We’ve been watching the Dakar Rally and following the ups and downs with each update to see who had done especially well in a stage. Who had suffered a breakdown or crash damage and who was able to mount an epic comeback.
It was fantastic to see Honda dominate at the start of the Rally but then see the steady, consistent talent of Marc Coma build up and gradually overtake Barreda for the lead. Cyril Despres had issues at the start that he could just never really recover from (but he did an amazing comeback and looked to take third place for a while there). The masters shone out in the end in all categories and though many riders retired with bent and broken motorcycles, suffered heat exhaustion or had their mount catch fire they all gave it their all and impressed.
What really stood out for us though amidst all this frenetic pace, this moving dust storm, from the hustle of the sponsor tents and the cheer of the spectators…was the beauty of the incredible countries they travelled through.
The helicopters with their Cineflex cameras captured the rise and fall of the landscape, carried us along with the riders and cars while they weaved through dry canyons and scaled mammoth dunes. They forever imprinted on our minds the images of a motorcycle steadily climbing up a rocky mountain, the rider picking his path between boulders and keeping his eyes focussed on the task at hand while gradually we saw a backdrop of mountains and deep green valleys in the far distance. At the top the rider seemed to stop and take a break to savour the epic scenery before him (or perhaps that was just to regain his breath) before turning the wheel back downhill and back into the heady pace of the rally.
These same cameras floated above dried deserts where rain hasn’t fallen for centuries, through lush green river valleys and through amazing regions in northern Argentina where the very earth seemed to have been painted by a master. Various red, brown, tan and purple hues that were incredible long before and will remain so long after the trucks, bikes, helicopters and quads have rushed past.
Uyuni with its mirror reflection and hard, dry air sucking the moisture from skin and plants. The vast sand-dunes of northern Chile and the Atacama desert leading to the Pacific Ocean.
The racing was truly amazing but for us the really amazing thing was the base, the platform upon which all this was mounted. The land, the colours, the mountains and valleys of beautiful South America were again enchanting and for that we are always thankful that we are able to take people through these same valleys during our trips. We take it much slower and we appreciate those same valleys and earthen hues around us as the riders did but with more time to contemplate and enjoy it.
We take our time to discover the small towns, chat with the people and to appreciate the curves in the road. We like to take things a little easier and let it all sink in.
Dakar was amazing. But for us the real star was the backdrop.
What did you think? Did the beauty of the scenery really stand out this year more than in previous Dakars?
Adventure Motorcycle Tours and Dakar Appreciators
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