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Old 08-30-2010, 07:28 PM   #16
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I've been waiting....obviously not the only one.
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Old 08-30-2010, 10:14 PM   #17
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Thanks for all the encouragement guys!! Its much appreciated.
Originally Posted by barrier911
Don't know if I want to see any close up images of that beautiful Yam after the event!
You will, prepare yourself.

Originally Posted by WHYNOWTHEN
Are those 'Trailtricks' stickers on your forks? They do great suspension upgrades!
Looking forward to your RR.

Lekker Boet.

Jaaaa, swaer
, they were removed in the second upgrade, I need to ask lastplace why. That suspension is really terrific! Saved my life a couple of times.
Dreaming of Dakar
Everyone has a max speed, 90% of that max speed is much safer and easier, and if that 90% speed isn't fast enough at Dakar, you enter the snowball. - neduro
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Old 08-30-2010, 10:18 PM   #18
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Time for a bumper picture fest.

The Mad Rush at the Start- Two days to go

We have been staying in Goiania, a city of one million, for four days. Itís a nice place, with great people, but itís also expensive. Earlier we got to walk around a bit and get a feel for the lay of the land.

Preparations are underway to get the start track ready for the big kickoff. There is a feeling of expectancy in the air as the VIP area is constructed.

The layout for the Box area, park ferme, start track and support infrastructure seems to indicate the rally organization is on top of things.

Itís exciting to see the advertising boards displaying Dos Sertoes everywhere.

Two days before the race and we spend the morning with the organization doing administrative checks in the shopping centre across the road from the official start.

The shopping centre is packed with people, an unusually high number of beautiful women. Most of the married guys pretend to be blind while the single guys stumble around, staring and mumbling exclamations and falling in love.

The place must be an anomaly in the universe or something.

There is a stand selling Dos Sertoes gear doing a roaring trade and elsewhere...

..they are selling tickets to the start show out of booths shaped like rally truck cockpits. Sorry for the poor pic quality.

At the administrative check, everything looks pretty well organized.

Again, everyone is super friendly. Itís so refreshing. The check is mostly a formality because a month ago we couriered copies of drivers licenses, passports, medical insurance, doctor certification of health, echo-cardiogram results etc.

Mr. Ferretti the Italian FIM official picks up a problem Ė I donít have a World Championship Cross Country (WCCC) license, but an International Cross Country license. This means I am unable to enter under my allocated WC number and category, but only into the Brazilian Championship, which means a number change and a daily start much further back in the field. Confusion reigns because I was sure I had applied for the WCCC.

I get on the phone with the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) who issued the license while Ferretti stands by to explain that If I can get the license changed in two days he will let me keep my number, 111. The AMA is awesome, and issues a new license the same day, emailing the organization a scanned copy. Ferretti is kind to me, it is clear I am new to this thing and overlooks this issue once he sees I have the right documentation the next day. The original license would arrive by courier later in the rally. Most importantly for me was that I would be putting a good 40 riders between me and first cars and trucks, something I considered high on my agenda. Another advantage was that I would be riding with the more experienced international riders, I am sure I will learn a lot from that.

I also learn that itís a bad idea to try and shortcut the rules and especially not screw with the FIM officials under any circumstances. Des tells me that a senior American rider on his Dakar was once hit with a 300 Euro on-the-spot fine for swearing in front of these guys after becoming frustrated with their attention to the smallest details. They are the epitome of professionalism, they have seen it all, and if you cross them you could find yourself never being able to race again. Mr. Ferretti is the same guy who does scrutinizing at all WC rally events. Itís vitally important that they get what they want, when they want. If you have your act together, they quickly warm to you and things generally go more smoothly. I found itís also a good idea to actually know what the FIM guidelines are for each category and in particular the category you choose to enter.

We all our official photos taken, here is Randal and DD getting theirs done. I donít think the organization planned for such a big, tall participant. The organization sponsor's logos can't even be seen. None of the team shirts could fit him either.

I get handed my folder with a race number of a bib, and race No. decals for my bike, a permanent colored wrist band, a competitor ID card and a brochure on the rally with useful info about the rally and contact numbers in each town we will be staying at. You can see Des in the background talking to the guys in America about my bike and what to do next.

