Showing posts sorted by relevance for query dakar. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query dakar. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday 8 January 2017

A Dakar Rally With Teeth

I've been watching the Dakar Rally with great interest once again.  It's always a wicked competition that has more in common with the Isle of Man TT than it does any other sporting event.  From a Hemingway perspective The Dakar is the real deal.

I enjoy the Dakar more for the battle than I do the singularly focused professional factory teams.  This year's high profile dropouts have cast light on just how speed focused the rally has become.  With rally drivers and MX racers charging across a carefully chosen course with fairly straightforward navigation and off-road dangers minimized, recent Dakars have felt more like day by day sprints for that faster set than a cross country adventure.  Ever rising speeds and increased completion rates seem to support this.  Thanks to a Marc Coma designed course, this year's rally seems to have come back to Dakar's core philosophies.

The completion of a Dakar is a mighty achievement in and of itself.  Winning a Dakar is a team achievement that depends on a lot of complex pieces coming together perfectly for weeks at a time, but I've felt like the vehicle operators were increasingly specializing in speed over everything else.  Just throw yourself at the horizon and let the mechanics sort it out.
You don't want to be pushing so hard
that you're breaking the vehicle and/or
yourself and depending on luck to not
have that happen.  That kind of racer-
think might work on a closed course,
but the Dakar is something else.  You

need some pride to keep you going
when you'd otherwise surrender.  The
meek don't inherit The Dakar.
In recent years, with rally drivers infiltrating the ranks, it feels like the race has moved toward a higher speed, less nuanced approach - hammer it and throw money at the damage and then complain about anything on the course that slows you down seemed to be the way it was going.  The course Coma has set up this year has the speed bunnies getting lost and damaging their machines because they are all go and no slow down and consider.  The return to a more thoughtful Dakar that rewards navigation and terrain reading (because the terrain isn't pre-screened to favour speed bunnies) makes for a better race.  Finding way points and completing timed sections should demand intelligence and terrain reading as well as a racer's touch.  During a Dakar you should sometimes have to slow down to win.

These complexities had me trying to think through how you approach a Dakar.  The speed bunny approach tends to lean heavily on pride, hand-eye coordination and balls-out courage.  If the race organizers did anything other than design speed sections that catter to your approach you complain about it.  Luck was taken care of by influencing speed focused course designs that take you on prepared trails and less intensive navigational challenges.  This year's Dakar is stressing humility and a considered approach to crossing some truly wild stages.  You still need the hand-eye coordination, strength and endurance, but you also need to bring along your strategic thinking.  Mashing the throttle and flying over the terrain doesn't work when the terrain isn't pre-screened for you.  It pays to be more than a racer in the Dakar.

One of my favorite parts of the 2015 Dakar was the blast across the salt flats.  Many of the speed bunnies complained bitterly about it because it was hard on the machinery, but this race isn't just about pinning a throttle.  The journey is the destination on the Dakar.  Too many were only focused on getting to that destination and making the rest incidental.  If they want to race short, closed course rallies, go do that, the Dakar is and should be something else, something bigger.

The Dakar Rally continues to evolve into something better and better.  I hope it keeps embracing its uniqueness by focusing on the adventure rather than catering to the wishes of a small subsection of hard core racers who can see nothing other than how quickly they can complete a rally stage.  Make it hard.  Cross the wilds.  Make the winners think about something other than pinning the throttle in order to win it.

The Dakar is happening right now (January 2nd to January 14th, 2017).  You can watch it on the Dakar website, and Red Bull TV is also doing daily updates.  It's also playing on varied TV channels across the world (but not so much in North America).  Daily Motion is another excellent online place to follow the event.

Why else follow the Dakar?  It's one of the few motor sporting events that goes out of its way to consider its environmental impact.  If you like a considered, intelligent adventure, you should be watching this.

