Dakar 2011: Preparation

Scrutineering cleared…

In Glenn’s words today “it was a long, long, long haul to get through scrutineering”.

La Rural - Day 1 - snapshot from the Dakar official Facebook page

He called in at 1.00am his time on what is the morning of 31 December.

The bikes, the truck and the campers have all passed inspection now.

Brief outline of the last 24 hours:

2.00 am – Mechanics finish work and go to bed
5.30 am – Everyone up and on the move again
8.00 am – Arrive at scrutineering and queue up
9.00 am – Scrutineering starts
10.00 pm – Scrutineering ends
11.00 pm – Dinner then drive back to base
1.00 am – Everyone to bed, then Glenn makes his calls

One of the problems getting through today was the unfamiliarity with all the special navigation and safety equipment that must be fitted to the bikes. All of the new parts that GHR had engineered to suit worked well in the end, but the crew had anticipated some snags when fitting it all together. The issue today was the loss of so much time due to the strike and industrial action at the docks earlier in the week. What should have been going on then had to be done in the last day or so and the rest of the schedule leading up to today was turned upside down. Resolution of many of the problems fitting the required electronics took place in the queues for the inspection sessions today. Numerous one-off hitches emerged such as where to locate the beacons and flares securely on the machine. Each bike took about 3 hours to set up fully, but future events will only take half the time. 2012 will be a case of dropping the GPS and sentinel equipment in position and just plugging them in. The riders were understandably preoccupied with attending to their own bikes, but all team members and vehicles needed to be registered.

Tomorrow will be spent finishing off some of the remaining issues with the truck, completing the packing. Although the air-conditioning was supposedly working when the truck was bought, it no longer is. There may or may not be time to work that out. Some additional spares and wheels have to be dropped off with the event organisers’ freight service for carriage part way through the event. This service was pre-booked as a precaution before the truck had been purchased and the team knew exactly what they could carry with them.

The crew have already found that fuel supply is very patchy, and not all service stations can sell as much fuel as they want when they want it. Glenn will have to do the rounds of any service stations he can find to ensure that the truck has sufficient diesel on board. Local currency conversions are also difficult and credit cards are not always accepted. The ATM machines have a daily limit so the team will have to hunt continue to down a healthy supply of cash money. He’s also going to investigate roaming services for his Telstra SIM because the locally supplied Personal services are proving very unreliable.

He finished by saying they’re trying not to do the maths on their sleep quota at the moment.


Pics – the container arrives

Finally, after days waiting for the workplace demonstrations and blockades to end at the docks, the boys gained access to the container.

It had been a nervous wait as 4 days passed – time that had been reserved for preparation of the bikes and service gear.

Bruce Garland’s Isuzu team were using this property as their base once again, so there was twice as much activity going on.

While loading the container had been relatively simple – container on the ground, with forklift and side loader truck – the process of unloading required a little bit of creative thought. Work Cover inspectors need not look…

Bruce Garland's D-Max being rolled out on to a tilt-tray truck, held up with forklifts.

The D-Max seeing daylight for the first time in a month.

Tilt-tray truck has driven off from the container and prepares to unload the D-Max

Forklifts now positioned to lift the container clear of the freight truck.

Container ready for lowering.

Engine ready to go into the D-Max. Although it looks "last minute" it is probably not that uncommon due to the lack of access during shipping time.

Happy days as the GHR container is opened for the first time since the beginning of November.

Jacob's bike emerging. Thankfully everything was perfectly intact.

Getting ready to lift off with the forklift.

Pallecons and bikes unloaded.

A little bit of Australia. Come on Aussie!

The boys then got straight down to the final preparations. Scrutineering will be the next step in the next 24 hours.

Getting very close now!

Home needs somewhere to hide from the heat.

Pics – base camp in Buenos Aires

The first of the crew arrived safely a week ago, and have been staying at a private farm about 30 minutes from the coast.

Everyone is doing well.

Bruce Garland has stayed at the same place previously, so they were well prepared for another bunch of Aussies. Glenn has been appointed as the interpreter for all cross cultural communications, and is now fluent in Spanglish, Franglish and general hand gestures. The crew often default to Glenn’s expertise when a quick language lesson in on their mobile phone translation services don’t succeed in getting the point across.

There were some frustrating delays in gaining access to the container due to workplace disputes and blockades at the docks. Political demonstrations are not uncommon in Argentina, but the timing was source for concern. It did, however, allow important time to grow accustomed the time difference, play soccer and swim! Buenos Aires is a very busy place, so having space out of the bustle to sort out final preparation has been appreciated.

Home needs somewhere to hide from the heat...

a cheerful caterer...

tasty food...

somewhere to sleep...

cold beer...

open spaces...

and a pool if you're lucky!

Safety – Sentinel explained

A bit of background information on the safety equipment fitted to all competitors’ vehicles.