Bart Haemelink prepared, together with Energy Lab, for Iron Man and an extreme bicycle challenge in Morocco. He tells his story.
“My story started in 2016. Up to that point, I cycled a lot and ran at an ‘amateur level’. I enjoyed exercising, but there was no question of getting guidance from an expert at the time. One day, my brother-in-law came up with a crazy proposition and asked me if I wanted to take part in the Iron Man 70.3 in Zell Am See, Austria with his triathlon club. A great idea I thought. But at the time it was early July ... and the Iron Man event was to be held at the end of August. So I only had two months to get myself ready for the challenge. An impossible task, you would think. But I really wanted to go for it, so I decided to get some guidance from an expert. I went to Energy Lab for a fitness test.
During the test, I went very deep; that was the intention of it. I got a detailed overview of my heart rate zones, and I went home with a personal training schedule to prepare for my very first Iron Man. My primary goal was to complete the challenge, setting a top time was not the plan. I followed my training schedule meticulously, and I was superbly coached by Energy Lab coach, Thijs Dekiere. I was able to contact him with all my questions and doubts. And Thijs really helped me achieve my goal in a responsible and healthy way.
I did my first Iron Man without problems, and the year after that I did another. There was no going back after that. (laughs) Unfortunately, I was too late to register this year. But I didn't sit back and relax; I looked for another sporting challenge. While looking through Instagram, I saw RocDuMaroc was looking for a passionate ambassador for their extreme MTB endurance event in the desert. I thought it was a great opportunity. I applied and got the good news that I had been accepted at the beginning of July 2018. And to tell the truth: mountain biking is still my first love – except for my wife and children, of course (laughs). I was really looking forward to the start of this legendary MTB tour. But I couldn't underestimate it because the schedule was 6 days of cycling without a rest day. 666 km with more than 8,000 metres of climbing in temperatures reaching around 30 °C. But I was really up for it. (laughs)
I consulted Energy Lab coach Thijs again, and he drew up a tailor-made training plan for me. I have to be honest: the training sessions were tough. With a new-born son of four months old, and an active four-year old daughter, I sometimes needed to be inventive to find the time to train. Fortunately, I was sufficiently creative, and I succeeded. (laughs) I work about 35 km from home. So I cycled to work every day to get my cycling training in during the morning and evening. I also didn’t have to worry about driving my car in traffic jams, a great additional advantage.
After months of training, it was time to go. On 13 October we flew to the location where the great adventure would start two days later: Ouarzazate in Morocco. The endless miles in the desert were a particularly hellish ordeal for my body. The mental challenge was also very difficult. The relief at the finish was therefore enormous, for all participants. For me it was a great success: I did the whole event without suffering a flat tyre (unbelievable!), a fall, or any other bad luck.
It was an unforgettable experience. The RocDuMaroc cannot be compared with MTB in Belgium in any way. If you are well trained at the start, and approach each day responsibly, it is certainly possible to reach the finish. The reward is enormous: beautiful landscapes, fantastic organisation, and supply camps packed with everything you need to achieve your goal.
Without the support of Energy Lab, and coach Thijs Dekiere especially, I would not have succeeded; I'm pretty sure of that. I can recommend following a personal training programme with Energy Lab. You know you will be able to take advantage of focused, healthy training, and that your goal will be achievable. It gives you something to hold onto, as well as a lot of self-confidence. It makes you more prepared to go for it!”
More info about RocDuMaroc: www.rocdumaroc.com.
Cover photo: Rallycool Photography.