The Dakar Rally, the ultimate autosports race in the world. For the 2012 edition of the Dakar I'll be joining Team Rally Pan Am as a member of their support crew. To say that I am excited about this adventure would be an understatement!
The 2012 edition begins in Mar Del Plata, Argentina. The race crosses Argentina, crosses into Chile and finishes in Lima, Peru. This will be the fourth time the race has been held in South America and the first time it will travel in the country of Peru. This years race is 16 days in length and promises unreal scenery and challenging terrain.
The team I have signed up to join is called Rally Pan Am. Owned and operated by Charlie Rauseo, a Dakar veteran who lives in California. Charlie owns a company called Rally Management Services
and is the founder of Team Rally Pan Am.
The team is setup to support a fellow by the name of Jonah Street. Jonah is a top ten finisher and Dakar verteran. His loyal following on the internet is known as the Riff Raff
. The RPA team consists of Jonahs ace mechanic Niles, the team manager Robb and for this year Tim from BajaBoundMoto
will be providing mechanical services to the teams other two riders, Ned Seuse
and Bill Conger
. Both are about to embark on their first Dakar after a succesful career in racing in other events. The last member of the team is me, the "tourist". My role is to not get in anyones way and to help out whenever possible. I have been informed that anything I do is something someone else doesn't. I hope to play some small part in the success of the team in getting all three racers across the finish line!
In email converstaions with Charlie, I've been informed that after being in the Dakar as both a competitior and as a part of a support crew that he found both roles very challenging, rewarding and exciting. The organization that runs the Dakar (ASO) labels it "The Ulimate Adventure". I head out on December 27th to make my way south to meet up with the team and join the team as it travels from bivouac to bivouac.
Tales From The Bivouac, Dakar 2012
I intend to record my experience and publish a book about the race from the view of the support team. The book will be called "Tales From The Bivouac, Dakar 2012" and should be available sometime in late 2012. The intent is to tell the story of Team Rally Pan Am from the perspective of the support team, a side of the Dakar that doesn't get a lot of attention. The book will also follow the progress of Bill, Jonah and Ned as they progress towards the finish line. I am fortunate enough to get to "tag along" with the team and hope to share that experience. What makes someone want to compete in the worlds most dangerous race? What makes someone want to challenge themselves against something that will push them mentally and physically to the brink just to see if they can persevere? What makes this team so succesful ? Who spends a lifes savings to enter a race that few people in North America even know about? These and many others questions are what I seek to find out and share with you.
Why does a guy from a small town in Canada want to get involved in an event like the Dakar? I sincerely have no idea. Somewhere along the line I got caught up in the mystic of the Dakar. Images of bikes racing across the desert captivated my imagination and became somewhat of an obsession. I have no false illusions, I am not a racer. I ride bikes on gravel roads in remote places, my wife likes to call this playing Dakar. I suppose she is not far off the mark. When I get on my bike I often get into that head space where no thoughts are to be had and everything is in auto pilot; gears shifting, brakes applied, throttle twisting, staring 30 feet down the road at every bump and crack, up on the pegs in the attack position. I refer to this as the Dakar moments. I know it doesn't compare to the real thing and as I quickly approach middle age it may seem odd to be "out playing" but to me this is what makes me tick. Its relaxing, letting go of lifes stress and having 100% focus on something.
The internet has made it possible for someone like myself to follow the race. The F5 thread of advrider.com has become the worlds primary location for news and information about the race. Its called the F5 thread as when you hit the F5 key (refresh) you have another page or two to read, night and day for days on end. Its said that the folks reading the F5 thread know more about what's going on with the race than the folks who are involved with the race. I'd say this is accurate as the main contributers to the F5 thread are pulling information from many different resources from around the world and sharing this information in one location. It's this and other sources on the internet where I have gotten caught up in reading about any and all information available. The obsession has grown to following other rally races in far away places that I'll likely never get to visit. Trivial details about the bike builds and riders preparation have become a way to fill the days in my cubicle at work.
In a nutshell thats me, a fan of the Dakar. A fan that has been given the opportunity to immerse himself in the race in what can only be described as a very unique way. For three weeks this winter I'll be living the dream and experiencing first hand what I never thought I'd get the chance to. I look forward to sharing the experience with others and hope the story that unfolds is a successful one with all three racers finishing and completing their goals, whether that is to finish or to post a competitive position.
When New Years eve arrives this year, raise a glass and give a toast to the team as they're likely trying to get some rest before the early morning start of their journey to race time across the deserts of South America