It isn’t the terrain that makes the Dakar Rally so intimidating; it’s the distance. Each stage is long—really long. In 15
days, a rider can be drained of his very life force. The original
Paris-Dakar rally was run in 1979, and it was even more
demanding back then. It finished in Dakar, Senegal, after
crossing the Sahara desert at speeds so fast that supplies
had to be flown from one location to the next. The riders
generally slept in tents every night and often had to deal with
disease, terrorism and rampant theft. Since 2009, the rally
has been held in South America, and even though conditions
might be more comfortable overnight, the stages are still long
and tough. Talent and speed are not enough to ensure success at Dakar. It requires excellent navigational skills, a
tremendous support team and deep pockets.
JANUARY: THE TOUGH ONE
The Tough One is the kickoff for the Red Bull Hard
Enduro series and is about 10 years old. Most years, the
Dakar Rally overlaps the Tough One, which is held mid-January in Wales, but timing is all they have in common.
While the Dakar Rally is long, the Tough One is brutal in a
different way. Riders are often forced to climb over old cars
and balance on manmade obstacles, so it requires a
strong trials background. It also requires good eyesight, as
the race goes on into the night. Its signature feature is
something you would expect in the UK: mud. The race is
held in a quarry near Oswestry in Wales and is designed to
appeal to spectators who don’t mind standing in the rain.
Most years, Graham Jarvis laps the field.
If you’re looking to start your year in a tough way, Dakar is
the way to do it. The term “tough,” in this case, means long
Danny McCanney deals with the slop of the Tough One.
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Jonny Walker usually
rides in wet conditions
and probably doesn’t
know what’s so tough
about the Tough One.