Evolving Focus: Preparing for Badlands 2023
For the most competitive riders the ultra-racing calendar is relentless. Time between events is a delicate balance of recovery and preparation. Processing the previous event, studying the upcoming route and reviewing kit choices are all part of the process. With an impressive list of race accolades already behind them in 2023, Robin Gemperle & Ulrich Bartholmoes are very familiar with this cycle. For both riders, the focus is now on Europe’s premier ultra-distance gravel race, Badlands. Here, they share their setups ahead of the race, which starts at 07:00 on 3rd September.
2023 has been a showcase of Robin’s multi-disciplinary talent. With wins riding MTB at the Atlas Mountain Race & Hope 1000, and a second place finish at the Transcontinental Race, Robin continues to prove he’s capable of performing in a wide range of race scenarios. At 750km, the comparably short Badlands route will still provide new challenges and require a unique approach. However, all within the lightweight mentality that is becoming trademark to Robin’s podium finishes.
To remain at the front of the race, I will be riding lightweight without a sleep system & carrying just an emergency blanket.
In preparation for the climate of Spain’s deserts, Robin will use a Racing Hydration Vest with Apidura’s custom 2L fast-flow bladder to carry water amidst temperatures that often soar above 40 degrees Celsius. The Vest will also provide spare space to carry unexpected items, or store food through the more remote sections where re-supply is less available.
Robin will be riding the same bike that took him from Belgium to Greece in TCRNo.9, this time with tires that are suitable for a full route of rugged terrain. An Expedition Tool Pack (0.5L) will be the chosen location for carrying tools to fix any issues along the way.
A victory at the Catalunya Trail Race was more recently eclipsed by a dominant win in the Tour Divide, as Ulrich finished the 4,300km route in 14 days, 3 hours and 23 minutes. But with a 5th place finish at Badlands 2022, his next race presents unfinished business and there are no question marks over his intentions.
I have chosen a full Apidura racing series - for the simple reason: to race fast!
Whether it’s racing for two weeks or a handful of days, Ulrich’s packing decisions are always characterized by his minimalist and detail-orientated approach.
This year’s Badlands setup will consist of the Racing Frame Pack (4L), Racing Top Tube Pack (1L) and the Racing Saddle Pack (5L). If the weather proves to be extremely hot, Ulrich will use the Backcountry Hydration Backpack. This will give him the option to carry water in the 2L bladder, as well as carry 500ml bidons in the external mesh pockets.