Great update from Freedom Rally Racing FB page:
Saturday 5: Today was the start of the Dakar race. The course was set up as a short 13 km ride, so the riders could basically just test their bikes. We all rode the regular highway to Pisco, where the riders went off through the trails and we went straight to camp. We will be here two days, as tomorrows race is a “loop” that comes right back here!
I have no idea who of our riders is in what position, because at the moment, nobody cares. Kevin received penalties 3 times for speeding on the highway, which basically translates to him loosing 30 positions in the ranking. No big deal right now, but he was not happy about it. Luis had “experimented” with a different carburetor (therefore the long night two days ago, adapting it to the bike) but found that although he saved a lot of gas, he lost much needed power. So the angel Jaime, put the original one back on. As I write this Luis is on the verge of trying the bike out again. Marco and Mateo’s bikes performed well and so did Kevin’s.
The highway ride down here was another great experience. The “Law of the jungle” applies here. Highways have two painted lanes, which at any time can become a 4 or 5 lane highway even all going the same way! In Pisco we hit a traffic jam. At one point the one lane south, became two. The oncoming traffic shoulder, also became a southbound lane, as the northbound lane remained that way… unless someone (or many) were passing cars. Then we were all going the same way! At one point, a brand new Mazda 3, tried to get by us as we were stopped. He tore the campers right shade pole off its footing, at the same time as he received a gouged side panel and broken side view mirror. I looked down at him from the RV’s cabin window, asked him politely WTF he was doing, as he proceeded to say he was sorry and drove on! Insurance? Police accident report? Those are foreign concepts here.
According to the media, 800.000 to 1M people watched the race from the side of the highway. I can attest to that. People everywhere, where you’d least expect them. All of them waving and taking photo’s as we went by. At one point when we stopped for gas, many of them asked if they could take a picture of their small kid, riding the mini-bike that Mike carries on the front end of the RV! Or could they put the kid in my window and take a picture that way! Of course I let them! Three parents have a picture of me with their kid! Not good.
I’m starting to figure out my job as a communicator a little bit more. I’m going to write every day and then post to FB without any photos. I will then just keep adding photos to the Dakar album I created. That way, when I get an opportunity to piggy back on someone’s “open” Wi-Fi (as just happened) the upload will be fast. Photos can come next, but as also just happened, the connection went down during that upload. So I’ll have to wait until I have a more reliable connection for that.
Another factor that also comes to play is that I not always have power to charge the computer and my phone, unless the generator is on. It’s on a lot, so hopefully it will all work out.
This place is surreal. I just went outside the trailer to watch a pretty good fireworks display, given by someone outside the camp (bivouac) !! We have many flowers who camp outside ours. After setting up camp and getting everyone what they needed, mechanics working, tents set up, water fetched I found some time to go walking. What a blast! I Talked to many fellow Argentines, a couple of mechanics from the Netherlands, helping their friend realize his riding dream: Finishing the Dakar!, a few “Brits” who’s rider had my same last name (a Welch name), and a few French guys, who worked on the camera’s inside the drivers cabin. My French got a few smiles, and then we reverted to their English… that I smiled at.
So now, 2:00 am I’m off to sleep. Luis is still working on the bike, although I did hear it start and hum nicely. I hope I can post this, using the sporadic “free” Wi-Fi. G’night Dakar Fans!