Posted on March 06 2024


The Atlas Mountains loom large, casting long shadows on the dusty plains below. Nestled within their folds lies a forgotten relic of the past - the Old Colonial Road.

Built by the French during their colonial reign, this ambitious project aimed to connect Issafen with Tagmout, but the harsh elements saw it descend into its current state. Now impassable by vehicles due to sections being completely washed out; it presents a unique challenge to any who take it on. Those that tackle it during daylight hours are rewarded by the vastness of the landscape, and around every corner the track reveals its endless reach.

It's a different experience at night, with the only indication of the enormity of what lies ahead being the other cyclists lights tracking high in the distance, momentarily distracting you from the microcosm of the small world illuminated by your own.

A few weeks ago one of our athletes, Drikus Coetzee tackled the Atlas Mountain Race, covering 1300 kilometers with 21,140m of climbing, starting in Marrakech and finish in Essaouiria, Morocco. Having won the Munga in December last year, and smashing the previous record, all of his sponsors were very excited to follow along his journey as he set out as the underdog in the race from the get go, facing mountains, rivers, canyons, sand, heat, cold and repeat riders who had a better idea of what they were in for.

“The race was crazy; the battle was immense”. The terrain was rocky and technical but other parts very beautiful, especially the sunsets and sunrises in Morocco, it was spectacular. And the Moroccan people, are just so friendly and helpful. It was a pleasure to go on this journey.

Drikus pushed himself to and beyond his limits so much during the race that he can’t even recall everything, but here is some of his experience that he could share:

There were sudden rain and flash floods on the course the night before the race, so the route was diverted, at the beginning, the race pace was very fast. Upon reaching Checkpoint 1, the gaps between riders were all mere minutes and with everyone’s spirits still high, everyone left the checkpoint around the same time also.

Drikus Coetzee, Cycling, mountain bike, race, morocco, cycling south africa,

After a whole day’s riding, he reached a section where he needed to go upstairs, and right after, there was a massive tar climb riding into the night. He felt good on the climb and took the race lead there for the first time.

Riding in front also has its challenges as he got a bit lost and couldn’t find the second checkpoint, costing Drikus a lot of time. Here he managed to sleep for the first time since the race started, about an hour-long power nap and also took a quick shower. Just as he left the checkpoint, Justinas, who was laying 2nd at the time arrived. He did not spend a lot of time there and quickly caught up to Drikus, and so, the battle was on again.

They pushed each other the whole day, fighting with the landscape, over mountains and sand flats and even stretches of tar roads.

At checkpoint 3, he took some time to have a proper meal and had the most intense power nap of his life. Justinas decided to hit the road again while Drikus got dubbed sleeping beauty by the race organizers, choosing to recharge for the unknown laying ahead of him. He knew he still had to face the famous sand section.

Stopping to check his navigation, convinced that he was in the last town, about to finish, he was looking everywhere for the hotel and beach and spectators, in his mind he was racing to finish in that town but much to his demise, realized he still had 40km to go. He then got off of his bike to check his GPS, he blacked out. When he gained consciousness, he was laying down, next to his bike and only then realized something strange just happened. He made his way to the only little small tree he could find to get some shade, once he laid down there on his back, he knew, it was all over.

The race threw some punches, he threw some straight back but at last, the Atlas Mountain Race threw the biggest punch.

It was one hell of a journey

“I’ll be back.”

We are very excited to keep supporting Drikus on taking on these challenges and ensuring he keeps making everyone behind him proud and doing so in style.  

Recent Posts