Number 99 – Malle Moto

Well I’m all set, ready as I’ll every be and fly out Sunday 29th December to take on The Dakar Rally once again on my hand built motorcycle! A tracking system has been fitted onto my bike as part of the Health and Safety requirements and you can log on to the following links if your wish to keep an eye on how it’s all going for me or generally of the event it’s self:

My rider number is #99 in the bike class. (can be referred to as Pilot or Moto)

Ways of tracking me from when it starts on the 5th January are:

·         On the organisers web site: for the latest updates and there will be a link that goes live on the 5th January where you put in my rider number 99 and you can follow me real time.

·         Smart phone app: search “Dakar Rally 2014” and this will have a lighter version of what’s on the web site and will update stage by stage.

·         And I’ll be using twitter for personal updates as and when i can get a signal on @pauljaydakar

·         The TV coverage will be on Eurosport 3 or 4 times daily.

 Thank you for all your support and encouragement, it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be emotional and for sure, an experience of a life time, cheers for now J

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2014 ROUTE: Longer, Higher & Tougher!

The fundamental principle for all the Dakar’s competitors to bear in mind is going the distance. And this year, the philosophy of extreme endurance will be particularly respected and developed with a total distance in the special stages which has not been covered for almost ten years. Every kind of driving will required to complete almost 5,000 kilometres: the variety of terrains will sometimes be an advantage for outsiders.

David Castera, Sports Director of the Dakar: “We know that cumulative fatigue is one of the most complex elements to master on the Dakar. With an average of 50 additional kilometres to cover each day compared to last year, we have increased the degree of difficulty by one or two levels: this extra distance will affect everyone! For motorcycle and quad bikes, there will also be two marathon stages, which will oblige their riders to pace themselves and take good care of their vehicles. This is the essence of off-road races.”

Sunday 5th January

Stage 1: Rosario – San Luis. Liaison sections: 629 km and Special stage: 180 km

Establishing their position:

The competitors will wake up early to set off along the road in the region of Cordoba and start the race on some narrow tracks which will require the utmost vigilance. Each one will still be very fresh allowing them to tackle the stony sections or the blind jumps serenely. The competitors’ driving skills will be rewarded at the finish, where they will have already clocked up 800 kilometres. Although the gaps will not be significant at this stage of the race, it is nevertheless important to maintain their position in the part of the standings that they are aiming for!

Monday 6th January

Stage 2: San Luis – San Rafael. Liaison sections: 365 km and Special stage: 359 km

Grey dunes go hand in hand with surprises!

The fastest special stage of the rally, at least for its first part, will also be the one where drivers will have to face the first dunes. And it won’t just be a brief encounter with sand: in the last 100 kilometres, the exploration of the grey dunes of Nihuil will be even more intensive than during previous visits. The sand is more firm there, but the experience will provide a great deal of insight about each of the competitors’ technical skills. In short it will be a veritable test.

Tuesday 7th January

Stage 3: San Rafael – San Juan. Liaison sections: 292 km and Special stage: 373 km

The Aconcagua as a landmark:

The competitors of the 2014 Dakar will experience their first taste of the mountains by passing through the Pre-Andes. The Aconcagua Volcano stands 6,962m high and will observe the progress of the vehicles, of which a part will rehearse their high mountain driving techniques. The motorcyclists will climb up 4,300 metres during their special stage, on a ridgeline where they will have the impression of towering over the whole of America! The descent will bring them back to the tough reality of the drivers of the Dakar, as they will only have finished the first part of this marathon stage. They will have to ensure the mechanics for their own vehicles at the isolated bivouac which has been set up for them.

Wednesday 8th January

Stage 4: San Juan – Chilecito. Liaison sections: 210 km and Special stage: 353 km

Mountains and countryside:

The strategy of the motorcyclists will come into play: initially their navigational skills will be seriously tested at the beginning of the morning, and then they will be faced with the problem of worn tyres, as they have already been over-used the day before. As for the drivers of cars, they will have an even more demanding route to tackle in the countryside. The Dakar’s competitors haven’t faced a special stage this long since the historical one from Zouerat to Tichit in 2005! They will have to cross rivers, descend the canyons in a Wild West setting and beware of the other participants: as these terrains are often wide open, it will be entirely possible to overtake fellow competitors.

Thursday 9th January

Stage 5: Chilecito – Tucuman. Liaison sections: 384 km and Special stage: 527 km

A sleepless night in Tucuman!

After two race days with completely separate routes, everyone will gather together to tackle the longest stage of the rally. They will need to be extremely resistant to overcome these two sections of the special stage which will primarily feature sand. All day long the competitors will make headway on off-piste sections: those who have poorly assessed the limits of their engine will constantly be on the verge of overheating and all the more so, as the region’s temperatures are generally very high. At the bivouac in Tucuman, the candidates for the podium will have been whittled down to a select few, as many of them will no longer be a part of this elite group. For many others, their timing and mechanical mishaps will only become apparent in the middle of the night.

Friday 10th January

Stage 6: Tucuman – Salta. Liaison sections: 64 km and Special stage: 400 km

The quest for the best time

Once they have left Tucuman, the cars will head north and drive along part of the renowned Ruta 40, and continue on in the heart of one of Argentina’s most beautiful landscapes. The possibilities to widen the gap will be limited but the most skilled drivers may be able to seize the opportunity of adding a stage to their list of wins. A new trip to the mountains will take motorcyclists to the banks of the rivers. They will have to remain vigilant until the very end of the stage as the region is frequented to a great extent by animals of all sizes. Then they will finally be able to rest.

Saturday 11th January

Rest day: Salta

Reaching the rest day represents a major intermediary goal on the Dakar. Some of the rally’s newcomers, who are conscious of how tough the challenge is, may even regard this as a tiny victory. So the drivers and teams will be welcomed with the honours of a halfway podium at the bivouac in Salta, where a first celebration has been organised for them. Thousands of spectators are expected to come and discover the Dakar Village, as they did in Tucuman last year, where they will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of the rally, take advantage of the great variety of entertainment and activities on offer and meet the race’s key figures. It will also allow the competitors to boost their motivation levels and recharge their batteries.

Sunday 12th January

Stage 7:  Salta – Uyuni -Bolivia. Liaison sections: 373 km and Special stage: 409 km

Before the salt flat, the maze of tracks

The second marathon stage will begin for the riders of motorcycles and quad bikes, who will be savouring the first visit of the Dakar to Bolivia. When they enter the country the riders will experience a visual shock and will also be perturbed by the maze of tracks through which they will have to navigate. In these steep mountainous areas, the beauty of the setting and the variety of colours will not make the task ahead any easier. The few villages which will be idly crossed will, on the other hand, provide them with perfect waypoints. To reward their diligence, they will be able to head for the bivouac in Uyuni, set up on the edge of the salt flat… at an altitude of 3,600m!

Monday 13th January

Stage 8: Uyuni – Calama. Liaison sections: 230 km and Special stage: 462 km

Uyuni: a vision of white

The Salar de Uyuni is quite simply the biggest salt flat in the world! And the motorcyclists will be able to realise this, since they will have to go right round this gigantic stretch during the eighth stage of the rally. The route will be marked out around and across the salt flat, a marvel stretching over more than 400 kilometres, and will also pass by several islands which make this site so exceptional. The stature of the Tunupa Volcano (5,300m in altitude) will be a permanent feature on the landscape. An amazing daydream vision between heaven and earth on a white backdrop may be apparent, weather permitting!

Tuesday 14th January

Stage 9: Calama – Iquique. Liaison sections: 29 km and Special stage: 422 km

A steep drop: thrills guaranteed

The 2014 Dakar will reach its most northern point in Iquique, where the competitors will see the ocean for the first time this year. Above all, the drivers and teams will discover the Atacama Dunes again after a first part of a special stage which will be rather tedious. Dune specialists will be in command over a distance of almost 150km. Thrills will be guaranteed at the very end of the day, on the last three kilometres of the descent to Iquique: there is more than a 30% difference in height from start to finish and it is almost not recommended to break. The law of gravitation takes on its full meaning: the bivouac is not far away!

Wednesday 15th January

Stage 10: Iquique – Antofagasta. Liaison sections: 58 km and Special stage: 631 km

It wouldn’t be the Dakar without fesh fesh!