Étape 6 - Dakar Heroes - Dakar 2017 by Dakar - Riders like Lyndon Poskitt are why I love The Dakar

Monday 1 January 2018

Lyndon Poskitt and an inside look into the 2018 Dakar Rally

If you're new to the Dakar Rally and you love motorbikes, I've got a way in for you. 
Lyndon Poskitt has raced in the rally a couple of times now but this year he has raised the degree of inside media coverage to a new level.  If you follow his site you should get daily inside looks into what it's like to ride in the toughest class (Malle Moto is only the rider with no support crew doing everything from maintenance to navigation to riding over thousands of kilometres for almost two weeks, alone).  Riding a motorcycle in Dakar is the hardest thing you can do.  Some bike riders retire onto four wheels as they get older, but the bikers are the hardest of the hard core.

Lyndon's media crew made an hour long documentary that reviews his race from last year.  It introduces you to both the sheer physical exertion, luck and talent, both technical and riding, that is needed to get through the race as a malle moto rider.  After watching this it'll seem nearly impossible, but Lyndon's back at it again this year.

You get a bit of background on Lyndon from the video.  This isn't a rich guy playing at racing.  Lyndon's magic power is being a mechanical engineer.  His mechanical sympathy and technical talent allow him to prepare his bike as well as any mechanic would.  For the past couple of years, since a near death experience, he has been riding around the world participating in races and rallies as he goes.  He has sourced all his own support for this.

The Dakar is the mother of long distance rallies.  It used to run from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal in Northern Africa back in the Twentieth Century.  The BBC made a great documentary about it called Madness in the Desert, if you're interested in a detailed look at how the Dakar started.

Political instability in Saharan Africa moved the rally to South America in 2009 after decades of running from Europe through the desert to Dakar.  The move didn't make things any easier.

If you enjoy motorsport and watching people pushed to the limits of endurance and skill there is little that approaches it.  While there are many factory riders and teams on their fully funded rides, the Dakar always has a healthy bunch of privateers racing, so it doesn't seem like the millionaire's club that a lot of motorsports do.  There is something very genuine about the Dakar.

If you're interested in other forms of motor racing beyond bikes there is everything from quads to cars to massive trucks.  None of it is easy and all of it challenges competitors with thousands of miles of racing through every conceivable ecosystem, from jungles to Altiplano to desert dunes.  This year it's running from January 6th to 20th.


Follow the Dakar on TwitterOn FacebookOn YouTubeCarlton Kirby on Twitter (my favourite announcer on the race if you can find him on Eurosport)

Countdown to Dakar.

Dream Racer:  another great documentary on privateering in the Dakar.

Last year's Dakar:  A Dakar with teeth!

Ever wanted to get old knowing you did something exceptional while you still could?  Dakar Dreams...

n00b's guide to Dakar.

The deadly Dakar.

Rally Raid Network:  Countdown to Dakar

If you're interested in helping out Lyndon's efforts, you can do so here:

Sunday 29 January 2017

Dakar Dreams

I just finished this year's Dakar and it always starts the itch.  As a bucket list item it's well beyond my ken, but I still sometimes think about it.  The cost is in 1%er territory and a school teacher from Ontario isn't likely to find support from advertisers that would allow him to compete.  But hey, what's mid-life for if not your last chance to do the impossible?  The other day a buddy said, "you don't want to be sitting around when you're old wondering what you might have done."  Even an attempt at a Dakar would be special.  Finishing one would be a crown jewel in a life well lived.

In an interview during Charlie Boorman's Race to Dakar, one of the competitors says he does it because it's two weeks of singularly focusing on one thing, which he found relaxing.  Simon Pavey, Charlie's teammate, said he does it just so he doesn't have to do dishes for two weeks.  I get the angle.  Being able to singularly focus on something is a luxury few of us can afford.  Life is a series of compromises and multiple demands on our time.

I've been watching The Dakar long enough to not harbor any illusions about winning it or even placing well, but I would certainly hope to finish.  Having a Dakar finishers medal puts you in a very small circle of excellence, and toughness.  The people who know what it is would have mad respect when they saw it.

