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Author Topic: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally  (Read 2457 times)

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Offline seankriel

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Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #40 on: May 09, 2017, 10:36:50 am »
Number 54. Nicola Dutto. He is a off-road paraplegic pro rider... look him up... very determined guy

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Offline tehdutchie

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Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #41 on: May 09, 2017, 11:36:50 am »
Amazing indeed Sean! Joan Lascorz (ex WSS and WSBK) is in too, in his SXS.
 

Offline seankriel

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Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #42 on: May 09, 2017, 04:28:14 pm »
Jonathan done, Walter done, Gerry done...  just waiting on Luca! Gooi mielies boys!!

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Offline SteveD

Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #43 on: May 10, 2017, 06:49:45 am »
Walter via FB:

Stage 3: Today was an awesome day of riding but really hard as well. Navigation was spot on today, had a few mistakes but managed not to wast alot of time. We had a massive sandstorm today but luckily only lasted for 20min. It was very stong winds and visibility was not great, l had to ride slower to make sure i dont go into big rocks in the road. Today we had alot of short dunes with camel grass and very fast sections with very big rocks and alot of dips that you dont see but other than that it was a very good day. My fingers and hands was numb from all the rocks and bumpy road but my front and rear suspention was absolutely fantastic for that terrain, it just softened every blow. I had no penalties and got all my waypoint. Due to the sandstorm there was a couple of guys the missed some of their waypoints, 1 missed waypoint = 30min penalty. Thanks again for all the support, motivation and messages I really do appreciate it a lot. 🏁🏍💨✊🏻
 

Offline SteveD

Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #44 on: May 10, 2017, 06:51:57 am »
And Gerry:

Merzouga Rally Update - Stage 3

I wake up, but don't feel great. My stomach seems a bit messed up. Probably an element of complete stress and concern that today might be a repeat of yesterday!

But eventually I find a way to get my mind to be quiet.  Sadly though, my digestive system is very unhappy and fighting back - possibly the water I drank yesterday from the locals while dehydrated in the dunes. I double dose some Imodium, in the hope that it will all be ok.

I get to the pits, but the team is still sleeping. Turns out I missed the final decision about breakfast time, and I have an extra 30 minutes, so I go back to my hotel to chill for a while longer.

Eventually I go to back to the pits, and have breakfast. Now it's time to kit up, but I'm a little nervous. I realize I don't have any petrol in my bike, so I get on with kitting up, so I can go get fuel.  That done, I ride to the start, so nervous and apprehensive for the day.  I tell myself that it can't be worse than yesterday, and if it is, I survived, so I can surely survive this day too.  But this doesn't fill me with excitement...

I get ready and go to the start. And as expected, we go straight into the dunes. But this time I'm a little fresher, and I've learnt a bit, so it goes a lot better. While I'm riding, i see this massive wall of sand on my right. It looks like the movies, and I'm thinking I hope I get to the checkpoint before it engulfs me.  Sadly that's not the case, and from one minute to the next There is sand everywhere.  I battle to keep the bike upright, and another guy riding next to me, gets blown right off his bike! Keep in mind these bikes weight around 170kg when full of fuel!

We try to keep going, but it's crazy... you can't ride faster than your dust cause you can't see, so then you're riding in your own dust cause the wind blows it past you!  It's insane... cause now I'm navigating as well trying to find he next waypoint.  There's no point in stopping, cause I have no idea how long the storm will last, so just keep going, bit by bit.

Eventually I reach the checkpoint... and I'm elated!! The crew is waiting, and they sort out my bike, and I get some water to refill my backpack.  I'm about to get going again, when I find out they're delaying our start times with 30 minutes because of the storm...

My new updated start time come, and off I go. I'm refreshed, and feeling fantastic. That's a blessing, cause while the last section had some amazing riding in it, the last 8 or so km were brutal camelgrass. And sadly this camelgrass made me have my one and only crash of the day!

I arrived at the finish broken, but absolutely elated!  The day was a polar opposite of the day before, and I'm feeling like I'm in control again!

Day 3 done!

Tomorrow is the marathon stage.  That means tomorrow night we sleep in some undisclosed location in the middle of nowhere, and and we don't have access to our service crew, spares, parts, or anything.  So if we break a bike, we have to either carry spares and fix it, or do whatever is necessary to make the bike last the next day.  So two stages with no assistance...

