Desertus Bikus, the ultra-autonomous race that crosses four deserts

It seems that Yvan Thuayre does not lack ideas or the necessary nerve to implement them. At first glance, the concept of Pop Ouest, its event box, lets you dream, which is based on a gastronomic approach to … popcorn. Suggest animating evenings and seminars with popcorn “Seaweed & Oyster Leaves”, “Fennel & Carnation Licorice”, “Yuzu” or “Raspberry & Coconut”, you should 1 / think about it, and 2 / dare to get started.

Our man, who is also passionate about cycling and ultra-distance, organizes every October the Pop Ouest Classic, a 240 km race and 6,600 altitude climbs through the Basque Country, starting from Saint-Pée-sur-Levels.

In the spring of 2020, the pandemic severely affected the course of “hot and fresh” popcorn, and Yvan traveled to confine himself to Andalusia, where less severe traffic restrictions allowed him to drive. Even, to cross the country at the crossroads. It was there, under the blue lid of the sky and in the pandemic loneliness, that the idea of ​​”Desertus Bikus” sprouted, on good cooking Latin. From Anglet to Nerja province in Malaga, the race will connect the sea [atlantique] by the sea [d’Alboran, extrémité occidentale de la Méditerranée].


Two ideas preceded the creation of the Desertus Bikus. “First, starts the organizer, I wished, at least for a first edition, that it was accessible from an athletic point of view. Nine days to overcome 1,250 km and 12,500 m altitude, that is a daily average of 140 km and 1,400 m altitude. » Not the sea to drink, compared to many events in the ultra-distance calendar. And even less in terms of the quality of the field: The 200 bibs offered for this first edition were snapped up in a few days, and were therefore displaced by a well-established community. The very best (with Sofiane Sehili at the helm, the cannibal for ultracycling, Laurent Boursette, another prominent specialist) announce that they will implement the agreement in two and a half days. “Even in a car, I will not have time to waste to be able to welcome them”, laughs Mr. Thuayre. Ex-pro Jérôme Cousin will no doubt be in the second curtain.

For the event is above all an orienteering race. Only four checkpoints are imposed on competitors: just enough to force them to cross four desert areas while the maximum range of possible strategies is open. And it’s wide.

“Shoes that are too light, you risk depriving yourself of shortcut options – or risking a repeated puncture. And for big shoes, we waste time on the asphalt parts »

Road or path, but four deserts

You do not only have to choose between an asphalt road or a path, which makes the choice of tires difficult: “Shoes that are too light, you risk depriving yourself of shortcut options – or risking a repeated puncture. And if you have too big shoes, you are wasting time on the asphalt parts, ” continues the creator of Pop Ouest.

But it will also be necessary to deal with the weather – in this case mainly with the wind, which from Pamplona and up to the threshold of the Bardenas desert can blow hard – and with the possibilities of supplies, starting with the water points.

The second checkpoint is located in Montañas Vacias (Empty Mountains), whose height (and the wind that blows there) has inspired the nickname “Spanish Lapland”. Then you will have to sail to the colorful cliffs and gorges of the Gorafe desert. Finally, cyclists will cross the Tabernas, where the hallucinations of fatigue could make the good, the bad and the ugly appear before their eyes: the Tabernas desert is the sanctuary of the spaghetti western.

It’s starting to get hot halfway, and as an ultra season opener, it’s hard to dream of anything better than Desertus Bikus. Which could hardly take place later, and would obviously be impractical in the middle of summer: The 30 ° C that awaits competitors this week is nothing compared to the summer oven, where the mercury rises to 50.

We can not recommend the live tracking link enough, as the strategic options chosen by the competitors seem so different: “Some have sent me their roadmap, smiles Mr. Thuayre, and there are some surprising things! »

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