Free time

Rest Day (is it ???)

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ENGLISH
The past days have been tough. The first stages were rather easy, but 5 and 6 were really challenging. The sixth was the same as last year where I almost fell in that deep tomb. This year the competitors got warned about it in our briefing.
My riding strategy has been successful. I started easy, but after I got a good rythm I could ride faster at the end of the stage. Many other contentants lost strength by then making mistakes too, but I still got energy and kept my focus – overtaking several riders, thus improving my standings.

Now I feel just great! I got muscle relaxants and painkillers yesterday and today to avoid seizures.

 
Photo: Annie and a mechanic

Restday means sleep-in, on the race days we started very early in the mornings. But there is quite a lot of work. All service on the bike – fix the fork, new chain and sprocket, tires, oil and filters. I will have a new engine as that fesh-fesh gets everywhere inside, which might cause a major engine failure. That i sure don’t want to happen during the remaining race days!
And a lot of planning and organaizing for the second week of dakar rally. Also i must find a laundry place in the city…
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Interview Annie during the rest day: contact Marie Hessel phone +46 763 18 88 22. Chile time -4h compared with Europe.

 
Photo: Annie and fellow bikers making marks in the roadbooks.
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SVENSKA
Det har varit tufft de senaste dagarna. De första etapperna var ganska lätta, men sträckorna 5 och 6 blev det allvar! Sexan var samma som förra året, där jag var nära att köra ner i det djupa schaktet. I år blev förarna varnade för det i den gemensamma genomgången!
Min körstrategi har visat sig lyckosam. Jag tog det lugnt i början av etapperna men när jag hittat rätt rytm kunde jag gasa på i slutet av sträckorna. Många andra förare började tappa orken då och gjorde misstag, men jag hade styrkan kvar och körde om flera, vilket gav allt bättre placeringar.

Nu känns det bara toppen! Jag fick muskelavslappnande och smärtstillande medel igår och idag för att undvika kramper.

Vilodag betyder sovmorgon, under tävlingsdagarna har vi ju gått upp mycket tidigt. Men det finns också mycket jobb. All service på hojen – fixa gaffeln, ny kedja och drev, däck, olja och filter. Ska byta motor, eftersom fesh-feshen täpper till varje vrå och det innebär risk för haveri. Det vill jag ju slippa under resten av rallyt!
Därtill planera och ordna för den andra veckan av dakarrallyt. Och så måste jag hitta ett tvätteri på stan…

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New Year – New Dakar!

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ENGLISH:
Because I had checked in my bike yesterday Icould relax now. The afternoon I spent in the Dakar Village area, and met many competitors in the VIP tent… like the the “coconutters” from Australia, team Coconut Cairns and also Bruce Garland.

New years eve i spent with my friends in the chilean team Cocoa-Fynsa and the Prohens brothers. Luis of the Cocoa-Fynsa tesam was my teamboss when I raced the Patagonoa-atacama in 2005.

SVENSKA:
Eftersom jag var besiktigad och klar igår kunde jag ta det lugnt idag. Bara skicka Dakar-boxen med organisationen. Sen till besiktingsområdet och “Dakar Village”, mässområdet med allt jippo inför. Stekhett i solen så jag hängde i VIP-tältet där alla teamen var.

Nyårskvällen firade jag med chilenska team Cocoa-FYNSA (Luis var min teamboss i Pampasrallyt 2005). Vi åt nyårsmiddag på pizzastället runt kvarteret. Jag beställde en pizza med extra allt: mozzarella, tomat, paprika, serranoskinka, lök, ruccola, oliver och palmhjärta… Proppmätt!

Vid 12 slaget gick vi ut på gatan och kollade lite fyrverkerier.

