Monday, April 18, 2011

Official trailer from the Tuareg Rally 2011

The first official trailer of the Tuareg Rally 2011 was released by the rally organization a couple of days ago. It brings back a lot of good moments watching this even though its only been two weeks since I got home. Most of the trailer is made up of photos from the finish and winners ceremony. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 8, Spain

(April 4)

I woke up this morning on the ferry and for the first time since I left Spain I didn't feel the cold anymore. Talk about bad luck. We got off the ferry and unloaded all the bikes and got dressed to get on the bikes for the last day of the rally. People was looking a bit tired after one week of racing but the spirit was high knowing that the finish was near.

At the beach after the last special
The finish of the race is in Mojacar and the roadbook took us from the port in Almeria up through a very narrow and twisting road over some hill tops and then down to a dried out riverbed a couple of kilometers from Mojacar. The very last special was in the riverbed that led down to a beach at the ocean. This special is more for fun since it's not more than 2-3 minutes long, and the beach is also a very nice place to hang out at while we are waiting for everyone to gather up. I figure there's about 200 vehicles who needs to get to the finish at the same time so there is a need to stop and wait for everyone.

Me and Carl pretty much just enjoyed the whole day, knowing that we just landed a place on the podium. We started at the same time on the last special and we drove over the finish line together. When all riders had done the last special we all drove to the finish in Mojacar in one long line. Once there the celebrations started and the winners in respective class was announced. It's really been a great rally for us. The feeling of standing on the podium together with Thorsten Kaiser, on 1st place, and Martin Fontyn, 3rd, was indescribable. Just pure joy mixed with pride I guess.

The podium. Photo: Mikael Nilsson
After a sip of champagne we burned some rubber (to the spectators delight). I thought that since we were able to get on second place we kind of owe it to put on a show. After that I went up to the hotel room and got a well deserved war shower before I went back to the service truck to get everything loaded for the trip back to Sweden.

Celebrating my 2nd place in the rally. Photo: Mikael Nilsson
Now, its time for some rest before the "Winners party" tonight where everyone can get a well deserved brew or two.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 7, Missour - Nador

(April 3)

Had a rough night with not too much sleep since I couldn't stop coughing. The day started with a special that went straight down into a riverbed and then followed the riverbed for a couple of kilometers. I do not like that kind of riding as a first activity in the morning before I have got the chance to warm up and my forearms got really stiff in the beginning. After the riverbed the rest of the special went over a lot of fast dirt roads with a lot of navigation. We had a fairly high tempo and made no mistakes in the navigation which was good since we did not want to loose our 7 minutes lead over the guy on the 3rd place.

After some navigation stages and liaisons there was another special with a lot of navigation in it. We made some minor mistakes and I guess it cost us a couple of minutes but at the time of writing this the final results are not yet done so I do not know if we managed to keep the 7 minuets lead or not.

After the last navigation stages we finally reached the port of Nador and began packing our gear and loading the bikes onto the service truck. It took a while before the other Swedes started to show up and now, seven and a half hours after we first reached the port, the ferry has finally started its engines and are leaving port. If nothing else, doing a desert race will at least make you very good at waiting.

Tomorrow we will start the day with unloading everything in Almeria, Spain, and then have a liaison to Mojacar where the finish and the complementary finish party will take place.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 6, Merzouga - Missour

A beautiful green canyon with an incredible view
The day started with a fast special with some tricky navigation that took just under an hour. I think we increased the lead over the dutch guy, Martin Fontyn, who is on 3rd place. There is about an hour and a half to he rider on 4th place so now its all about keeping our position and not to make any mistakes. But there is still one day left and anything can happen so it ain't over 'til it's over, so to speak.

Mixing up the chemical metal
After the special there was some navigation stages and there was one very rocky enduro passage where I managed break my clutch cover. I didn't even fall, I just tipped the bike over and the cover hit a rock but the clutch cover on a KTM is ridiculously thin and weak. Luckily I always bring some chemical metal with me so I was able to fix it. The upside was that we got to have a lunch break while we were waiting for it to harden.

Ready to go 15 minutes later!
During a liason we discovered that Carl's bike was leaking oil from the front axle so he is at it trying to fix it right now. I guess we had our share of mechanical trouble today.

The rest of the navigation stages went on smoothly except I didn't really appreciate the incredible views with my eyes itching and my nose dripping from the cold I have got. I was able to get a whole 8 hours of sleep last night and that was exactly what I needed. I still feel like crap but not like yesterday and I finally got my voice back so I can speak to people.

