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February, 2006

Dakar’s finished for another year, but not without first registering a fresh set of preposterous images securely in that section of memory we all save as random stuff to think about during those long, solo rides when minutes seem like hours and the brain’s on cruise control.

As of this writing, Outdoor Life Network’s halfway home on their reinterpretation of the excellent – make that truly outstanding – reporting, primarily of the photojournalistic kind, that made the daily updates seem like duneside observations.

Kristen Gum and Craig Hummer both delivered intelligent commentary in a straightforward way that let the images speak for themselves, without any unnecesary hype or artificial drama.

And while I wouldn’t bite the hand, meaning OLN’s to be congratulated for making sure we’ve got the coverage, the subsequent domestic wrapup series of specials by narrator of all seasons Al Trautwig was a big falloff in proximity, as was the understandable, but misplaced, interest in Robbie Gordon’s Hummer (a major sponsor, thanks) to the exclusion of more credible competitors.

Though marred by fatalies of competitor and spectator alike, Dakar (as it now exists) is unrivaled in motorsports competition. It is the Ironman of vehicular sport, and then some.

While Baja requires an intense shot of adrenelin to sprint from start and finish, Dakar requires the same intensity day after day, from driver/rider and equipment alike.

It’s a marathon that’s run like a dash. In other words, on a really good day I can imagine myself participating in the Baja – but there’s never been a day when I could see myself tackling Dakar.

December 31 Racers embark from Lisbon in Stage One

January 1 Still in Spain, Stage Two to Malaga

January 2 Riders cross the Mediteranean to Morocco

January 3 Chris Blais and Andy Girder hang tough for Red Bull KTM

January 4 Bivouac in Tan Tan

January 5 Into the desert – heads up for the mine fields

January 6 Grider out – Team Red Bull KTM looks to Blais

January 7 Sand, sand, sand – lost, found, lost, found

January 8 Rest day – time for a little overdue laundry catchup

January 9 Dakar loses a champion

January 10 Segment cancelled; Dakar looms closer

January 11 The terrain changes

January 12 Five thousand miles behind them, the riders near the finish

January 13 Blais finishes 4th overall

January 14 An abreviated Dakar pauses in a final remembrance

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