To get there you need to take on the almost religious piety of a professional athlete.  I'd give myself two years to get the experience and fitness levels I'd need to give it an honest try.  I know I wouldn't stop unless circumstances stopped me (I'm perverse like that), so it would simply be a matter of preparing as well as I could for it.  I turn 48 this spring, so I'd be doing a Dakar in 2019, the year I turn 50.  My goal would be to complete a Dakar and document as much of it as I could in the process.  From the beginning to the end I'd be making notes that would eventually turn into a book:  Mad Dogs & Englishmen: A Middle Aged Man's Dakar.

A Zero electrically driven Dakar Rally bike?  Yes please!
Maybe by then there would be an electric motorcycle that could manage the stages with quick battery swaps at the stops.  Maybe I should be asking Zero if they'd like to consider a Dakar run.  Being the first electric bike to finish a Dakar would be something.  Electric cars are getting there now.

Finding sponsorship with companies I already have a relationship with would be a nice way to make this attempt a more personal one.  Everybody runs KTMs, Hondas and Yamahas, but I'd love to ride a rally prepped Kawasaki, Triumph or maybe a CCM; all companies who have had an impact on my motorcycling career.  Getting some degree of factory and dealer support in that would be fantastic.

A lot of riders gopro their experiences from within the Dakar itself, but I think it would be cool to get some next level media out of the event.  Running a 360 degree camera would be a goal.  Having a small, agile, media production crew along who could capture drone footage and support the 360 footage from inside the race could eventually lead to an immersive video of the event that gives some idea of how it feels to be in the Dakar; an everyman's view of the race.  Dreamracer does a good job of this.  I'd try to emulate that approach with newer technology.  Since not a lot of Canadians participate in the rally, I might be able to drum up local support that other rally riders could not.

Deep winter, mid-life dreams about doing something impossible... all I'd need is an opportunity.


Where to find your rally kit:  Rebel X SportsNeduro

Sample Dakar budget, another sample budget

A 2017 Dakar how-to video series by Manuel Lucchese

What Dakar riders wear article

Dakar advice on putting together an entry:

Before setting off in an active search for sponsors, it is important to define your project clearly by

answering the following questions:

Why am I taking part in the Dakar?
What are my motivations?
What are my objectives?
What are my assets in achieving those objectives?
What sort of crew do I want to set up?
What resources do I need to achieve this?
It is important to detail the various cost items in order to have a clear idea of your expenses (Vehicle preparation – Registration – Trip – Visas and passports – assistance vehicle(s) – mechanics registrations…) After this stage, you must have answers to the following four questions:

What is my budget?
How should I present it to my potential partners/sponsors?
What are my available funds?
How much should I ask for from my potential sponsors?
Your potential sponsors must be targeted : better to count on your relational, personal, professional or regional fabric rather than “major sponsors” who may be less inclined to support you. Make a list of your potential partners and characterise them:

What do they do?
Why would they be likely to help me?
What specific arguments should I put forward?
What funds do they have available?
Which companies should I see as a priority?
“Do not make mistakes in what you say or who you target”. There is no point in talking about your potential sporting achievements if you are taking part in your first Dakar! Your aim is to finish, not to be placed! So, assess what you say and in particular your media exposure: amateurs will be the subject of one-off reports, they are frequently mentioned in the local and regional media but do not promise the TV news or a daily sports newspaper!

Prepare a personalised dossier to present your project. This presentation must be clear, concise, persuasive and imaginative; it must make them dream of the rally but also convince them of your personal qualities.

You need to highlight your special features, your motivation :

What is original about your entry?
Why are you passionate about motor sports (and cross country rallies in particular)?
What previous experience do you have?
Consider presenting your sporting profile: draw inspiration from statistics on Dakar 2015. Put yourself into the rally: in terms of age, type of vehicle, number of entries, status (professional or amateur). Stress your nationality and your region! Identify potential media spin-off: media statistics can help you identify press, radio or even TV spin-off in your region.

Regional media are frequently looking for a potted history of amateur competitors; so do not hesitate to contact them and suggest an interview, your potential sponsors will only be more impressed!