After the paperwork ordeal I rush back to my bike and continue with the carburetor adjustments with Randall and Des. The fuel in Brazil runs on 25% ethanol and if we donít rejet the bikes we will lose an engine really quickly. We joke that the Yamaha design engineers obviously donít like mechanics. Itís a bullet proof engine and rides really, REALLY nicely, but working on the bike is a real PITA. The rally kit does not make access any easier.

This and the following is what we have to do in the basement of the hotel to get access to the carburetor.

Randall and I get the needle adjust up two notches, fit a 180 Main jet, and a 145 pilot jet.

I take it for a spin, but the bike sounds like itís bogging - too rich. Worse after filling up at a fuel station I cannot get it to start. Eventually it fires and I limp nervously back to the hotel. Iím running out of time and Iím beginning to panic. The day before I took the bike for a run and confirmed the bikes jetting was too lean, but also found out that I have major power problems. I have got to finish the bike today, because tomorrow is scrutiny and briefings! Des calms me down and says he will take it to the Uruguayans tomorrow where it will all be sorted out. He convinces me that in less than 20 minutes they will have it right as rain. Amazingly, I believe him. Perhaps it was my subconscious way of preventing a meltdown taking place in my head. I mean you need to understand there have been months to prepare, and huge dollars spent to get this far and now the bike is not working properly. Iím a mechanicís nightmare so this stuff stresses me out big time. They have just arrived, driving five days from Uruguay and are setting up camp outside in the box area.

That night we go through our budget. Itís been decimated, it looks like everything has already doubled in cost so far and we are not sure if we will have enough cash for fuel, accommodation and food to last the next 12 days. There are rental cars to pay for as support vehicles, hotel accommodation and meals everyday for the whole team, increased mechanics fees, paid race entry fees, and bought a lot of gear and camping stuff that we did not bring with us. The total is adding up big time.

The horrified expression on Dave's face as he looks at the new total on the spreadsheet says it all.

We are all stressing out a bit and getting on one anotherís nerves. Lots of self-control needed all round, because we are all difficult, driven people.

Why cant we just go riding??
Dreaming of Dakar
Everyone has a max speed, 90% of that max speed is much safer and easier, and if that 90% speed isn't fast enough at Dakar, you enter the snowball. - neduro
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Old 08-30-2010, 10:20 PM   #19
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T Minus - One Day: Scrutinizing

Itís the day before the race and we have been running around like headless chickens in Goiania (Goiaz province), for five days already trying to get the bikes prepped and jetted correctly for the high ethanol fuel they have here in Brazil. Apparently itís the worst fuel in South America, and from experience, thatís pretty bad.

Dave and Philís bikes are fine, Phil had a major drama class with his new engine and had to fit another engine just before he shipped the bike as well, but in the last couple of days its all come right for him. In fact both Americans had no problems with jetting and general setup after their adjustments.

They sure know a lot more about bikes than I do, I feel woefully inadequate. At least I am learning fast with their help! Phil and Dave's bikes are now run in nicely. They had time yesterday to go for a ride and see what the dirt around Goiania is like. I wanted to do the same, but my bike wonít let me yet! This is also stressful because I want to get a feel for the bike. Just remember, I last rode the bike back in April for only four days and Im not convinced the place to get a feel for bike again for the first time is on the starting circuit!

There is not enough time to start stripping my bike again, but we put the battery on charge last night so we can get it through scrutinizing - we hope. In the Dakar immediately after scrutiny the bikes are locked up away from the teams in the park ferme until the start of the race, but in Brazil they are more relaxed and the bikes are locked away in the park ferme only a few hours before the start of the event. This means we can still have just under a day to work on my bike once scrutiny is done. Wonderful. Nevertheless, I try to remain positive and calm: Having a bike passing scrutiny will take a lot of worry off my shoulders. This a journey, its fast leaving my domain of control a having a panic flap about it will not help anyone, least of all the guy who has to ride the bike and finish this race - me.

We get the bikes started and nip 600m from the hotel over to the box area.

Scrutiny is a process.

You line up with the other vehicles (notice our dodgy support vehicle trying to blend in with the fancy race cars) and start with a series of checks, each check having to be signed off and stamped on a sheet. Itís here that the reality sinks in BIG time that we are actually going to be racing in a serious event. This is not a weekend ride or even an enduro event. It a freaking ten-day rally! We stare and smile at each other. The feeling is one of indescribeable joy mixed in with a healthy dollop of anxiety.

