Towards the end of December last year, I was hanging out in Arequipa, Peru, finishing up some work and getting my Suzuki DR650 serviced. At this point, I’d been on the road for years, and as is the case with most things in life, the way I traveled has been slowly changing. More and more, I steered
towards smaller, less used routes and off-road trails, stayed in nameless indigenous villages along the way, and seeked out experiences that weren’t just about motorcycling. But that December, something unexpected began happening to me in Arequipa. As I rode the busy city streets back and forth from the
mechanics, I noticed people sticking their thumbs up at me from their cars and yelling, “Dakar?”.
I’d heard about the legendary Paris-Dakar rally, of course, but I never followed it closely. I was never into racing, much less rallies; I had little interest in being fast on my bike, on or off the road.
But the Arequipenos were already living in a Dakar mood, and, after a quick Google search, I realized why. This year, the Paris-Dakar was held exclusively in Peru. “100% Dakar, 100% Peru”, the official rally tagline ran.
Should I try and chase the rally?, I thought as I watched people admire my loyal Lucy which resembled a rally bike to them somehow. I could just see a few stages, maybe, and experience what the rally is all about. Maybe I’d blog about it, too. I was already in Peru anyway, with no strict plans ahead.
What happened next changed the way I looked at the Dakar completely. It blew my mind and left me longing for more; experiencing the Dakar, to me, was like living in a parallel universe for ten days and realizing, with absolute clarity, that humans were limitless.
None of my preconceptions about the Dakar or rally competitors turned out to be true. None of my expectations proved to be right. And I will never look at the desert the same way.
You can find most of my Dakar posts on ADV Rider, where I uploaded daily updates straight from the rally. Here, I’ll share more of the behind-the-scenes, the personal connections, and the insanity that was my Dakar.