Present your arguments to justify sponsorship:

To give out a good image of the company at local, regional or national level thanks to media spin-off. The company’s name (and/or one of its brands) is associated with your entry and the adventure of the rally.
To change or strengthen the company’s image internally. To advertise the company’s main values, the directors can use event sponsorship to motivate employees and/or associate the company with values such as courage, surpassing oneself, competition, human adventure,… which characterise the Dakar.
To build a relationship with their suppliers/customers. Sponsorship may be a way for one of your suppliers/customers to build strong links before or after the conclusion of a partnership.
To involve your sponsors indirectly in the adventure. The Dakar is a mythical trial in which everyone who is interested in motor or extreme sports will want to take part one day… These fans, potential sponsors, will be all the more inclined to help you in this challenge if they can live the adventure by proxy.
To enable the partner company to enjoy tax relief. Depending on the country, sponsorship offers tax breaks. Consider putting forward a small sales pitch to demonstrate these tax breaks according to the legislation in your country.

Highlight the benefits of financial support or support in kind :

Visibility of their brand/company name on your vehicle, your clothing, your helmet, your Leatt-Brace, your trunk, your assistance vehicles…
A free trip on a rest day or on arrival: for the most generous sponsors, a day at the rally is a weighty argument for those who want to taste the atmosphere of the Dakar!
Event organisation: exhibiting the vehicle before or after the rally, or a photo exhibition…
Finally, do not forget to…
Keep them up to date with your exploits during/after the rally (sell IRITRACK!)
Give them a DVD collection of Dakar articles, or a detailed press review, or a photo album to thank them.

Tuesday 6 February 2018

Dangerous Dakar

I know hyperbole sells papers, especially in the infamously hyperbolic British press, but with Dakar winners whining about how hard it is, the whole thing looks to be on the verge of imploding.  With all of this negative noise around it, it's only a matter of time before some enterprising probably American lawyer attempts to shut the whole race down with a liability lawsuit.  I''m hoping the cavalier French organization running the Dakar are suitably prepared to deal with that.  It would be a crying shame to see the Dakar ended by such mediocrity.

These headlines popped up on Lyndon Posskitt's Instragram feed.  In typical Lyndon fashion he was simply thankful for the attention, you'd be hard pressed to find a nicer guy.  That the headlines are so turned up to eleven as to be practically hysterical isn't anything new.  When unprepared playboy racer Mark Thatcher got lost in the Sahara during the 1982 Paris to Dakar rally the British press lost their minds.  Rather than wonder why a spoiled rich kid who had forgotten about the race until the week before it began and then managed to navigate his driver almost two hundred kilometres off piste before crashing was in the mess he was in, they questioned this weird, dangerous foreign event.  Even the level headed BBC can't help but describe it as a mental illness.

From  a more factual point of view, this Dakar had a 55% finishing rate.  I don't know about the toughest Dakar in years, this year's event had a better finishing rate than 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015 (all years the race ran in South America).

In the almost thirty years the Dakar ran in Africa, only five times did half or more of the competitors cross the finish line.  It took until the 1990s to get over half of the starters to the finish for the first time.

Tacking on to the end of Red Bull's graph there, in 2015 there was a 51% finishing rate.  2016 was a 62% finishing rate and 2017 came in at an all time high 72%.  Perhaps the issue is that the race has been catering to the results orientated professional rally teams more and more.  With their money and vested interests trying to control the race and maximize participation and therefore advertising revenue, there is moneyed pressure to turn the Dakar into a glorified two week world rally stage.  The quick professionals are the biggest complainers.  If you're looking for proof, those inflationary finishing percentages tell a tale.  Or perhaps it's because in 2018 everybody thinks they deserve a medal for showing up.

If anything this year's Dakar looked like the desert races of old with sand, dunes and savage navigation.  What you're seeing here is Dakar sporting director Marc Coma's course design getting better and better.  If anyone could take the Dakar back to its roots, it's the guy who was worried about navigation losing its importance in the first place.  

You can take all the press hyperbole fed by professional speed-racer whining with a grain of salt.  The Dakar is in good hands and it will remain what it is: the toughest motorsport event in the world.

