the series

sonny chamand

Badlands means getting rid of the comfort zone recruiting your discipline and determination, experiencing the power of nature.

Heroes belong to the extraordinary and to everyday life too. The motivation to ride can be triggered on the streets you already know and on new paths to be explored. Meet the Heroes is a new deep-focus series based on Ride Your Way, released to feed your dreams with stories of cyclists who made the ordinary extraordinary.

Badlands is for many riders the pinnacle of the challenges. The track is hard to achieve, the landscape epic, the riding conditions extreme.

Small wonder to say that hard work need to be done before joining the competition. Sure, some experiences are not meant for everybody, but it’s not all about athletic preparation. And that’s also a true law of sports.

Which roads led you to such a challenge?

That’s a question. Let’s start with motivation, if the reason-why won’t save you in the desert, it will for sure serve as a powerful engine while enduring into the Badlands. Who can provide a better answer than someone doing Badlands for the first time and having always craved for it? Sonny, 53 years old, has decided to participate in Badlands as the challenge he was missing on his bucket list.

“As long as I remember I have always been cycling. It is now part of my lifestyle. I have been a mountain biker for years going through hard injuries. I stopped for a while. In 2015, I tested myself on triathlons (2 half ironman the same year) therefore, I started to practice road cycling and worn a lycra short for the first time of my life. I really started to enjoy road cycling and completely stopped mountain bike freeride and enduro, which was fun but became too risky for me. Or maybe because I was getting older…”

“As long as I remember I have always been cycling. It is now part of my lifestyle."

Thanks to his job - he works as Sales Manager for Northwave but he has always gravitated towards the sport universe - Sonny had the opportunity to ride his bike in several countries and conquer some famous climbs such as Alpe d’Huez, Galibier, Madeleine, and many others in France, Stelvio, Giau, Mortirolo, and many others in Italy and Furka Pass in Switzerland.

What’s the most important lesson you learned riding?

“Road cycling taught me endurance and discipline. 5 years ago, I discovered gravel and started to travel with my bike. I did several bike packing trips through Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, France and Spain visiting landscapes like Tuscany, Dolomites, Alps or Pyrenees. My mountain biker background really helped me when the terrain was getting more technical, which is important for gravel rides. My bike is now my way of life for every holiday, and I already plan trips for the next coming years.”

Talking with Sonny it seems that every moment on the saddle has been enriching, every road and terrain he pedaled until now is filled with experience and feelings that taught him the values of cycling: both your strengths and limits are two faces of the same medal.

What makes Badlands a major experience to you?

This event is quite special as you must ride 800km in the south of Spain in less than 5 days and must climb 16000m elevation under high temperatures.
Landscapes are amazing: mountains, desert and sea in only one unsupported adventure. Even if I am used to travel by bike, this will be a real challenge for me to complete this race against myself.

"Determination and training are essential as well as a focus-minded attitude when competing with yourself in endurance."

How are you getting prepared to this challenge?

Preparation is key. Material but also physical. Above this I think that such an adventure requires also a specific mental. Since I subscribed, I am watching everyday every content I can find on YouTube about Badlands. I almost feel like I already know the trace and it will truly help me to manage it. The website of Badlands is also a huge source of info with tips from previous participants. I must confess that this event is a bit frightening, but I think I have prepared myself the best I could. It will be a real challenge but above all I will enjoy every moment. I hope to be a finisher and come back with a lot of stories to tell.

What will be your bike set-up?

To practice and be sure to go there in optimum condition, I have prepared a bike specifically for the event which will allow me to climb the steepest mountains. I have tested the configuration this year in two unsupported events in Italy: Veneto gravel (700km) and Tuscany Trail (500km). The conditions during those two races were tough so I tested my material to the limit. Now I know what kind of bike packing configuration and gears I will have to carry with me for Badlands.

How are your trainings structured? Have you built a strategy to tackle the tough rides of Badlands?

As for the physical conditions, I am not particularly built as an athlete and more over as a climber. Even if I ride often, this event is very demanding because the body must endure long efforts under high temperatures.  Most of cyclists like to ride in the morning when temperatures are fresh and stop for their coffee. Personally, to get used to heat, I do my long weekend rides from 11:00 to 17:00 when the temperatures are the highest. I also try to drink less as usual as I know that in the desert of badlands, water spots will not be easy to find.  Daily, I commute to work with a bike loaded with bags to get used to ride with a heavier bike.

What about the outfit?

For my outfits I will use XC shoes:

Extreme XC 2 by Northwave to have a good power transfer and breathability. My bib will be the Rockster bibshort with pockets and I will wear a Pro jersey that I designed this year with the help of the custom division of Northwave.  If you don’t ride fast, at least ride in style ;)

Follow the adventure of a newbie in Badlands. Stay tuned on Northwave official Instagram page to enjoy with Sonny the days on the desert.