People

Arrival, supporters… but a vanished dream

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ENGLISH

On the podium. Standing on the dead bike! The bike broke totally only a few kilometers from finish… it had to be towed to the finish arena and pushed up on the podium.




Race Director Etienne Lavigne:
“Merde! Une moto morte! Holy shit! A dead bike!!!”


“… uuuhm, hmmm… whisper, whisper… “

VIDEOS:
Short interview after finish (new window)
Annie on the podium – with dead bike (new window)

Iréne Crona from the swedish embassy meeting up with flowers!
The arrival was more spectacular than glorious … but isn’t that a halo shining around a saint’s head 😉

Lots of supportive fans surrounding – greeting, comforting, asking for autographs, giving small presents.

But no prize – the dream of winning the Ladies class turned into dust, literally, and sank deep in the mud.

A fan, Oviedo, gave me a nice “prize”: the Argentinian flag and a photo from the rally start. 😀

SVENSKA
På podiet. Stående på en död motorcykel. Hojen brakade ihop totalt bara några kilometer från mål … och måste bogseras till avslutningen på arenan, och knuffas upp på podiet. I videon syns lite.

Iréne Crona från svenska ambassaden mötte upp med blommor!
Ankomsten var mer spektakulär än lysande … men är det inte en helgongloria som lyser kring huvudet?

Mängder av stöttande fans samlades runt om – hälsade, tröstade, bad om autografer, gav små presenter.
Men  det blev inget pris – drömmen att vinna Damklassen förvandlades till stoft, bokstavligen, och sjönk djupt i lera.
En beundrare, Oviedo, gav mig ett fint “pris”: argentinska flaggan och ett foto från rallyts sart.

Hitting the road

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ENGLISH
The starting ceremony today was a party, like always in Buenos Aires. So many cheering people everywhere along the road. The competitors feel like heroes.

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SVENSKA
Startceremonierna var en riktig folkfest, som alltid i Buenos Aires. Enormt mycket människor överallt längs vägen. De tävlande känner sig som hjältar.

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VIDEO, Youtube: Spectators cheering and welcoming Annie

Arriving in Buenos Aires

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Annies winning arrival in Buenos Aires, frontDuring the 335km transport into Buenos Aires the road was packed with cheering and waving crouds. There are so many spectators, all Argentina seems to be watching this event.

“And I waved back to everyone. In Buenos Aires there were even more photos, autographs, hugs, kisses.
I’m quite famous here. Everyone has seen me on TV when my bike was in that tomb!”

Here arriving in a parade through the streets in Buenos Aires.

Annies winning arrival in Buenos Aires, side

Annie after finishing her 4th DakarIn the evening a nice dinner with all friends in the Aussie Team, for finishing Dakar with great success.

Right:
Annie after finish of her 4th Dakar rally, filling body with energy – also needing some facial shine-on…

;-)

Below:
Mange, Gazza, Kev, Garry, Richie, Annie, Alana & Rob (biker #122, pos 38)

Aussie team & Annie at dinner after Dakar

Stage 14 – Finally at finish. Yes!!!

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Santa Rosa-Buenos Aires, Special 206 km
Flat sand, dusty, very fast.
Position stage 37, 01:47:56 (+0:21:08). Total 45. Winner of the Ladies class.

She did it!
Annie held the good and even speed through the whole stage, without taking any risks. Trying to gain a few minutes wouldn’t affect the total standig anyway. Today there’s nothing to win only everything to loose.

Annie at finish of S14

She made a short phone call home to friends just after finish:
“I am very happy with this result, considering all mishaps during the rally. Maybe it was not the perfect race I hoped for – but is that even possible, Dakar is unpredictable! I aimed at top 40, and I was very close to get there. It was that damned visit in the tomb and my thumb! My other aim was winning the ladies class – and this I acchieved by a wide margin. It feels so fantastic I can’t even describe it.”

Ullevålseter & wifeAnnie has already at the finish line told the big congrats to Pål-Anders for his wonderful second position.
And all the riders will celebrate together at the arrival in Buenos Aires.
Photo right: A happy Ullevålseter with his wife

Depres signs Annies t-shirtA famous female
Late at night Annie sent a textmessage with some more details:
Annie and Oldrich“I set off in good speed on dead straight pist, with lots of dust. Stayed behind the rider in front… no taking risks. Soon faster bikes caught up, and I let them pass, since I was already at max speed. Just waited to cross the finish line… making no mistakes.

And when I arrived at finish I was so happy that I finally made it: best woman and a good total, despite the dramas.
I’ve worked so hard for this, for many years. A big kiss and hug party with my team and rider friends, many interviews, photos. Got my t-shirt signed by all riders, also winner Despres – so fun!”
Images above right:
Annie with bike winner Despres and quad-rider Oldrich

Annie gets a thorough scrubRight:
Annie gets a thorough scrub after the race.

