost at dawn (7 in the morning) to avoid rolling in the central hours of the day. We finished third and with the options intact in order to make us win in our category.

On the fourth day we suffered a major setback. The dry terrain and the amount of skewers on the slopes and trails were primed with my tires. I suffered up to three punctures, which caused us to lose more than half an hour in repairs, we even had to be helped by other participants to properly seal the flank of the deck. Minimize losses in the last kilometers of plain to save the first position before the desert stage.

The transition from the savannah to the desert, always in the direction of the sea, is one of the best experiences of this race. The passage through the sand was not too complicated. Favorable ground, very rolling, although they were 130 km, whose greatest difficulty resided in the wind, which luckily was favorable. I set up a plate of 34 teeth to apply a strong rhythm and roll in a group, since no one wants to be alone among the dunes.

But finally it rolled very fast and without relaxation, something that made me lose for a moment the wheel of the group of head. In the final part of the stage the wind began to blow against and began the attacks by the partial victory. I paid the enormous effort of both the previous day and the frenetic beginning of it and we adopted a rhythm of survival that allowed us to enjoy the final descent by a lunar landscape and spectacular mountains, totally arid.
FINAL CRONO

The last stage of the NamibQuest is faced in time trial mode, on sandy stretches and wind zones, to decide the general classification. Cooler weather for the proximity of the ocean and 58 km ahead to not only fight for the first place, also to enjoy the end of this great adventure.

It took us two hours and thirteen minutes to complete the time trial, to finish second in the stage and the final triumph in the men's category. In addition to this victory, the race with Pedro Campo was an unforgettable experience. The companionship not only with your competition partner, also with the other participants, is one of the treasures of this test, as well as crossing different landscapes and lands of an unknown but precious country.

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