Buenos Aires +40 C

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ENGLISH:
Arrived Buenos Aires, +40 degrees. that makes 55 degree difference from cold Stockholm. Met danish Jes Munk on the plane, we’ve been friends on facebook, but now met first time in real life – good fun. Also met my teammates in Meca and favourite chileans, the Prohens Brothers, Jaime and Felipe. they stay in the hotel across the street so we had dinner together and made plans for the race…. 🙂
SWEDISH:
Anlände Buenos Aires +40 grader. Det är 55 grader skillnad från Sthlm!
Magsjukan som jag legat i sedan onsdag förra veckan, verkar äntligen ha lagt sig, klarade flyget bra (phuu!). Och inga förseningar tack o lov. Hörde att de som flög via Frankfurt satt fast 24 tim.
Träffade danske rookien Jes Munk i Madrid innan flyget. Vi har träffats på facebook, och han körde sen Faraorallyt i team Meca’syStem som jag rekommenderade till honom. Efter det blixtanmälde han sig till Dakar, men team Meca var fullt så han hoppade in i Aprilia!!
Nu träffades vi live första gången och vi “hookade” direkt, snackade massa när vi landat i BA o delade taxi till city – vi kommer säkert hänga en del, han är dejlig!
Visade sig att min hotellbokning var en vinstlott! (trots att badrummet är så litet att jag nästan måste stå i bidén och duscha). Hade ingen aning när jag bokade var det låg, bara att det var i stadsdelen Palermo i BA city (samma som förra året). När jag klev ut på gatan och runt hörnet var det bara 3 kvarter bort till “Dakar Village” i Rural – dvs expocentret där hela showen med besiktning, förarbriefing, alla vip-tält och festivalen är!
Dessutom sprang jag på mina favorit-chilenare som bodde i hotellet tvärs över gatan, “Prohens Brothers”  (http://www.hermanosprohens.com) som också kör i team Meca.

Storebror Jaime Prohens träffade jag redan 2005 när jag körde Patagonia-Atacama rallyt och vi blev vänner. 2009 ställde de upp i Dakar, och lillebror Felipe Prohens låg 10:a men krashade ut sista specialen och bröt sönder hojen i två delar. Han klarade sig, men bröderna var otröstliga.
De har startnr 40 och 41. Håll utkik, de startar nämligen precis före ni vet vilka – Sanz/Arcarons.

Vi gick ut och åt på kvällen och de berättade alla rykten om bansträckningen för i år… det kommer bli mycket tuffare, teknisk körning och både varmare och och kallare på högre höjder. På pappret många bra förare med, speciellt från Argentina.
Resten håller jag hemligt… Vi har en pakt för vi är de “minsta förarna” i Dakar (jag 52kg, Felipe 59kg, Jaime 61kg) och vi ska hålla ihop.

In borrowed plumes

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Team Aussie to the rescue

Annie in Kev's flipflopsAnnie’s team did not arrive until about 17. So she spent some time with the Mange’s Aussie team.
Annie panting: “I am dying for a shower. It’s about 35 degC!”
As she had no clean clothes to change, she borrowed boxer-shorts from Rob and a T-shirt and flip-flops from Kev.
Mange’s comment:
“She looked rather funny walking around in the bivouac with a far too big T-shirt, mens underwear and loose-fitting flip-flops.”

Flip-flops, the newest fasion!

Princess dressed up for interview
Annie also gave interviews dressed like this to an American journalist and a TV crew from the Al Jazera network.

Interviewed by TV & other jornalists

And I was dying for a shower. It´s about 35 degrees!

Antofagasta. Rest day, no race…

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… but everybody is busy with service and mechanic work at the vehicles. It’s been very tough for men and machines, so all need maintenance to cope with the coming challenges. We have still another week ahead.
So there’s not much time for rest anyway.

It felt really, really good to wake up in Antofagasta this morning, though yesterday had been so crazy… Well, I got over it, I am still in the race. And tomorrow is a new race day.
I had a hotel breakfast, and took all the juicy stuff. Did my laundry properly as well, all the racing clothing that already looks like they’ve been around for months, after only these few days.

