Dakar at San Rafael

We had an invitation from a couple, Mark and Carlie from Australia. They were staying on a farm in San Rafael and the Dakar was passing close by.

The days track
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The Argentinian pampa is a dull ride and I didn’t manage any photos worth posting

We arrived the day before on Mark’s advice to get any early start off to the stage. It was about 40 miles away, the last half being dirt into the desert
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We parked just a couple of hundred yards from the spectator area. Mark and Carlie on the left

There were four main areas that had good views. We picked one where the riders would have to take a 90 degree corner off a fast straight

Everyone got set up a different way, but these guys seemed to have it right

Some had spent the night

But most looked like this

The above pictures were taken a few hours before the first rider showed up. The blank spaces between trucks and people filled in.


Some locals had dug a pit out and had a typical Argentinian slab of beef going for lunch beside us

Bff’s within minutes. Great steak.

Here’s how it started. There was a long dirt road heading towards us and we could see the riders coming by the dust cloud in the distance. Then they roared through a gap about 300 yards from were we where at high speed, flat out. It was fantastic to see them come through the gap, and the crowds went wild at the first glimpse

And scrubbed some speed, but not much, as they approached the corner. The problem was the corner was blind and nearly every rider was surprised by it. Apologies for my not being up to the photo task of this.

So here’s how the overshoot worked. I was able to get off a few shots of this example.

First the rider overshoots and brakes hard as he sees what he’s missed to his right

He spins the bike around trying not to panic at having missed it, not realizing most other riders will blow it too. They were all heroic here

And heads back over the scrub to where he thinks the track was

And back into it

And gasses it up the narrow, deep sand track

I changed where I watched from to see them in the sand for a while

I obviously took many pics but you’ve seen better so I’ll leave it at that.

There were no surprises. The atmosphere was Dakar, the greatest dirt race in the world. The riders, specially the first few, as Mark said, came through ‘angry’. You couldn’t ask for more.

We watched the ATV’s start to come through but didn’t wait for the cars, scheduled for hours later. The main reason being the heat was incredible, way over 100 and we’d been out in it without shelter for 5 or 6 hours.

We head back to town through people waiting for riders headed to the bivouac, and Carlie, who’s on the back of my bike shoots this video to the left (click, enlarge, click HD)

So we all went back, stripped, and floated down an irrigation canal (with a surprising strong current) for about 500 yards, twice



2 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Trine,

    OMG that was hilarious. And super interesting!

  2. Anonymous,

    Hy J.
    Great ride.
    Go save

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