Red Bull athlete Mohammed Al Balooshi is a motocross and desert rally rider, and the first Emirati to take part in the Dakar Rally. In an exclusive interview with Sport360 he tells us how he became the first Emirati to claim the FIM crown.
Physically, riding in Hungary was challenging because mud was getting everywhere so the bike is a lot heavier. If you take a desert rider, like myself, and race on mud, it makes you fatigue a lot faster than someone who is used to riding on that surface. It’s not natural for me, so the body and mind felt it a lot more, as I was out of my comfort zone. My body gets tried in mud because you try to ride, it’s not coming naturally, and that’s an issue. You need to be in Europe really to get used to mud riding.
Saying that, my training always stays the same, I make sure I peak at the right time because sometimes people over-train and they don’t get the results. They’re already burned out before the race has even begun.
On the final round I didn’t have much pressure because my task was to finish in the top eight to secure the title and I managed to do that. The biggest pressure was that the bike might not make it, so that was on my mind during the last 100kms, because the race was mine to lose, but the machine can always let you down. I had some technical problems with the bike that I tried to fix and I tried not to go all out because I had it all to lose.
The rain made it hard though, because no matter how much it rains in the desert we don’t get mud so you can’t prepare for it. So I lack the technique needed for riding on it and those guys have a lot more experience than I do on that terrain. It’s a lot of small details you need to know to be able to handle muddy surfaces.
In terms of my recovery fitness I’m already back in the gym, I did a 35km ride in the bike in the gym to loosen up a few days after the event. For me the training week is the hardest part, the race is the easier bit. When I’m training I give it my all and try to peak at the exact right time. The race is hard but really the hard work is done before you even start.
I’m going to be doing local races next so I’m looking forward to this and I’m hoping that’ll get my fitter in time for Dakar 2019. I like to be busy with training and riding though; it’s a great life, full of excitement.
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