Classified at TRAKA 2024

Classified AM Sales manager testing his limits at the Traka 360

Hector Seghers (32) Classified Aftermarket Sales Manager, went to Spain to meet with customers and decided to use the opportunity, participating in the legendary Traka Gravel festival, not the 100k race no, he chose not to race, he and two friends entered into the 360km / 3700m adventure. It was only his second Gravel Race ever and pretty much everything was new for him, the bike, the shoes, the equipment. As a double 70.3 Ironman finisher, Hector knew how to suffer. We talked to him about his experience, after he finished his adventure at 2:30 am, with more than 18 hours in the saddle. 

Hector, how do you feel? 
"Tired but very happy. Even so it was very long, gravel will make you happy."

 What were your happy moments during the ride? 
"Despite the length, the course covered such a huge variety of different climate types and soil, like ocean, desert with cactus, sand, mud and rocks, with breathtaking views to the snow-covered Pyrenees peaks after climbing out of narrow valleys and meeting very nice people along the ride. Everybody was helpful and we suffered and enjoyed it together."

What types of people did you meet during the ride? 
"Many. I started off with two friends and we quickly realized there is no way we can ride together all the time; our fitness level just did not match. So, we decided to split. After riding in different, smaller groups, I ended up all by myself, which was hard. Especially after 10 hours and I was riding in a boring, flat place with headwind. At about 230 km I was lucky and met three guys and a girl. Big surprise, they all were Belgium, and they all were from Antwerp. I was suffering hard at this time, and they shared their last Haribo’s with me. They were very experienced long distance gravel riders and we all finished together. I feel so lucky."

How did your bike with the Classified set-up work for you - any bigger mechanicals? 
"No, lucky again, I rode an ENVE MOG with big 45 mm Hutchinson tires. Because of the steep climbs and the distance, I chose a 48 chainring in the front and 11-40 cassette. The Classified Hub gave me another 33 in the front, my lifebuoy to finish. I was able to ride more, walk less than others. And on those long flats with headwind, I did definitely enjoy having the choice of a closer gear range."

How were the different types of soil challenging you? It rained heavily the days before. 
"Yes, we had 4 days of rain and hail before the event. Usually this area is very dry, most parts dried fast, still there were a lot of muddy sections which caused trouble. Especially when we came flying down hilly sections into small creeks, we were surprised by bigger mud sections which were long and deep. With a fingertip, stress-free, I tipped my hub and easily kept riding with 33/17. These quick changes and pressure to stay on the bike - you did not want to walk in the mud - created lots of chaos and stress for many riders, changing quickly 4-5 gears. On the other side we had many sharp and quick turns to handle, into super steep climbs up to like 21%. I think here, most of the drivetrain problems happened. I had zero and I am happy about this."

So, you just jumped into this adventure - what gives you the courage and confidence to do this? 
"I like to try new things and with friends it is much more fun, plus I have had good experiences meeting new people. I am very thankful for my colleague Katrien, who I work with in the office. She and her husband are very experienced in ultra-events. She gave me a lot of tips and lent me Camelbak’s and frame bags. I felt very well prepared from the equipment side, thank you Katrien."

Any wild 'food dreams' during the second half of the ride? 
"Yes, (laughs) we started seeing the 'golden arches' and dreamt about hamburgers with fries. There is a Mc Donald’s in Girona. It was closed when we arrived at 3:00 am in the morning."

What would you do differently next time?  
"Sleep more before (laughing). I just came back from Sea Otter and customer visits from the USA and jetlag made it hard to get the rest."

Next adventure planned?  
"No, but I know I will ride the Traka next year again, triathlons are stressful, so no more triathlons - gravel makes me happy."