Jason Anderson Race Recap: BADLANDS 2023

BADLANDS is an unsupported ultracycling gravel event. 800km across the only deserts in Europe, the wild coast of Cabo de Gata and the highest Col in the continent, Pico Veleta at 3.396m. Ocean and San Field Guide Jason Anderson recently finished BADLANDS in 76 hours and 6 minutes. We sat down with him to get his thoughts on the ride.
September 18, 2023

Race Recap: BADLANDS 2023

O&S: Can you give us a quick overview of your journey to BadLands? How long have you been working up to this?

JA: Badlands was 10 months in the making, for me. From first seeing the event on Fernwee’s YouTube channel while eating breakfast one morning last fall, to finally toeing the line was really a time warp. A lot of hours were spent dreaming of, trying for, and building up to that day. I worked closely with Eddie Anderson for on the bike structure, and Derek Teel (@dialedhealth) for strength trying to ensure that I was as ready as I could be to make it to that finish line.

O&S: lt’s one thing to hear about Badlands, it’s another thing to actually show up and ride. I think a lot of readers can relate to having a really lofty goal or adventure in mind, but can you give some advice on how to close the gap between having a huge goal and actually committing?

JA: There’s always going to be a good bit of friction when you initially set a goal bigger than anything you’ve done previously; but that’s part of the adventure. Pushing your limits and reaching beyond what you think is achievable is a motivating factor within itself. I think it really just comes down to how bad you want it, in combination with your ‘why’. If you really want it, got get it! Personal accolades don’t come for free.

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O&S: Walk us through your race plan, did you have a goal in mind?

JA: The plan was to finish, and have fun! Beyond that there was a loose goal of three days (72hrs). Anything else was just a bonus.

O&S: Obviously it was a sufferfest, I can only imagine what hours 24 - 75 are like, were you still able to enjoy it?

JA: Dude, I can confidently say that it was the most fun that I have ever had on a bike. There were so many highs, and the lows (when they came) were honestly super manageable because I had set myself up to make sure that I enjoyed it. I told myself that if it really started to suck, I’d just back off the throttle and find a way to make it fun. Suffering is situational, and if you can’t control the variables, you can still control your mindset.

O&S: All in all did it live up to your expectations?

JA: Badlands was everything that I had imagined and then some! The route was just as picturesque as I had hoped, and the sense of community and support from all of the other riders/Badlands staffers was far beyond anything that I expected. It really is a must do event for people that love the long ride.

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O&S: Hit us with some fun ultra-endurance ride stats.

JA: Oh man, well to start - I ate 12 jamon y queso bocadillos con tomate (basically Spanish baguette sandwiches with prosciutto, cheese, and tomato paste), climbed somewhere in the range of a double Everest, had a moving time of 48 hours and some change, and had one scary encounter with wild boars.

O&S: Will you be back?

JA: I will 110% be back! Next time to fully race it, now that I’ve seen the course and had the proper Badlands experience.

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O&S: So what's next?

JA: 2024 I am still planning for, but a few events have my attention. Those are - Traka 560, Bright Midnight, and Across Andes (as a pair with the lovely Emily Robbins).

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