The special stage, split into two sections with very different features, will begin with the descent towards the shores of the Pacific. The advance gained in the stage the day before may will be increased in the sand during the first two hundred kilometres. Even more skill will be required to tackle the sections of fesh-fesh in the second part of the stage. Once this difficult area is behind the drivers, they will all be delighted to twist and wind along the region’s mine tracks, and in particular to be welcomed by the majestic arch of La Portuda, a stone’s throw from the bivouac in Antofagasta.

Thursday 16th January

Stage 11: Antofagasta – El Salvador. Liaison sections: 144 km and Special stage: 605 km

The Atacama, in all its splendour

In addition to the distance, here the competitors will be put to the test by all the difficulties offered by the Atacama Desert… and will have to display all the qualities required for off-road races. After the mine tracks and the many rivers to cross, the competitors will have to distinguish themselves in the heart of the Dunes of Copiapo: the fastest motorcyclists are expected to spend seven hours behind the wheel. Needless to say that on this decisive day there will be no shortage of opportunities for competitors to make a winning comeback in the race. This will be the key stage of the 2014 edition.

Friday 17th January

Stage 12: El Salvador – La Serena. Liaison sections: 349 km and Special stage: 350 km

Dunes: the last ditch attempt

The site chosen in El Salvador at high altitude towers over the usual location of the bivouac in Copiapo. This position will ensure that the Camanchaca, the morning mist which sometimes hinders the start of the stages, will be avoided. Sand will be featured on the route again, in particular with a big string of dunes to be overcome at the end of the special stage. And if there are dunes, this automatically means that vehicles will be blocked in the sand! Therefore, in the categories where competitors are neck and neck, the leaders may put themselves at risk.

Saturday 18th January

Stage 13: La Serena – Valparaiso. Liaison sections: 378 km and Special stage: 157 km

Watch out for the needles

Before admiring the hillsides brought to life by the houses in Valparaiso, the competitors will have to climb the hills planted with cacti during the rally’s last special stage. The pride and joy of crossing the finish line is drawing closer, but the statistics are formal: every year one or several drivers come unstuck during this final exercise so prudence is required! Even this close to the finish, vigilance is the competitors’ best ally to ensure their presence on the final podium.

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I’m going it alone – Malle Moto Class

After many hours pondering over my options, support packages and cost of competing in The Dakar I’ve chosen to apply ride in the Malle Moto class. What’s the Malle Moto class I hear you ask? It’s old school Dakar, no support team running round after you, no mechanic to hand the bike over to at the end of the day to sort out, no one to put your tent up and sort your riding gear out for the next day, just me, my bike and a metal chest 100cm x 40cm x 40cm to put all my spares in, my tools and any personal belongings and home comforts I can fit in. Only 20 riders out of the 200 riders that are lucky enough to be chosen to ride The Dakar are eligible to apply to ride Malle Moto. After weighing it all up, the cost of support and the fact that there are going to be at least two marathon stages in the next Dakar I applied to ride Malle Moto. I’ve just received conformation that I’ve been accepted to ride Malle Moto Class! I’m the only Brit doing it and you may be surprised to hear but I believe it’s the ultimate true Dakar experience, very excited by the whole idea!

New logo all finished “PJ Squirrel Racing”



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It’s Offical, i’m in The Dakar 2014!!

ASO Dakar 2014 entry confirmed

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Dakar Tour: the British take their place

Dakar GB launchThe British world of motorsports, which has traditionally focused on circuits, has its eye increasingly trained on the king of off-road events. Several drivers are now starting to make a name for themselves, whereas the Race 2 Recovery project has immediately captured the human essence of the challenge.

A date had been set and the venue was Gaydon. The village is renowned for its discretion but it also conceals one of the most important centres in the history and the life of British automobile sport. This is because the parish of Gaydon, which has 376 inhabitants, is also home to Aston Martin. And it is precisely here in the Heritage Motor Centre, a prestigious museum dedicated to historical vehicles, where Bowler played host to the organisers of the Dakar. Among the former and future drivers and bikers invited to the reception, the biker Stanley Watt, who completed his third Dakar with a 25th place in Santiago, was able to convey his passion for the event to the people from Ireland, Scotland and Wales who had all travelled to England for the event. The story of an immediate and intense bond was the subject of a speech by Tony Harris, after having steered the Race 2 Recovery project though the last edition. In accounting parlance, the balance was not quite as stellar as expected, with only one car at the finish out of four starting out, taking 91st and last place in the overall ranking. But that was not the key issue for these veterans of the American and British armies, most of them disabled following missions to Iraq or Afghanistan. The collective challenges that they faced reveals an extraordinary human experience, which ITV4 viewers were able to discover in a documentary made about their adventure. The organiser of Race 2 Recovery, willing to get a team together at the start in Rosario next January, has already conquered people’s hearts. The dunes are waiting for them…

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The Dakar – Take 2 – Unfinished Business!

PJ - BrooklandsI’ve been seeing a Phiso weekly for the last 5 months for the badly dislocated/ torn shoulder which i sustained on day two of The Dakar 2013. Finally, it’s stopped being painful all the time, have gained vertically full movement back and I’m back on the mountain bike, in the gym and been out a few times on my Dakar bike green laning. “At last, that’s taken some time for my shoulder to settle back down!” The shoulder recovery was what i was waiting for before deciding when was the right time to take “The Dakar” back on; I have Unfinished Business with this bad boy!

So i’ve entered again, I’m going for it for a 2nd go! I’ve got the bike, just a few small adjustments to improve it even further, got all the gear and allot wiser for my first experience. In talks with a British support team and it’s looking good at putting it all together, it’s not in my nature to be beaten!

I self financed my 1st attempt at The Dakar, used all my savings, re-mortgaged the house and more to cover the £65,000 + cost of taking part in “The Dakar”.  So as you can imagine i was extremely disappointed to crash out on day two avoiding another crashed rider. The encouraging points from my 1st attempt was that i had prepared correctly, the bike was spot on and i improved my position by 100 places to 76th overall from my starting number 176th. By staying onto the end of the event even tho the organisers wanted to fly me home due to my injuries, i convinced them that i needed to stay on to gain as much knowledge as i could for when i come back. I now understand a load more about “The Dakar” which will go a long way to make my 2nd attempt a successful one, and confirmed my belief that i can finish in the top 50!

I’m going to need your help support if I’m to get back to the start line of “The Dakar”. The main challenge is to raise the fund’s necessary to enter. This time round as i have the bike, spares and all the gear it’ll cost me around £50,000 to put together a successful result. To raise these fund’s i’ve come up with some ideas where you can help me for as little as £25 and to give you something back for your money.

I’m not going to be able to do it without your support”.

Option 1: For Individuals we are going for “A Peoples Bike”, for a minimum donation of £25 you can have your individual picture or your name on my bike and on my web site. And If you could manage to scrape together a donation of £50 you will receive a team “Team PJ Racing tee-shirt” as well as your picture or name on the bike and this page on my web site:

Option 2: For Individuals I’d like to offer to share some of my experience and knowledge on VIP ride outs with PJ. For me there’s no better feeling than having to opportunity to help see my fellow rides and friends improve their riding techniques and for them to feel more confidant in their own abilities, and best of all, have some fun! We’ll be in a maximum of 5 x riders per evenly matched groups, setting off from the Fleet Hampshire area. All ride outs will be tailored to your abilities around the Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshires green lanes. For a suggested donation of £100 per person to my Dakar fund which will includes lunch and a the option of a “Team PJ Racing tee-shirt”:

Option 3: For Clubs I’ll come to a venue supplied by you to present and share all that i’ve learnt about “The Dakar”. It’ll cover my preparation, budget and building a bike, plus hopefully your find my presentation amusing, inspirational and entertaining In return for a donation. I’d also like to give the club’s that i’ve ridden with over the years the optional of making donation and I’ll include your club logo on the bike and on this web page:

Option 4: For Corporate Sponsors who’d like to sponsor me in the 2014 Dakar Rally we will put your company logo on the bike and on this web page along with a brief description of what you do. If you’d like to take up the opportunity of sponsoring me I’d also like to also offer you the option of a presentation on “My Dakar” story at a venue supplied by you. :

Please contact me via my details on: to register your support.

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“I lived a lifetime on my 1st Dakar”

Picture 2853Now the dust has settled I’d like to take the time to say thank you, all the followers, readers and especially Michael Guy for MCN support and good wishes during and after the Dakar Rally. Your coverage of this amazing, (some might say) mad event has been excellent and I’m sure I’m joined by all the other GB riders and their families who took part in thanking you too. “I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime through my 1st Dakar experience and especially in that hour I was stuck in the dunes with a dislocated shoulder, I now know it could have been a lot worse!” You need a lot of luck to complete the Dakar Rally! Every ride has a tail to tell of crashes, near misses, loosing concentration and anyone of them could have taken them out of the rally.

