Death Valley, California

Death Valley, California


This is my first blog, so forgive me for any technical blunders.

Why the blog?  Simple.  Because I love riding, I love motorcycles and I really love the places a motorcycle can take me. (or you)  As I've gotten older, riding has kept me healthy, happy, and at some periods in my life, sane.

Motorcycles have allowed me to witness, learn and feel many things.  I've seen wild mustangs running by my side in Baja. I've watched camels roam the Sahara.  I've pushed my mechanical limits wrenching on bikes and I've pushed my personal limits, riding and racing in challenging circumstances.  

This blog will be a dump of sorts, dedicated to all things motorcycle adventure related.  Photos, thoughts, ideas, past memories and future dreams will all be a part of it.  If you enjoy it, great.  If it leads you to ride more, even better.  But if it motivates you to do something you've never done or take the ride you've never taken, that would be the best!  

Welcome to Adventure Rider Dude.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Dakar Rallye - the best and worst

I love the Dakar.  I have for 25 years.  It's fascinating beyond words to me as it's an amazing mix of human endurance, navigation, technology, machinery, preparation, luck, scenery, and adventure all interwoven into this colorful and dramatic race every January.  I love it.

As we start the second half of this year's Dakar, a 5,500 mile race through Argentina and Chile, I realize that this year has been especially dramatic.  Between crashes, incredibly difficult stages in 125 degree heat, rain, rocks, dunes etc., there are many stories.  Just today, Annie Seel one of the female competitors, went into a hole or tomb of sorts.  She managed to keep her body out of it, but her bike fell roughly 30 feet into a 6X8 hole.  One might ask, "how does this even happen?"   But in the Dakar, it just does.
A helicopter lifted the bike out of the hole and amazingly, Annie continued.  One of many stories for this day in this two and a half week long event.

But I think we've also seen the best and worst of this event over the past week.  The best has been seeing competitors help one another, like Luca Manca giving Marc Coma his wheel.  It has been the stories of the amazing Christina Meier, motivating another exhausted competitor to not give up, then together finishing the stage.  In an earlier stage, Christina had borrowed a horse from a local, when her bike broke.  She rode to the end to talk to her mechanic, and then rode the horse back to her bike and fixed it.  The best stories have been about people who spent 18 hours on a bike and arrived at the end of  the stage at 4 am, having shown incredible heart and will to go on.    One guy, Roman Krejci #118 is the essence of what the Dakar is all about.   He has no mechanic and no support.  He not only rides each grueling day, he then rolls in and does all the maintenance himself!  He is literally squeezing 40 hours of work into each 24 hour day.  All the while keeping his head on straight and going out again the next day to deliver another incredible performance.  Currently, he is 51st overall.

Astounding, and it's stories like these which make me love this race.

But the top pros are an embarrassment.  Marc Coma and Cyril Dupres, both previous winners, make me sad about the Dakar.  Yesterday there was drama because Dupres noticed Coma had a fresh rear tire and shouldn't have.  An investigation was done and ultimately Coma was penalized 6 hours for an illegal wheel change, eliminating him as a contender to win.  It was a bad move by Coma, and even though those in the know say "everyone cheats on all the big teams, he just got caught,"  I think it's sad.  Days earlier, Luca Manca stopped and gave a wheel to Coma to help him.  The next day, when Manca was making up time he lost, he crashed horribly.  With a fractured skull, he is still unconscious.  Then, after receiving assistance with such a price, Coma decided to cheat?  Bad.  Apparently, he's now upset with Dupres and there has been some public bickering.  It's bad enough to get the attention of KTM, whose bikes they ride, and KTM had to threaten to take the bikes away if they didn't stop.  Humiliating for both of them and quite honestly, an embarrassment for the sport.  Competition is one thing, but at that level, so is professionalism.

So this Dakar has had it's drama, like they all do.  But this year, I've noticed a separation from drama associated with human spirit, drive and will (which is what we normally see in a Dakar) to drama over egos, ethics and what ultimately comes down to money and business.
The Dakar is the most difficult race on the planet, and by some margin.  It pushes man and machine beyond known limits and into areas of one's soul they never knew existed.  No one disputes that.  But I hope the second half the 2010 Dakar leaves us all thinking about that element of the race versus some of the childish behavior we saw last week.  Drama sells, so even the childish drama will be good for the Dakar as a business.  But for the purists who believe this race is one of the last places on earth where man can truly test the limits of his will to endure, we need the drama of the adventure to rise to the top.

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