Seeing the cars and bikes lining up with feverish activity happening at each of the checks is a really amazing feeling, very cool, we are part of a small group of people who have fought the difficulties, trained hard, paid their dues and actually made it to the start without incident. Holy shit, we are SERIOUSLY going to be doing this thing!! It feels like a tremendous achievement getting this far, Iíve been grinning so much my cheeks are beginning to hurt. Yet I am still anxious because we have never done this before and the anticipation of the unknown ahead of us is unsettling.

We dont have much time to reflect though, there is lots still to do. Each check takes place or next to its own ďeasy upĒ tent. I have been often asked what this is all about, so please bear up with me while I explain:

Each of these checkpoints cost money (usually in the form of rentals of essential equipment and services) and at each point you have to prove you have paid your dues in advance or pay in cash right there before you are allowed to move on. Its well organized and very well controlled with documentation.

The first check comprises confirmation of bike and decals corresponding to the rider. They check to see decals are on the bike in the correct positions, and on our helmets, and also our Identification. I get my first stamp. Whoohoo! That was the easy one.

Next up is the Sentinel installment and checking. This is an alarm device that emits a loud beep-beep-beep sound when activated by a rally car or truck approaching from behind. The idea is the rider hears this and gets the hell out of the road before he is killed, and allowing the safe passing of the vehicle. It has to be connected directly to the battery, and tested before you get your stamp. It is considered an indispensable safety device. In characteristic fashion, getting to the battery is a real PITA. I also need tools to install it so I would have to come back for final testing later.

Third check is the installation of the ďSpotĒ or independent GPS transceiver that has buttons that send signals to via satellite to activate live tracking on the web. More importantly there is a help/911 button that can be used to send an alarm to the organizers in the event of a serious accident requiring helicopter rescue. Normally this is activated by the first rider on the scene.

On the fourth, the Organisation takes my Zumo 500 GPS system and programs with all the main (un-hidden) way points for every step of the rally, including the box areas each day. This will be used in the GPS navigation section, but is not a replacement of the roadbook, which has much more detailed path. Again on the Dakar, they use a special ASO organization GPS system, the IRI track. Some of the guys had these on their bikes.

Fifth is the radio check, where we each received a two-way hand radio that can be used to contact the aircraft monitoring the race in the event of an emergency.

Sixth is the Rastro stop, where we are issued with two smallish independent GPS tracking devices to put in our jackets. These are replaced at the end of every day, and the info from each rider is downloaded and checked on a daily basis. It is the Rastro that helps the organization confirm riders have reached all the waypoints, including the hidden ones. It also records rider speed and is used for imposing speed penalties in the various radar zones where applicable. Simply put, it keeps the competitors honest.

Finally comes the technical scrutinizing stage, done by the organization in conjunction with the FIM officials. First they check you have passed all other checks and have been correctly signed signed off. Just then I bump into Marc Coma. Holy moly, the big legend is shorter and smaller than me. And they always describe him as a big rider. His bike is not there, it will be taken through scrutiny by his support team later. I shake his hand excitedly and tell him he is the reason I am here and that he has been a huge inspiration to me. Marc smiles at me briefly and abruptly turns away to start a conversation with Ferretti. Clearly Ferretti is much more important than just another arbitrary pilot/fan like me. Somewhat disappointed at his reaction, I tell myself that this is his job, and I shouldnít be surprised.
Dreaming of Dakar
Everyone has a max speed, 90% of that max speed is much safer and easier, and if that 90% speed isn't fast enough at Dakar, you enter the snowball. - neduro
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Old 08-30-2010, 10:29 PM   #20
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Finally itís my turn to meet Mr. Ferretti this time with four other serious-looking officials helping him and I am suddenly glad I took the time chatting with him beforehand. He could see my nervousness and was quite encouraging. I am nevertheless caught out on the sentinel, because it was not yet attached to the bike. He tells me not to worry I just have to get it checked later and come back with the signed off documentation. I can continue with scrutinizing.

Ferretti clearly seems intrigued in this fancy-looking bike.

Probably he was looking at the ADV Rider- Ride the World and Wild dog stickers.

