We've left Mauritania and entered Mali. Here in the bivouac, the difference is very evident, no more blowing sand and dust. They have burned out the fields around the airport, so we have mainly soot to camp on tonight. It is hotter. We're out...
We've left Mauritania and entered Mali. Here in the bivouac, the difference is very evident, no more blowing sand and dust. They have burned out the fields around the airport, so we have mainly soot to camp on tonight. It is hotter. We're out of the desert now and into the savannah.
Casey McCoy finished 34th today. He had some navigation troubles in the middle of the stage, and this hurt his results. "Navigation was obviously a factor today. When those cap headings say to go off piste, you should go off piste and not follow tracks. Go with what you know. Other than those stupid navigation mistakes, it was a good stage for me. It started off with fun sandy 2 track roads. After the gas stop, it became real pea gravel roads with fast slippery corners. It is nice to be in Mali, to see some new country and new people." Casey also digs his new Scott desert goggles. This is not a plug, but he actually did rave about them as soon as he arrived. It was very dusty today and he didn't even have to lube his goggles to keep seeing.
Casey's bike is working perfectly, knock on wood. No significant failures! Let's rave about stuff: Ready Filters, ProTect Enduro bar risers, BajaDesigns lights and stator, SPS suspension, Renazco seat. We've chosen the best products for our bikes, and they are working.
Paul Broome is here, still looking dirty, but ready to talk to me. "Today was easy but fun. I only had navigation trouble when I thought my roadbook was down, but the switch had just been thrown. For about 30km, I thought the roadbook was broken and I followed others, and got a bit lost. Once I sorted that, I navigated fine. I like navigation. A good stage got even better when I got to bivouac and saw that there was a local bar across the road."
Chris Jones: "Today was the first stage where I had fun, except maybe for day 2 and 3. Probably because my hands weren't hurting. The stage was nice. Actually like riding through a page of National Geographic. Unlike any other landscape. Unusual trees. In the villages, you have to go 30kph in deep sand. This is very hard, very accomplished riders weaving uncontrollably. People falling into huts."
Steve LaRoza: "Today was fun, a little dusty. The donkey cart 3-track was a little difficult to get used to. The people are completely different here. Much more friendly."
Everyone is looking and feeling good, looking forward to the last few stages. Nearly there.
George, Clive's nephew, just arrived with a case of cold Castel, the local beer. So, it is time for me to go. George is a bit big for Clive and Patsy's seats in their Nissan Patrol, so he has moved to the back of Robb's Ford. Kim vacated that seat in Atar. She decided to ride with the Husky boys (Mike Kay and Brian Shmuckle) who were out of the rally, but driving their Ford straight to Dakar. Maybe I'll write more about them later, but, suffice to say that they were unprepared.
Robb is a bit peeved. He always arrives at the bivouac first, as is the plan. Today he saved a place for Team Mexico, and they promised to landscape for us if he did that. Nothing yet.
One last quote from Patsy, "You've got to experience the see-through bamboo toilets here."
--Fun fun, Charlie