What do I remember the most from my 1st Dakar experience? Defiantly making it through all the 43 inspections without a single problem, we’d made a good bike and I was very proud of what we’d achieved. Straight after final inspection you had to ride up the ramp and be interviewed in front of a large crowd, it was amazing experience and I just about held back my tears. I’d made it to the start of the Dakar! 25 years of dreaming, 2 solid years of training and a mad last few months where it was touch and go weather I’d make it to the start.

Picture 2867As I rolled the bike of the start ramp to park it up on the start line in number order I had a massive lump in my throat to say the least! The next day we had just under a 10km ride along the sea front to the official start ramp in the centre of Lima, walked to my bike where I’d left it a couple of day’s previously after inspection, nervously loaded my road book for the day, now to check if the bike started, it turned over and cranked into life almost instantly, so proud and relived all in one emotion! I set off at my allocated time, very nervous but excited, finally we’re getting on with the riding, let the fun times begin! As I turned onto the coast road towards the start podium the road was up to 10 deep with people screaming and waving. I was punching the air as if I’d finished the Dakar, this is wear I couldn’t hold the tears back, I must have cried vertically the whole way to the start podium, I was totally overwhelmed with emotion, I really had made it to the start of the Dakar and I was letting it all go, that memory and feeling will stay with me for life, unbelievable!! I don’t think I stopped punching the air with my left fist for the next 100km, the crowds were just amazing, enthusiasm that I’d next experienced before.

Dakar BivouacDay 1 went to plan, mostly a liaison day, taking it easy and familiarizing myself with all the navigation, constantly trimming my trip meter to get the Km exactly right. At the end of a 250km warm up liaison we arrived at the Pisco Bivi, home for the next two nights. I was directed through the bivi to the start line of what turned out to be a technical 13km special stage, I was early and had to wait in the boiling sun for about half an hour. Had a good chat with Tim about navigation and he showed me a few tricks with the GPS which he had picked up from the Morocco Rally, nice one, thank you. The start of the stage set off straight up a large dune face, something the quads had trouble getting going off of. I didn’t relies how big the dune was until I came down the other side, a good 100 foot 45 deg descent in deep loose sand, pinned it down the face as I was picking up direction change to the right on the way down. Decided to leave the pace on till the bottom and wall of death it right off the other face of the dune at the bottom. It continued like this for most of the stage with some very fast stretches along the top of the dunes. I should say that this stage that this was the very first time I had ridden the bike off road! We hadn’t had the time as we only completed the bike build the night before it had to be shipped to Le Havre. Riding at a comfortable pace while learning the navigation I was taking note of how the bike was handerling. It was weaving all over the place and felt very stiff on the back. I had filled right up with fuel at the last fuel station not really knowing when fuel was available the next day; I later found out that everyone else was running pretty empty, whether they new there was fuel available first thing the next day or they hadn’t thought of it I don’t know. Either way I could afford to soften the rear suspension and I also realised that I hadn’t wound the steering damper up, something else to remember for tomorrow. The final result of Day 1, I had moved up from my start position of 176th to 122nd, it’ll do, was hoping to get up into the top 100th early to give me a better chance in the dust of other riders which must be due soon. At the end of the stage they check you GPS, they pressed a few buttons and up popped all the check points for the day, nice one, I’d got them all I didn’t know where some of them were. No penalties for the day and then they take your time card and give you a new road map for the next day.

PJ at Bivi after 1st day

Now to find my support team, it’s a big place the bivi, lucky enough it was only about 2pm in the afternoon and found them quite easily. We had pre arranged to stick with the Race to Recovery Team as they were quite a big set up with trucks and flags. It was one of my fears that what could happen if I’d come in late, in the dark, exhausted and you can’t find your support crew in this 10 hector bivi of madness! Found Mike already set up, gazebo, bike stand, spare wheels, tools and table, all we were missing was the kitchen sink. Had a quick chat about what adjustments I wanted to make to the bike but we had plenty of time so we decided to go and find the food tent and get some much needed food. The facilities are amassing seeing we’re in the middle of the desert and there are approximately 4,000 to feed vertically 24hrs a day. There’s also a medical centre, information centre, competitors center, port-loo area and shower area, it’s a logistical marvel how they make it all happen! After food it was back to our little bivi set up for me to prepare my road book for the next day and for Mike to work on the bike. Even though the bike hadn’t done much work I asked for now oil and filter as it’s still a new engine and it had been sitting inside a shipping container for the last month. Tyres were still good so we left them as I was on a new set every other day plan and we increased the sag from 100mm to 110mm to make her ride a little bit more chopper like and a bit softer. The road book was a bit complicated with lot’s of alteration to cut in and some quite a lot of information I didn’t understand or hadn’t seen before. I decided to take my road book to the evening meal at 7pm and onto the rider briefing which was at 8.30pm to ask a few people if I was interpreting it correctly. This was where I found out that not a lot of people know exactly what to do with all this information, lots of different ideas which I took onboard but still not 100% sure if anyone was right, we soon see tomorrow! Loaded my road book up under the light of my head torch and said good night to the bike. That night I should have gone to bed early but I was buzzing, still couldn’t fully take it in that I’m on the Dakar, I’m really hear and it’s all happening. Had to go for a walk around the bivi and take all the madness in that was going on, something I did every night, it’s something you could never put into words; you just had to be there!

PJ on 1st day stageDay 2 started at around 4.30 am for me, up and straight for breakfast where I found the food bivi as busy as I left it last night. This time round they severing roles, cheese, ham, yogurt, serials, fruit and the compulsory by now pastor to maintain the carb’s. I made a few extra ham and cheese roles to take with me and also picked my pack lunch up that all competitors and support crew are entitled to as part of their entry fee. Consisted of dry fruit, breakfast bars, drink and a tin of what I can only explain as a complete meal in a tin, weird but edible! Back to my tent to get dressed and prepare for a proper Dakar day, first rider was away at 5.30am and I started 122nd about 6.30am. All loaded up for the day, pack lunch and all alone with some energy bars I made the way to the start line, bike started first touch of the button, good girl! We’re given a new time card for the day at the start and they check that your safety equipment is all working, Iritak and GPS. We set off on a 85km liaison stage before we were due to start the 242km special stage. I used the liaison to fine tune the trip meter, it seemed spot now. Just before the special stage I found a fuel station, I decided to take on fuel hear even though I could see there was fuel at the beginning of the stage, so did a load of other riders. A little bit further on down a track there was the start of the special, I was early again and had to wait for about another half an hour, I chose to lay beside my bike in the little shade I could find. The stage started off quite flat, hard packed and dusty. I could help myself, I said I’d take it easy but a race is a race, lets get it on and ride at the pace I’m used to. I soon was pulling in riders, waiting for the dust to settle then slowly pulling in one bike at a time. Navigation was going well and I was confidant to lead. At the first time check I had pulled up from my start position of 122nd to 98th and I was well inside my comfort zone. The terrain then started to get a lot sandier, loose and the dunes started to get bigger. The bike was handerling a loads better, still shaking when flat-out in the rut’s but wasn’t trying and could relax off on the grip on the bar’s and let it do it’s thing. I was now really pulling other riders in as they were starting to struggle in the deep sand; i had climbed up from 98th position to 76th position by the second time check. I was about an hour into this day’s special and I have climbed 46 places and we came into a stage of big sweeping horizonless dunes, had been in top gear and dropping to 4th gear occasionally for about the last hour. I was loving it, riding well inside myself and about 80% off my max effort. Navigation was all coming together well and had slowed down as I was aware I was coming up to an extreme warning that I had highlighted on my road book as a triple “!!!”. I came across a sharp dip about where the warning was “was that it?!” “that wasn’t that bad” then another horizonless dunes in front of me, still very aware that might not have been the extreme warning I went up this dune in about third, just enough to maintain momentum up the face of the dune to come across, what I can only explain as a 80 foot wave of sand that was just starting to break at the top with around a 60 deg face down the other side! I scrubbed as much speed as I could but I was committed to going off the top. On the way down, in the air at the time, I looked down my line of direction to see what I can only explain as carnage at the bottom, bikes and bodies everywhere. Intuitively I had started to try and change direction by committing to turning right by slightly leaning to the right and had started turning the handlebars to the right. I landed about 40 foot down the face reasonably flat ready to give it a big handful of throttle, something you’d get away with on any other surface but this was like sinking sand! The bike just dug in and threw me hard down on my right hand side about another 20 foot further down the dune. Dazed and adrenalin pumping I started to try and climb back up to my bike to find I just collapsed on my face, strange, my right arm not working properly?! I could move it at the elbow up and down and rotate my hand ok, just couldn’t lift my arm up from the shoulder. At this stage it felt like someone had given me a really good dead arm, something like you’d give your mates at school. I continued climbing up the face of the dune to my bike, one armed, thinking that my right arm will come back to life in a minute. Wasn’t making much progress, just kept sinking into the sand but I’d noticed the bike, nose down on it’s right hand side was starting to slide down towards me as quickly as I was trying to get up to it. When we finally met I tried dragging the front wheel of the bike round with my left arm to get the bike horizontal to the face of the dune, it wasn’t working. Decided to climb above the bike and push it down to a horizontal position where I could get back on it. When I eventually got above the bike I pushed it with my boots from the back mudguard and back of the seat, shuffling down on my bum with every push to gain more leverage whilst holding my right arm with my left close to my body . Finally got the bike to a horizontal position but about half the right hand side of the bike was berried in the sand. I then tried to release my right arm in the aim of pushing my hand into the sand to try and find the right hand grip to pries the bike out of the sand, but it just flopped there! I put my left hand under my right arm to help lift it up and see if I could get it moving, the realization set in, this wasn’t just a dead arm! I sat back down on my butt continuing to try and move my right arm with my left, instinctively trying to pull it straight and then upwards, got it up to about 45 deg’s but it wasn’t working, the adrenalin was now starting to wear off, it was now really starting to hurt! I flumped back into the sand, laying against the face of the dune looking up into the sky as the realization set in, this isn’t good, what can I do now, how can I get out of here and ride off with one arm?