On the other side are my sponsorís names, as promised!! THANKS GUYS, you are awesome! All are proud Wild Dogs

MX1West is an ADV Rider inmate and runs a great accessories outlet in San Francisco, specialising in Acerbis gear. Check it out:

They do all the normal checks as for all the bikes: Tail lights, brake lights, headlight (thank the Lord my battery was still charged up), chain guards, bark busters etc Ė All the basic safety items. Phil & Dave had to swap out some kit, for example, the bobble on the end of Phils clutch lever is still lying somewhere in Nevada.

In my case, my bike goes through a much more thorough and detailed examination because my entry is firstly in the WCCC, and secondly in the production category. This means that I cannot change the engine, forks, exhaust, triple clamps or shocks during the rally. Just as well, because I only have one set of all those, and anyway, unlike Marc Coma I donít have a guy with a mustache to hide spare wheels and other equipment in the desert for me. (You'll only understand what I mean if you know the story surrounding Mark Coma's penalty in the Dakar this year.)

They also check other things that the Brazilian championship guys donít need like additional rear lights and 3l of drinking water capacity mounted safely on the bike.

They also check the sound output on the bikes running at high rpms, with me knuiping big-time that everything holds together, that the bike actually starts and everything works out fine. You can see them standing some regulation distance away and measuring the noise, it has to be below 85dBA. I pass, Ferretti nods, apparently very satisfied, and they move onto the next step which is marking of the bike.

Randall & I take a tank off, and out comes the paint and they start painting little green squares on all the irreplaceable parts, the engine, the frame, the forks, the triple clamps, and exhaust. I will be able to do the valves or clutch if I have to, thats it basically. Most top competitors race in the Super Production category, which allows them to burn engines out. I like to use the excuse that Im a purist that believes that real rally riders only need one engine to get them to the finish rather than admit I cannot afford a new engine every 3-4 days.

They also write my race number with a special pencil into the wet paint. This will all be checked in during and at the end of the rally. Itís fascinating to watch.

Thereís 10 places on the bike where they paint green squares, in this photo there are seven; can you spot them all?

After this I am released, pending only the sentinel install, they are happy with my bike. I am over the moon. Itís taken 3 hours but now the bike is in the race.

Now I need to get it working properly, so I rush it over to the Uruguayan angels to sort out and take a couple of hours to walk around the bivouac and see what everyone else is up to.

ItsÖwell its busy. And there is lots and lots of bike porn. It is amazing to see.

Marieta Moraes, a lady competitor also riding a Yamaha WR450, she has done this rally (I think) 8 times.

These rentals are going on the ďSertoes SeriesĒ rally, which is the 1st four stages of the Official rally. Itís a great option for DS riders who want to get a feel for real rally at a lower cost.

By far the most impressive setup was Coma & Casteauís support area. Totally outsourced to local logistics company ďOff RushĒ. The company offered me a package for accommodations, food and transport for only $15,000.00 excluding maintenance. Needless to say itís a little above my pay grade.

ÖDavid Casteuís famous French Sherco. Watch this bike on the Dakar in January. In the background you can see two Off Rush rental KTMís to be raced by more shit-hot international pilots and also a light lunch of fresh salmon sandwiches and salad for our heroes. Lucky bastards!

Even the smaller guys seemed to be better setup than we were.

There were a lot of large trucks and converted coaches used as support vehicles. Most were pretty impressive.

Others were more functional. You could see years of experience in some of the setups. Totally independent.

These beasts cast fear into any biker running in a special stage.

Another group of Brazilian competitors.

A card game before the storm.

These Polish guys are awesome and very serious, their lead rider Kuba Przygonski, a serious contender for the world championship, turns out to be a very nice guy who offers me a lot of support and advice.

Their support truck is the Mother of all trucks that won one of the Dakarís a few years ago. More on this later.

Then thereís us. A Fiat Doblo and

Model 1973 VW Kombi for support vehicles!

Complete with a superhero in the support team

Yet somehow, our classy support vehicles attracted a lot of the local talent,

Admirers of Daveís KTM 525 while helicopters buzzed overhead, note the green decal denoting Brazilian Championship.

At least the Uruguay team had a Sprinter, trailer,

And a little bike to get around the bivouac.

Laurentís 690, a true work of art.

Mauro Almediaís quad. No, wait thatís not a quad, thatís a freaking monster!

By late afternoon, the Uruguayans have not yet opened my bike up but as soon as I open my mouth to say anything theyíre waving their arms and saying ďNo problemo, no problemo!Ē Ok then, I shrug. Itís time for me to take my bike to get cleared for the Sentinel. It tests fine and I am formally passed.

