DAKAR CHRONICLE 2020 – Chapter 3: The second parts… were they good?

Chapter 3: The second parts… were they good?

Third and last installment of the chronicle of Daniel Albero in the Dakar 2020. Told in the first person and in different deliveries exclusively for the followers of the project.

Original text: Daniel Albero (@undiabeticoeneldakar)
Transcription: Jordi Company (@Company_Vidal)

We are in Riyadh. Rest stage after a few kilometers on the back, both by motorcycle and by car. Far from giving up, we keep fighting: this is the Dakar.

We recover ‘Azucarilla’, which arrives in a trailer from the organization. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to see her so much before and know that she was ‘okay’. I say well in quotes, because after the mechanical failure it is time to give everything to fix it -together with the Pedregà Team colleagues-, pass the technical and administrative checks again and resume the race in stage 7. A stage that begins in Riyadh and ends in Wadi-al-Dawasir. 741km in total, 546 under the clock and the longest stage of this edition. The desire can overwhelm me and, now, ‘Azucarilla’ is fine. 3…2…1… Let’s start!

Lots of dunes that, to be honest, cost a bit at the beginning, but when you devour the kilometers you feel good, you feel… how can I put it? In perfect harmony with the desert. You know that I am a trumpet player and that I like to make similes with music. Running through the dunes is like interpreting a score that at the beginning is full of time changes, varied rhythms and endless flats and sharps and, later… later it is like playing a bolero, with its long cadences and at a rhythm Adage. In perfect harmony: motorcycle, human and sand. But as in any score, it is time to change the key.

The problems begin. One of them, the most serious, is that the ‘sentinel’ does not work for me. The cars overtake me very quickly on the sides and I have to go off track to avoid bigger problems, which is also quite dangerous. But go, at my own pace and sharing kilometers with good friends like Javier Álvarez and Eduardo Iglesias, I finished the stage happy and wanting to continue… Happy, until the bivouac informed us of the death of Paulo Gonçalves. How unfair, really, how unfair. The camp is silent and desolate, we go to bed wondering if this is really worth it. And yes, always, always, life comes before any loss. Now, the only thing we can do is keep running this Dakar, dedicating every kilometer to Paulo and thinking that he ended his life doing what he liked the most. RIP, Paul.

After the suspension of stage 8, we start stage 9 (Wadi al-Dawasir > Shubaytah) with a link of more than 400km. How cold! The truth is that, despite being a long and hard link, I was able to enjoy seeing the immense landscapes of the Saudi desert on my motorcycle. That last! In addition, I was lucky to be able to speak with several neighbors in the area to whom I must thank for their hospitality and kindness. After the link I met with the members of my team and several riders and we were able to start the ‘chrono’. I was able to shoot quite well for a good while, despite the broken tracks and with a navigation, the truth, quite difficult. Then the terrain changed and we got into some rivers of stones, spectacular and very fast… how good I felt! Although, as usually happens in the Dakar, the mechanical problems returned. ‘Azucarilla’ fell silent, stopped talking to me… The sound of its engine reverberated in my head like a deafening echo. The bike was losing speed… I can’t believe it! So I stopped, I disassembled everything -as I did in stage 4- I checked it, I reassembled it. I hooked it all up over and over and over again. And then I knew that that was the end of it. Desolate after 560km and only sixty from refueling I had to pull the beacon for the organization to get me out of there.

Seen now, in perspective, I am happy. ‘In fits and starts’ we reached stage 9 in one of the toughest ‘Dakares’ in recent years, with mechanical problems and the loss of a teammate. No one said it was easy, nor does this serve as an excuse to continue thinking –fighting- that it is possible for a person with Type 1 Diabetes to finish the Dakar on a motorcycle. I sincerely hope -and if the coronavirus leaves us- that it can be in 2021. We deserve it.

Thank you all for your unconditional support. To my family, my team and my friends for always being there when I need them. To my sponsors and technical suppliers for your trust. This dream is getting closer. We continue!

Gas, and insulin that is not lacking.
Daniel Albero – May 2020.