Kevin at the bottom of the dune with DocTime to take stock of my situation, I sat up and started to take in my surrounding, who was about, what was going on below me and all whilst feeling my right shoulder for anything out of the ordinary. It was then I noticed there was only one rider lying on the floor below me, one bent bike and all the others where standing around him helping out. Shit! It’s my good mate Kevin Muggleton, an ex pat living in California now, we’re the same age, living the same childhood dream, riding the same bike and had been in contact loads sharing how we were going on with our Dakar bike builds. He was obviously in a lot of pain and indicating it was his back. I looked up, there was now many people about, directing the other riders over to the right, about 20 foot away from our carnage where there was no drop off and only about a 45 deg face to ride down, if only, crossed my mind!? As I was looking up a helicopter came into land to the left of Kevin, as the doctor was running over to him, he looked up asking if I was ok? I put my left hand up with thumbs up indicating that I was ok, he continued running towards Kevin. I watch for a while as the doctors went to work on Kevin, he was having a drip put in and loaded onto a stretcher. My thoughts were now to get out of here, come on shoulder start working! Continue to lift my right arm with my left hoping it’ll come back to life, by now the pain was getting worse; whatever I was doing wasn’t making it any better. When I looked up the doctor was on his way up the dune towards me, he went straight to my right shoulder from under my riding jacket “your shoulders out” he said, “you’re out the event!” My heart sank; he went straight for my emergency beacon whilst saying “we’ll need to cut your clothing off!” “No, its ok, I’ll get it off” thinking I’ve just bought all this gear, no way are they cutting it all up! He stopped trying to find my beacon and assisted me in removing all my gear. Once my shoulder was exposed he put his left hand on top of my shoulder and his right hand under my armpit, my shoulder joint was up under my armpit, as he touched it the pain was excruciating, I said to him “I’m going to pass out” and I did! I was woken by him wiggerling my leg and speaking to me, “you ok, I’ve put your shoulder back in” not sure how long I was out but I glad I was. He promptly started removing my GPS, Iritrack and Emergency Beacon, that’s it, I’m officially out of the Dakar. We were all loaded into the helicopter, pilling everything on top of Kevin in his stretcher so we could all get in in one journey. This was my first helicopter journey, they took it gently and I got to see the rally going on beneath us, it seems so easy and flat from up hear, the helicopter pilots life must be good fun I thought in the Dakar?! From landing at the bivi helicopter port, myself and Kevin where loaded up in an ambulance for the very short journey to the on site medical centre for x-rays etc. Kevin was in a lot of pain and he took priority, I sat there in my cubical hearing Kevin in pain and its then I realised how lucky I was, bar a painful shoulder I was in good health. X-rays confirmed I hadn’t broken anything and was given the option, to be flown out back home? I asked “is it ok if I stay on with my support crew and continue to follow the race to the end?” “Yes, that’s ok, but come and see us everyday to check you’re ok!”

PJ and Kev end of day 1I started the lonely walk back to my support crew, still worrying about Kev, head hung low to find it all set up ready for me to come in for service, new wheels and tyres ready to fit. I don’t know who was more gutted them or me, I felt so sorry for them and all the supporters, followers and sponsors back home. It wasn’t till a few days later when jammed in the back of my support jeep, whilst passing through a town I managed to get a 3G signal; I linked into face book to find so many messages of “gutted for you”, “feel for you” that I realised how many people where actually following my progress and my childhood dream of completing the Dakar rally, I quietly broke down whilst reading them all and I still fill up when I read them today. I will reply to each and every one of you individually, those words mean so much to me and I’m totally blown away!!

This man's a hero - pictureSo now my Dakar experience has taken another direction, I’ve become part of the support crew as now my support crew could turn our attentions to the other GB riders and help wherever we can. Kevin has now been flown back to Lima where they were to fit a back brace to him so he could be transported back home for an operation on his broken back. I’ve since found out he’s had the operation and is walking again, he even wants to discuss Dakar 2014, so that’s a positive sign. Our attentions firstly turned to Craig Bounds, as he was sort of my team mate but pulled out of the support option in favor for Malle Moto with no support at the last minute. Craig and I had been training together all year and I’d convinced him he needs to do the Dakar again to get it out of his system. On Day 5 Craig had a coming together with a quad (as did quite a few other riders during the event, something that needs looking into I feel) We met him at the end of the stage looking a bit battered, I forced some food in him and asked him to take some nurofen, something he refused as he doesn’t take things like that he said. Later when we met at the bivi that night it was apparent he was in a lot of pain and he visited the medical centre. He came back with some painkillers and was complaining of back pains. I rubbed some ibuprofen painkiller gel into his back but looking at his cracked helmet and the damage marks on his neck brace, I told Mike my mechanic that he was lucky he didn’t break his neck. Mike did what he could and was allowed to do to his bike in the Malle Moto class rules and I went through the road book for the next day with Craig. Best thing to do now was for him to get to sleep and see how you are in the morning. Morning came, he was still in pain but willing to carry on and see what happened. Loaded him up with energy bars, protein bars, pain killers, borrowed new helmet and the money he needed for fuel that day, we set him off, this was 4.30 in the morning. He wasn’t really there, you could tell from the look in his eyes and was now riding in survival mode, something you develop through years of Enduro riding and the accidents that come along with it. It’s crazy, I know, but I understand this mode, must finish whatever, once the adrenalin kicks in you’re surprised what you can do when in this situation.

Picture 2920We’ll follow him closely best we can, that’s all we can do, and it’s his decision at the end of the day. This carried on, in this type of daily routine up to the rest day (another 3 days) where it had been prearranged for Craig girlfriend Tasmin to come out. A night in a hotel and Craig appeared looking better, refreshed and happy to continue to give it go till the end. Mike and me were also spending as much time with the race recovery team, helping them out where we could with all their set backs, as well as checking, where we could, helping out with Front Row GB (Stan, Tim and Lyndon), Simon Pavie and James West, we were flat out! There’s one story of what’s happening on a daily basis with the competitors but I can share with you that there’s even more drama’s going on behind the scenes, its madness! I’d gone for three days without time for a shower, had on average no more than 4 hrs interrupted sleep per night and spent a minimum of 8 hrs a day in sweltering heat, cooped up in the back of the jeep traveling to the next bivi, to then arrive, run around like a mad man helping out wherever we could, mainly in moral and motivation front from me being in a sling. Rest day came, much to everyone’s relief, time to chill for the day and for me to calmly go round all the teams, having a chat and learning as much as I could about bike preparation, support set up, road book highlighting (everyone does it differently) and personal preparation. The next 7 days took the same sort of routine but more alone the lines of self preservation for all and getting everyone to the finish. Unfortunately James West had a big crash on day 10 which took his bike out of action; he was alright but understandably disappointed. Craig continued riding in pain but now Tam’s was with him he seemed happier to keep going. Stan had suffered a shoulder injury and seemed to be suffering with the same restriction of movement as me, so suspect he dislocated his shoulder too but went straight back in as he’s done it many times before. Tim had had many crashes but seem to have got away with it with no real apparent personal injuries. Lyndon had suffered a few off’s, one that bent the bars and the support team had a long night rebuilding his bike ready for the next day. He’s suffered a knock to his previously injured foot and was hobbling around a bit. Simon was having what seemed to be a trouble free ride, bit fast for his liking but I believe the first Dakar he’s had with no problems, I’d put that down to experience even though he didn’t seem that satisfied with his ride this year.