Now I will focus on eating and sleeping to gather my strength for the last day.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 5, Dune race

Today was the shortest day of the rally. This day is different from the other days since it is more like an 80km MX race on sand dunes. There are 4 laps in total an you only need to pay attention to the navigation the first lap and then you can concentrate on doing the other laps as fast as possible. Again, it was really hot today and the sand was dry and soft but me and Carl found a very good tempo and made no mistakes. I do not know the results yet but I think we have advanced up to second place in the totals by now. I will have to confirm that in the evening.

Early morning at prestart. View of erg Chebi.
Since the day is fairly short this day also work as a rest day for the drivers and I have just changed oil and filter on the motor and on the gearbox. Air filters and skins are changed everyday. I have also changed back to the Desert rear tire from the MX tire I have been using during the two dune days. The front tire is also a Michelin Desert and I am using the same front tire the whole rally. The rear Desert tire is changed once during the rally.

The rest of the guys, and gal, in Team Rally Raid Sweden are at good spirit and people are less tired now than yesterday and the day before. The mood is usually directly related to how tired people are and how the results are so when people are talking and laughing it usually means they have had a good day.

My cold is making me feel lousy and really hope it would end but it would not surprise me if it does not go away until I get back to Sweden.

Tomorrow will be another long day with some demanding specials that will take us back up north to Missour. All we need to do now is to focus on keeping our position. There will not be much room for big time differences among the top riders for the rest of the rally unless someone makes a mistake and gets penalties.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 4, Königstage (King's day)

Today was the infamous King's day. Probably the hardest and physically most demanding day of the Tuareg rally. It consists of about 250km of sand dunes and the entire day is a special. It has a Le Mans style start which is a neat twist on the rally. Navigation is not the difficult part but rather your dune driving skills is what determines the result of the day.

There are four laps of different length that the riders have to ride and there is a time limit for each lap so if you are too late you will not be allowed to start a new lap. Me and Carl had a good tempo from start and had a good flow throughout the day despite it being 32C hot. No navigation errors and no crashes and I think we came in on third position but it's not confirmed yet.

One funny detail with sand is that it will get softer the longer into the day you get. The more the sun is heating it the more dry the sand will get and when it's dry it's soft, and when it's soft its harder to ride in it. Today I really noticed how the sand got softer during the day.

Today will be a hard day for many riders and I am sure we will have some really tired riders in our team tomorrow. It is also not unusual for the rally that some bikes will spend the night in the desert after the drivers have been picked up by the sweep trucks.

I am still not sleeping properly because of the cold I have and I am more tired after the riding than I should be. I don't really think about it while I'm riding but I can feel it when I get to camp. As long as it does not affect my riding I can live with it. And especially while we are doing so good in the results list. :)

Tomorrow is a short day and most riders will be done by lunch. This gives everybody a chance to catch their breath, rest their bodies and give some TLC to their bikes.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 3, Merzouga rundkurz

Woke up feeling terrible this morning. Only got four hours of sleep because of my cold so I felt like falling asleep when I stood at the starting line. Luckily, once I started to ride the tiredness disappeared quickly.

The entire stage of today was a special so there was no time for rest. The stage consisted of three different Ergs (Erg = desert area with nothing but sand) with different types of sand and a lot of high speed tracks. The first part went very well and we only had one rider ahead of us for a while. A couple of navigation mistakes later and we had lost a couple of positions. The worst problem came when when my riding partner Carl Hagenblad ran out of fuel and I was almost out. We managed to take a hose and get some fuel to Carl's bike from mine and we continued at a very low pace the last 22 kilometers to the next check point where the service truck was waiting with fuel. Unfortunately Carl ran out of fuel again 800 meters from the check point so I continued myself to the check point so I could get fuel and then return to Carl. My bike stopped after 500 meters but I was able to get the last fuel to the carburetor by tipping the bike over so I could take myself to the check point. Once there, I started to refuel and then Carl showed up. He had managed to blow the last drops of fuel from the fuel hose to the carburetor and took himself to the check point.

After the check point there was a lot of dunes and it all went on smoothly. Considering all the problems we had today I'm sure we lost our 5th place but the race is not over and anything can happen. Especially in the dunes. We had a good flow and was keeping a pretty good pace so it feels promising for tomorrow when there will be nothing but dunes the entire day.
Heating water for the dehydrated food

Now it's time for dinner (dehydrated). I'm starting to feel a bit stiff in my muscles but usually it stops after the third day. It's like your body gets used to the hard work and adjusts to it.

Some of the riders in Team Rally Raid Sweden, who are doing a desert rally for the first time, had a tough time today in the dunes and some of them decided not to continue the stage. The good thing about the Tuareg rally is that even if you does not finish one day you can still continue the next day.