This time I get to see a lot more bikes than in the morning.

David Casteau with his team. I get the opportunity to have closer look at this beauty.

No.05 Luiz Octavioís KTM 530, the white sticker is for WCCC over 450cc class bikes.

Little do we know this was to become a Did Not Finish (DNF).

Ike Klaumanís Yamaha WR 450 also to become a DNF.

The Uruguayans are passing through scrutinizing with flying colours.

Leandro Pires is a guy I would get to see many times in the field on his Honda 450.

The trucks are passing through as well, its bit of a rush as Scrutinizing closes at 6 pm, with no further vehicles permitted.

Inside the cab of the Ford truck.

Itís serious eye candy. You should hear the sound of the trucks and cars when they rev up their engines, itís magnificent.

We are all in better spirits and enjoy another evening at a restaurant eating great food before turning in early. Lots of meat, perfect for us South Africans, but overwhelming for our US friends, who are not used to eating so much meat. We think itís quite amusing.

Tomorrow is the big day! Whether my bike will be ready or not is a question that will be answered in one way or another.

Dreaming of Dakar
Everyone has a max speed, 90% of that max speed is much safer and easier, and if that 90% speed isn't fast enough at Dakar, you enter the snowball. - neduro
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Old 08-31-2010, 06:23 AM   #21
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Great stuff!
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Old 08-31-2010, 07:25 AM   #22
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Please keep it coming. Whether you realize it or not your thread is becoming one of those threads that are FILLED with those rare rally pictures that are captivating no matter what is going on in them. Atleast they are to me

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Old 08-31-2010, 10:04 AM   #23
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Old 08-31-2010, 11:33 AM   #24
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Prologue Ė The Super Prime

For those of you new to rally, in order to determine the race start order for the Sertűes International rally a Prologue is carried out before the beginning of the competition, on a closed track. The competitors start the race by twoís and timing is considered from lowest to the highest.

The race start order each day is determined by the qualifying position on the previous day. In other words, the winner of the previous special test gets to make headway, and not the one with the accumulated results. Start order is also in by the following categories: Bikes & Quads WCCC, Bikes & Quads Brazilian Championship, Cars, and lastly Trucks in the same categories. So the last placed WCCC rider will always start ahead of the 1st Brazilian Championship rider.


Sorry, I forgot to post these pictures earlier

I wake up early as usual and strangely enough the first thing I think of is whether my bike will be sorted out today. I chuckle at the irony. Iíve already given up on the idea of testing the bike on some dirt road outside Goiania. I face the fact that itís simply too late, any crash now would be a ridiculous disaster. Iím just going to have to learn the bike on the prologue circuit tonight at seven.

All our team riders, including me, are in a ratty mood. We all just want to ride now. This preparation has been going on for too long, our budget is totally screwed, our credit cards are all maxed out, and there has still not been enough time to complete all the preparations, particularly in my case. Worse, none of us are able to draw cash in the stupid banks. The support guys Des, DD & Randall joke that all they say to us these days is ďOkay, okay, okay,Ē because it seems to satisfy us no matter what we say or what they do. Itís true, and itís actually very funny. The three of us have become like petulant children and to some extent it is justified given how much we have committed ĖWell, not really- but that doesnít stop us anyway.

A couple days ago, Randall and I took the Yamaha to bits and got a 180 main jet and 145 pilot jet installed for the fuel problem in Brazil, moving the needle up two notches as well. But putting the bike together again was a PITA. The pipe from the special air box mounted between the front tanks would not go over the carburetor and there was no way to get fingers in to get it on. Eventually we thought we had it right and the bike reassembled. I took it for a spin but it started bogging about 25 minutes into the ride, before I got to any dirt so I came back. Des told me to relax and took the bike to the Uruguayans to adjust again. The battery had also run flat during scrutiny, so it went over to the Uruguayans camp to have them work on it. Despite all the assurances I am still very tense. I donít know if my bike is even going to get around the super prime track and that is later today. I canít do anything about it. Des (rightly) wonít let me near the bike because I need to rest while I still can.