Thursday 17 March 2016

Dream Racer

Triumph included a link to this on their email newsletter, so I gave it a whirl on Vimeo.  At nearly $9 it's an expensive (48 hour) video rental compounded by some stuttering even with fibre at home internet.  Looking at the code it looks like Vimeo segments the video to prevent copying.  Those segments kept stalling on transition, which is pretty frustrating, especially when you just paid a premium price to see it.

I like Charley, but he
wasn't the guy to see
this through
Technicalities aside, the film itself is very engaging.  It isn't just about a run at Dakar (like Charlie's was).  The man making the film, Simon Lee, is in his thirties and feels like his dreams of making a film are ebbing away under the pressures of middle aged life.  The man trying to go to the Dakar, Christophe, is a former North African motor-cross champion who failed to complete the Dakar the year before.  He is a skilled rider, but spends all his time in a suit and tie doing business and trying to drum up the money to get himself to the race.  The expectations of middle-aged life are barriers in both men's struggles.

When desire conquerors
circumstance you get a
better story
You'd expect a fully financed, technically supported, off-road experienced forty year old rider coupled with a Dakar veteran mentor and a spare rider to hand you his bike when your's breaks to finish the race (he didn't).  You'd not expect a single thirty-something experienced racer who has to turn his own wrenches and barely managed to find a bike and get enough money to attend the race to finish (he does).  What matters more, financial support or the will to succeed?  This film sheds light on that question.

Along the way you get to see the Dakar without the money lenses of sponsorship.  This purer Dakar hearkens back to the beginnings of the race (a good documentary to watch about this is BBC's Madness in the Desert).  But you don't have to suffer through poor footage from amateurs to see this raw Dakar.  What you get is video shot by a guy who knows how to shoot video and edited by an expert.  The whole thing is then wrapped in an original soundtrack that supports and nurtures the narrative.  If you're used to watching half-assed video of motorcycle based adventure, this isn't that.

A teary conclusion is well earned, and stirs up deeper
philosophical questions around media dilettantes & the
committed racer...  
When you get to the end and everyone is in tears you'd have to be a robot not to share that feeling with them, and it's not all just about Christophe's race either, it's also about Simon's journey as a documentary film maker.  Both men defy expectations and pursue a dream at great personal expense (emotional, physical and financial).  It's the kind of story most of us who live in a world that doesn't give a damn about what we dream of doing can relate to.

If you enjoy a quality, motorcycle themed film, this will do it for you.  It's well shot and brilliantly edited and musically scored.  The filming is such that you get to know Simon and Christophe who are both painfully honest in front of the camera.  The narrative (aided by that brilliant editing) takes you from introductions, to desperate attempts to source the money and prepare for the race and then tosses you into the Dakar without the antiseptic third person corporate perspective you usually see it from.  By this point you're emotionally invested in both men's journey.

I recommend this film.  I only wish I could have ordered the DVD for a few dollars more and been able to watch it without the interruptions and technical headaches.

When a film leverages the Dakar to raise questions around commitment to challenge through skill and determination,
and does it well, you've got a winner.

Christophe riding injured.  As long as he is conscious, he isn't going to stop - remarkably sympathetic to his machine as well.

A naked Dakar bike, personally paid for, no corporate spin; not what the modern Dakar is about.  It would be nice
to see the money around the Dakar put a bit aside to ease the entry of privateers into the race - they make for better
stories than the stone faced, well paid professionals.

Saturday 13 January 2018

Face Your Monsters: Dakar Heroism

Dakar 2018 keeps coming thick and fast.  Front runners are dropping like flies in the Peruvian sand dunes.  Some of those front runners suggest this is too difficult for amateurs, but it's the professionals who seem to be catching the worst of it.

When I see a self-funded privateer like Lyndon Poskitt rolling in, maintaining his own bike, sorting himself out with a good night of sleep (in a tent on the ground) and then going at it again the next day, I have to think that maybe the speed-wonky professional racers with their team prepared vehicles and motor-home accommodations have missed the point entirely.  Don't get me wrong, I love watching the genius of the fast riders, but when they start moping about how a stage wasn't simple enough that reflexes and speed wasn't all it took to win it, I get annoyed.  Why do professional athletes always want to try and boil complex things down into something simple that they can more easily dominate?  Is that really what win at all cost competition has done to them?  It isn't very flattering.  The less funded a competitor, the more in keeping with the spirit of the Dakar they seem to be.

