By Tracy Moseley
Having been a teammate of Fabien Barel’s for 5 years I have been aware of his 2 previous Urge Trips to Kenya and Nepal and this year when he asked me if I would like to join in on the adventure I jumped at the chance. The thought of combining enduro type downhill riding, with a real adventure to a remote place along with the opportunity to also raise money for the place we were going to visit really appealed to me.
Fabien invited 15 riders from across the world to take part in this trip to Cape Verde. It was a great mix of riders and personalities all with the same passion for riding our bikes. We all met up in Paris to make the 7-hour flight to Praia, the capital of the Islands.
Travelling with 17 bike bags and kit bags was going to be a challenge all week, but soon it was obvious that all we would need was a pick up, some good stacking and a good bit of string!
It was then time to travel to Fogo, an island to the south to the site of our first race. Unfortunately the planes between islands were too small to carry all our bikes, so we had to take a 3-hour ferry to get to the island. Not only was loading the ferry an experience as there did not seem to be any queuing system, it was just a free-for-all. We then had to endure the roughest most unpleasant boat trip I have ever experienced! Sick bags were in plentiful supply and getting much use!
Fogo is an island entirely made up of one big volcano. We headed straight up to the site of the old crater where would base ourselves in the tiny village for the next two days. We woke up to an amazing view, the site of our first race: the top of the volcano all the way down to the bikes.
It was race time.
Trying to see the line that you might take was not easy looking down from such a height as it all looked the same. Luckily I was about 9th to go so I had chance to watch a few people before me and work out what looked like the best line.
Setting off on the volcano was an amazing sensation as I really did not know what to expect. It was surprisingly quite easy to control, however the speed that you picked up when you let the brakes off was crazy! Once we navigated our way off the steep slopes of the volcano we joined a small path which was pretty tough to follow onto a fire road which we then followed into the village and 5km around the base of the old crater. The road was pretty flat and rough and required some good pedaling, it actually felt quite nice to stretch my legs after all the walking that morning.
Once at the edge of the crater the gradient dropped away sharply and we entered a singletrack trail that would take us all the way down to the sea. The trails was gnarly right from the start. After a lot of rain this winter the trail had been washed away a lot and logs had been put in to try and stop the soil running down the hillside, so it turned into log steps for what seemed like the next hour.
It was brutal, step, after step, with all the biggest ones just after a hairpin corner, just to make it more challenging. It really was a test of endurance and strength and by the end of the 45 minutes ordeal I was truly dead.
I managed to put together a decent run and ended up with a time of 46.08 minutes, 8th overall and 1st in the women’s race with a lead of around 10 minutes. With the accumulation of all 4 race run times I was starting off with a good lead.
Straight after the race it was time to have a great feast at a local restaurant and then pack up the bikes. The final ordeal of the day was yet still to come… the cold shower by headlamp.
With no hot water on the island and limited electricity, every night there would be screams coming from the showers as one by one we braved a shower. It was certainly refreshing and I just had to keep telling myself it was just like having an ice bath; the perfect recovery!