Back home now and I’ve seen the consultant about my shoulder. The consultant said that I have some tears but no major damage which is in need of an operation. Good job it had been put back in there and then in the dunes otherwise it might have been another story. There is a 20% chance that it could come out again and if it did I’d need an operation. I translated that into an 80% chance that it won’t come out again, good odd’s I feel! The thrust is there is a very good chance i could end up with limited movement, very long time for recovery and theres a strong possibility i might not be able to ride again. No option, i’ve got unfinished business! I’ll be starting phiso very soon and should be riding again by April all being good.

Day 2 start - thumbs upSo will I be having another go at the Dakar? You bet you life I will! I have unfinished business and I’m now more determined than ever! Armed with loads more knowledge from personal preparation, bike preparation and what’s needed to what makes a good support crew. I now have a much better understanding of what’s needed, to make it to the end of the Dakar Rally (Race!) and I’m very capable of achieving a top 50 finish. All i’ve got to do is find another £50k..!! Thanks again for all your support and I’ll see you in the Dakar 2014, and I hope you’ll follow my progress….All the best for now PJx

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25 years of dreaming and im on the start line of The Dakar

Well i ve made it, tomorrow the 5th January 2013 i ll be makeing a 25 year dream come true and setting off on The Altermate Adventure – The Dakar Rally.

This year i starts in Lima Peru, we follow the west cost of Peru down to the Chill boarder and then stratight over the Andies mountains into Arginteanina where we get a rest day on day 9. Another days racing in Arginteana then back over the Andies mountains into Chill once more for 4 more days racing down to the finish in Santirgo some 15 days later.

This will probably be my last Blog as i cant seem to find a keyboard that i can understand or a connection thats fast enough before the start. On the Lifestream side of this web site i seem to be able to post youtube vidoes, other than that you can follow me on facebook and on my Twitter account at – pauljaydakar. Theres an offical wedsite which you can track me live by tapping in my rider number 176 and theres also a live App for smart phones thats avalible which also tracks us live, all the info on the routes and daily distances. Hope you can join us on the adventure in some way.

Thank you to everyone whos supporting us out hear, to all that have personaly sponsored and support me in getting to the start line and to everyone of you thats encouraged me over the last 25 years in makeing this dream come true, love you all and see you at the finish with a big smile on my face plus a few tears i should think. 


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Sponsors Bike stickers and Race shirts

The Dakar bike decals and race shirts turned up today.

“Thank you to all my sponsors, without your support, encouragement, time, products i wouldn’t have even made it to the start line. The rest will be down to me to keep focused, stay strong and a load of luck to get me to the finish, thank you”

Bike Decals:

JAY CRF 450 ENDURO - Dakar Bike Decals

Riding Shirts:


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How to prepare for the unknow?

After dreaming of riding The Dakar Rally for longer than I can remember and seriously aiming to enter and training accordingly for it for the last 10 years, I’ve made it to the pre inspection in Le Havre and the bike and my support jeeps on it’s way to Lima-Peru. # 176

Up date to Le Havre:

The first challenge of The Dakar is to make the commitment to enter, commit to spend at least £50k, commit to getting fit and hopefully keep injury free, and finally, to commit to trying to work the French out and be ready to negotiate yourself over all the hurdles and rules loop holes to get you to the finish.

I committed to ride in the next Dakar back in 15th May 2012 when the entries opened on line, send the ASO 6,000 Euros along with a presentation justifying why you think you deserve a ride, and then you wait, and wait and wait. No confirmation is sent that they have your money, or they are considering you for a ride, you just have to wait.

About 6 weeks later (end of June) it was announced on the web site that over 440 entry’s had been received for only 200 bike places available and that all entries are now closed.

The jury are out considering who will ride out of the 440 hopefuls.

You wait again, not knowing if you should let anyone know, start trying to build a bike, start arranging a support crew, start trying to find some sponsors and build a web site etc….

Another 6 weeks later (20th July) I received the letter from ASO, (3 months later after I’d entered on line and parted with 6,000 Euros) I look at it, scared to open it, final I open it (attached) I’M IN!!

First reaction, me and Clare were jumping around the room, shouting I’m in, I’m in… then the realisation set in, I sat down…..shit!……I’m going to be riding in The Dakar in under 6 months and I don’t have a bike, any support, haven’t got a clue what I need or know the regulations…!!

Also in the letter it explained that your bike, support, spares and anything you need for The Dakar needs to be on the ship in Le Havre on the 22nd November…. 4 months, best get going then!

First thing I did was jump on a plan and flew out to meet a satellite Honda Europe Rally Team to check their Rally bikes out. I came away with the opportunity to ride in their team, bike supplied with support, seemed to be the sensible option, least hassle, proven bike and best team out there for me, just need to iron the price out. 10 weeks of emails later, back and forth with the team and talking with sponsors trying to put the deal together we came to a price and package which included a rented bike on the start line. When you add to this the two months off work, entry fee, all the riding gear, personal sundries etc, I estimated it’ll come in around the at 80,000 Euros. This was a no go for me, mainly as I didn’t have that sort of money kicking around and I wanted to keep the bike. We couldn’t seem to be able to agree on a lesser package so I had to let them know that I’m out, much to mine and their disappointment.

So, I now back to the beginning, no bike and no support with only 6 weeks to go till Le Havre.

The cheapest way to ride The Dakar is Malle Moto (on your own, out of the box with no support) but I’ll still need a bike. I contacted ASO and they confirmed there was a place available in the Malle Moto (only 20 places allowed) but would recommend I don’t go this route for my first attempt. I couldn’t stop myself thinking, was it not meant to be, should I just pull out and loose my deposit as I’d missed the deadline to with draw my entry and try again next year? I should also mention that at the same sort of time this was going on Uncle Alec (Uncle Bud) suddenly died, he had a massive influence with my love of bikes and a mentored me through many life situations with his wise words. This was a real low point, a quite week of contemplation, lots of questions and reflecting. I came to the conclusion, I’m not getting any younger, I’m very lucky to have been given a ride and if I’m to learn anything from Uncle Bud’s death/life, is that it’s over before you know it and you only get one shot at it. Live life with No Regrets! I paid the remaining money to ASO (8,400 Euros) to get myself and a bike entered, I’ll work the rest out as we go along.

I now have only 5 weeks to build a Dakar bike and get it to Le Havre….!!!

Best get a bike first then! My 2006 model wouldn’t be up to the job I believed. Rang Tippetts Honda up, they had one left, done the deal and got it on interest free credit, walked away with a new Honda CRF 450X for £600 deposit, nice one; I’ll work out how I can pay it off later when I’m back! I sourced the tanks, exhaust and sump guard/water tank from Australia, the larger alternator to run all the additional electrics, chain running gear from the USA, the rest of the electrics, brackets and fairing will be coming from France and the UK. Now all I have to do is wait again and see if it all turns up on time, see if it all fit’s together as this will be a bit of a Dakar Home Made Special!

In the mean time I’d been training with Craig Bounds (a welsh rider of 3 x Dakar attempts, 1 of which was successful) and discussed about teaming up and sharing support costs. He final decided he’d be riding Malle Moto and that his sponsors/driver and jeep are available and he wanted to go out to the Dakar. All I’d need now is a mechanic and I’d have my own dedicated support team. Immediately got in touch with Craig’s sponsor and we met up in Wales to discuss the detail. The deal was that’ll he’ll pay his own entry fee for the experience and supply the jeep (an ex Desert Rose Dakar Support Nissan Patrol) and I’ll have to pay the team entry fee plus find a Co-Pilot/Mechanic. Ok, I’m up for that! Got in touch with the ASO to find out if I can enter a support team as the entries have been closed? Some how I managed to blag my way through and they allowed me to enter a support team on the condition that the jeep would have to be less than 2m high as that’s all the space left on the ship. With a bit of modding of the roof rack and letting the tyres down, we can do that, no problem!