Below:
Super Rocket gets a shine-on and a touch up on stickers.

Super Rocket gets a shine-on

Meeting fans

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Fans greeting with banner

My argentinian fans showed this at the stages: “Mujeres Tuercas” (Women Nuts).

Makes me so happy!

Jan 1. A burning intro…

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Today’s program:

Riders meeting at 10.00.
Start from parc ferme at 14.51.
Podium 30 minutes later.
300 kms transport to Colon, night in bivouac.
First rally stage tomorrow Jan 2, Colon – Cordoba.

Already at noon a dramatic event

Bike #73 just caught fire … next to mine. I had to run and leave by bike, afraid of explosion. Dared to go back after 30 sec and take my bike away.
I’ve got it all on film!
(Please wait until I can publish it on my blog.)

Prologue through the streets of Buenos Aires

In the afternoon during the parade I have waved to half a million spectators! It was really crazy on the streets, and the roads also. People in Argentina are totally wild about Dakar. My left arm is so tired of all waving! But this is a wonderful experience getting so much support from everybody.

Annie on the podium at start
Image by Maindru Photo

Meeting my team and celebrities. More packing.

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My mechanic LaurentThis morning I met team Meca’System in the assistance park. Good to meet them again and team boss Gilles Tixador who has made many dakar rallies on a bike.
Mechanics Laurent, Cedric and Gaetan all helped me fixing my bike, the bits and pieces not finished before. Mounted fork socks to prevent dirt and mud tear the fork seals, carbonfibre fork protectors to hold off rocks, leather seat cover, changing the angle of the side stand, some electrical adjustments for safety equipment etc. The carburettor was re-jetted for hot climate.
I also packed my Dakar-boxes, this year in grey – they’ve been white since ever.. The box contains: spare engine, carb, extra roadbook, various spareparts, helmet light, some tools, duct tape, gogglebag! And survival food as nuts, bars and energy gel. and extra clothes of course.

Smile of the day:
A cab pulled up outside the team tent and yelled “Annie!!!” It was the taxidriver who drove me to the hotel last night, now he popped by to say hello and have our photo taken together.

Stars of the day:
I met norwegian superstar Pål-Anders Ullevålseter in the cafeteria together with guatemalan rider Franscisco Aredondo.
In my team Meca’System there are many hot riders: argentinian Patronelli Quad team are riding. Quads are really hot in South America!
Also Prohgens brothers from Copiapo are superstars in Chile.
Argentinian Laurent Lazard, and former KTM factory pilot Jean Brucy, now co-pilot in Nissan team, stopped by.

In the afternoon the Aussie team came to pick me up and later we had dinner at our usual restaurant on the corner;  for me a nice steak!

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! 😉

Buenos aires – Dakar chaos…

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Alternating weather today, in the morning nice and sunny, during the day the clouds are piling up and the rain pours heavily. Here’s the view from my hotel window on 10th floor.

Buenos Aires, view from hotel window

The traffic is chaotic. Avenida-9-Juli is crowded day and night, 5-6 lanes in both directions. The start podium will be situated on this street next to the big obelisk monument. From today all traffic is prohibited until the start on Jan 1st. You can imagine the chaos!

Traffic jam Buenos aires

The newspapers have great headlines about this: Dakar rally and info about the traffic restrictions.
Newspaper about traffic chaos

Note the white christmas tree next to the obelisk. Just like the one I have at home!
Newspaper about Dakar rally

Dec 28 Meeting people – and free passengers

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Annie in harbour Buenos Aires

Up already before 6 am, went with aussie Rob Pollard to collect our bikes from the port. Arrived almost first. In the queue for customs declaration I met many “rally friends” like the VW-team, portuguese BMW-riders Paolo Goncalves (10th in Dakar2009) and Pedro Bianchi, and also Rally Raid UK and Team Scandinavia. Rob had arranged with a truck to pick up his bike and some other big boxes, so I also loaded my bike in the truck instead of riding the 100 kms back to BA, in drizzle.

Rob Pollard & wife Alana

Image: Rob and wife Alana

Back in town we unloaded the bikes and all the tyres, equipment etc in a warehouse. There was also biker #5 Rodrigues assembling his yammie 450, and treating us with pizza – that is sportmanship!

When unpacking the tyres an ant colony started marching from the tyre pile, and the next minute we found another free passenger – a lizard! Poor little thing must have crawled into the tyres when shipped from Singapore!

All the aussie equipment were loaded on their 2 backup vehicles (4 wheel drive), amazed how everything somehow was stuffed in and on top. Then back to hotel in frantic BA traffic and some more prepping.

Freepassenger lizzard

“Caught you!”