Hello and welcome to my first column for enduro21.com. I’ve known the guys behind the site for a long time now so when they asked me to write something for them on a regular basis I was happy to oblige. I’ll try and keep it interesting and hopefully give you an insight into the life of a rally-raid rider both on and off the piste.
One of the big misconceptions is that between Dakars us rally riders are sitting at home twiddling our thumbs. And while it is true that we aren’t racing every weekend, we’re nevertheless kept pretty busy. For example ever since I got back from South America I have been flat out and only spent three weekends at home!
The first thing you need to do when the Dakar is over – especially if you win it – is a load of press and TV interviews. I spent one whole day at home, after getting off the plane from Lima, before heading up to Paris to embark of a three day tour of all the different magazines, TV sports channels etc. I think in English you say something like ‘making hay when the sun shines’.
Then after that I went to visit my sponsors. I am very lucky in that I have had the same partners for a number of years now. When the financial crisis came they all stuck by me and I am really grateful to them for that, so of course I want to share my victory with them. You might think that it is purely a financial relationship, but you’d be wrong. All the people who sponsor me I consider my friends. Without them I won’t be able to spend all the time I do training and preparing for the Dakar and wouldn’t be able to remain competitive.
I also went to see all the people who help me prepare for the race. I have a trainer here in Andorra but I also regularly go to a centre called Presport in Perpignan where the town’s rugby team trains. And I also spend at least a week every year at the Red Bull Diagnostic and Training Centre in Austria. It’s super hi-tech and looks like something out of a James Bond movie but they really know their stuff.
And once I’d seen everybody in Europe I went off to the capital of Senegal, Dakar to visit the school I support there. I’ve been helping them out since 2005 and it is something that is really important to me. The school is in a poor suburb of the town and life is hard. Yet despite this the people are kind and friendly and the kids are so keen to learn. It is really a good way for me to keep things in perspective and remember what is important in life. Since I have got back from there I have been working on a ‘coffee table’ book celebrating my four victories. All the proceeds will go to the school and if it is a success it should allow us to expand a little, take on some more teachers and children and ensure the school’s future for a couple of years. I’ll be sure to let you know when the book is out and how to buy a copy! In the meantime however I’m finally off on holiday with my fiancée and our daughter. I’ll speak to you again in a couple of weeks.
All the best