Now, where to find a mechanic who’s willing to give up all of January and could help where every else is needed and be very resourceful? I’d met a Welsh guy in Cambodia (as you do) when heat training out there with Global Enduro called Mike, he helped his mate Zeman run the tours out there. Over a few beers when on two tours in Cambodia I’ve done we’d talked loads about the Dakar and he said he’s always wanted to go to The Dakar and follow it. Now your chance Mike! Got hold of him via Facebook and two weeks later he’s staying at mine helping me build the bike, familiarising him self with Honda CRF 450’s as well as the jeep, which was now is in my back garden.

Two weeks to go to Le Havre! boxes of bit’s turning up every day by the truck load, we cracked on and started the Dakar bike build. Still holding down a full time job I’d come home going via the gym, quick cup of tea and out to the work shop to help Mike with the build. Mike would crash out about 10pm as he was frozen after 12 hours in the shed and I’d carry on to the early hours of the morning. I was back up at 7am for work again and leaving notes for Mike on what I’d done, what needed doing or what I’d broken! Most the bit’s I’d ordered fitted but a few needed altering, re-welding or starting again with something else or a re-think. I’d arranged for a Desert Rose Team Dakar mechanic, Martin, trading as “Torque Racing” to complete all the wiring for the Iritak, GPS, Sentinel, ICO trips and lighting as Mike and me didn’t have a clue about these bit’s, or the regulations come to that! Martin had the bike over the weekend of this two week window. It ended up him needing 4 day’s to complete his bits as had to wait for some parts to arrive. So we used this time to crack on and check the jeep over, servicing it and to alerter the height as well as adding all the bit’s needed to comply with Dakar regulations. Mike also stripped my 2006 CRF 450X bike down as this would be my spares back up plan, boxed it all up and loaded it into the jeep along with everything thing else we could think off.

We got the bike back late Thursday night (4 x days till Le Havre!) and all we had enough energy for that night was to give it a coat of looking at once back in the workshop and discuss what needed doing tomorrow so I could test it over the weekend. I still needed to run it in fully as it was running rough as, popping and banging and didn’t want to start easily. It could only be jetting as I’ve had this before with my other bike, just turned out to be the pilot jet. It wasn’t worth addressing these issues till I had all the set up right, exhaust, rally air filters, and controls to my liking. Lucky enough I’d been testing different bar’s, suspension, tanks and seats out on the old bike and it was just a case of transferring them over onto the new one. Mike hit the sack at about 12 midnight but I couldn’t stop myself giving the bike another two hours of looking at and tinkering, I was wired and I had a clear idea what was needed for Mike to complete on Friday. So, as usual, I’d set off to work at 7am on Friday leaving a whole list of what’s needed doing and asked Mike to raise the pilot jet by 5 and main jet by 20 before he put all the tanks on, felt this would get us a bit nearer to sorting the bad running out.

Got home as usual via a visit to the gym on Friday to find Mike with a big smile on his face looking at what looked like a completed bike. He’d had a few issues with the purpose made water tank/sump guard hitting the exhaust as they had sent the wrong one, 2L capacity rather than the 3L regulation one. To late now and we decided that if questioned we’ll ditch the headed tank and use the 1L capacity of that to make up the difference. The jetting alterations had made a big difference, started easily but still popped and banged a bit on the over run in the shed. Decided it was time to celebrate with Fish and chip’s straight out of the paper, can of John Smiths while sitting on tool boxes in the cold shed. We merrily munched away with big smiles on our faces, think we’ve crack it Mike, bikes looking awesome! While finishing our beers off we continued tinkering on the bike, this went on into the early hours for me as usual. Last job of the night for me was to fit another new chain (another spare) so I could pre-stretch it tomorrow when road testing the bike, she’s ready!

Saturday started a bit wet, but no choice, it’s going to get mucky, donned my road riding gear and set of to Keith Thorpe to pick up a few more jets that I was missing from the range. Bike was running fine, very little signs of popping and banging on the road and gave it a good thrash home again to check the plug to see how she’s burning. The good thing about our bike build, it’s simple, 5 bolts and the seat and tanks are off in a couple of minutes, and even better I’ve made some tool’s so you just loosen the carb while all the tanks are in place, twist it round to clear the carb drain plug and you can get to both jets through it. She’s still running a bit lean, quick chat to my mate Manny about four stroke carburetion and decided to go up a further 10 on the main. Threw it all back together, quick cup of tea and a sandwich and off to Tippetts Honda to pick up the last of the genuine spare parts. I decided it now or never, I’ll give it flat out down the M3, M25, A3 and home again to see what she handled like with full tanks and then a final check of the plug. She’s still a bit lean but running fine, close enough, as we’ll have to jet it again in Lima for the heat and the altitude where it will run richer.

Sunday was quite leisurely, fitting new tyres and moose’s to the rally wheels and my spare set of original Honda Wheels, chain, sprockets and disks all round and slipping the rally wheels in. Final tinkering and adjustments but I felt like we were under control and that we’d made it! Mike finished lock wiring up the bike once I was happy everything over the next couple of day’s and started loading the jeep with everything we could think of. I in the mean time, had to start preparing all the paper work, custom documentation and packing up all my personal belongings to go on the jeep, riding gear, tent, sleeping bag, first aid stuff and every kind of nutrition type energy bars I though I might need. My new boots, helmet and rally riding gear hadn’t turned up in time, so I packed all my old riding gear as spares into the jeep and will have to take the new gear out on the flight out on 29th December.

Wednesday arrived, we’re booked on the over night from Portsmouth to Caen (Le Havre ferry out for maintenance) to arrive at 6.45 on Thursday morning. My Pre-inspection time was for 16.30 on Thursday in Le Havre, plenty of time. I had to go into work on the Wednesday morning for an emergency but I was cool, no worries, we’re in good shape and just waiting for Craig Bounds to turn up to pick my bike up, sort out the remaining tyres and moose’s and we’ll be off.

Craig and Tam’s turned up in plenty of time after trying to wind me up on route, pretending he’d broken down and not sure if he’s going to make it, now on a back of a transporter and on route again, wined up merchant! Craig delivered the bad news, the moose’s haven’t all turned up; just enough for two sets each. The good news is we’ve got time for what has become our way of celebrating, fish and chips and John Smiths! Once we have polished the fish and chips and beer off, chewed the fat a bit on the game plan we loaded my bike into Craig van and set off to Portsmouth at around 9pm. I only live about 1 hour away from Portsmouth and made it in plenty of time for the 11pm crossing. The Front Row British Lad’s Team were also queuing up for the same ferry; this is going to get messy tonight! All off us on board, straight to the bar and as expected, few to many John Smiths later we crashed out in cabins in the early hours of the morning. We all got woken a few hour later with some kind of harp music which gets progressively louder from the speaker in the cabin’s. Quick breakfast in the restaurant and the racing starts, who can get to Le Havre first? Some how both Craig and myself hadn’t received final instructions on where the location was of Pre-inspection. Spotted some fellow Dakar competitors who turned out to be from Germany and they kindly give us a spare set of instructions on how to find the port, the Germany hay!

Once we found the Port and Dakar Pre-Inspection hangers we were directed to our relevant locations where we made our way to the signing on tent. You were previously sent a unique letter of registration via email and this had you allocated time, they didn’t seem to worry about the time, just wanted to see the letter, one for each vehicle. We were then issued with an A5 booklet, individual ones for each of the bikes and one for the support jeep. When I open my bike booklet I counted a mixture of 43 different administrative and technical scruteneering boxes to be stamped before the start on the 5th January. 12 of these were to be completed in Le Havre to get the bike on the boat to Lima, so on my workings that still leaves 31 to be completed before I even get to the start line! It was all laid out very logically and one administration check, one cabin led to another and then onto the hanger for technical inspection. Like sheet we all lined up and shuffled alone until it was our turn, I’d acquired a whole load of paper work over the last few months plus I’d printed all the last minute emails off about the changes to my entry and team, good job to!

