Adventures. You spend all your time daydreaming about, making plans, gathering the right gear. You picture yourself in them, facing every possible situation, already smelling the rising feelings you will soon be exposed to. Then, the long awaited moment arrives and you are suddenly plunged into an undisclosed tale.
Even the most meticulous planning will not allow you to know in advance what will be thrown at you and, more important, what will be your response to all the possible contingencies. What will draw the line between a failure and a successful adventure will be, at the end of the day, your ability to respond to the unpredictable, adjust your vision, be ready to rebound and reach for what it is there for you to grab.
The Ras El Hanout expedition in Morocco was a great success for this very reason. There is no hiding on what the intents of the members of the crew where: Mattia, being a great competitor on and off the bike, came to Morocco with great confidence, willing to chase the big names of the ultra bikepacking scene and fight for the lead; Andrea and Federico, on the other hand, were there to bring home the most of the beauty the remote Moroccan region was putting on the table.
However, our Spices started having weird signals from fate when, the first day in Morocco, Federico mirrorless fell from the rooftop of the taxi on the way to the hotel and broke into pieces. Later, during day 2 of the competition, Mattia felt the gravitational pool too and we all know how that unfolded: a broken handlebar, a painful shoulder and no way to keep pushing for the leading positions.
Nonetheless, the crew was able to reinvent itself, adjust to the tight spot and make this brutal race an unforgettable positive experience.
The outcome is the best we could have asked for. Andrea and Federico were the first to cross the finish line competing as a pair, covering the 1148 km and 20,000 m d+ of the route in 5 days and 14 hours!
On the other hand, Mattia, forced to back off, decided to not let the unlucky situation ruin his quest and he quickly shifted his great energy from the mere competition to the essence of a bikepacking journey deep into an unknown and magical land. Mattia finished his effort in 5 days and 11 hours after a day worth a million. Taking the time to nurture the encounters made along the way and sinking in the beauty of the World through the handlebar, he was able to open his eyes to the radiance left there for him at every corner of this twisty adventure.
As the Atlas Mountain Race is coming to an end, we cannot help but think about the massive power of the past few days and the many more that will compose the adventures still left in store for us to live.