Also, we were told that there will be a massive storm hitting in the afternoon, so our start times are super early tomorrow, to try to get the bulk of the field finished before the storm - they can't fly choppers in the storm... the organisation is just proper!

I have no idea where we will be, or whether there will be cell signal, so more than likely there will be no update tomorrow night.  But I'll make notes tomorrow night.  Now I have to go sleep, cause I have to be up at 04h00.  Thank you so very very much for all the comments and messages, it really makes such a difference, and helps me to keep going!
 

Offline SteveD

Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #45 on: May 10, 2017, 06:57:43 am »
Jonathon:

A bit of well deserved R&R after another tough day. Some parts were smooth and flowing, other bits just bashing through horrible tussocky low dunes seemed to be routed to inflict maximum pain and frustration! It was impossible to get a good line. Exhausting, but we finished and it's now food time!
 

Offline ChrisMann

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Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #46 on: May 10, 2017, 07:44:37 am »
Well done boys! Epic stuff. Thx for keeping us updated SteveD.  :thumleft:
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Offline gser

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Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #47 on: May 10, 2017, 09:44:41 am »
Well done boys! Epic stuff. Thx for keeping us updated SteveD.  :thumleft:
Agree  . . .
 

Offline seankriel

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Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #48 on: May 10, 2017, 10:32:50 am »
Marathon stage time!!! I'm feeling sorry for the guys as the terrain sounds brutal. Gooi Mielies!!

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Offline seankriel

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Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #49 on: May 10, 2017, 04:48:38 pm »
Whoop Whoop

Day 4 - Walter is Done!
Gerry is Done

Where are you Jonathan?
Where are you Luca?

Gooi Boys!!
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Offline Cdp13

Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #50 on: May 11, 2017, 06:23:13 pm »
No news is good news I suppose. Guess we'll only find out tomorrow after the marathon. Can't wait to hear the battle stories.
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Offline Crossed-up

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Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #51 on: May 11, 2017, 07:13:33 pm »
We wait to hear .... :sip:
 

Offline SteveD

Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #52 on: May 11, 2017, 09:00:20 pm »
Walter:

Stage 4: Mistery Bivouac- it was literally in the middle of nowhere, there was nothing for km's and km's. There was extreme sandstorms last night which blew away all the tents, so we pretty much had to sleep in tents with no roofs, under ✨. We woke up in a thik layer of sand amd we had to sleep with our riding goggle just to keep the sand out of our eyes. Sand everywhere. Yesterday was also a very difficult stage, very technical, hard navigation, but also the sandstorm stopped the race at CP2 where we continued on the road because the choppers could not fly.
 

Offline SteveD

Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #53 on: May 11, 2017, 09:03:37 pm »
And more:

Stage 5: Second part of Marathon stage - Today was absolutely fantastic. It was super fast tracks with bumps and lots of river beds, Technical riding up the side of mountain faces with rocky steps and then the last 20km of dunes just to drain out the last bit of energy that we had left. But it was absolutely fantastic, my navigation was very good i had all my waypoints and no speed penalties. It was a really good day. Tommorow is the last day and will only be 50km long in the dunes. I just want to thank everyone once again for all the support it really is much appreciated. 🏁🏍💨✊🏻

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Offline SteveD

Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #54 on: May 11, 2017, 09:06:46 pm »
And Gerry:

Merzouga Rally - Stage 4 and 5

Super early wake up at 04h00 to get to breakfast at 04h30. Phew, last night I struggled to fall asleep, so I only managed to get to sleep around 11h30 or so.

Had to pack a bag for the marathon stage.  The way this works is that we ride to some undisclosed location, stay the night without any support from our race crew. So I have to be extra careful to look after the bike today.  We're allowed a little overnight bag, but have to pack clothes for tonight, toiletries, nutrition for tomorrow's stage, highlighters and such for roadbook preparation, etc. I packed my bag, and dropped it off before the stage.

My crew prepared my bike, new tyres, and I refueled so that my early morning doesn't need to be even earlier to get fuel.

