Prologue – 60 km
Besides one day on the enduro track, today was the first day for me riding off-road again after participating in the Olympia rally in April. Not the best basis if you want to compete in a serious FIM rally with more than 1000 km over 6 days. Long story short – the stage was awesome but super challenging. Too challenging for me at some points (especially the hard enduro parts) and I am really grateful that other riders stopped to help me (important note: I didn’t drop the bike though)
Learning of the day: I have to practice more!
Looking forward to day 1.
Stage 1 – 370 km
To be honest, I didn’t really feel like doing the rally after the tough prologue. I was completely exhausted and had serious doubts that I would be able to finish today’s 370 km stage. Spoiler alert – I actually did not make it, but for 290 km I sat for a fabulous 11 hours in the saddle and rode over the mountain Mali Alan, where exactly 1 year ago during my 1st roadbook training the bike died and would not start again. How I hated the Beta back then. This time everything went well and I had a great riding day with only one major navigation error, which has cost me certainly half an hour. Nevertheless, I have made my peace with the Croatian mountains and look forward to stage 2.
Stage 2 – 385 km
What?! Today it’s 385km? Will it be more km every day now? Up to km 50 everything goes well, there are some tough parts, but I manage them well. At km 52 I ride over a hill and I see, according to the next roadbook tulips, the navigation is going to get tricky. And sure enough it turns out to be true: 5 or 6 riders are riding back and forth over the dry riverbed, but I do not let myself get distracted by them and I find the right way through it. A few km later it’s the same game. Also here a few riders are spread across the field and are looking for the ditch which, according to roadbook, we should ride around. I find it and continue with a big grin because I have overtaken some fast riders who started far ahead of me. But as the saying goes, pride comes before a fall. I fall twice over the next few km. Fortunately Tamas, who has caught up with me, is on the spot and helps me through the difficult passages.
I ride the next 30km together with @crosscountryadv @dualsport_emma and Daniel. And it is a dream! We ride trails over meadows, up steep hills and then as a highlight we ride on a path about 20cm wide along a slope. To the right of me there is a steep drop. No trees or bushes, only meadow. When I fly here, I fly far. Just don’t think about it, don’t look to the right. Just ride and ride fast. At km 100 we reach the neutralization zone, I refuel, eat a bar and go for a pee behind a bush. Emma and Tamas leave immediately after the given break time, I need 2 mins longer and Daniel said he wants to wait for me.
The next 40km go like clockwork, I am in flow and think that I might be able to do the full 380km, even if I have not even done half of it yet. When I stop at a junction to check whether I’m right and want to continue after a few seconds, my Beta refuses to start. We try pushing, but nothing happens. I have no choice but to call the @dinaricrally Orga and have them pick me up. I send Daniel on. Stage 3 ends for me after 140 km, which is particularly annoying, since I was highly motivated to ride the full stage despite the initial difficulties. New day new luck. Maybe it will be over 300km again tomorrow.
Stage 3 – 305 km
Sometimes it just takes a little longer. For me, 4 days until I’ve really broken in. On today’s marathon day to Bosnia, I had several motorcycle orgasms and finally the feeling of being in harmony with my bike. The border crossing to Bosnia is easy and the special stage starts a few kilometers later. Unfortunately, at km5 @tobias_ebster96 rides towards me. By this time he should actually be almost at the finish line. His tyre and mousse have come off the rim. I immediately offer him my rear wheel, he just grins because he rides a KTM and I ride a Beta. For 20 mins I try to be somehow useful to him, and when the Orga arrives, I set off again. The next few kilometers are completely to my liking. Solid ground, sweeping curves. I let the beta fly. 5 mins after I have arrived at the neutralization zone, Tobi arrives. Unbelievable! In the time it took me to get here, he was brought back to the start, changed the wheel and took off again. This guy is a rocket. Following the break, after less than 15 mins on the road, Tobi overtakes me with a loud “Jihaaa Pam”. Up to the 2nd neutralization it’s just awesome, I make no navigation error and weave over the track. I’m highly concentrated, looking for the best way through the stony terrain and keep the momentum. I have never ridden so fast on the track while navigating so well. I’m a long way from being a rocket like Tobi, but I only compare myself to myself anyway and celebrate every step forward. And today I am happy and satisfied. These are my successes, my motorcycle orgasms! After the 2nd break I continue together with @wieser497 the quad rider from our team. We whip across the fields, climb hills at breakneck speed that Roli later claimed were difficult for him to follow me. And Roli is really fast on his quad. Shortly before the finish I get properly lost again. I am tired and unfocused after almost 300km, and it annoys me a lot because that surely costs us 20 minutes. It is half past seven when we finally arrive at the hotel in Kupres. In the end I was 8:18 on the road – and conquered my first 300km day.
Happy ending motorcycle orgasm.
Stage 4 – 284 km
Hey DINARIC Orga, can I please get my finisher photo from today? You should clearly see the tears of joy that rolled down my cheeks! Like yesterday, everything is going perfectly today. We ride back on a part of the route from yesterday (I think at least), much of it through forest on long, fast tracks. Only once do I almost crash when I ride to the only danger spot marked with an exclamation mark in the roadbook. It’s described as a ditch, but in truth it’s a deep hole, a crater right down the middle of the entire track. I just manage to slow down, ride up the slope next to the hole and slowly roll backwards again. It reminds me of the emergency brake bays for trucks. It works. By the way, the pros just jump over it and one of them even turned around, turned on the GoPro and jumped again. #nextlevel
I ride alone the whole time, I’m in race mode and I only pee in the neutralization zones. Yes, this is also progress for me, that I reduce my bio breaks to a minimum. I overtake some riders today and when I meet Shakir from @nomadas.adventure on the last 30km, we have a little dogfight. Or rather, each chases the other and gets new strength. When I pass a junction, Shakir waits until I have turned around and the game continues until the finish. Shakir overtakes me one kilometer before the finish and I let him go. I have tears in my eyes from joy and relief as I cross the finish line. Yesterday 305 and today it was 284km smooth kilometers, which I reeled off in a constant speed without drama (5h:31min is on the result list in the evening).
Shakir waits for me behind the finish and when he sees my tears, he apologizes profusely. I calm him down and explain that they are tears of joy. “Great riding” he confirms to me and after a high5 we continue. My tears are still streaming. At a gas station Shakir gives me an ice cream – as a reward for the successful day. Together with a few other riders we cross the border into Croatia. Here we actually get into the rain for the first time. I don’t care, no bad weather can take away my good mood today.
Stage 5 – 150 km
The DINARIC Rally ends for me as it started. With a short but exhausting stage. I torture myself to ride the full 150 km from the start to the finish. The first half virtually consists only of a super curvy gravel road. And with a lot of deep gravel. Everything slides. Front wheel, rear wheel. The whole bike. And it’s brutally dusty. Race mode is out of the question today. I’m not having fun today, I’m just trying to get there in one piece. And even that was almost not possible because when it finally becomes rockier and more varied, I drop the Beta to the left at an extremely long and rocky uphill section. @richard_zanaska is right behind me and helps me pick up the Beta. I take a few deep breaths, look up at the end of the section and start with a good portion of fury. Made it! I’m at the top. Apparently we went up a bigger mountain because from now on it’s super curvy and again extremely slippery downhill. I hate it because I can’t do it. This is definitely going on my training schedule.
After 3hrs:41mins it’s done! I am at the finish line in the bivouac. I am welcomed by Periza and his team, receive my finisher medal and a finisher photo. The DINARIC Rally is done, just as I had planned: I wanted to ride every day and arrive safely at the Bivouac!