The 2nd cabin we went to was admin and the money; they said I can’t go through as I still owed 9,400 Euro’s! Out came the 31 emails that have gone back and fourth plus the confirmation of transfer of funds to the ASO bank account, a lot of chatting and gesturing amongst themselves and they finally stamped my bike and the jeep books. Craig had already gone ahead on as he only had this bike to get through and Mike and I had to get my bike through and the support Jeep. The 3rd cabin was vehicle registration and customs documentation, copies and electronic scans of the V5 where taken of both my bike and the jeep, stamp in the book then onto customs documentation checks in the same cabin. You had to have documented a packing list for each vehicle plus have a back up on a USB stick, the bike was simple, Bike, make, model, reg and frame number plus value. The jeep, that was a different matter, first lines same as the bike layout and detail, but then you had to document everything that was inside, in detail, plus values! This came to two full A4 pages, no problems though, I’d completed them both correctly and both books stamps, all ok. At this stage I suggest Mike and me split and he concentrated on getting the jeep through and I’ll push on and get the bike through.

The 4th Cabin was for GPS-Sentinel (combined unit, GPS with built in vehicle to vehicle overtaking communication, Sentinel) they presented me with my GPS-Sentinel bolted on top of the Iritrack unit. (Satellite tracking device and communication unit back to Paris central control) I’d opted for this set up as my narrow navigation tower and fairing didn’t allow room for it to be located any where else, makes it all a bit taller in the middle of my bars, but I had no choice. Majority of people opt for the separately mounted option, this is why you’ll see majority of bikes are a lot wider frontend and fairing. Another stamp in the book and I’m off to fit the combined GPR-Sentinel-Iritrack (GSI) unit to the bike. This where we see if Martin (Torque Racing) had allowed enough length on all the cables, the correct terminals have been fitted and we’ve fitted the correct mounted bracket? At this stage I should mention I didn’t bother going to the 5th Cabin for Iritrack as I thought I’d covered that, this was the only mistake I made all day and I’ll tell you later about that.

Now that’s all the admin done, onto Technical Scrutineering (well that’s what I thought) cracked on with fitting my combined handle bar unit, GSI. It clipped straight into the 6 point tourertec bracket, one down, now to work out where the 4 x different Aerials/GPS receivers, two power supplies and Cap repeater go and where they all plug in. All labelled up very neatly, connected up within 10 minutes with only one tight cable to redress, good job Martin, thank you. All lights came on, GPS screen came alive, Iritrack flashing yellow LED’s pertinent red’s and greens LED’s, looks ok to me, but hay, what do I know!

I pushed my bike up towards the hanger where there was loads of bikes all lined up with loads of official crawling all over them, I was told to hang on there till it’s I was called. Left the bike and decided to wonder in and see what they were checking and generally being nosey. This is where I found Craig and Mike working on a half dismantled bike with official all over it looking at his navigation tower. It turns out the Iritrack unit wouldn’t fit on the bracket that comes standard fitting on the propose built rally KTM bike, strange? Didn’t get involved as there were enough chiefs already offering advice but Mike was in his element, had all the tools out of the jeep and was right in there. Tam’s had found where the food and coffee was so I mealy munched away and shod back and took it all in, what stages where next and what was involved in each stage. Once I had finished grazing I got my bike and in good trials queuing styli I cheekily nudged my way through the mayhem to the first official I could find. In my best French I welcomed him, bonjour, just missed of the Rodney this time as I doughty he’d understood my humour. He generally looked over the bike, “good bike” he said “can you take the fairing off” armed with my 6mm Allen key T bar with a 8mm socket and 10mm socket on two of the ends and a leather man I can pretty well take the whole bike apart. Fairing off in under 1 minute he checks all the routing of the aerials and general cabling, “good job” he said “that’s got going anywhere” , well chuffed! He then proceeded to disconnects all my Iritrack cabling which I’d just dressed all neatly, but he did apologise as he connected up to his own unit. He explained that now sending signals to Paris, testing the aerial, the GPS sensor and the three buttons: Call, Receive and Emergency Communication, which some else can press if they find me crashed my brains out. “All good” he said, “just go over to the receiver area once your put everything back together to sign off that they have received all the signals back from Paris”. Bike back together in a few minutes and then the GPS-Sentinel official walked over, “bonjour” I said, getting good at this I thought. He checked the bike over “good bike” he said, I like this, they seem to be impressed we our simple bike build. He promptly disconnected all the GPS cables and connected his unit in, apologising for undoing all my handy work (good job I’ve got a load of cable ties in my rucksack). He fround, “it’s not working”, quick double check of all the aerials and he’d mixed up the aerial with the GPS plugs, he smirked, swapped them round and job’s a goodan. I double checked this time that was all the cable testing out the way and finally tided all the looms out and push to the next queue.

This next queue was for numbers and sponsors stickers to be put on, so while the guy in front of me was having his done I wondered over to the signal receiver tent to see what was needed. Gave them my book, check it all against all the ticks next to my rider number on his sheet, he’d received all the signals back and stamped my GPS-Sentinel & Iritrack boxes in my book, nice one, two more boxes completed. By the time I got back to my bike there were number sticker people all over it, “where’s your sticker” they asked? “I don’t know, thought you had them?”  “Non”, “you need to get them from over the other side of the hanger and they stamp you book”, he didn’t actually say that, he just pointed and gestured but I worked out what he meant. Off I trundled, give the sticker man my book, he checks it and walks off with it into his office. Few minutes later he’s back with a whole pile of stickers and stamps my book. Back I trundle to the sticker stickeronmen and pass him my pile of stickers. These stickers consisted of numbers for both sides and front plus a load of compulsory advertising/sponsor stickers. They wanted to discus where every sticker went, “I don’t care” I said “put them where you like”. I’d presented them with a totally plan white tanked bike and they where confused. “I have no sponsors” I said, they had to bring an interpreter over (boss man I think) “bonjour” I said, seems to work, they smile and we have a good chat. He understood and explained to his team to put them where very you like, this really confused them as they had to think for themselves, major debates about where and what angle. I took the opportunity to nick a few more French stick roles and some more coffee and came back to be entertained by the sticker sticker-on-men. The final sticker they were trying to put on was this bright pink one. This gained my interest as they were trying to find a flat surface on my fairing for it, but as I had such a narrow fairing, it was only just big enough for the rider number. Many a debate was had over this one, I had a close look at it and it was a looped wire sensor emitter, similar to what’s in the back of the new passports, ar, now I know why they wanted it as flat as possible. We must get swiped as we go through checks I thought. All stickered up, my little bike was starting to feel like he was a proper racer now with the big boy’s, he was looking very proud of him self!

Next queue was five deep and I’d caught up with the Simon Pavey and some of the Front Row boy’s who set off hours before me. And in my bestist trialy styli in nudged my little bike between all the KTMs almost unnoticed. There’s only so far you can go and came against a wall of KTM’s, all in the same team and got some looks, as well, doing well to get this far. Looked back across the hanger to see that Craig’s bike was back together so I used this opportunity to go and catch up with him and left my bike to fend for himself with all the big bully KTM. They final found a very exact location for the Iritrack assisted by a Dutch mechanic who said ”ar, done many of these, pick that bolt up and that bolt, drill another there and it goes straight on”. Just a bit of rewiring to sort it all out which can wait till Lima and job’s a goodan, Craig’s now steaming through all the other checks.

I took this time to actually look up across the massive hanger, try and take in all what’s going on, been so involved getting the bike through I was missing the Dakar experience with all the other wonderful machinery, massive truck, awesome sounding car’s and lot’s of very tried looking people, still in overalls, grease under the nails. So I wasn’t the only one working on their machinery right up to the deadline! Bumped into Mike, how’s it going, jeep ok? Yes, only just going through now, been working with Craig till only a few minutes ago. They liked all the little touches Mike had done to the jeep to comply with the regulations and it was going through no problems. Even the support vehicles have to comply with tight safety regulations and have their own GPS tracker unit which I had to purchase and Mike fitted. We both had big smiles on our faces, even threw black ringed eyes and to be honest, probably still a bit drunk.

MCN then grabbed me for a Q&A interview with Michael Guy, photographs with the bike by the official MCN photographer. The photographer came over to me looking at the photo’s he’d just taken and said “your going to have a good time aren’t you” I smiled even bigger smile “yes, that’s the aim” and gave him one of my best cheeky grins. With that, he switched his camera to video and asked my to talk to the camera, I just rattled off how I got hear, what it meant to me and that I’m so lucky to be hear. He stopped filming, gave me a big cheeky grin back, there was no more need for words, we understood each other.

