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Rally of Morocco
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Adrien Van Beveren’s Top 5 Training Tips

Jan 032020

Covering 7,500 kilometres in 12 days at a frantic pace is not a piece of cake, even for a professional rider. For more than 40 years, the Dakar Rally has severely tested minds, engines, and muscles. Pressure is at its highest for a reason: Like Russian roulette, there is no second chance. The Dakar Rally is ruthless; a small mistake can cost you the race and leave you waiting another year.

Like boxers locked away in a training camp, rally competitors follow a strict program in which nothing is left to chance. Their preparation is built in cycles and ramps up to be in peak condition when the Dakar Rally kicks off on January 5 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the ultimate adventure in a new country.

The entire year is built around this date, and, as Yamaha’s Adrien van Beveren reveals, his training program is intended to improve strength, flexibility, and physical and mental balance. For the 28-year-old Frenchman, training hard and having fun go hand in hand, as his Dakar Rally preparation is built in cycle of three weeks of training followed by a week of rest until he stops completely 10 days prior to the start of the event.

My training program is based on triathlon: running, cycling, and swimming, plus I do some boxing and gym work. I train five days per week, twice a day, alternating one training session with the motorbike plus one session in the gym, one swim and one gym, or one cycling session and one gym. I have a pool of professionals around me: physio, sports doctor, and two trainers, who work with me at the gym to study specific exercises to train the muscles that are needed on the bike.

 

The final goal is to improve my performance on the bike. Riding remains, in fact, the best preparation. Motocross, for example, is very good to work on cardio and the heart, and it’s very good to keep trained to react quickly to an unexpected situation. Participation in the World Rally Championship is preparation for the Dakar Rally.

Off-road riding is an extremely physical demanding sport that involve all the muscles. The standing position on a bike requires strong legs, the wind pushes you back when we ride at 180 km/h, and we need strength and flexibility when we hit a rock. I have been training a lot on cardio, and I use cycling for long resistance (from 2.5 to 5 hours), but the target is to become a better rider. So, for example, in the gym, we are not interested in building strong muscles. Our sport is about 5 to 6 hours riding of special stages per day, and big muscles need a lot of energy. When I train in the gym, we don’t use bars; we prefer elastics. Sometimes we use elastics to reproduce the impact of the wind. Sometimes we use balls to work on stability and balance.

Speaking of energy, it is very important to store and rebuild energy, so what you eat before and during the rally is vital. The best diet for me always includes natural products and a lot of water. I recently became vegan, but I’m a bit old school; now I have returned to my usual diet.

 

Rest is equally crucial. My mentality is always pushing and pushing to the limit, so I really need to schedule a rest day on my agenda, which means also not traveling and just rest for a day at home reading a book. On the Dakar, we always get a good massage after the stage, and we try to recover as much as possible. One turning point for me has also been knowing more my body. Through sophrology, I have worked a lot on the breath and feeling my body. It has helped me to feel the limits and cope with them. It has also helped me to be more focused.

The Dakar is about finding the best compromise between pushing and saving your body and the machine. You can only be fast and safe if you have very good riding techniques, so my advice is to work on your skills before opening the throttle. Controlling the bike and being in good shape help a lot in keeping the concentration. You can’t ride a 400-kilometre stage at a 100-percent concentration and with a lot of tension because at the end you exhaust yourself. Technique helps you to be more relaxed as you feel in control, and you react rapidly saving a crash.

Variety is the key but also enjoying what you are doing. I love training on a bike even if it’s raining or cold. I’m a bit wild and when I’m riding, even six long hours as we do on the Dakar, I always remember to have fun. I grew up in the countryside, so I like outdoor sports. I prefer to swim in the ocean rather than in a swimming pool, to hike and train in altitudes rather than in a gym.

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