Friday January 12th 2018

NEWS from the DAKAR.

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Overall Ranking after Stage 5:

  1. Adrien Van Beveren (Yam) 14:37:40
  2. Kevin Benavides (Hon) +1:00
  3. Matthias Walkner (KTM) +1:14
  4. Joan Barreda (Hon) +7:33
  5. Xavier de Soultrait (Yam) +7:42
  6. Toby Price (KTM) +10:39
  7. Antoine Meo (KTM) +12:12
  8. Gerard Farres Guell (Yam) +15:24
  9. Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) +16:12
  10. Ricky Brabec (Hon) +25:48



As the new guy in town - I was introduced to the Moose Mountain Cross Country Race, by my new Trials buddy Terry Porter, who convinced me in 1972 to ride this famous event that dated back to the 1950’s. - The stories of this race were almost mystical - and just to finish was considered to be an achievement.

Lining up on my 250 Sherpa T Bultaco Trials bike, along with around 150 odd other crazy guys - oh yes the start was in a  field of muskeg !!  - The shotgun went off ( something new to me) and away we went like the charge of the Light Brigade - It was like a scene from the movie “On Any Sunday”  -  within the first 300 yards, I found myself tangled up in the willows, with the stringy branches jammed between my brake pedal and shifter ( #1 lesson learned ) sweating and swearing, I got it free and carried on. - The only other thing I remember from this event, is getting lost, and meeting up with a guy by the name of Brian Hamilton, who was on a Husky ( very popular back then)  like myself, he had already had enough - and as I had seized the bike lightly - we decided to find our way back to camp. ( Sadly Brian was killed later on a street bike heading home from Laguna Seca)

Roll on 1973, and again I was in the line up - this time alongside Bob Sadownick, only to find that the fuel tap on my 325 Sherpa was leaking. - I was still trying to fix it when the gun went off, and was stuck behind about 100 riders by the time we came to the first almost impossible slippery muddy hill - bikes everywhere, so I just rode off to the side over all the dead fall and logs etc - passing a ton of riders on the way. - the next obstacle was a river crossing, where all the riders seemed to be just jumping off the bank and getting washed downstream   ! ! ! -

This didn’t seem like a great idea, so being a Trials rider - I went upstream a bit, and followed a sand bar down before making my exit on the other side ( much to the amazement of about twenty riders who were there with their bikes up-side-down pumping the water out)   - The race was two loops of 50 miles and I was lucky enough to finish 6th overall and 3rd open bike. - However I think only about ten riders finished -  it was that tough.

In 1974 I did the Moose on a TY 250 Yamaha - another tough grind, and finished I believe 19th - I didn’t ride it in 1975 but the 1976 event was memorable  - read on. > > >
Racing Cross Country back in 1976 - Moose Mountain Alberta - 170 riders on the line - shot gun start and 200 miles over two days.  My IT 400 is in the middle pointed by the arrow.

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I can still remember this race as if it were yesterday - I was on the new IT 400, and instead of paying attention on the start line, I was busy chatting to a couple of other riders, so when the Shotgun went off, I didn’t even have my goggles down

With most of the racers now ahead of me, I found myself behind Ex MX World Champion Jeff Smith, who was out West promoting Can Am - unlike the rest of the horde, who were all heading towards a narrow deer trail over to the left - Smithy was aiming his little  Can Am 175 ( Super rocket) straight at the extremely steep embankment that rose up from the river valley ( more like a cliff) - I elected to follow him, and recall another rider on a YZ 400 looping it ahead of us - I think it was only Smith and myself who took this line apart from this guy. - Anyway we reached the top and turned onto a trail that was simply a dust bowl, bikes everywhere ( and I still didn’t have my goggles down) - we must have passed 50 odd by taking this line.
After that things seemed to settle down a bit and I was soon on my own ( Smithy had long gone) - I had a good race with Dean McFadden from Lethbridge who was on a 250 Husky - but I  really don’t remember too much of the rest of the 2 day 200 mile race - I know there was another huge hill climb which I was told later- only 4 riders made it straight up & over the top - Danny Amor - Smith, myself and a guy from Calgary by the name of Bill Bruins Snr, who was also on a Yamaha 400 - The long blast down the rocky river bed was super fast and there was also one big muskeg hole that I got stuck in and had to get helped. ( Big bikes are heavy) - There were a lot of river crossings, and many riders drowned their bikes.
At the end of the race - Danny Amor had won on the KTM 400, Jeff Smith was 2nd on the Can Am 175 - but I can’t remember who was 3rd - 4th was a Kamloops rider on an IT 400 ( John ?)  - 5th was McFadden, and I ended up 6th overall and 3rd Open bike. - Not sure how many finished.- Maybe some of our readers know.

Although we came to call the IT 400 the big “Blue Whale ” - it was very reliable and would definitely go up hills, However in the tight stuff it was a handful - I think that the only other time I raced that bike was at the Hinton Crass Country - another Muskeg fiasco.
Here I am coming into the pits at the end of day #1 ( Pic by Babsy)

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( It looks like I have my eyes closed - likely falling asleep)

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