The professionals of motor-sport with their ungodly reflexes and singular focus on speed struggle with the Dakar, and that's exactly why I like it.  They complain about difficult navigation and the challenges of driving on fech-fech because they want every race to play to their strengths and run like an off road rally on carefully prepared stages. They've failed to comprehend that the Dakar is a long distance, cross country race. If they want to run rally stages, go run rally stages, but don't whine about the Dakar for being what it is.

What the Dakar is confounds people, but rather than hearing millionaire pro-drivers whining, I'd rather see real people battling the thing without excuses.  That many privateers and small teams have struggled mightily to get the funds just for the opportunity to face this monster of a race only makes their struggle more poignant.  I wish advertisers would enable more privateers into doing the Dakar and media would spend more time showing their battles.  Your brand gets a chance to show support for some real heroism and the media would have human stories to develop instead of focusing on the monotonous drone of competition.


Charles Cuypers has navigated the rally in a car and ridden motorcycles previously.  He knows what he's up against and yet once again he dares to try and finish the thing.  Watching this fifty year old fail to finish yet again was truly heroic.  It wasn't very dignified, but it was the most honest, heart wrenching thing I've seen in ages.

 He filmed his crash in the desert and eventual rescue by helicopter.  Through the whole thing he was chanting to himself that he would never give up.  The moment when he realizes it's over and bursts into tears on the helicopter is genuine, unspoiled and a beautifully sad thing to watch.  Will this aging man try again, or has the monster finally beaten him?  I don't care, I'm already a fan.  He had the courage to face the monster in the first place, and isn't that what matters?

"When I think of the Dakar, I have an image engraved in my head: that of Stéphane Peterhansel, a biker flying over the dunes. It was in the 90s. I was a co-driver and since that day I never stopped dreaming of riding the Dakar on a motorcycle. Being at the start is already a victory.  This human adventure shows us what life can be beyond the day to day. I want to live this passion: live life and live the adventure!"

Damned right, Charles, c'est magnifique!  Keep fighting that Dakar monster, that's what heroes do.

Charles rode for Casteu Aventure.

Saturday 30 April 2016

A Year of Living Dangerously

Work's been heavy as of late, and I've got the middle-aged itch to do something profound before I'm too old to do anything interesting.  As usual, money and responsibility tie me to the earth, but in my more imaginative moments I wonder what I'd do with a year off and the money to do things that one day I'll be too old and creaky to manage.

If I finished work at the end of June this year and had a year off I'd be back at work the following September.  That would give me the better part of fifteen months to explore three of my favorite aspects of motorcycling:  road racing, endurance riding and long distance adventure riding.  In chronological order, here's my year of living dangerously:

It's seat forward, middle & back,
in ergocycle but it looks like I *really*
like that Daytona.

1... Road Racing:  This spring get my race license, get a bike sorted and complete in the SOAR schedule over the summer.

A 12+ year old Triumph Daytona 600 would be a nice machine that fits into specific age (lost era) and displacement categories and wouldn't be what everyone else is sitting on.  I also fit on it quite well (see the suggestive gif on the right).

Road racing would sharpen my riding skills and let me wrap my head around some of the more extreme dynamics of motorcycle riding in a controlled environment.  

Familiarity with high speed on a bike wouldn't hurt for what I'm planning to do next, and racing over the summer would also focus my fitness training which would be helpful in building up to #2.

Costing a road racing season:  ~$20,000 (including race prepping a bike and racing in a local series)

Less than 50% usually finish, it's
difficult, astonishing and viciously
exhausting, but finishing puts you in
a very small and exceptional group.
2... Race the Dakar:  Happening over New Years and into early 2017, finishing the Dakar would be the kind of thing that not many people manage.  Dreamracer puts into perspective just how difficult this can be.

