The lead up to the Dakar can be an intense time for our KTM Rally athletes, as they try to make the very best preparation for one of the most physically and mentally demanding races in the world. Last year Jordi Viladoms was brought into the Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team at short notice and managed to have an outstanding race to take the runner-up position behind teammate Marc Coma with next to no preparation on the KTM 450 RALLY Factory bike.
Jordi Viladoms is a seasoned Dakar racer, and this year the Spanish-ace has been able to complete a proper preparation for the 14-day Dakar race in South America. The KTM BLOG caught up with him at a recent test to find out how he prepares for the race.
Hi Jordi, great to talk to you – we know it’s a busy time for you, so maybe you can tell us what happens after your last World Cross-Country Rallies race and the final test with the team before the Dakar?
“After the last test with the team in November I do a really intense training for two weeks to get the physical side where it needs to be. Then I start again with some training on the bike, and the final two weeks before the race I try to be smoother, as the work should be done both physically and with the bike. I try to maintain myself with my fitness, then I have to pack all of my bags and to stay concentrated as my focus becomes ready for the race.”
What kind of training do you do to be prepared for the rally?
“Mainly now I make a small pre-season with a lot of gym training and cardio work with the bicycle. I also do a lot of hiking, and take on the mountain close to my house, which is 3,000 metres high. It’s not like the Dakar, but it’s still high and I try to go once a week for altitude training. I get to the top and do some trekking. I have a good strong two weeks, recover a little bit and arrive at the Dakar in a good way.”
What kind of training do you do on the bike prior to the race?
“Most of the time I’m using the rally bike for training, but in the last two weeks it’s too cold to use this bike, as it’s frozen in places and it can be a little dangerous. I then use the KTM FREERIDE 250 R to make small training sessions in a small area for safety, where I can practice things on the bike, like playing with the balance and it gives me a good bike feeling before the Dakar. We ride the rally bike a lot during the year so it’s easy to make the switch back onto it once arriving for the race.”
It’s a mental challenge; putting the body through physical hell and being able to concentrate for such a long time. How do you deal with the mental aspect of the race?
“During the year I work with a sports psychologist, and we try during all of the races to be in the right way for the focus and concentration. When something happens we have to try and not lose the focus, and keep mentally in the right way with everything. This is also another training I am doing a lot, which is very important for a long and intense race like the Dakar.”
What about the extremes of the heat and the cold? How do you cope or prepare for that in the race?
“It’s really extreme. The guys in the Dakar are always really pushing and we can be at 4,000 metres above sea level, where we feel like we don’t have any oxygen, plus it’s really, really cold. Then in the same day, in which we have started at 4am, we can arrive at the special really tired, where it can be 40/50 degrees. In one day there’s a lot of kilometres, and these really extreme conditions. You have to be a really rounded rider to cope with this, and it’s almost impossible to train for. It’s important to be physically fit and mentally strong.”
Do you train to deal with the lack of sleep, as you are only getting around a few hours per night?
“We don’t train for this, but I try to be strong in the mind. We know there’s a lot of things that can make us lose energy, where we have a lot of hours without eating, but I don’t make a special preparation. We have it in the Dakar and try to be as good as possible in this way for the short time of the race. We have to have a shock for the body, and then recover after we’ve finished. It wouldn’t be good to try and go without sleep while training for the race, or to arrive at the race feeling tired.”
After Dakar what do you do to help yourself recover in the right way?
“We have to rest a lot. We’re normally destroyed for two or three weeks, so we need a lot of food and rest to get back to feeling normal. I guess it depends if the race has been good or not as to whether we stay home, take a holiday or go straight back to work!”
What about the diet? Do you increase your food intake before Dakar?
“I’m really careful with my diet, and it’s one thing I’ve discovered over the years that can make a difference. I try to eat very well with a lot of vegetables, and I don’t eat a lot of bread or pasta when preparing, only if it’s integrated into my diet. I also don’t eat a lot of sugar, which is hard, but I always feel better eating like this. I try to keep it up at the Dakar and it helps keep my immune system strong. The food side of things is really important.”
The Dakar Rally starts on the 4th of January at Buenos Aires in Argentina and concludes 13 days later on the 17th of January after travelling through Bolivia and Chile.
Photos: RallyZone Bauer/Barni | www.ktmimages.com