Once the stage starts though, we have to do a 83km liaison on tar. Now do that at a sensible speed of 90km/hr with only 4 hours - it's a little difficult to keep your eyes open. Once we get to the start, it's all go, and go as fast as possible to try to beat the storm. In the middle of the stage, there is a crazy climb that we have to get over.  The organizers tell us that if we can't make it up, there is a chicken run, but doing the chicken run will result in a 3hr penalty. I arrive at the climb, and work out what I think I need to do to make it up. But every time I want to go, a couple of quads get stuck halfway up, and there's no space.  One of my team-mates tries and just gets stuck behind the quads.  He tries again, and get stuck properly.  I think that I might just be here for 3hrs just trying to have a go, and it's hot, so the price might be paid in energy and hydration, so I decide to take the penalty.  Turns out, shortly after I made the decision and left, the organizers closed the pass, and all the riders that were stuck or waiting for a turn, was forced to go around. I'm assuming it was due to the storm coming.

I get to the refuel, fill up, and refill my hydration pack. While I'm doing that, the storm hits. It's proper! We normally get 30 minutes to refuel and such, so I go to the start, but the organizer says I can't go.  Two choppers land with a bunch of officials in, and they delay the start with another 30 minutes. I'm sitting in the wind with my goggles on my head cause the sand is being blown everywhere.  While I wait, so many bikes and quads arrive, and all of us have to just sit in the wind and wait. It's hectic!

And then they cancel the rest of the stage, so now we can leave in the crazy wind, and ride about 100km to get to the overnight area. They give us a roadbook that navigates us to the location, and off we go. Most of my team ride together.  We ride through a little town, so we stop for a cold drink.  Was great.

The wind just gets stronger and stronger... we finally get to the top of a massive dune, and below us, is the tented camp! It looks amazing, but to get there, we have to ride down the side of the dune, in the insane wind. Once there, I refuel my bike so it's ready for tomorrow's stage, and we start searching for a tent. It is so well set up, each tent has 4 mattresses, and carpets on the sand, it's really beautiful, but the wind is mad.  Can't even take pictures, cause it's like a white-out!

I go have a shower, and when I get back to our tent, the roof is gone! And everything is completely covered in sand. My kit looks like a mini dune! I look around for another tent that we can maybe sleep in, and I find one that's sort of got a roof. I pile all my riding gear up, and I take a blanket and lay it over the gear, so now the blanket can be sand covered and maybe my gear will be ok in the morning.

I go for dinner, and it's quite a challenge, cause the roof in the eating area is carpet, so it's not sand proof. So while I eat, my food become more and more crunchy...

We have riders briefing, and the organizers suggest that all the riders move their mattresses into the eating area, cause the tents are just being brutalized by the wind. After briefing a few of us walk to the tent to check, and it's a mess, but it's sort of intact, so I decide to go to bed right there and then.  Earplugs in, and buff over my eyes, and I'm out.

I wake up to the most amazing calm, beautiful full moon morning. Wow, it's spectacular.  I go for breakfast, get kitted up, and ready to ride stage 5.

The stage starts on top of the dune, and it is amazing! I ride the day very sensibly and carefully, cause i need to make sure the bike is fine.  Also, the last 10 km is dunes, so I want to get to them fresh enough to ride them. There are plenty sand and dunes to ride over before the end though, and about 40km into the stage, I chose the wrong line and get properly stuck.  I struggle to get the bike out for about 30 minutes, but I can't. I then decide to stop some riders and ask for assistance. It takes 4 of us to get the bike out, and I'm so grateful for the help, I could kiss them all!

Some really awesome riding, insane climbs, hectic rocky descents, lots of sand, dunes, river beds, and fast sections - just an amazing day of riding.  Just before I get to the last 10km of dunes, another wind storm hits. I thought riding dunes and hard, it's even harder when the wind is super strong, and blowing the sand, cause now you can't see the crests or the dunes to chose a line! But I make it though without a single incident! Just awesome!

I arrive back at the pits, see my crew, and I feel amazing! I managed to get through the marathon stage!! Stage 4, and stage 5 done!!
 

Offline gser

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Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #55 on: May 12, 2017, 10:32:28 am »
. . . WOW ! . . .
 

Offline SteveD

Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #56 on: May 13, 2017, 01:12:18 am »
Your morning AWESOME!, via FB:

And theAfriquia Merzouga Rally 2017 is finished!!!! Yay!!!! Next stop Dakar 2018!!! What a wonderful race this was. Hard, fast lots of sand and breathtaking scenery and best of all doing it with good friends from all over the world. Thank you very much for all the support it is much appreciated!! 🏁🏍💨✊🏻 Jonathan Blackburn  Gerry Van Der Byl Martin van der Brink
 

Offline SteveD

Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #57 on: May 13, 2017, 01:13:20 am »
Jonathon:

Happy to have finished the 2017 Merzouga rally! It's been a great event, with amazing riding and some testing navigation. Fantastic racing alongside Walter Terblanche and Gerry Van Der Byl again who came from South Africa to enjoy the Moroccan atmosphere! Good times with good people, it's been a pleasure. Til next time...
 

