Posted on January 03 2015
Riding 6,000 miles across various terrain and climates across countries. Navigating your own routes through unknown territory. Camping at night with your buddies. Rocky trails, sand dunes, and water crossings. Sometimes dangerous conditions, and repairing your own bike. Waking up the next morning, and doing it all over again. If this sounds like your run-of-the-mill RTW trip, you're not far off. Except this is The Dakar Rally.
I think there are a couple of reasons why ADV addicts are drawn to the Dakar. One is that it really is the Ultimate Dualsport Ride. If you want adventure on two wheels, this is it. Much of Dakar is like a backcountry or RTW trip that we might do, but just turned up to 11. Because it does parallel the sort of journey we may take on our own bikes, it creates a strong connection because we can relate to the Dakar in some ways.
Secondly, this is one of the premier motorsports events where privateers compete with professionals. I mean, you probably won't see your buddy on his or her GSX-R line up next to Valentino Rossi on the MotoGP grid anytime soon. And that is the other appeal of Dakar - theoretically anyone (with a big enough wallet and some talent) can participate. And I think in those cases, the goal becomes to challenge yourself, not so much to race against the factory teams. And many have done it, from local heroes to celebrities like Charley Boorman.
The Dakar was started in 1978 and used to be called the Paris-Dakar. That was when the rally started in Paris, France and ended in Dakar, Senegal. In 2009 it was moved to South America due to security concerns, but is still referred to as the Dakar Rally, or simply, "The Dakar."
How does the event look like in 2015?
Total route: 5,772 miles
Total timed specials: 2,952 miles
Longest distance in a single day: 636 miles (Stage 12)
Longest timed special: 485 miles (Stage 8)
Shortest distance in a single day: 244 miles (Stage 13)
Average annual rainfall in the Atacama Desert (Chile): 0 in.
Vehicles: 414 (164 motorcycles, 48 quad bikes, 138 cars, 64 trucks)
Nationalities: 53, including first-time entries from India, New Zealand, and Taiwan
Spectators in 2014: 3.9 million (Argentina: 2.5 million; Bolivia: 410,000; Chile: 1 million)
TV hours: 1,200 in 190 countries
Some incredible photos from past Dakars:
(Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
(AP Photo/Jerome Prevost)
The Dakar Rally takes place over the next 2 weeks. As Americans, we can now watch The Interview with no problems but we can only get short summaries of the race on NBC Sports Network. That sucks, but you can always find near-real-time updates from Twitter of course, and also forums like ADVrider and our Team LC4-50 website, and Facebook.