Argentinians and Chileans

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The people are so welcoming here! It never happened to me (Dunerider) to feel like a “star”. People seem to be so fond of motorsport here that we are asked many times a day to pose with them for pictures. Just crazy – makes us smile a lot. The passage of the Rally Dakar 2009 is a unique event and probably for some smaller villages the most exciting event in history. In the larger cities the crowds of people welcoming us and the competitors is just absolutely amazing. Hundreds and hundreds of people fill the streets, shout, cheer.

Annie at the arrival in Copiapo explained to me that many people shout her name while she is passing by. They remember her from the Patagonia Rally a couple of years ago. She was amazed by this. “I have my personal fans here – and they remember me – that’s so great here”.

While I am in La Rioja in an Internet Cafe uploading the Blog, she is racing the special stage between Fiambala and La Rioja. Should be very muddy and hard today, as it has been pouring rain all night. Looking forward to see her at the Bivouac this afternoon.

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Stage 12, Jan 14. Fiambala-La Rioja.

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Due to archeological discoveries in the Fiambala region right on the route of the rally, the day’s stage is shortened by some 30 km.

Stage 11, jan 15. Copiapo-Fiambala. Cancelled special stage

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The whole special stage is cancelled because of heavy fog, still lingering in the area. The dakar-caravan with all participants, starting at 8 am, moves on from Copiapo, Chile over the high Andes (over 4000m) to the next bivouac in Fiambala, Argentina.
It is quite a long trip – 600 km – and cold up in the mountains. Annie has put on a lot of warm clothes…

During this evening the results of stage 10 were done. A lot of riders got 4 hrs penalty, surely for missed controls, also M Pol. This makes Annies standings better, 57th in total! Pol is just behind.
Posted by Sis Eila

Stage 10, Jan 13 Copiapo-Copiapo. Even higher & tougher…

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Highest altitude over 2000 m. Changed route again: the section between CP3 and CP5 (200 km) is excluded = 476 km loop. To day’s start was delayed by 2:40 because of fog. Also the last 40 km of the dune section concerning the late cars and trucks was cancelled.

The route was difficult to navigate and the terrain really tough. Annie missed the last waypoint that wasn’t marked in the roadbook – as many others – and had to turn back around the high and steepy mountain. It was a timeloss, but better than getting 2 hrs penalty for skipping the WP. Many bikes and cars circled astray around in the area, even some top riders. Several spent the night along the last section as it got too dark.

Riding this stage was very strenuous, especailly the arms got tired. Sometimes Annie had not enough strength to hold the big bike upright on the tricky track – causing several falls. At low speed riding among the rocks is quite troublesome.
Considering the many withdrawals – and also one death, another barely alive – she’s happy to be in the race so far.

Henrik Rahm (swe) run out of gas only 5 km from finish. He had to stay out there over night till he got fuel in the morning from a service car. The other Swede Thomas Berglund crashed before CP2. He hit his head badly, but the bike’s front wheel was damaged even worse. So his race is over, unfortunatelly. He was ranked 15-20 till then.
The swedish team Wallentheim-Ohlsson were very disappointed beeing stopped before finish because of darkness. Many results are still incomplete.
Posted by Sis Eila & Mange

Stage 9, Jan 12 La Serena-Copiapo. Along the mountain side.

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Due to very soft and unstable sand at the end of the stage, it was shortened by 20 km. Still a long track, 430 km. Very stoney in the first part. Like riding marathon enduro, but with a too heavy bike, 170 kg.

I had no problems with navigation, but all that dust made it difficult to keep up speed. Also the big stones made me fall a lot of times. I had thought that slowing down would be easy. So wrong! I got totally out of rhythm. So I changed to a higher gear – which payed off. Also the sandy part at the end was okay. I finished as 55 on the stage.

Also the organizers will compensate me for time loss helping another rider last week, thus getting 20 min off my result. Don’t know how and when it is displayed.
Posted by Sis Eila

Stage 8, jan 11 Valparaiso-La Serena. The first day of the rest of the race.

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Uphill and downhill, winding gravel roads. Very tricky. The first half of this stage I had full speed. But after refueling I slowed down because it was slippery, stony and dusty. I must save some strength for tomorrow – a long and tough day in dunes.
Stage result 51. Quite an improvement!

There are no limits to the spectators enthusiasm! As I passed them on my bike they came very close and wanted to touch me. Someone grabbed my arm so I wheeled right into the crowd.

Smashing… stage 5

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Annies broken nose
Annies broken nose

I met the doctor for VW-team and he told my nose is broken. Pretty? And yet the helmet took the hardest hits…
(See also the picture below on “Two days after the crash”)
Well, that’s Dakar… pain and pleasure, hate and love – I take it all. And so I told the reporter too who interviewed me. It was shown on Eurosport.
Posted by Sis Eila

Annies broken helmet
Annies broken helmet

Two days after the crash

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Rally Dakar 2009, originally uploaded by dunerider70.

Two days after the crush, Annie’s motivation is raised tremendously and her facial contusion is improving a lot. Today we spent some time together working. Annie did her laundry and also worked on the “bad kharma” which has been haunting her since the beginning of the race. Her strategy is now changed. She will race day by day – she said. Laurent, her mechanic who calls her “superwoman”, has worked all day on the motorcycle and prepared it for tomorrow. / Dunerider