Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Adv #7 Continued: The Dakar Rally was here in Chile!

(In the picture above, my co-worker Rick and I were invited to do a short day-ride on the private grounds of the "Vina el Principal" vineyard near Santiago. One of Rick's friends is a partner in the wine business, and I thought this was a nice resting spot, overlooking the vineyard on a wooden deck they had built on the grounds.)
Before I post the pictures from my Patagonia & Ushuaia trip, I have to point out that the Dakar Rally was here in Chile again!CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC
As noted long ago in other blog posts, Peter Fischer and I missed the Dakar's first appearance here in Chile by 2 weeks when we arrived on our motorcycles in February of 2009 from the U.S. Since the Dakar Rally first left Europe and North Africa, its arrival here in Argentina and Chile has really turned up the pride factor with the people of these countries. To have such global attention in the world of motorsports focused here for 17 straight days of racing is quite an event for countries of often tend to think of themselves as being somewhat "forgotten" in the world.

So Rick and I took a couple of days away from the office to head 3 hours north of Santiago and catch the action as it headed back south into Santiago, before turning east to cross the Andes Mountains on the way back to Buenos Aires. One night of camping, a bunch of beers with other fans, and first thing in the morning, I woke to the thundering sound of race-leader (and eventual winner) Cyril Despres rocketing past our campsite. (Cyril is on quite a streak here in South America! Note he was the winner of the Red Bull Los Andes challenge that I mentioned just a couple of months earlier here in Chile.)

Another classic example of how pictures can't do it justice, I'm only posting a few pics showing what it's like to stand there as this race goes rushing past. Through mostly sandy terrain, and often over rocks, logs, and any variety of obstacles, one thing's for sure: You don't even attempt to ride in the Dakar Rally unless you are in absolutely TOP physical condition. These riders are covering an average of about 800 kilometers per day, almost completely in the sand, dirt, and nasty terrain. (My fellow riders out there know what a workout that can be, and these Dakar riders do it 17 days in a row!!)

(Above: The fans love to get in and help a rider that has fallen, and needs a little boost to get back up again.)
After all the motorcycles came through, the leading cars started zipping by, followed by the enormous trucks that are so famous for rally-type racing. Wish I had gotten better pictures or that my video files were small enough to upload. But WOW is that a site when those trucks go past. THEY ARE HUGE! And it's so funny to see the logs and rocks and stuff that everyone else has to avoid. The trucks just roll right over it all.....

Another fun part of this event is that we basically get to ride along with the racers as they finish the "Special" (timed racing portion of every stage) and they have to use public roads to get to the camp/biviouac for the next day. As the pictures show, that means I was right there on the Pan-American highway on the way back to Santiago...waiting at the toll booths with one of the race-leading RedBull trucks. SO COOL!

Okay, so I gotta get organized, caught up on some work, and then I'll get pics up from my Santiago to Ushuaia trip through Patagonia. Ay, yai, was about 6 weeks, 11,000 kilometers, and scenery that YOU HAVE GOT TO SEE!!!


  1. Glad to hear you're ok after the series of quakes down there. Sounds like your still having a blast. Keep the rubber side down.


  2. Eric, the Sultan of Motorized Bikes, congrats! C.C. sent me the link to your site and glad you are keeping up the blog. I'll be following you now, so keep it up. I'm working backwards, but sounds like the adventure of your lifetime. Maybe I should be doing the same.... Let me know if you need a guide, I can ride anything with two wheels!