Queen of the Desert. A day with Laia Sanz
Martorell, 29/12/2015. – Manoeuvring a 170-kilo motorbike in desert dunes for more than 10 hours a day is the challenge that Laia Sanz is intensely preparing for. We join the champion at a training session to witness how she prepares for one of the world's toughest races – the Dakar.
It's 9 in the morning and she welcomes us in her home in Seva, which is surrounded by nature - a perfect place to train and relax: "this is my kind of environment; I could never get used to working in a box-like office", she says with a grin.
While eating breakfast she tells us how she got started in motor racing from a very early age: "I began when I was 4 years old because my father is a great enthusiast and my brother already had a motorbike. My family has always supported me and they never made any distinction between my brother and me". Laia says that she was a very active child, and that's exactly why she took so easily to motorbike riding and competing, leading her to a ninth place overall win and a first-place win in the female category at last year's Dakar.
Laia performs the same routine every morning: she loads her motorbike onto the trailer of her SEAT Leon X-PERIENCE and drives down to the track. On the way, she admits to us that her dream would be to one day compete at the Dakar in a car: "I believe all bike racers are also big on cars. I'm a real junkie when it comes to anything powered by petrol".
This athlete trains a total of six hours daily, which she splits between the track and the gym. Her training sessions are geared towards "gaining aggressiveness and taking total control of the motorbike". Nothing can be left to chance: stamina, intelligence and skill are needed to be one of the best female riders in the world.
Constant dedication is essential if you want to be amongst the elite in any discipline. After racing for several hours on the track and landing with her bike from heights of over two metres, Laia looks forward to leading a normal life. When she gets out of her racing gear, her main goal is to spend as much time as possible with loved ones: "It isn't easy to balance everything. I like to maintain a healthy lifestyle – practice sport, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy myself" she says while walking around Vic.
Laia and her team will be travelling to South America at the end of the month for a brand new challenge. She is under a lot of pressure after last year's excellent result, but she is keeping a cool head. Ahead of her await 10 hours a day sitting on her bike in temperatures that range from 15 degrees below zero to 40 above. Another gruelling race for the queen of the desert.