It was March 2010 and a number of us were enjoying a cold beer after a invigorating ride to the Katse Dam high in the Maloti mountains of Lesotho. The sun was setting and, as is usually the case after a long day in the saddle, attention turned to our biker dreams. Some wanted to do Africa and some had done Africa. Some wanted to ride Eastern Europe while others hoped to ride Alaska.
For me, while Africa is inviting, South America is more appealing. My wealth of experience comes only from what I have learned from others by reading their books but Patagonia, the Andes and Colombia seemed to be destinations with great roads, great scenery and manageable challenges. It was while we were sharing these stories that the idea of ridding in Argentina was borne.
The Dakar Rally has been running from its home basis in Paris to Dakar in western Africa for many years. Unfortunately political troubles and civil wars have necessitated that the organizers move the event to South America some years ago. However, this worked in our favor as we decided to coincide our trip with the running of the 2013 Dakar. The opportunity of seeing some of the best bikers in the world in a raid event alongside crazy true drivers, quads and other off road vehicles was just too appealing.
Unfortunately the practicalities of every day life also meant that of the seven or eight riders that we had originally planned the trip with only five were finally able to relies this dream.
Along the way we had to get to know each other a little better and so we planned a few rides and social events just for that purpose. To be honest, the planning was minimal and the reminiscing and socializing was far more the order of the day. But, sharing a few beers over a fire while repeating war stories always makes it easier to get to know one another and, when all is said and done, it’s always about the people.
By the middle of 2012 the air tickets had been booked and paid for. Now things were getting serious and it was time to take stock of fitness – both personally and for our bikes. Routes had to be planned, containers booked and kit sorted. In many respects the preparation for a trip is just as much fun as the trip itself. Those who had travelled Africa together shared their experiences so that we would all be better prepared for South America.
A ride was planned for August and Neil hosted number of meetings at his offices as we tested whether or not our bikes would fit into a 20′ container and discussed the route. All of these sessions were adequately lubricated with the soft drink of ones choice and with each meeting the excitement built.
The final meeting was held early in December. Finally we were ready and the container would arrive the following week to load the bikes. No more backing out!