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Archive for January 12th, 2010

Day 400 – 12th January 2010

Posted by TravellingStrom on January 12, 2010

Tuesday – La Serena, Chile

One of my dreams was achieved today, I got to see the Dakar live 🙂

Well, it was an uncomfortable night, I woke up around 4 with a stomach complaint but did manage to get some more sleep before my alarm went off around 5.20 where I did a mad scramble and packed the bike. We managed to get in a quick breakfast before heading off to find the start of the Dakar.

Well, as it turns out when we asked some cops at a crossing, there is no actual start, the competitors just get their way out of town and down to the start stage, so we followed and passed them, some of them looked cold, I know I was freezing but I was fully rugged up, but without the electrics plugged in!

The next part was funny, I am not sure if it is part of the exercise, but each entrant was stopped, along with everyone else at the Toll booth and had to fork out some cash, not much, but for someone who pays $50,000 for an entry fee, you would think the toll booths would wave them through!

So, after some fast riding with sidewind, we had passed a whole stack of riders but not the leaders and we arrived at the stage start, but were told by the coppers that we could not enter here, we have to go another 5km down track and there is a viewing area.

So, after quite a few kms of dirt we found a place to park and saw our first riders coming past, we had missed the leaders, but this was all good 🙂

My bike was amongst the action as well 🙂

Back to the race 🙂

A lot of people were riding up the big hill in the background, so after a recce by Chris we shifted the bikes up there and around the corner, this gave us a different viewpoint and a whole lot better action 🙂

During a lull, we crossed the track so we could get the sun behind us, even better 🙂

Now, it was quite freezing cold here in the wind, but one of the KTM riders mentioned to go down into the gully and it would be sheltered. It turns out there is a whole camp load of KTM riders who have paid to follow the Dakar, there is a tent site and support truck which caters etc for them, there must have been about 50! Anyway, after the bikes and quads had gone through we found a better spot again and this was where I stayed for the rest of the event, taking pictures and movies by the dozen. It was good to see the VW’s leading the event with a BMW thrown into the mix.

I must say I was impressed by Robbie Gordon in his Hummer, he did not back off through this section unlike others and had the gas on all the way through, it was impressive seeing this thing nearly sideways through the narrow track 🙂

There were a stack of cars as you would expect and after another lengthy delay at the end of the cars, the trucks made their way through, now seeing these come through the corners with some opposite lock is extremely fun to watch 🙂

By about midday the excitement was over, well for us, the competitors still had a few hundred kilometres of dirt to race on before they reached Santiago, or wherever the bivouac was. During the morning I had thought about the ride south and decided that because there may be issues with accommodation I would instead ride back to La Serena and stay at the same hotel which is a known factor, then ride south tomorrow. We did that and went down to the beach for some lunch, a bit of Bolivia here trying to get a beer before lunch, the girl was hard to get information into, she wanted to serve us food!

But we did get the beer finally and it was cold 🙂

After a few of them it was time to lock up the bikes and later in the arvo I noticed a couple of bikes ride past the hotel, it was a pom called Dave and Frank the Aussie I had met up in Trujillo, so they turned around and ended up staying here as well. They had not seen the Dakar yet, they were still on the chase, but they have slower bikes 🙂 We ended up going to meet Johannes and Jude by taxi, but that was an expensive mistake, it cost $20 there and back!!!! The food was also very expensive and out of my budget, so myself and Frank, being true Aussies had a few steak and eggs instead 🙂

After heading back to the hotel, myself and Frank went looking for street grub, but we found another bar instead. Now, here we met a chap who looked like Mr Creosote in “Meaning of Life”, he had on a white waiters uniform and a black tie, but I only managed to get a photo after he had changed into his basketball shirt, a pity but he was a nice chap 🙂

The food here was too expensive, lucky the beers weren’t, but after being kicked out of here we wandered across the road to Yolita’s, it had music and maybe food. Well, nope, no food but more beer and I am sure there was a lot of drugs happening in here, some of the locals were characters, scary looking but they seemed harmless, although the one to my left stunk to high heaven, we had a few beers here until about midnight!

After that it was a short womble up the hill and bed!

Day – 160 miles and 257 km
Trip – 49,564 miles and 79,766 km



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