Did I just blew it? - Tuareg rally 2013 report
Did I just blew it? The thought came to me like a shock. It was Hasse, the petrol guy who said I was 45 minutes after Morgan, a fellow team member who we passed 4 hours earlier that day. How is this possible? We navigated great and hadn't even seen the dust of him.
This is my story about this year's Tuareg rally in Tunisia, enjoy.
In the beginning...
It all started with me buying a Honda Dominator 650 back in 2000, took my license and entered my first roadbook rally as first test run. Crashed and broke my foot, drove 150 km with a flickering picture and got a nice cast. Next day I had to jump 4 meters down from a burning building and my co-workers thought this motorcycle business was a bad idea, when seeing blood on the stilts. I did not. So I sold the bike and got myself a KTM 640 instead. Drove a year, crashed a lot and found new friends. Exchanged the 640 for a 625 and started over, learned how not to crash. Ok, I also bought a motocross bike and had my share of injuries on that instead. I also took over the Swedish offroad club SOE, when they wanted to dump it and together with friends turned it into a web site with no money involved. Suddenly we had a whole bunch of people who wanted to organize their own rallies and competitions. Since then I've done a lot of amateur racing and all kinds of offroad competitions; MX, enduro, ice, grass, you name it and became a pretty good all-rounded rider. In 2007 all the desert foxes in Sweden got together and put up a race, sending the winner to a real desert rally start line. I somehow won that thing and was off to the Tuareg Rally in 2008. I felt great to do that race, but on the first dinner I ate some cold food and had a special stage on the toilet for the whole next night, and as thanks I got 26 h penalty. Pills didn't help, so my solution was to not drink more than the absolute minimum and I drove 5 days starved and thirsty, feeling like shit, but without making any mistakes and with a good pace. In 2009 I thought; it can't be that hard to create my own team, so I asked if anyone wanted to come with me and Daniel Sawano (fellow Plan B race team member). 8 people showed up at my house, 12 riders wanted in. So we went back, now with a better bike (EXC530 zebra striped by David Åkerskog) and finished 8:th place overall. The year after we got 2:nd place. Felt great and this time I felt like I'm good enough to aim higher. I had no clue on how to do that, so I got the starting line of Rally Albania to test another type of rally. It went well and was a beautiful country to ride in, but the navigation was simple and not very technical, which is the opposite from Sweden. Amongst really fast riders, I had a pretty big crash the last day, but finished 5:th overall and 2:nd in the >450 class with a busted elbow. At this time, racing abroad is no big deal in Sweden, so it feels good to be a part of it.
Tuareg rally 2010
This year I waited to see where everyone was going and ended up in the Tuareg lineup. My moderate goal was to win it, with last year's winner behind me the last 3 rallies, it looked possible. Especially as the rally was moving for the first time in 14 years and was supposed to be more technical. I would then show up in Sweden with a trophy to show different future sponsors and try to get to the Dakar start. What could possibly go wrong?
Jumping the "Hausdune"
I got in the team, we loaded our stuff on the green SOS-truck and flew down to Tunisia. The place was a real step up for the Tuareg organization. This time you could actually survive on the hotel food. Swedes like to eat a lot for breakfast and until now there was maybe a croissant or a piece of bread which is consumed by the time I brush my teeth. Met up with several old friends and ate dinner with the Brits. It's funny, -we don't talk between rallies, but it always seems like we just pick up where we left off the last time.
Got out and drove a test run. At one time I drove 300 km/h, which is a personal best. Zebra stampede! Some last minute tinkering with a faulty trip sensor wire and some other issues, which surprised me. I’m always very meticulous about my stuff and test everything. But ok, it's a long journey. The shake down went great and I was ready. Too bad about that sore throat. Wait a minute... I have a sore throat. Please not now, not here...
