Relive #Dakar2002 with Annie Seel.
STAGE 10: ATAR-TIDJIKJA (502 km)
Tuesday 8/1 2002.
A very long day… and half the night.
Start of the stage was same as yesterday, already rutted with tracks everywhere. Riding was ok, just keep spot on navigation not to follow wrong tracks.
Approaching the orange dunes of Mauritania that are famous for being really soft and almost unrideable. Immediately my front wheel dug in like half a meter when I tried to find my own lines through the dunes. Decided I’m going to stay in the tracks even if they are also difficult drive maintaining sufficient speed with the under-powered 400, but at least will be no sudden surprises.
Many riders, including me, struggled fighting through the fluffy sand, going everywhere without real control just trying to keep up the speed not to sink into the “orange velvet”.
The I caught an experienced old(er) French biker with 10 Dakar rallies under his belt, and decided to follow him to learn the tricks of how to pitch the good lines. It worked, no more tumbled or dig-ins. But he was way to slow, and I left him behind…
Arriving to the last check-point and refuel before the finish, just as the sun was setting. This meant the last 100 km I had to ride in the dark through the desert. Riding in daylight was difficult, imagine in the dark only with the standard headlight.
Luckily I could join forces with another rider, #162 on a Honda 650. He needed navigation help from me because he had smashed his nav equipment. And I needed his big headlight to shine the way.
It took us half the night to complete the 100 km, not only going slowly, but his fuel tank was also leaking so we had to stop and I gave him a couple of litres every 20 km. Also my Roadbook-holder kept breaking off it’s mount since my “face-plant” the other day. Adding a few tumbles in the soft sand due Roland k of speed. Thought we were never going to make it through the night, and then we could se the flashing light of the stage finish in the distance… finally.
That means only two hours of sleep. I’m so never riding in the dark again, it’s terrible and it’s dangerous.
The rally has changed after rest day, it’s much harder riding and navigating now. Lack of sleep and fever wears me down, as the broken hand and bruised leg.
The sand in Mauritania is different from the sand I know from Morocco, its much more unpredictable and soft in patches, big black rocks luring just underneath the smooth surface, waiting to take you down. High alert in navigation and reading the sand in front of you.
STAGE 10: ATAR-TIDJIKJA
Tuesday 8/1 2002
Liaison : 33 km
Special : 467 km
Liaison : 2 km
Total : 502 km