The support team is also feeling a little put out, because they were severely limited in what they could buy yesterday. There were still so many unknowns, what food to get, how much water, do we have enough mattresses etc. After we all had agreed on the shopping list, Dave went with the support guys taking his credit card to buy boxes, coolers, chairs, table etc. other needed bits and pieces. There was apparently some disagreement as to what should be and would be bought. As a result they spent several hours doing circles in the Walmart loading the trolleys with essential items while Dave, desperately trying to conserve cash on behalf of the riders, moved in behind them offloaded the same items. Somehow they got out of this vicious circle, and returned to the hotel to finish the home-made roof racks for the Fiat Doblo. All 18 tyres had to go on the roof rack, along with the back seat of the Kombi to make way for all the gear going inside. Space was a premium, and the support guys made full use of the last few days to do a great job of packing and repacking so they could get everything in these two ridiculously small vehicles.

Before you ask why didnít we go for something better: We had a budget to stick to, and anyway we learnt that in Brazil it is impossible to hire a commercial vehicle without a driver. Having an unknown person registered on the team was simply not an option.

Somehow, as a team we collectively pull together and made an effort not to let personal frustrations get the better of any of us. I think we are doing pretty well under the circumstances, weíre all hopeful that once the rally starts things will relax a bit. At least the support guys have been incredibly helpful and bundles of joy and laughter; it lightens the riders dark moods a little.

We go to the riders briefing at 11am, and are handed our road books for the first stage. Splendid! Pic:

The English speaking competitors put on headphones and listen to the translator. We are introduced formally to all the officials. After the route is briefly discussed and described as a shakedown ride by the clerk of the course, the race doctor stands up and delivers a great safety talk. He touches on the benefits of bringing oneís own headache and anti-inflammatory tablets. The medical station is for serious emergencies, and is not a pharmacy. He emphasizes his point by holding up two huge syringes with large, hideous-looking needles 20 cm long. The brown one is for anyone with a runny stomach, the baby-puke green one for headaches and aches and pains. It brings down the house with laughter. We are also instructed on emergency procedures and communication during the rally. First bike starts out at 07h00s on Stage 1 tomorrow. Tonight results will be published at the start at 06h00s. They tell us to enjoy the show tonight and wish us a safe and enjoyable prologue and rally. We applaud.
Dreaming of Dakar
Everyone has a max speed, 90% of that max speed is much safer and easier, and if that 90% speed isn't fast enough at Dakar, you enter the snowball. - neduro
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Old 08-31-2010, 11:35 AM   #25
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I have an early lunch with DD and the guys and then take a nap. Itís my first moment of proper rest since I got here.

At 4pm I return to the box area where the atmosphere is a carnival one.
By the way can you spot our killer Kombi support vehicle in this pic? There are plenty of pretty girls wandering about, photographers everywhere and lots of people from the general public trying to get in to have a look. Bikes are revving up and moving to the park ferme. This is it, the waiting is almost over at last.

How far the Uruguayans have got with my bike? Not far at all I think, but then what do I know, it looks the same to me. Marcelo says ďTodos esta bien, no problemo no problemo,Ē everything is fine. Itīs okay they reassure me, and hand the bike to me to take to the park ferme where the bikes will be left until the start at 7 pm. It starts okay, and the light works but they warn me not to use it, the stator is unable to produce enough voltage to power everything on the bike. They will re-wire it tomorrow after the 1st stage and install a new regulator, the stock one would melt on the upgraded stator. I look at the mechanics, bewildered. I have no idea what they are talking about. They nod back at me and pat me on the back.

I get on my bike and ride it to the park ferme. The atmosphere is thrilling. Hundreds of people mill about taking video and snaps on cell phones and cameras. Some of us pull wheelies and pose big-time on our flash machines. Girls in tank-tops scream and jump at the sight of us on our machines. We weave out of the box area into a mad traffic jam around the park. Itís great to slip through on our bikes. The din is incredible. Little roadside shops have sprouted up everywhere selling curios and fast food.

Absolute chaos abounds until I arrive at the park ferme, where again I am met with strict control.

I am allowed into a large fenced-off parking area, sterile of people and I park up in the one of long rows of bikes near the edge and turn off everything.

My bike is one of the last in before the cutoff time of 16h30. Guys on the outside gaze covetously at my bike and its characteristic design. They ask me to pose for a picture. I oblige willingly, before being chased out of the area by an official. Nearby the local radio station is broadcasting live from a vehicle overlooking the track. Huge speakers boom out an excited voice calling talking about the event.

Helicopters full of pressmen snapping pictures buzz around like angry mosquitoes. Iím beginning to feel what itís like to be a hero and I havenít even started riding yet!

