Stage 6: 7 Jan 2017: ORURO > LA PAZ - 786km - Cancelled
As competitors prepared themselves for the start of stage 6, Dakar Rally organisers pulled the plug and cancelled the stage due to severe weather.
At 7am GMT Adventure Spec's Dave Lomax was woken by a very non-UK looking mobile number. It was Lyndon calling in, the first time we had been able to speak since the beginning of the rally...
Dave: Hello, Dave Lomax speaking...
Dave: Lyndon! How are you doing?
Lyndon: I'm fucked.
Dave: Are you OK? Your speech is slurred.
Lyndon: I've just woken up. Up until last night I had only had 7 hours sleep since the night before the start.
D: 7 Hours?!
L: Yeah, but I got to bed at 11pm last night and have just had a block of 6 hours. I feel pretty rough just now, but I reckon it'll have done me good.
D: How are you physically?
L: Man, I'm tired. This has been the most brutal thing I have ever done.
D: But, you're all in one piece?
L: Yeah, just about. I don't think I've ever crashed as much in my life as I have over the last few days.
D: How's the bike?
L: It's good, not getting as much TLC as I would like, but it's running great.
D: You know, watching this event from the outside it's been like the 'Whacky Racers', I don't think we've ever seen so much chaos and uncertainty on the stages, and that's across all the riders. Even the factory riders (and Drivers) are really struggling.
Lyndon: Yeah, I was speaking to Robert Van Pelt yesterday (5 times Dakar competitor and previous Malle Moto winner). He told me he has never experienced anything like this, he said it's the hardest Dakar he's ever done by a mile. He's not looking much better than me!
Dave: The stages look like they have been long and hard.
Lyndon: Oh man...the terrain has been so varied. We've had dunes, snow, plains, mountains, riverbeds, mud, heat, cold every type of riding you can imagine. I didn't realise you could get this much difference in such a short distance.
Dave: Whatever you've had it hasn't been over a short distance?!
Lyndon: Yeah, that's another thing. The stage lengths have been brutal.
D: We've been told the navigation is much different this year to previous years, is that the case?
L: Well, I've only done Dakar once before, but it certainly wasn't like this! I have never been lost on a stage in my life until yesterday. I rode around and around in circles for 45 minutes trying to find one checkpoint, I was so angry with myself. I think the roadbook might have been wrong, but I'm so tired I know I might not be thinking straight.
D: Well, don't sweat it too much. You are still 3rd in Malle Moto and about 25 mins behind 2nd place. Do you want me to let you know results every day when you arrive at the bivouac?
L: You know, I can see that stuff for myself on the Malle Moto board in the Bivouac. To be honest I'm not that bothered, at the moment this feels more like survival than a race. I think most of us are just trying to get through everyday unhurt at the moment.
D: Is it that bad?
L: Some guy got struck by lightening the other day, I was in the same storm it's only by total luck no one else got hurt it was crazy. At one point I had an inch of hail stones and snow on track, I was pushing hard to get off the neutralisation for my race minute, but I couldn't ride at more than 20mph. There were riders and cars in ditches everywhere.
D: But, they did cancel the second half of the stage yesterday?
Lyndon: Yeah, man that was a miserable days riding. We're from the UK and used to riding in the cold right? 200km of freezing rain in your face and slimy mud under your wheels. The altitude seems to make everything worse too. Thank god for the wet weather kit we sorted. I honestly don't think I'd be alive without it. I'm dragging that prototype heated jacket out today...a heated jacket on a Dakar stage?!?!?
Dave: Wow, that does sound pretty crazy. You know you're famous now right?
Lyndon: What do you mean?
Dave: Oh, about 100 million people saw your 'poo' film last night!
Lyndon: What?! I only did that for a joke to give the editors something to have a laugh at.
D: You should know better than that. Don't give editors anything you don't want anyone else to see!!! Don't worry, it was really funny. People have been great about it. You know we have seen footage of a quite a few crashes, whats been happening there?
L: I don't know. I'm just really tired. I've had a few head on handlebar moments already over the past few days and I had to give myself a real talking to in the bivouac after a crash about 3km from the stage end a few days ago.
D: A big back end kicker and a low side between lines of spectators?
L: Yeah, how did you know?
D: It was on TV. We were all really worried about you, we saw you get up and ride off, but we reckoned you'd be pretty stiff for stage 6!
L: Really? I had no idea. I don't know what I was thinking really. I just wasn't being careful enough. A few bruises, I was really lucky.
D: How is the weather affecting the stages?
L: Slime...everything is covered in muddy slime, even the roads are feet down around corners at times. And when your cold and tired it's a bad mixture.
D: Hey, just remember your first job is to come home in one piece, don't be doing anything mad to please anyone else, just take it easy. We heard from Coma at press conference the other day that the event is just gonna get harder and harder until the rest day and then steady off to allow a race to the finish. That'll be your time to have a go, but only if you're still there.
L: We'll we're gonna get an extra rest today (which, is great) another 800km would have been real hard. I just heard the stage is cancelled because of bad weather. If that just leaves about 300km on the road and I get my heated and waterproof kit on all the way I should have time to work on the bike tonight, get some food down and get some sleep. Then another day off tomorrow will mean I'll be right back on it for the second half.
***At the last sentence I could hear that Lyndon smile coming down the phone right at me, and I realised. He's Loving this!***
All smiles back at Stage 2 (Image courtesy Motorcycle News)
A man's gotta have somewhere to dry his socks! (Image courtesy Motorcycle News)
Dave: Have you had a chance to scope out the competition?
Lyndon: Wow, yeah. Some of these guys are machines. Jose Kozac is really strong and Toomas Triisa is flying as well. I'm starting to understand how tough these guys really are for the first time. If you haven't ever competed in Dakar you can't really imagine what it's like...but, the Malle Moto class is something else.
Dave: Okay, well it's good for us all to know you are safe and well. I'll leave you to get ready for your ride to La Paz.
Lyndon: Okay, I'll give you a shout tomorrow, have a good one.
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