On July 12, Eric Morel (Team MND – Douze Cycles) set a new daily record by riding 427 km. Then, a technical breakdown and a massive fatigue stopped him in his wild ride. Two weeks later, he just finished crossing the Gobi desert and is back in 3rd position! We interviewed him at the end of the 3 most exhausting days of his adventure.
In what state are you, physically and mentally, after crossing the Gobi Desert?
Mentally, I’m well, because tonight there is no more wind, at last! Physically, I’m fine, I eat well, I don’t need to tap into my emergency food. I sunburned a bit despite the protection, but it’s ok. The worst is behind me. Over the last two days, I felt vulnerable and even in danger for the first time on this trip. Fighting against the heat and wind was terrible. Hang in there, fellow participants…
It seems even harder than the part of Kazakhstan, where yet you seemed burned out…
Yes, the first stages in China have been more difficult. Of course, when I had the breakdown, I was really hitting a rough patch, but overall in Kazakhstan there was only the heat to manage. Crossing of Xinjiang, we also had to handle the wind and the numerous police controls. Foreigners are not allowed to sleep wherever they want, which led to some quirky moments with the police. But in the end, it always ended well, often with the police ending up helping me to give food and drinks! I have been living mind-blowing things since I arrived in China, here it’s no longer play, it’s a great adventure.
When you were in Taraz, Kazakhstan, with a broken engine and low morale, did you imagine that you could be back in 3rd position?
No, I never thought I could come back. At that moment I was at the lowest point! In my opinion, an engine breakdown was the worst that could happen. I knew I could not repair that. The solution was to have spare parts shipped. I had the feeling I was no longer the master of my own destiny since I was depending on the good reception of this parcel. My confidence had been broken but I went back on the road and crossed my fingers to keep riding ’til the end. I also have to deal with an engine controller setting error, which means that I don’t get the maximum assistance that I could get, but one must always adapt and move forward.
Do you enjoy the adventure in China so far?
In the end, it’s a pretty brutal shock to get to China! There’s more modernity here, for example I no longer see old Ladas, as in the former USSR. In China, there are almost only new vehicles, a lot of electric vehicles too. So far, I must say that we also breathe very well in China, I never thought I could say that. But you lose your bearings, and must find them back and then everything changes. The kindness of people is always present! We have the feeling that the Sun Trip organizers sent a set of instructions to everyone here to ensure that we are welcomed and greeted well. It’s crazy! I now look forward to really leaving the deserts and entering Central China. It should be a relief for all participants. We want greenery!
What are your goals until the end of your adventure?
First and foremost: to have fun! I want to visit a little, stop to eat ice cream, noodles, drink ultrasweet drinks, take time with people even without a common language.cIf the conditions are favorable, I will try to align more kilometers, for the MDN – Douze Cycles Team and for the Sun Trip fans. We’ll see. More mondanely, I’d like to understand also how to publish something on Facebook from here … That is a small challenge within the challenge!