Bivouac in Antofagasta, bird viewI went down to the bivouac and started fixing on the bike, it really needed to be attended to. Made a decision to replace the engine with the spare one I have. I thought this over very thoroughly, concidering what happened yesterday, with the back wheel bouncing around, what serious damage could have been caused.
It’s like airplane crashes, they don’t come out of the blue (well, the flights do). There’s always a series of incidents eventually causing that last part to fail. So, if I did not change the engine and had to withdraw the rally due to engine failure, I know for sure it would be hard to get over.

In the bivouac I talked to David Casteu, who crashed in the race and hurt his groin. And I also saw Cyril Despres riding his excercise bike in his tent. He seems determined to win. We’ll see.
Then I heard I had got 2 hours penalty yesterday! So I spent some time at the headquarters to sort it out. It appeared that other riders had the same issue, penalty for missing some waypoint. But this was caused by an incorrect mark in the roadbook, and everybody got the penalties removed. Though in my case it required quite a meeting with the racing jury today to correct the error. But all’s well that ends well.

Now it’s time to prepare the roadbook for tomorrow, so I took a peep: first thing on the track is fesh-fesh… uuuh
And because of that stupid penalty trouble I will stand far back in line to start tomorrow as 76, getting all dust in my face. Too bad – but hey, it’s my race number anyway.

Very late dinner at bivouac

See you on the next stage!

Stage 7. Broken rear wheel

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Stage 7. Iquique-Antofagasta, Special 600 km
Stage pos 63 09:44:25 (+03:10:11). Total pos 44.

Broken wheel bearingThe first half of the stage went very steady, Annie keeping her position around 30-35.

But entering the rocky areas it got tough. Not for Annie but the bike! The ballbearing broke after one third in to the course. That severly slowened the speed. And it also could have been fatal!!!

“I was riding within top 30 and felt really good. Then at km 200 something I noticed that the rear wheel started to shake. It was the ceasing ballbearing and I had 400km ahead to ride to the finish, very slowly. Also ran out of fuel 50km from second refuel, because the bike wouldn’t roll with broken wheel, so the fuel consumption doubled. I waited a long time for help – thanks all guys who gave me fuel! I’m glad that not the whole wheel hub and axle didn’t break. That would been the end of this race. This hurts, but I can cope and go on…”

At the maintenance of the bike yesterday Annie’s friends in the Aussie team (Mange & co) noticed that the bearing was a little loose. They told her mechanics to fix it! Did they miss it?

Over high dunes
Photo by Maindru

Steep incline in the mountains
Photo by Maindru

This was the longest rally stage with various terrain – sand, salt blocks and rocky mountains. Very fast sections but also very very slow (I sure know!!!) …
On this stage the the maximum time limit was extended – it was even allowed to stay overnight on the track and arrive the next day.

But I made the stage in time, and could rest at the hotel. Starting to relax with a long nice bath – so relaxing that I actually fell a sleep in the tub!

Packing, meeting friends etc

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I helped Garry with packing the bike, that means all stuff that’s needed in a race, not just the mandatory safety gear. Then I and Rob took our bikes to the assistance area, the parking for all teams and service cars. I’m going to meet my team Meca’system. They should have arrived this morning and got out the truck from the harbour. They should be here around two…
In the meantime I fetched my two dakar-boxes. All contents are in doubles, because the organisations trucks take turns carrying them to the next bivouac. In there is my mandatory safety gear and the good-for-all-kit, that I’ll have on my bike. Now that’s taken care of.

Annie packing the rally box
New design: grey boxes instead of white.

Then I had some time to meet several other competitors, also occupied with preparing their equipment. There was the dutchess Mirjam Pol, who had been training a lot of enduro in preparation for dakar – good thinking! I saw a few stars, like the french Davide Fretignet, 3rd last year and the winner himself, Marc Coma, came straight to me hugging and kissing and so did Jordi Viladoms. The portuguese guy who broke his finger last year came and thanked me for helping him last year.

Quick lunch While waiting for the rain to pass and my team to arrive, I had a quick lunch.

I managed to fix a lot on my own while waiting for the service car. As they didn’t show up, I went back to my hotel and ate some pizza leftovers, that I had in a doggybag from the restaurant yesterday. The waiter was very amused by that! 😉