Offline SteveD

Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #58 on: May 13, 2017, 01:15:56 am »
And Gerry:



Merzouga Rally - the finish!

I woke up very excited about the day - it is the last day, so if I can stay upright, I'll get a finishers medal, and automatically qualify for the Dakar! But I try to keep my mind as clear as I can, because too much noise about how difficult the stage will be, will do nothing but distract me.  This is the last day, so the last early wake up, kit up and ride!

Sadly my stomach is a mess, probably from the food at the marathon stage, so I double dose on Imodium again.  It must just work for a few hours, until I get to the finish!

I go to the pits, have breakfast and kit up.  Then off we go, to do a 41km liaison to the biggest dunes in Morocco again.  During the liaison, the sun comes up, and its just beautiful.  I realize it's my last morning of riding a bike in Morocco, so I slow down, and just look!

On arrival at the start, we get into a long line because the stage is going to have a mass start straight into a 50km continuous dunes loop.  Lots of waypoints to find, and I'm sure they'll put them on the top of the biggest dunes, just for their entertainment...

The start is epic! 100 odd screaming bikes going at the dunes... I decide to take the safe and sensible approach, and not get swept up by adrenaline. Many guys crash in the first km, and I join them on km 2.  Nice big crash, bike in the sand... I manage to get it free and pick it up, but now I'm last!  No worries, only 48km of insane dunes to go.

I get into a rhythm, and the km go by... some massive climbs over the dunes, and i did have to try a few times to make it over some of the climbs.  One of the climbs was so ridiculously high, and the lip at the top of these dunes is sharp. So then you have to go flat out in 3rd gear to try to make it to the top, but slow down enough to not jump over the top, cause the other side is probably like a 20 floor building, and you go down at such a steep angle that you can't see the slope until you've committed and are on the way down. It's super frightening...

One of these, I popped the front wheel over the lip, but freaked out, so didn't keep the power on, and there I was, stuck at the top.  So I took a  moment to just look. I think I was at the highest point of the highest dune, and I could see for ever in absolutely every direction. I could see the finish in the distance, the tracks leading all the way there, where the dunes stop, it was just spectacular, and I don't think I'll ever forget that.

But the amazing feeling wore off when I realized I had to dig my bike out, turn it around and go all the way back down to try again, it takes less energy to go down and try again than to try push the bike for 50 cm... the second attempt was still frightening, but this time I made it over the top... just mind blowing going down the other side. You can't go too slow, cause then the front wheel might sink and get stuck. You can't go too fast, cause it's frightening, and once you're moving, you can't slow down - so a fine balance for a couple hundred meters!

The stage had three of these stupidly massive climbs in the 50km, and each time the view was amazing.

But then after the last decent, it was a simple cruise over the dunes (I can't believe I actually used 'simple cruise' and 'dunes' in the same sentence). So I went supper slowly, just enjoying it... I just finished Merzouga!!!

I get to the finish line, and it's amazing... so many pictures, congratulations, a few tears, I get my finishers medal from two Dakar legends - just incredible! So I get off the bike, and I phone my Gina, but I couldn't really say much more than 'I've done it', I was a little emotional!

What an amazing experience! This race is super tough, the navigation is next level, the learning curve for me was vertical, and riding dunes on a heavy rally bike is harder than I thought it could be... but the organization, medical, support, everything, is just incredible!

And the KTM 450 Rally Replica, is the best bike in the world! I did look after it, but not a single issue. That definitely also has a lot to do with my fantastic race team, that prepared and serviced my bike so perfectly for every stage!  You guys rock!!

And for all of you, thank you so very much for all the comments and messages.  Every morning when I felt a little low, struggling with motivation to get going, struggling with nerves, I read the messages, and smiled, and then got on with it!

Gina Van Der Byl you are amazing!  Thank you so much, I wouldn't have been able to get through this week without you!
 

Offline Crossed-up

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Re: Gerry and Walter (and Jonathon, and Luca) at the Merzouga Rally
« Reply #59 on: May 13, 2017, 03:38:03 am »
Awesome!