I meet up with Phil and Dave and we walk the track. It doesnít look too bad at all.

A huge flag has been setup off two cranes over the track

I return to my room for another short rest, a meal, a couple of calls and to dress for the start.

We walk kitted up to the bikes around 7pm. Now if this is not an advert for Acerbis gear, I dont know what is! The air is electric with anticipation. Crowds walk with us to fill the stands. There is time for us to go into the VIP area and have a glass of water, served by awestruck waiters.

Phil & Dave are also a little pensive. Their Brazilian championship numbers are 44 & 45, the last bikes on the list. The reverse start order for the prologue means they will be among the first bikes out there after the Brazilian quads and Sertoes Series bikes. Other VIPs come up to us and ask to take photos of us. We oblige happily, but battle to look relaxed and smile over our nervousness.


We have made it to the start! Itís quite an achievement in its own right and we toast one another with our cups of water.

The event kicks off with the national anthem and followed immediately by a breathtaking fireworks and laser display.

Itís pretty impressive. The first quads go flying out while the crowd of perhaps 25,000 people go absolutely nuts. Itís very contagious. Brazilians are clearly exceptionally passionate people. I line up with all the riders to watch the first bikes as well. The crowd is roaring in approval and excitement, a Mexican wave following the riders around the track.

One poor guy cooks it on a corner and low-sides and spins out beautifully, almost face-planting as he goes down. The crowd bellows some in sympathy and others with delight, while he bravely leaps up and tears off again like a man possessed.

Dave and Phil look at each other and are off to the start. I smile as Phil, in his element waves at the crowd. They hoot with approval; he has won their hearts instantly as the DJ yells over the intercom about the ďDois Americanos Phil y Dave!!Ē They shoot off and make the two laps without mishap.

I decide to go to my bike and warm it up, riding it up and down in the Park Ferme with the light off, to give the battery a boost and to warm it up. Well, that is my theory anyway. I take my position in the line and wait for my turn, turning off my bike and pushing it forward.

Being in the world championship means I am riding with all the expert riders.

Iím racing with this Chilean guy Rodrigo Caballero, he looks like he should still be in school! I fool myself into thinking he will maybe be a walkover. Ludo Boinnard has No. 110 and is starting behind me, with guys like David Casteau, Dimas Matthos, Ike Klaumann, Kuba Przygonski, and Marc Coma with Ze Helio just behind them. Holy crap! Ludo just winks and gives me a thumbs up! He must have seen the whites of my eyes. I grin and wish him all the best.

We roll the bikes forward gradually to the top of a 20m ramp down to the course without starting engines. The two rows of two bikes waiting at the edge of the track with engines running, and then one row is waved onto the start.

Itís our turn to go down. I switch the ignition on. Nothing. Darn. Check switches. No light, no fans, nothing. I try the starter. Nothing. F***!!! I notice my HID light switch is on, I canít remember which way is on or off now. Has it drained the battery? F***, didnít I turn it off? I was sure it was off, I must have bumped it on somehow. Is it off now? Shit, I hope so. Not to worry, just take it easy Neil. You can still kick start the bike easily enough. Check fuel valve. Okay, its on.

Kick, kick, kick, kickÖ.kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick...nothing. F***!!!!!!!

Kick, kick, kick, kick, Iím kicking my ass off and nothing. I stop, breathing heavily and wonder if Iím going to have to pull out, when Ludo comes forward and suggests he push me down the ramp. I wheeze a thank you, and off we go.

Change into 2nd gear okay clutch out. Nothing. I roll down some more this time getting a bit more speed, clutch out: Nothing. Shit, I only have 5m left! I roll on gravity paddling as I go nearly flattening two camera guys as the bike bursts into life at the last bloody second. Holy shit.

Iím sucking air like an oxygen thief as I barely stop the bike on the edge of the track. Once Iím sure the engine wonít die on me when I idle back, I ease off on the throttle. The guys in front of us wiz past on the first lap. Iím too scared to let the clutch out in case I stall it. I rip on my goggles with my right hand, but theyíre so steamed up I canít see jack shit. I can clean them but I need two hands. No way Iím risking that now. I donít yet know the sweet spot on my clutch. I think Iím in second still so I kick down to first. Check all support circuits and lights are OFF. Not ideal, but this is survival, the stadium floodlights will have to do.

