Josh Ibbett’s 2022 Atlas Mountain Race + Bike Check Video
Josh Ibbett finished sixth at this year’s Atlas Mountain Race in Morocco, less than half a day behind the winner. With help from Ryan le Garrec, he put together a video comprised of self-shot footage during the event. Watch it here, plus a brief ride reflection and another video outlining his bike setup…
The second edition of the Atlas Mountain Race brought in nearly 140 riders from all over the world to take on the challenging 1,167-kilometer route. This year, the route followed gravel, singletrack, doubletrack, and old colonial pistes that have long been forgotten and fallen into disrepair. There was very little tarmac and big distances between resupply points.
Among the 90 or so riders who finished was our friend Josh Ibbett from the UK. As usual, Josh shot some video during the event, and with some help from Ryan le Garrec, he put together a video of his ride. Watch the 16-minute video below and then scroll down for a race report from Josh followed by an additional video breaking down his bike and gear choices.
“I generally think it was one of the best race experiences I’ve had… it’s a beautiful race, and also I was just in my own dream world.”
Words and photos by Josh Ibbett (@joshibbett)
On the 1st of October 2022, I finally found myself on the start line of the 2020 Atlas Mountain Race. The much-awaited second edition of the race finally happened after three Covid postponements over the previous 18 months. Ultra racing has seen a huge boost in participation following the various lockdowns of the past few years, especially in Europe, and as a result, the strength in depth and level of competition has gone through the roof.
Upon lining up for the race, I was well aware that a top 10 finish position would be a solid result, with a top five a personal target. My top five aspirations soon disappeared up the first climb of the race when a large group of 20 riders set off up it as if it was a road race. I decided that chasing so hard at this early stage was not an ideal pacing strategy, so settled into my own rhythm and enjoyed the ride and the opportunity to experience the landscapes and culture of Morroco.
I’ve been documenting races with my GoPros for many years with the aim of telling the story of a race from the inside. This time, I also decided to take a small disposable film camera along for the ride. I’m not a fan of taking photos with my phone or the faff and patience required to use a ‘proper’ camera, so I find I usually finish a long ride with very few photos. However, using the point-and-shoot disposable camera removed those excuses to take pictures, and I found myself absorbing my surroundings keen to find an opportunity to fire off a shot.
Before the ride, I’d agreed with Stefano of The Broomwagon podcast to keep an audio diary via a series of WhatsApp voice notes, but I didn’t account for technological failure during the ride. Pre-start, I purchased a local SIM card for my phone, however, the SIM card required a password to activate after turning the phone off for the start of the race, so I found it locked and inoperable. Broomwagon’s loss was my gain, though, as I thoroughly enjoyed not being able to contact the outside world and just focus on my experience of riding through the desert.
The Atlas Mountain Race was one of my most enjoyable bikepacking experiences. The terrain, the people, and the culture were all fascinating. The event was expertly curated by Nelson, the organiser, and it tough enough to be considered a ‘real’ adventure but forgiving enough to let off just when I thought it was all becoming a bit too much. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and especially enjoyed the wait for my photos to be developed to relive the memories.
Ryan Le Garrec has edited together the GoPro footage along with the voice notes that made it out of the race, and between the two, I have an excellent record to complement some very happy memories of my time in Morroco. Eventually, I finished in 6th position, a little under 12 hours behind the winner, Marin De Saint Exuperey, who incidentally set a new course record en route to his victory.
Josh’s 2022 Atlas Mountain Race Bike Setup
For the race, Josh pedaled a Mason InSearchOf outfitted with a 100mm Rock Shox SID Ultimate, Shimano GRX di2 11sp Shifters, XTR di2 11speed rear mech, XT crankset (36t), and an 11-48t cassette. He had a HUNT Proven XC carbon custom dynamo wheelset, Rene Herse Fleecer Ridge 55mm tires, and Ritchey Venture Max bars. Watch the video below and find more of his kit and photos underneath.
Last but not least, here’s a gallery of images taken by Adam Gasson from this year’s Bespoked UK bike show. This is the same rig Josh used for the Atlas Mountain Race, left with a nice dirt patina from the race. This was the on display at Tailfin Cycling’s booth for the show.
- GPS: Wahoo Element
- Light: Klite dynamo system
- Bags: Custom Tailfin R&D Division bags
- Shorts: Albion Cargo short
- Jersey: Albion Short Sleeve jersey
- Base layer: Albion Mesh base layer
- Arm/leg warmers: Albion
- Jacket: Albion Lightweight insulated jacket
- Rain Jacket: Albion Rain jacket
- Mitts: Gripgrab super gel
- Windproof gloves: Gripgrab windproof gloves
- Shoes: Shimano XC7
- Bivvi bag: OS Helium
- Sleeping pad: Thermarest Neo Air 3/4
- Sleeping bag: PHD custom sleeping bag
- Hat: custom sun hat with neck protector
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