Swedens sand castle
Race day 1 Douz – Douz:
Can't remember when I managed to sleep 9 h before, but I woke up feeling weak. I ate as much as I could, plus some pain killers and got to the starting line. Stood there freezing in the hot sun and thought; this sucks, and I will not make it. But I CAN take the holeshot and have a smile on my face tonight anyway. So, I prepared and had a perfect start, drove away screaming in my helmet, feeling like I´d left everyone in the dust. Adrenaline took me through the day which was two laps on various sand tracks, dunes and fesh fesh, sometimes really difficult and nothing I've seen before. What looked like a smooth surface, suddenly felt like a hole and you were stuck. A couple of times I had to tip the bike completely over end to get it out and get it up somewhere else. The road book remote vibrated in pieces and I rode only on GPS. First lap was hard on me, but I got out on my second lap. The sand was now softer from the sun and sometimes I got stuck every dune. Boiled the motor and felt exhausted. Riding with fever like this was too much for me. I stopped maybe 20 times dizzy and had to wait for the pulse to get back to "normal". That day I finished 8:th or something, but I felt pretty good about being able to do this sick. Got straight to bed and slept a lot. This was awful. One of the best things about rallies is to relax after the day is over, have a beer and chat with the others, walk around the bivouac and enjoy the vacation. Now I had to sleep in a hotel room with a cold. In other words: Perfect warm-up.
Race day 2 Douz - Gafsa:
Woke up feeling a bit better, ate some painkillers I got from Vlastik Tosa and drove in a sandstorm to the start as no 10. Felt exotic to ride in unfamiliar enviroments and the first special went without any real problems. I could ignore my head if the pace was up (adrenaline is a bliss). More gravel roads and then another special. This time high speed and easy navigation. At one time I followed the Belgians, but when they tried to climb the K2 summit I turned back and found the track. It took me maybe 10 minutes, so no big deal. I found some other Swedes and we rode together the rest of the day. “Thomas garden” is the Arab name for a ravine full of boulders. Trying to get down there took all I had and then some. Max pulse and fever is NOT recommended. Down at the bottom I felt like puking and slept with my head on a cool rock for a while. When I woke up I got on the bike and after only 20 meter, still in the ravine, I hit a hole or something. The handle bar end punched the air out of my lungs and left me bent over trying to get air. It wasn’t long to recover, I got mad and adrenaline solves all small details. Hurt a bit on my side, but I had to go on. Got to the hotel feeling like shit and found our British friends devastated . Wesley Beane had broken his neck and died on a liason. I got off the bike crying. I talked to him the same morning and yesterday we ate dinner. Lost the will completely and got to sleep. John, his best friend came over and gave me a hug and told me he was going home. My rib hurt a lot, but with fever it was pretty easy to go back to sleep on the other side. Pretty crappy day.
Almost too much
Race day 3 Gafsa – Nefta:
Due to yesterday’s death there was no competition. I took the highway to the next place, Nefta, with some others from our team and cruised through the two cities like a tourist, stopped for a coffee in a beautiful oasis. Quick maintenance and fled from the sun, which made me dizzy. Felt a little better with no physical work and hoped I could ride as a normal person. I had just realized my rib is cracked, but that’s a later problem. I was behind already in the scores and had to pick up the pace somehow. In all this, we were on a ledge over an oasis. Beautiful.
Raceday 4 Nefta – Nefta:
Star Wars was the name of the day, since the 3 lap track was around Anakin Skywalker’s home town. I woke up pretty much the same as yesterday, but this time I was determined to find out just how much I could take and maybe still have a chance. I wasn’t cold anymore and that was good enough. Ate some pain killers, ate until gagging and got to the starting line. Darth Vader started us with his laser sword and I rode one lap quite well. Sand tracks and offroad riding took some skills to manage, but great fun. After a while I met Morgan and Tony from my team and we pushed hard the whole day. Tony drove away in another direction suddenly and Morgan and I, which are quite even, stuck together and pushed on the rest of the day. Worked really good and we got in under 6 h, which for me was a 6:th place overall. I pretty much hit a wall when the time stopped and I laid down to sleep at a truck wheel. Rode into town and felt really bad, almost fainted at a restaurant, but got some food and coca cola, and felt a little better. All of that was ok, I’ll still smile at the text “small fontun” which was 7 km tiny sand track. Perfect riding day.
My Zebra disagreed. I found the sub frame broken off completely, bash plate broken and some other issues to deal with. Seven hour later, with a few beers trading hands, it was back in one piece again, then we sanded the cylinder head flat on a Kawasaki. I couldn’t take it anymore at 23 and got to bed.
