Badlands – By Sam Andrews

Burgh athlete Sam Andrews, paired up with Jesse Yates to tackle the notorious Badlands in Granada Spain, regarded as the ‘wildest gravel challenge in Europe’.

There’s a number of reasons Badlands has such a reputation, but none more so than the self-supported, gruelling 750km course which features undulating, punchy climbs for a total of 15,000m+ of elevation.

For context, Sam and Jesse won the pairs category and finished 7th overall, with a total time of 45 hours, with 40 hours ride time, 20 minutes sleep, 745km total distance, and 15,354 metres of elevation.

Here’s what Sam had to say to wrap up the event:

“Jesse Yates and I embarked on this journey with a single goal at the beginning of the year: to win the pairs category and secure a spot in the top 10.

This race is infamous for its scorching heat, but we were fortunate to encounter storms and cooler temperatures, something we didn’t stress about, coming from the UK.

Our game plan was to maintain a consistent pace throughout the race. The start was intense, but we knew not everyone could sustain that speed. As night fell, we steadily overtook riders left and right, comfortably securing a position in the top 10 overall. We battled fiercely for the pairs position, sometimes wondering if first place was within reach.

Upon reaching Almería, we pushed hard up the climbs, creating a substantial gap between us and the pursuing pairs.

The last 100km proved to be the most grueling challenge I’ve ever faced. I experienced hallucinations, struggled to stay awake on my bike, and felt disoriented.

Crossing that finish line was an emotional triumph. We achieved our goal, rode efficiency, and the relief of finally completing this arduous journey was overwhelming.

My left hand is completely numb, I have trench foot, my back is in shambles, and my thoughts are still a bit fuzzy.”

– Sam

If you want to check out some of the ridiculously cool rigs that took on Badlands, check out the sweet builds here.

Photography by:
Alberto Viciana
Nils Laengner
Sebastian Samek