I had the privellige of talking with Ned during last years rally, together with PackMule, prior to one of his RallyRadio call in's. In the banter before Nate hit the record button, one of the things that impressed me, was the genuine way that ned seemed to be thoroughly immersed and enjoying th experience that was Dakar, he was jus sooooo damned glad to be a part of it... I got the impression that he enjoyed EVERYTHING... the dry throat parching tatse of the fexh fesh, the encrusted dust cornflakes that accumulate in your nasal cavity, the sting of sweat and sand in your eyes, even though you are wearing the best goggles money can buy, the smell of that helmet liner after 10 days... the fact that it no longer bothers you after ten days...
Ned was high on the whole deal and lovin' it, This coupled with his undoubted riding skills, pragmatic tenacity and most of all (I thought) a sound realistic approach to something that is tough... but achievable, provided it is approached with respect. I think that ned
had a respect for the rally, but even moreso a respect for himself. The respect not to let ones self get caught up in the hype of "racing" the Dakar... racing others or even racing ones self.
He said something prior to the event - I am paraphrasing . but I think it is pretty close; "A lot of people enter the Dakar with the expressed goal of finishing... and then (somewhere along the journey) they get caught up in racing the Dakar" (and thatäs how it ends for them).
That struck a chord... probably the single most profound comment/statement I have ever seen read or heard, with respect to the "everyday joe" approach to rallyings everest.
And that's who Ned is... an everyday joe, with a damned awesome work ethic, more than a dose of skill and determination and all round good bloke while he is at it.
I for one hope he takes another stab at it one day. He'll do a bloody good job of it, that we can all be sure of!