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Old 01-26-2007, 07:27 AM   #1
Bonezjones OP
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Back from Dakar - A few thanks

Just got in from the Dakar the other night after the wildest two weeks of my life. There are a number of people I would like thank for making my dream a reality and I couldn't think of a better forum than ADVRider.

Spice and I spent an extra day in Dakar sorting out the bike and parts and shipping and set out for Atlanta after what seemed like a year on the road.
Seeing her at the finish line at the Meridian Hotel in Dakar was like no other emotional experience I have ever had. I told myself I was going to try to hold back the tears and maintain some composure on seeing her but my first glance unleashed two weeks of a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

That was an indescribable experience. I was glad to be surrounded by so many others in the same situation. I have to thank Spice for her unconditional support throughout this adventure that started years ago. Without her this would all be meaningless.

As you know getting to the start is as much an adventure as getting to the finish. There are a few that made it possible to get to the start that I would like to thank: Tied for number one was Elmer and James. Without them this never would have happened. Elmer and James both kept telling me "just get it to the finish every day". I told them if they got me to the start I'd get it to the finish.

"I'll miss you bud. Thanks"

Thanks to my buddies here in Atlanta for continuing to encourage me for the last couple years. When I wanted to race Baja two years ago to start my training Cactus Dave, Jason Sandsux, Svenoman and Papa Dulce all joined without hesitation and we got our XR to the finish after 33 hours. All nicknames by the way came out of Baja. Jason, sand does indeed suck.

For my bike prep I really have to thank Keith and Craig at Cycle Dynamics outside Atlanta. I had never met these guys but they came highly recommended from a buddy. No KTM dealer I spoke with wanted the responsibility of building a Dakar motor but they took on the challenge. I have NEVER ridden a motor as hard as I did at the Dakar this year. I did three oil changes and, only one with filters on the rest day, in 5000 miles. I never touched the valves after I left Atlanta and one day after a long day in the sand dunes I got to the bivouac and realized my airfilter had come apart. I had no idea at what point it dislodged but for at least part of the special I had NO filtration. The airbox was packed with sand all the way into the carb. Oh well, what could I do? It was a non-assistance day so I just changed theh filter and went to bed. The bike fired every morning without even a hiccup and ran like a raped ape every single day, no shit. There were times in the dunes when I had the throttle to the stop through three gears trying to just keep it going. The motor was screaming like crazy and bouncing off the rev limiter for minutes on end but letting off would sink me into the sand. For days and days in the sand the motor was wide open to the stops and just kept on going. Craig and Keith took it down to the crank and replaced anything that remotely looked suspect. The motor already had 10,000 pretty hard miles on it but they said it looked brand new. Anyone in need of some motor work from full-on rebuild to full-on race motor you could do worse than calling up Cycle Dynamics.

Ken and Jason and Derek at Pro Moto KTM ouside Atlanta were instrumental in enabling me to get all my KTM parts for the bike. I was ordering parts for months leading up to the race and they always were available and enthusiastic even after frantic weekend Fedexes. They were also able to order the nearly-impossible 660 Rallye parts that I added to my 640. No other KTM dealer wanted to mess with it.

Woody's Wheelworks in Denver helped me and James assemble something like 15 wheels for our bikes. No wanting to pay the $1000/wheel KTM asks for their fronts Chris said he could duplicate the hubs and spacers for much less. They did indeed and set me up with very trick looking set of brand new black anodized wheels complete with a brand new billet rear cush-drive. Check them out for wheels. I never tightened a spoke in 5000 miles because I never needed to.

Eric at Wolfman Luggage in Colorado also deserves some thanks for putting together a couple custom made bags for my bike. One was a toolwrap that unfortunately I was into nearly every day and the other was a safety bag for my balise and safety equipment. They both worked flawlessly and will continue to for years I am sure.

I also have to thank Scott at Hogwildracing for putting together the Death Valley Rally routes the last two years. Riding and navigating through Death Valley and the dunes out there was some of the best training for the race I could have had. There aren't any other venues out there for us in the US to learn navagating and Scott took it upon himself to create some routes most like the Dakar. For anyone considering the Dakar in the future attending the Death Valley Rally is an absolute must. And if you do, throw Scott a few bones-he does it for the love but the love isn't cheap.

The Nomads in Lisbon helped is out immensely during our two weeks stay at the Inatel. Carlos and Luis and 10 of their closest riding buddies took the Americans on a ride through some of the finest spots in Portugal and wrapped it up with an outstanding lunch from their adopted moto-mama. The are a first class group of guys and absolutely certifiable Dakar nuts. If you find yourself in Portugal looking for some riding buddies look up the Nomads.

I don't know how much ADV knows about the whole assistance debacle but after we lost our truck Steve and Elmer and I were basically without help. Charlie and his Team Rally Panam group of guys took us in like stray cats. Everyone connected with his effort-Rob, Sid, Niles, Gary Williams, Gary Sparks and Jim Radcliffe displayed the kind of Dakar Spirit(for lack of a better cliche) that you hear stories about. They carried wheels and spare parts and more importantly brought us into their Riff Raff bivouac like one of the family. Steve and I truly would not have made it to the finish without their help without exception.

