Seriously? Chase the Dakar? Me?
I first heard about the Dakar when I was making my way to Bolivia from Chile in 2014. I was following the Bolivian Lagunas Route, which is a desolate dirt track running across an otherworldly Andean high desert.
I had lost the axle nut on my little motorcycle, but luckily, a tour jeep stopped to help.
While the driver was rummaging through his toolbox to find a nut that would fit, three Polish tourists that were traveling to San Pedro de Atacama jumped out and peered curiously at Blinkin, my motorcycle.
Blinkin didn’t look like a rally machine – heavily laden with a horrendous plastic top box and a pile of stuff strapped on it, covered in dust and road grime, my loyal steed appeared much like any other local Bolivian bike.
-Are you racing in the Dakar? – the Polish tourists asked, looking at me and Blinkin with wonder. That year, the race was supposed to go through the salt flats in Bolivia.
-Actually, no, I am a pizza delivery girl to the racers, – I said, pointing at the top box and expecting the tourists to laugh.
Instead, they nodded in understanding.
I felt stunned. And a little smug, even though it wasn’t true. And pretty ridiculous. Me and Blinkin? In the Dakar?.. It seemed amusing.
Throughout the years,I kind of, sort of, kept an eye on the race. I learned about Laia Sanz, the incredible Spanish rider who I am rooting for to this day. Gabriela Novotna,the Czech gal who I hope will make Dakar history this year. Toby Price, the Australian legend who came from nowhere and took the Dakar by storm.
They all seem god-like to me. Winged demons of sand! Wheels flying, souls burning! The stamina and the iron will. The endless open horizons and the roar of the engines. Oh, to at least see it from afar.
This year, the Dakar is running from Lima to Tacna and doubling back. Pisco, San Juan de Marcona,Arequipa, Moquegua – this is my turf! I know this route, I know those towns, I know Peru. I’m on a motorcycle.
And I’m here.
So I’m going to chase the Dakar.
I barely have enough gas money, and I desperately need a photo camera (or at least, a decent enough phone) to be able to capture as much as I can and share with as many as I can.I need a spare air filter, just in case. I need to figure out how to work my GPS unit; I’m a tad challenged topographically, so this could get interesting.I need to buy some tools in case I get a flat someplace.
I also need to do a quick border run to Bolivia, as my Peruvian visa and bike TVIP are running out. I need…
When I start thinking about what I need – to get, to do, to achieve – before chasing the Dakar, I get overwhelmed and anxious and I think, this is ridiculous. Blinkin and I were not a pizza delivery service to the Dakar racers in 2014.
Lucy, my Suzuki DR650,and I are not cut out to chase the toughest race on the planet with no budget,navigation skills, or mechanical knowledge now.
I’m going to do it anyway.