too many words by laura lemay


The Dakar Rally is a desert race that goes on in January every year. But that kind of blase statement doesn’t really do it justice. This isn’t just a bunch of cars, bikes and trucks starting at one end of a track and going as fast as they can until they end up at the finish line later on; Dakar is an insanely difficult two-week, thousands-of-miles rally race through completely unmarked desert terrain.

Dakar was originally the Paris-Dakar, and the course originally went from, yes, Paris, to Dakar in Senegal. These days it tends to start in Spain, wander about through Northern Africa and cross some of the most beautiful but also some of the most difficult terrain on earth. The rally part means that you’re set off on your way overland with vague directions and a finish point some 400KM or more away. No track. Not even roads. GPS? Just for the finish point. No way points. To succeed in the the Dakar its not so much who has the fastest car or bike or truck, but who can navigate the best and keep from cracking under the stress once you get lost, which everyone does. Not to mention the problems of heatstroke, injury, dehydration and bandits. People die on the Dakar with frightening regularity.

The largest teams have full support — trucks that follow along behind with mechanics and food and gasoline. But some really insane people do it as individuals, with no support at all. Which brings us to the point of all this lead up: Canadian Bob Bergman did Dakar this year on a motorcycle and kept a diary of it all{.broken_link}. It is long and very detailed but a tremendously interesting read. And it is utterly convincing that Dakar is something that most of us will never, ever, ever want to try.

If you get the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) on your cable or dish they covered Dakar this year and are still re-running the shows. OLN’s coverage this year is really, really poor, but it’ll still give you an idea of what the race is about if you’re not familiar with it.

And to answer your next question, no I don’t watch any normal sports.