On that note I especially have to thank Jim Radcliffe and Gary Sparks. Jim and Gary took me under their wing and for whatever reason adopted me and my 640 having never layed a finger on one before. After days of not much time for routine maintenance the bike was starting to show some signs of wear. Every night when I would come in I started a list of stuff to do on the bike before the next day. Jim and Gary dove in like the seasoned pros they are. It took a while for me to let go never having had a mechanic before in my life but they instilled in me the kind off confidence that can only be shared between rider and team. Toward the end of the race they would just tell me to go to bed, the bike will be ready. And it was. They are both amazing mechanics, engineers, welders and fabricators. I only hope I can return the favor at some point down the road.

I know the list is incomplete but I think I covered the major ones. I also need to thank my family for following along during the race. They really had no idea what the Dakar was all about when I left on Christmas Eve but they soon had a crash course in the following weeks. They are a tremendous source of inspiration for me.

Last but not least I have to thank Steve Laroza. Without teaming up with Steve I never would have made it. I can't say enough about the kind of guy Steve is. He is everyones favorite riding buddy and my life is forever changed as a result of my two weeks in the desert with him. After a long, crummy day on the trail the first person I would see sometimes was Steve and suddenly the day wasn't as bad. Thanks buddy.

I'll have some more to follow and some pics I took along the way.

Thanks ADVRider for riding along and keeping the dream alive.
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Old 01-26-2007, 07:29 AM   #2
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We were all rootin' for you and everyone else. You should have seen everyone sitting at the edge of their keyboards for any sign of you guys coming through the CP's or the finish, biting fingernails, gnashing teeth.

Great job Chris!!!
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Old 01-26-2007, 07:35 AM   #3
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What can one say?

Wow! What an incredible experience.

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Old 01-26-2007, 07:53 AM   #4
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Thank you Chris for taking the time to write such a vivid description of your experience. Gave me goose bumps:-) The spirit and camaraderie you describe embodies what is best in the human spirit. I am glad you are home safely and kudos to all of those who supported you to make that possible.

Christy
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Old 01-26-2007, 08:06 AM   #5
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Laugh Welcome back

Congratulation Chris, you are my inspiration! When I've met you and Spice for the first time over two years ago in North Carolina and we sat down to a beer in the campground, I knew I was in a good company. You are a great man and a friend, everybody wish they had! Don't be surprised, that so many people were on your side to support you in following your dream. I have spent the last two weeks every spare minute I had on browsing the net just to find any information from Dakar. I can't wait to see you back in Boulder, I want to hear all about it. Tomas

R.I.P Elmer
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Old 01-26-2007, 08:42 AM   #6
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Chris, you are an incredible inspiration. You have truly done something few could do and will always be proud of it. Great job man!
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Old 01-26-2007, 08:54 AM   #7
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Congrats, Chris! Well done!


If you'd like to share some of your tales and experiences with the world, drop me a line. I have just the way...
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Old 01-26-2007, 08:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svizzerams
Thank you Chris for taking the time to write such a vivid description of your experience. Gave me goose bumps:-) The spirit and camaraderie you describe embodies what is best in the human spirit. I am glad you are home safely and kudos to all of those who supported you to make that possible.

Christy
+1

Congrats Chris on the fantastic ride!

Hope we can follow your adventures on a future Dakar...
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Old 01-26-2007, 09:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svizzerams
Thank you Chris for taking the time to write such a vivid description of your experience. Gave me goose bumps:-) The spirit and camaraderie you describe embodies what is best in the human spirit. I am glad you are home safely and kudos to all of those who supported you to make that possible.

Christy
+2
Congrats, Chris!! An inspirational accomplishment!
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Old 01-26-2007, 09:38 AM   #10
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Welcome back, thank you! for making it so much fun to stay awake for two weeks to see how you were doing. Superb effort, with "all" you had to deal with. Very sorry about that. You were the red blip and Laroza was the purple(by user choice as you are selected), it was painful every time they sat still. So glad you made it, it is a tremendous accomplishment.

Hogwild, as much fun as Scott was to experience the rally with here at home filling in the blanks. He needs to be there in Dakar in 2008!

Great job Chris, you should be very proud of yourself.
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Old 01-26-2007, 09:49 AM   #11
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Thumb Way to Go!

Chris - Congratulations on your amazing finish. Job well done! I know words will not be able to express your experience to others. But a big THANK YOU from me for letting folks like me follow along w/ & share a tiny bit of your Adventure.
Really glad you made it back to ATL after the wild ride.

Great website too.

Cheers!

KT

**ps -thanks again for sending me stickers as you were rushing to the plane. { I would have waited }
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Old 01-26-2007, 10:43 AM   #12
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Chris,

Congratulations on your finish. Simply amazing!

You had a huge following here on ADV and we tracked you and the others minute by minute, problem by problem, success by success. Thanks for letting us ride along on your adventure.

Also, thanks for the kind words regarding Death Valley Rally. The whole thing was for you guys, and Im really glad it was helpful. The preliminary DVR 2007 routes are already laid out, and Im well into creating the roadbooks. It will be more than 1000 miles, with traveling bivouacs and all! Those with an eye on Dakar 2008 are in for one hell of rally training adventure!
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Old 01-26-2007, 11:14 AM   #13
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Chris you are the man, you ROCK!!!

great job, livin' the dream, you will never forget any of it or the people you met along the way.

Truly inspirational
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Old 01-26-2007, 11:24 AM   #14
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Thanks for the ride, Man. Well Done! Well Done!
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Old 01-26-2007, 11:41 AM   #15
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Home

I'm glad you are home. It was good to talk to you yesterday. Thank you for taking some Wolfman items to the mother of all races. I'll buy you a beer when you get back to Boulder.
Hats off to a job very well done.
Eric/Wolfman

Godspeed Elmer Symons

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