I’d lost my place in the final queue in the hanger when I pulled the bike out of the pictures, we’ll I thought it was the final stage. Remember that 5th Cabin I said I’d come back to, Iritrack! On all the bikes there was a bright yellow arrow pointing to something behind the fairing, had a closer look at the other bikes and there’s a yellow Velcro package the size of a mobile phone. Looked at my bike, there was a bright yellow arrow pointing to a little tray we’d allowed for the emergency beacon. Ar, that’s what I’m missing, when I placed my order for the Iritrack system I’d also ordered the emergency beacon, strobe light, torch, compass, night flares, day flares and emergency aluminium blank, all compulsory and have to be carried on the bike at all times. Off I trundled out the hanger back to the 5th Cabin, handed my booklet over and they came back with a bag of goodies. Oh, loads of stuff, signed that I’d received it all and they stamped my book and of I trundled back to my bike. Quick removal of the fairing, back into the rucksack for some more cable ties, loop them through the pree drilled cable tie holes, fit’s a treat. The tray was the corner of a bedding plant tray in a previous life, it lives again and it’s off on an adventure.

Just as I’d put the bike back together I was called up to an official looking technical inspection guy, he turn out to be the director of technical and he insisted on seeing every bike, that’s why the queue was so long! I’d entered Marathon class which in simple terms means it’s a standard production bike (I now know!). He points to the hub’s of my Talon rally wheels, “those standard hub’s” he asked, “course not” I replied, he asked again, ar, I’ve got it “yes” I replied, “just sprayed them black” I said. He walks round to the exhaust “is that a standard exhaust” he asked, “course not, how can you run a standard exhaust with those bad boy fuel tanks” I replied. He frounds and get’s his rule book out, which was in Spanish and starts to translate the rules of Marathon class, standard bike as produced, not allowed to change the engine, I stopped him there as I understood now why he was asking all these questions. “Look, I don’t really care what class I’m in, I hear to finish not win the event” I said. He smiled, put the rule book down and shook my hand, “I want to you finish as well, look, if you change anything, just come and see me and tell me what you’ve done” re replied. “No problem” I replied and gave him one of my cheeky grins. The result is I’ve now been put in the Super Production class up against the top boy’s with their full works bikes. He put a special sticker over the join from barrel to crack cases (hmmm..that means I can change the head, nice) and one sticker on the frame. That’s it, technical inspection passed and another stamp in the book.

I thought that was it, I started pushing my bike out the hanger and I could feel myself welling up, it was like a sudden release, all those hours in the freezing shed, all the hours on the internet finding bit’s from all over the worlds, all those sleepless nights, all that money spent, all the logistic nightmares sorted and all those emails. It had only taken a few weeks to all come to together but I’d felt like I’d already done the Dakar. There was one more tent at the end of the car park outside the hanger, I pushed the bike up not knowing what to expect, “bonjour” I said, got a smile and he scanned my pink sticker, “number 176, that’s correct” he said, “that’s a good bike” he said, I grind, “yes, it’s a very good bike” I replied proudly. Those bully KTM where all lined up in front of me, so I push my little Honda round them and parked it across the front of them, as I looked at my bike, it looked at it so proudly and I could hear him saying to the KTM’s, ”remember me, I’m hear to cause some mischief”  I took a picture, it felt like the picture I took of my son in his first school uniform as he set off for his first day a school, so proud, so many emotions, the start of a major adventure and a new chapter in his life. I couldn’t stop myself, out slid a few tears, don’t really know why, just a release I think and the realisation that I’m going to ride in the Dakar. Wow!!

Right, pull yourself together, still one more problem to sort out. We’ve still got to get the bikes down to the ship yard for loading and some how get all those tyre in the jeep and measured in so it comes under 2m high and 5M long otherwise it’s not allowed on. Rode the bike round to Craig van, no Craig or Mike, Tam’s reading a book in the front and tells me he’s still going through inspection. I walked back into the hanger to find Craig’s through ok, just being interviewed by MCN and pictures being taken sitting on his box he’s got to live out of for two weeks. Found Mike as asked him “is the jeep through ok?” “Yep, no problems” he replied. “We’d best get it round to the van and start loading up to get it all down to the shipping point” I suggested. So we all met back at the van for the finally checks of Craig’s box, jamming everything we could get in there and then handing it over to the officials. We then turned our attentions to the jeep, forcing as much inside it as possible just leaving enough room for Mike to drive it down to the port. We still had six tired left over and put them back into the van to see what we could sort out down the port. We’re ready to go, bikes all stamped up, jeep loaded to the gill’s, there’s just one thing to do as I’d had another suddenly realisation, I need a poo! Where’s those porta loos?

Craig and I donned our helmets and fired the bikes up, we only had about a litre of fuel in them both, just enough to get them down to the port in Le Havre and out the other side in Lima, we hoped. Mike’s in the jeep, Tam’s in the van and we set off following the signs to the shipping port. It’s starting to get dark now, it’s cold and we’ve virtually been on the go for 36 hours now but I still couldn’t stop my self, pulling wheels and stoppies, I was still buzzing! We got stopped at two different places entering into the port and had to show our booklets again, they checked we had all the relevant stamps in them before they’d let us proceed. Craig and I had to go to a different part of the port to load the bikes but we passed through where all the trucks and jeeps where, what a sight, row on row of racing trucks, jeeps, racing car’s and 4 x 4 logistic support jeeps. The bikes were loaded into purposely built crates that take two bikes at a time, strapped down via the handlebars and from the footrest, covered in buddle rap shaped to the bikes unique shape and then totally rapped in what I’d call black industrial Clingfilm, time for another quick picture and to say good bye to my brave little Honda. We walked round the corner to find Mike with a smile on his face, he’d negotiated another 400mm on the length of the jeep, and we’d reckoned we could get the entire remaining 6 x tyre strapped on the back. We set too it, holding all the tyres up in place while we found places to run straps through them all and pulled them tight to the back of the truck; all done!

One problem left, Mike and I didn’t have any transportation and we’re stuck in Le Havre. I hadn’t really given it any thought, and to be quite honest, I didn’t care. I was hear to get a job done, didn’t know how long it was going to take and decided we’ll work it out once we’d finished, Mike was up for that approach, so one more adventure to go. Looking at the time, about 7pm, I knew there was a boat going back tonight at 10.45 from Caen to Portsmouth as we’d picked a timetable up as we left the boat this morning. It took one and a half hours to drive there, but it was well out the way for Tams and Craig as there was setting of to Paris to pick up some bikes. Tams, can you drop us off at the main train stations and we’ll see what we can do from there. Straight to the ticket desk, “bonjour” I said, got a smile from the lady, with the help of a translator we worked what tickets we needed, she looked flustered. I understood that we had about 2 minutes to get to platform 1 was the train was about to leave! We set off in a bit of a sprint and just made it as the doors closed, now just to get to the port from the other end. About two hours later, one change of trains we’d arrived at the closes station to the Caen Port, Mike said I was snoring like a water buffalo sitting bolt up right, I’d hit my wall, felt like we’d made it. Just gone 9pm, had to be at the port no later than 10.30 to catch the last ship of the night. Asked a taxi outside the station how long it takes to get to the port, “30 to 45 minutes” he replied, I think. Time for something to eat and drink then, found café still open, nice spaghetti bolognaise and a bottle of coke as I felt I needed some carbs and some sugar, nice, hit the spot, this is the life! Simple taxi drive to the Caen port, 15 minutes to spare. The port ticket desk said there was on cabins available but if you ask when on the boat, there might be some spare. Straight on the ship and to information, yes they had one left over, I’ll have it! Time for a couple of John Smiths at the bar to wide down and reflect on the last few week’s, we’d made it! Just a train journey from Portsmouth to home in the morning and we should be back before lunch, what a mad 48 hrs to say the least!

So now, it’s the final bit’s and pieces, licences, sort my riding gear out, recharge, recover from the last 4 weeks of madness, down the gym and mountain biking, whether permitting. The aim now is to get strong as possible ready for the other 31 Administrative and Technical Scrutineering checks and then bring the fun on; start of the Dakar on 5th January through to 20th January 2013 and the finish, wish me luck and follow me live on # 176, thank you. PJx

The rest will be down to the lap of the God’s and a load of luck!

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