Leaving work at the end of June I'd be full-on training and preparing for the race.  There are a number of Baja and other sand/desert focused races that would get me ready for the big one.  There are also a lot of off road training courses available well into the fall.  My goal would be to get licensed, certified and experienced in as many aspects of motorcycle racing as possible in the six months leading up to the Dakar.

Doing a Dakar would also be a fantastic fitness focus.  With a clear goal in mind, it would be a lot easier to schedule and organize my fitness.  A personal trainer and a clear targets would have me ready to take my best run at a Dakar, one of the toughest tests of mind and body ever devised.  It would do a fantastic job of scratching that middle-aged urge to do something exceptional.

Costing of a Dakar:  ~$98,000 Cdn

3... Ride Home:  The Dakar raps up mid-January, the perfect time to begin a ride back to Canada!  After resting up from the race I'd head south to Ushuaia at the beginning of February (summer time there) before riding back up the west coast through Chile.

A stop in Peru at Machu Picchu and then up the coast through Ecuador and into Columbia before loading on the Ferry in Cartegena to Panama around the one roadless bit in the Americas.

Once landed in Panama I make my way through Central America before pushing all the way up North America's West Coast to the Arctic ocean in mid-summer (lots of sunlight!).  The last leg has me finally heading south again and east across Canada and back home.

The new Tiger would do a sterling
job of taking me the thirty three
thousand kilometres home.
All told it would be just over thirty three thousand kilometres.  Leaving Buenos Aires at the beginning of Februrary, and averaging 500kms a day (less on bad roads, more on good roads), I'd be looking at 68 days on the road straight.  Fortunately, if I wrap up the trip at the end of July I'd have more like 180 days to do it, leaving lots of time to enjoy the magic I'd find along the way.

Cost of a trip like this?  A week on the road is cheaper in South and Central America than North America.  If this is a 160 day trip (with 20 days for potential slowdowns to stay within the 180 day/6 month goal), then the money can be roughly estimated using these approximations:
  • $150/day (gas, food, lodging, expenses)  in South & Central America
  • $250 a day in North America
The raw numbers break down like this:
  • 14,500kms in South America (43% of the trip)  -  69 days = $10,350
  • 5600kms in Central America (17% of the trip)  -  27 days = $4050
  • 13560kms in North America (40% of the trip)   -  64 days = $16,000
For a total of $30,400 for the trip + $15,000+shipping to Argentina for a new Tiger

For the low, low price of about $150,000, I'd have a year of unique challenges, once in a lifetime experiences and get a chance to do three things that will only become more and more impossible as I get older.  Some people like the idea of a holiday where they can do nothing, but that isn't for me.  I'll take the challenge any day, if only I had the money and the time money gives.

The goal once I was home and back to daily life would be to collate the notes and media from this year of living dangerously into written and visual mediums.  Being able to produce a video and book(s) out of this experience would be the cherry on top.

Besides a fantastic set of memories, some new skills and the material needed to write an epic tale, I'd also have a race bike ready to compete on again the next summer.  That year of living dangerously might persist.

Sunday 5 January 2020

Dakar 2020

Dakar 2020 has just gotten underway in the deserts of Saudi Arabia.  Red Bull TV has a good (and free to view) daily recap of the event here:

You can keep up with events on the Dakar website too:

In case you have no idea what the Dakar Rally is about, there is a good primer and historical explanation of the event as it heads into its 42 year:

Some photos from from the first day of the rally:

What a thing!

Friday 19 January 2018

Why On Earth Would They Do That?

A conversation with one of my students at lunch today:

Lyndon demonstrating, 'it's hard' 
"What are you watching?"
"Footage from today’s stage of the Dakar race."
"What's that?"
"The hardest race in the world."
"Why is it so hard?"
"It's thousands of kilometres of dangerous off road racing with cars, bikes & trucks with little sleep over weeks at a time. Many people who start it don’t finish. People die on it almost every year."
This very smart grade 9 student was confused. Finally she asked, "Why would anyone do that?”
“Because it’s difficult,” I replied.
She ruminated on that a moment then asked, “why is it so dangerous?”
“Because people race it in cars, trucks, quads and bikes, all at the same time over deserts, mountains and jungles. If you’re on a smaller vehicle it becomes even more dangerous than it already is.”
“Why on earth would anyone do that on a motorcycle?!?”

