2020 DAKAR RALLY – CRAIG KEYWORTH #114
JAN 17, 2020
STAGE 12: Haradh – Qiddiya
Liaison 262km, Special 167km
Position: 81st o/a, 67th stage
And that’s it. It’s done.
I got up this morning and had heard it a hundred times. Take it steady. Bring it home. Don’t take any risks. All of these sentiments were obviously sensible, measured and well meaning. I’d even told myself the same thing. And then I pulled my helmet on.
I felt pretty good all things considered. A bit stiff from yesterday’s spill. A sore left hand, with very little feeling in a few fingers, probably just the time on the bike rather than the off though. My face is in tatters from the windburn and I’m sleep deprived, but this aside I’m keen for a bit of a push. You can’t not race in a race right…?
I’ve been pretty measured all through the event. It really was about the finish first, and this being my first I wasn’t really sure what to expect of myself at an event as long as this, I was in uncharted territory. Some of my concerns were naturally financial. I’d put a lot of hard earned cash into this, not to mention the time commitment, the lost family weekends, the training, the admin and organising. Everything has been leading up to this for quite some time. If the dog runs off with my trainer, the chase is Dakar training. I’ve been riding club enduros using different fingers for clutch and brakes in case I broke any whilst here. My enduro bike has been on perma-rally suspension set up, even if the conditions suggested otherwise. My cycling has suffered. I’ve been pretty rubbish at anything that’s not been Dakar.
So anyway I gunned it, or at least I pushed a decent pace and hunted every bike I could see in the distance, then ensured when I passed I made it stick. Turned out OK, and got 67th today. The stage was at times fast and flowing, other times it was technical – notably the bit through a loose rocky ravine, which would have been at home in any enduro event.
There was a bit of a daft procession seemingly for crowds to watch some action, but the crowds were pretty small. The time didn’t count (but you had to collect the waypoints) and so I stopped, shook hands, waved and chatted with those who’d come to watch, plus watched some cars myself. There was a group of local fans that I’d seen every day with their flags so I went over and had a chat and some photos with them. Nice guys and huge rally fans. We’ve not seen many from outside the rally itself if I’m honest.
I’m not 100% sure how I’m feeling having finished, but I know I’d love a beer or two…
The medal’s pretty cool. It’s weighty, and I’ve not taken it off yet. We’ve to drive the van with the bike back to Jeddah for the boat home now, which is about 1,000km, but for now I’m looking forward to a lie-in tomorrow. I’ll post another blog once I’m home and it’s all sunk in. And we can decide between us what’s next…