Then I notice the bloody photographer trying to get a close up of my face. Well the photo will just have to be crap. Iíve got more important stuff to worry about right now. I can just see some of the track through the goggles with one eye. Once Iím going I know they will clear. I have 30m to the start, letís hope thatís enough.

We are waved onto the track and I charge off, stalling the bike. Oh F***, this is it. Iím going to have push the bike off the field in front of thousands of freaking spectators. There nowhere even to push it, Iím on the track. The shame!

Praying, I get the kick-start lever out and first kick the bike is running again. Iím stunned.

I scream in 1st up to the blurry figure at the start line. My vision is still crap. At least I can see the timing board. Amazingly, there are still 35 seconds left to calm down. The official tells me I must do the longer outside loop first, after the first loop, suicide switch onto the inner loop and complete the second round. 15 seconds.

I instruct myself to take deep breaths and relax. Please God donít let me stall again. Iím so distracted I miss the green light and young Rodrigo appears in my peripheral vision. I zoom off hot on his tail before splitting off on my loop.

Itís a soft, deeply rutted track with really sharp curves. No problem, but I find second gear is longer than on my KTM back home, not that much torque so I am forced to take it wide. The next corner is better because itís a left hand one and I work the back brake sliding the bike around. A small jump in front of the crowds who cheer the South African, one of the few foreign pilots. The course is not hard but Iím battling to get used to gear ratios and Iím peaking at the wrong places, at one point get into third too soon and miss a gear completely going down and scream along a straight in first. What a drama class.

I get a nice power slide on the last curve and some air on the finish ramp before taking on the second loop.

It goes a little better, and despite my poor performance I donít see Rodrigo anywhere, wow I must be in front. I start enjoying the ride, I can see a bit better now, I can hear the crowds cheering me. The jumps are very small but I manage to get a little air. The springbokkie and I are going to make it. I get to the finish and follow the route out of the stadium only to see Rodrigo pulling off after accepting from a small prize from a rally girl in a lycra suit for winning our bout. Hahaha! Time to eat some humble pie. It all seems over in a flash. I am thrilled as I ride back around to the box area. Itís nice to be out on the road cruising along after all of that, even if I have no light. I stick close to Rodrigo, I donít want to be hit by a car now.

I later learn I was out there for only 00:01:59.10, Rodrigo was exactly 15 seconds faster than me. He came 24th while I managed 53rd out of 68 riders. Dave came in one second faster and got 51st position while Phil took it easy and came 66th with a time of 00:02:21.30.

Marc Coma takes it easy and came 12th, seven seconds behind the leader, with Ze Helio coming second and Brazilian Felipe Miranda winning with a time of 00:01:27.10.

Frankly, I am just glad to finish. I get back to Marcelo and tell him my problem. He would look into it. I get back to see the first cars tearing the track and danger tape up, very impressive.

After watching a couple more cars and trucks I leave for the hotel and an early nightís sleep after calling Mrs. BB and Rallyraidio. Tomorrow was Stage 1, we would be starting the real rally in earnest. I want to make a strong performance.
Dreaming of Dakar
Everyone has a max speed, 90% of that max speed is much safer and easier, and if that 90% speed isn't fast enough at Dakar, you enter the snowball. - neduro
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Old 08-31-2010, 05:46 PM   #26
where are the pedals?
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: closer to Baja
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That was so exciting. I had to read it out loud to my fiance. She was bummed that this is all you have so far. Keep up the good work.
where does that road go?
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Old 08-31-2010, 07:15 PM   #27
just passin' through
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Joined: May 2005
Location: Tumalo, Oregon
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Holy crap man, thanks so much for putting this together - fascinating and very inspiring!

What's next? More action!
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Old 08-31-2010, 07:18 PM   #28
Go Outside
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Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Quartz Mtn. West end of the Wichitas
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Thanks for taking us along on your Dos Sertoes Dream Ride.

This behind the scenes look is exceptional.

I am hooked like a fish!
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Old 08-31-2010, 07:56 PM   #29
Beastly Adventurer
Joined: Sep 2005
Location: Oakland, CA
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Your writing really captures the intensity of the moment, thank you!!!
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:36 PM   #30
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Joined: May 2004
Location: west la
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This is going to be a great thread. Neil is a great guy and a talented writer/story teller. We are in for a treat !!

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