“Because it’s even more difficult…”

Is attempting the dangerous and difficult with ample chance of failure a bad idea, or the point of it all?  Risk nothing and you lose everything.

If you haven't been keeping up with the race this year, it's still all to play for.  If you want the official feed you can find it on the Dakar YouTube channel.  

If you're into documentary film making using the latest in state of the art video and on the fly editing, Lyndon Posskitt's Youtube Channel will take you through the race one gruelling stage at a time.  If you've got some time, watch Lyndon's Malle Moto - The Forgotten Dakar Story about last year's race.  It'll set you up for this year's harrowing adventure.

Sunday 18 November 2018

Sabbatical Rides: Riding the Americas

Previously I've thought about various ways I could do a four years pay over five years and then take a sabbatical year off work and still get paid.  From circumnavigating North America to tracing my grandfather's route through occupied France in 1940 during World War Two, there are a lot of interesting ways I could take a year off with an epic motorcycle ride included.

One of the first motorcycle travel ideas I had was to do the Pan-American trip from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska to Ushuaia in Argentina, from the top to the bottom of the Americas.  This ride is an even more extreme version of the North American circumnavigation as the mileage is mega; over 56,000kms!  At a 400km a day average that works out to 141 days or over 20 weeks making miles every day.  With a day off every week that adds another 3 weeks to the trip.  Fitting it into 24 weeks would mean some rest days and some extra time to cover the border crossings and rougher sections of the trip.

Another way to look at this might be from a Nick Sanders angle.  He did Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia and back again in an astonishing 46 days.  That's 23,464kms x 2, so 46,928kms in 46 days, or an astonishing 1020kms average per day, including stops for flights over the Darien Gap between Columbia and Panama two times.  That approach (I imagine) gets pretty psychedelic and I might not really get the sense that I'm anywhere doing it that way, but there are certainly ways to tighten up the schedule and move with more purpose if needed.

The actual number of days needed if I ran it over 24 weeks would be 168.  The best time to hit Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean coast of Alaska is obviously during the long days of the northern summer.  If I left home mid-July I'd be up Prudhoe way eighteen days later at 400kms/day.  If I push on tarmac I should be able to get up there by the beginning of August and then begin the long ride south.

A good tie-up in South America would be to follow a bit of the Dakar Rally - this year running in Peru from January 6th to 17th.  After that it would be down south to the tip of South America in their late summer before heading back north.

The 2019 MotoGP season lands in Texas the weekend of April 12-14, making a nice stop before the final leg home in the spring.  Two weeks before that they are in Argentina.  Trying to connect the two races overland would be an interesting challenge.  It's just over six thousand kilometres north to Cartegena, Columbia and the boat around the Darien Gap, or just over seven thousand heading through the Amazon.  Then another forty-five hundred kilometres through Central America to Texas for the next race.  In a straight run that'd be almost eleven thousand kilometres across thirteen countries in eleven days if I managed to get to Texas for the pre-qualifying.  That'd be a Nick Sanders worthy feat. 

The PanAmerican Trip Tip to Toe and back again in sections:

North America to Prudhoe Bay:
19,571kms July-August to Prudhoe Bay, August-November to Colon:

South America South:

11,106kms  Nov-Jan to Peru for Dakar, Jan to Mar to Ushuai

South America North:

11,057kms  Via Circuit De Rio Hondo MotoGP race in March.

North America North:


56,357kms.  @400kms/day average that's 141 days continuously on the road.

Leave July, Prudhoe Bay by end of July, Dakar in January in Peru, Ushuaia in February, Circuit de Rio Hondo for the MotoGP race at the end of March then a hard 11 days north through the Amazon to Austin Texas for the next race in mid-April.  Home by the end of April.   And I'd still have May-August to write about what happened and publish.