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Fran Guzmán, the guardian angel of Jorge Cremades in the Škoda Titan Desert Morocco

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    Yes Fran Guzmán (@franbowtie) called El Espartano is for a reason. An adventurer and a man of influence, he is used to challenges as tough as the Škoda Titan Moroccan Desert. And that is why Jorge Cremades chose him to accompany him during this race of more than 600 kilometers through the Moroccan desert. At Sláinte na Fhear we have had a chat with him and he has told us how he lived through the experience and difficulties that the comedian went through.

    Fernando Roy

    Fran, you are already an expert on the Škoda Titan Desert Morocco…

    Yes, it’s my fifth participation, but this one had a special component, which is being done with Jorge. And it is not the same to do it in a company than by yourself, that you control your rhythms, pace and logistics. And since he was a rookie in ultra-distance, it made everything a little more complicated. But he is a very good friend of mine, he gave everything and, although he suffered, we had a great time. I will remember him fondly for the rest of my life.

    Was it an added responsibility to ‘take care’ of Jorge?

    Of course, when you go alone you don’t have to worry so much. This time I had to make sure that Jorge ate during the stages, that he had an adequate rhythm, that he regulated it and that he was as good as possible. And that’s an extra head toss for me, but I’m excited.

    Did you sleep well at night?

    Well, we slept in some houses set up by the organization, with a rather hard mattress, and we lived with other people. And of course, there was snoring, noise, people talking… In the end you have to learn to deal with it and it’s part of the experience. But with some good plugs, everything is fixed. And then there were two marathon stages, where we slept at ground level, but you are so tired that you fall asleep quickly. We got up at six in the morning and then the departure was at half past seven or eight, to avoid the sun. We would have breakfast, prepare our clothes and food, and sometimes we would pack our suitcases so that we could take them in a truck. Sign, check the bike is ok and start rolling.

    “We didn’t have serious mechanical problems…”

    Any serious fault?

    Well, we were lucky with the bikes. The most common are punctures or gear breaks on the hills. But we went down slowly to avoid bumps and everything went well. Jorge had a small blow to the rear swingarm, but since we were with a mechanic, they changed the part and that was it. And we had some chain output, of course.

    What did you eat before, during and after the race?

    We have focused on eating carbohydrates and protein, mostly white rice and pasta, and some chicken or meat. But there were vegetables, fruit, and we gave serrano ham, about 100 grams per day in vacuum-packed. And every morning we prepared some sandwiches with milk bread for the race and breakfast.

    fran bowtie and jorge cremades


    At the end of recovery and during the stages, well, the typical, bars and gels, but without abuse that Jorge was not used to. There are only two per stage, a gel with more hydrates and another with a caffeine kick for the final kilometres. And the ham sandwich (laughs).

    “It was so difficult at some point that Jorge didn’t even have a record in his pocket anymore”

    Did you talk a lot during the stages?

    At first, yes, even recording stories, but as the race progressed, he didn’t even take his mobile phone (laughs) and focused on pedaling. And in the last stage we almost didn’t talk… It’s hard and you have to focus and enjoy it. We were close, but far.

    Have you spoken to Miguel Indurain?

    I would love to, but we couldn’t. Jorge came across him, but in the end he would come so fast during the race, flying, when he was almost asleep, we wanted to have fun after finishing the stage.

    Have you seen many dropouts?

    Yes, but the good thing about this race is that you can quit in one of the six stages, and if you finish the other five they give you the final stone. It is a good initiative, in case one day you have mechanical failure or a stomach problem. It’s a very tough race, you have to be in shape and have good mental strength. I always try to help the rest of the cyclists when I can, but not too much.

    What is the hardest thing about riding in the desert?

    You play a lot with the pressure of the wheels. You have to build them with less pressure than usual so that the surface of the wheel is wider and you roll better on the sandier terrain. There is always the step of the dunes, but we avoid them. Tips: Do not stop pedaling and always look at the terrain to avoid disturbances, stones and so on. It’s not easy to go down the dunes, surf them. The key is to twist the bars, get stiff and fall.

    “It’s not easy at all to surf the dunes. Important: don’t turn the handlebars”

    What landscape do you remember?

    Well, everything was very mountainous stages, through the Atlas, others where you see people, oases, and other more solitary stages where you only see desert. And that contrast is cool. Standing in the middle of the desert is an incredible feeling.

    How do you remember the last step?

    Well, the night before I had a stomach problem, with vomiting, and I had to rest because I was quite sick. Jorge and I went at an easy pace and, as the finish line approached, Jorge was excited. We hugged at the end and I said: “You are a Titan.”

    Have you tested harder than this?

    The Škoda Titan Moroccan Desert is quite tough, but I am crazy about ultra-distance running and I have done more crazy things, like running 128 kilometers in the Transgrancanaria, for example, a mountain track. And the Non-stop Madrid Murcia non-stop, in pairs, in just two days and in relays, which I do every year. In general, I like to take the bike from where I live in Sol, Madrid, and go to Segovia or Santiago. Take the bike and do a kilometer.

    fran bowtie and jorge cremades

    Interview: Roberto Cabezas (@robberpau)
    Photography: Fernando Roi (@fernando_roi)
    Photography assistant: Sara Guillén (@sara__guillen)
    Grooming: Tatí Garou (@tatigaru.makeup)
    Production: Marta Sanchez
    Direction: Jordi Martinez (@jordimartinezmh)
    Digital direction: Ivan Iglesias (@baobhán)

    Roberto Cabezas is a specialist in fitness, CrossFit, bodybuilding, training content, nutrition and sports supplementation at Men’s Health Spain.

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