RIDERS ON THE STORM
Routes passing through three countries. Over 8500 kilometers in total. More than two weeks on the way. Trucks, cars, quads and bikes. 1700 competitors altogether. Men and women. These are only a few facts about the most difficult rally in the world that has over 30 years of history. And why I write about it? Because our ways crossed in Santiago de Chile.
For those who know geography a bit more it might be a surprise why the rally named Dakar (as the city in Senegal, Africa) takes place in South America. Well, from what I’ve learnt it was moved due to safety reasons. After almost 30 editions, which took place on the way from Europe to Africa, it was in 2008 when Dakar was canceled because of a serious threat of terrorist attacks. The new route was set in South America and ever since 2009 the Dakar has been held on that continent.
Enough about facts and figures.
Our encounter with Dakar was on the finish line. And how has that happened? Well, we have a good friend Maciek vel Szymki (recently our favorite one) who works with the Polish Dakar Orlen Team. We agreed few months ago in Warsaw that we would meet in Santiago de Chile where Dakar ends its 2013 edition. So that’s what we did.
We arrived at the capital of Chile just in time for the parade at the finish line where the whole Polish team presented itself on the podium. Apart from admiring the vehicles that made bigger impression on me than all Batmobiles put together, we had a great pleasure to meet the competitors representing Poland. We’ve met Jacek Czachor and Marek Dąbrowski – two of the most experienced Polish motorbike riders as well as the young Kuba Przygoński (Rank 11th in bikes). We’ve made a handshake with Rafał Sonik (Rank 3rd in quads) and Adam Małysz who, after finishing his amazing career in ski jumping, chose car rallies as the new discipline and finished 15th in Dakar 2013! On top of that we’ve met Cyril Despres and Ruben Faria (Rank 1st and 2nd in bike category this year) at the Dakar afterparty.
It may sound as if taking a picture or shaking hands with the winners was our ultimate goal at the Dakar finish line but it was not. We have a huge respect for those guys who ride or drive thousands of kilometers in the sun and heat on the most demanding routes through sand dunes, deserts, stone valleys, dry riverbeds etc. Having only 30 hours of experience in riding a motorcycle on the streets of Warsaw (we’ve passed our licenses just before leaving for the trip) for me such a rally on a bike seems impossible! It’s definitely reserved for the best ones. Therefore, respect!
There was one thing that surprised us very positively. When we talked to those guys who have achieved so much in the motor sports and we mentioned that we are on a round-the-world trip for one year they seemed… impressed. Some even said they wished they had done it when they were younger. That was really nice and, of course, flattering.
This post would not be complete without mentioning how much fun we’ve had with the media guys who accompanied this Dakar. Szymki, Siwy, Redaktor, Seba – thanks a lot for that! It was great to meet you all!