This January, Lyndon Poskitt will be taking part in one of the most challenging classes of one of the most brutal motorcycle rally’s in the world. Watched by millions of people world wide, this will be Lyndon’s second time round at Dakar after finishing 46th in 2013.
What makes Lyndon’s story special is the fact that unlike his competitors he will be riding to the start line, Paraguay being the 51st country that he has ridden through in 3 years on the road. We caught up with him in Bolivia to find out what it takes to go from adventure rider, to racer and back to adventure rider time and time again…
One of the questions that I get asked time and time again is “How the hell do you go from travelling, to racing and then back to travelling again?”
Part of it is a mentality thing but there’s also so much to think about logistics wise. Dakar 2017 is going to be a little different, but for the last few big races I’ve taken part in on Races To Places the run up goes something like this…
You’re travelling on adventure tyres that are probably bald, and you’ve got tubes in which you don’t want for the race. You don’t have enough air filters. You’ve got GoreTex clothing which you really don’t want to race in. You’re wearing an adventure helmet and you want your race helmet. You’ve got adventure boots and you want your Tech 10s. Basically nothing you’re riding is set up for racing.
So, 2 weeks before the race I’ve got to start thinking about all of this stuff. I connect with my ‘support team’ which is really Dave back at Adventure Spec who puts everything in a huge plastic shipping box and sends it out to an address that I’ve not visited yet. When I get there I’ve got to change all my tyres. I’ve got to service the bike and get it all ready. I need to find somewhere to stash all my adventure riding gear that’s safe, I don’t have the luxury of a van to lock it all in.
Basically it’s a logistical nightmare! But you know what, in the end it all works itself out one way or another. Experience has shown that if something is not organised it inevitably falls into place in time for the race. It always does!
The one thing I don’t have to worry about too much is Basil bike. I knew this was going to be the plan and that’s how I put the bike together. It’s a race bike that I can ride round the world on. All I do is take the luggage off, I don’t even remove the luggage hangers.
Now, Dakar is going to be a bit different as I will be on Rex, my KTM Factory 450. Basil will be taking a well earned break for a couple of weeks.
I’m racing in the Malle Moto class which essentially means that I am as unsupported as possible for the race, have a read here if you want to find out a bit more about Malle Moto.
Back in 2013 when I finished Dakar in 46th position I learned that the most important thing you can do is have a good mechanic. So obviously I chose not to have one in 2017! I’ll be doing all my own mechanical work on Rex. Fortunately I know what I’m doing but after massive days on the bike it’s still going to be a challenge spannering in the evening, getting food, checking the road book, putting up the tent and getting some shut eye.
But you know what, it’s all about the story isn’t it? What I’ve learned from the last few years of Races To Places is that its a compelling story that people want to be part of. There’s hundreds of people taking part in Dakar, some are crazy enough to do Malle Moto but no one else is riding to the start line are they? And who is making a film about it so that everyone and anyone can watch the whole thing? I can’t wait.
Something else that was a real lesson back in 2013 was how important it is to look after the bike which is something that’s stayed with me over the last few years. Staying out of trouble in a race like this is so important where you are on your own and away from any support, which is EXACTLY the same mentality that I’ve had for adventure riding during Races To Places. You can’t crash. You break the bike and that’s it, you’re done. When I crossed the Simpson Desert a few years ago, I knew that if the bike broke I was in serious trouble. I made sure it didn’t break.
I’ve got to approach Dakar 2017 as an adventure ride. It’s going to be hard, really hard! I know it will affect the timings and overall position, but the harder I push the higher the chances of something happening.
Back in 2014 I took part in the Mongolia Rally. That event was memorable for tons of reasons but the one that sticks out is what happened to my rear tyre. Essentially my mousse failed and I ended up riding most of a stage on my rim just to get through.
I knew that my mousse was going off, I could feel the vibrations as it melted. I was about half way into the stage but I figured I would keep riding until it got really bad. Eventually I stopped and swapped it out for a tube. Great, back on it. 2km later another puncture. Fuck! Stop. Tube out. Don’t have another tube. Got to patch it. Done. Inflate. Back on it. 20km another puncture. Fuuuck!!
The tyre itself was damaged and kept puncturing the tube. I rolled into a village and managed to get hold of another tube. I wrapped it in the old ones to try and protect it but again, it only lasted a few km. Luckily these locals drove past who had another spare inner and a compressor. I filled it to 50psi to try and stop it from pinching. Perfect.
3km down the road, BOOOOOM! The tyre completely exploded. It had an 18 inch split right down it, totally knackered.
In the end I threw everything I had at that situation to finish the stage and keep racing which ultimately saw me limping in at 2am riding Basil on a rim without a tyre.
Find out how Lyndon uses his road book as he narrates a stage of the Mongolia Rally
Watch Lyndon take on the Baja
Adventure Ride or Race?
At the end of the day, it’s racing and anything can happen. I know I can ride fast, but the faster you ride the more chance there is of something going wrong. On the flip side, the faster you ride the more you concentrate. The more you concentrate the more you see obstacles. When you are on the gas you’re super focussed, you’re not noticing the spectators or the scenery, you’re looking at the road ahead. The slower you ride the more relaxed you become and then you get complacent.
I think one of the hardest challenges I will have, besides 20 hour days, no mechanic and no sleep, is going to be finding the balance in my own head between racing and adventure riding. It’s going to be a fine line, but you know what, I can’t wait!
Want even more of Lyndon? There are 5 series and counting of Races To Places to catch up on right here...
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