Need a laser sword...
End of part 1.
Raceday 5 Nefta – Douz:
Yesterday was nice but my mind way messed up all night from exhaustion. Slept about 2 hours, the rest I was racing on sandy track or turning away from my rib, or coughing my lungs out. Got on the start line at 8:01 in second line and that felt good. Just cruised the day with Morgan and got to the scary ravine, a crazy steep rocky trail where you didn’t want to tip over. One guy of course did, who I later found out was George Dennison, who were in the same team as us 2008. He did a beautiful front flip down and landed ok in gravel. I tried to yell down to him to go down, where I saw a trail leading back, but he later told me they lifted it back up. Glad to hear he was ok anyway. The day felt long, but went without problems. A few high-speed roads where pretty bad, I couldn’t sit down, the vibrations through my rib was too much and standing up driving against the wind was too hard on me (have to work out more). At least I thought my fever had gone down. Got in tired and changed to the MX-tire again. No bike problems and the Zebra runs great.
Ready to start
Raceday 6 Douz – Douz:
This day was the same as the old Merzouga round-day, which means long and hard special stage with too long between fuel stops and my favorite. Stefan in my team broke his Odometer and said he would stick close to me all day and that’s ok, he’s not ashamed of the throttle. The day started with a sand storm, riding in difficult dunes with the wind, which made the motor run hot. I had to choose between breathing through my buff to avoid coughing all the time, or being able to drink. Got lost after the first fuel stop and almost got my bike run over by a backing race truck. Begged for food at a radio tower but we rode well all the time. The day looked like a site-seeing tour, riding in every imaginable desert environment and really different. It was at the second fuel stop Hasse in my team told us we were 45 minutes behind Morgan. Wait a minute. It was here I realized I had blown it. It felt like the whole week had been a struggle for survival. I hadn’t even checked my scores, since it’s endurance and determination that wins these competitions and I’m struggling. I don’t know where or when this slipped through my fingers, but it sucks to be sick and stubborn at the same time. We continued and didn’t lose any more time. Rainer, the rally chief came and reminded me I’m close to the hall of fame. This is when you complete 3 perfect Tuareg rallies, no penalties and no time added, all check points cleared etc. That made my day, which I would love to do again.
Really cool day, no 6.
Raceday 7 Sand race:
Last day I finally felt somewhat ok, except coughing. A short special around Douz. Morgan, Stefan and I stayed together and in the leading group all day. It took less than 2 hours and suddenly the whole week was over, just when I started to use my right hand. A quick dune race with another Le Mans start finished the competition. We took some team photos and had a beer at the Hotel entry. Germans like burn-outs and always brings wood planks and with a Zebra bike, it’s easy to mill down a sand tire in 6:th gear. I finished 5:th and got in the hall of fame, together with George Dennison, the FMX-rider. Party as usual, the organization showed us how to do it and the riders were a little bit worn… I stayed up as long as I could.
George Dennison and I made the hall of fame.
The trip home was boring. I was tired and disappointed, but at the same time proud for being able to push myself more than I thought and I’m not scared of doing that until blacking out. But as the week passed I became pissed off. I wanted to start over and be out there again. I thought a lot on what’s next? I WAS in the Dakar last year as a mechanic for Ronnie Bodinger. I wonder where his bike is….
Tired and happy.
Wesley Beane: Thank you and rest in peace.
To be continued.
You can follow my blog at http://www.facebook.com/RaidDesigns
Photos without name: Jenny Morgan
Looking forward to see what's next in line for you Hagenblad!
Always a good report
Nice to read about your litle trip. Good luck with your next start :freaky
Awesome report :clap
Chuck Norris, you can take a short vacation now, i found someone thats almost as hard as you :deal
That is a great report. :thumb
Excellent report Calle!
I LOVE this photo!
Another pic from the same place: One idiot (me) pushing sand, another (Ronnie) likes it. Children playing...
Since this I have a new plan. Where is the right place for a blog on ADVrider. Anyone interested?
Amazing report :clap:clap:clap
If it's what I think it is, then I'd say the 'racing' section is the best place!
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