CS Santosh came into the bivouac with blood streaming down his face. He had a nasty fall about 14 kms short of the stage end. Finally getting into his groove in the sandy section, Santosh was revelling in the ride when he lost control amidst some camel grass.
“The bike yo-yoed and flung me over. I went over the handle, landed on my helmet and hit the sand hard. I quickly did a systems check and found the bike was fine so I hopped back on and came into the stage end check post,” said the 31-year old as he struggled to get out of his gear. Before he could go to his camper, he had to visit the doctor and stem the bleeding from his nose. He has a nasty little bruise on the bridge but seemed to have recovered pretty fast.
“I was being overconfident and the Dakar quickly brought me back down to earth. But you know sometimes it’s good to stake it all. I have been riding like a loser for too long and it felt good to let go.” The fall cost him a few minutes but the Indian had done well enough by then to hop 58th place, a decent jump from his overnight 67.
The Dakar challenge for Wednesday was 315 kms of hard desert riding. The stage started in the afternoon but even before that the 594km transport proved to be a most excruciating experience for the Indian. “It was really, really cold. But as luck would have it, I ran into a bunch of Indians who gave me their warm overalls. I only survived the transport because of that. I don’t know them from before but they said that they were following me once they came to know an Indian was riding. I owe today to them.”
The Dakar today entered Chile and the riders got their first taste of some actual high altitude as they cleared a 4800 m pass but since that was during transport it wouldn’t have been too demanding. Luckily for Santosh he was warm enough when he traversed those heights or else things would have been tricky for him. By the end of the day, he had notched up 3029 kms. A total of 139 bikers began the day.
“I didn’t do too well in the rocky section again. I really need to figure out how to ride those technical bits. Then I really got going in the sand before the crash happened.” His helmet’s peak was shorn off and it’s not fit for use in the event again. “You know in every rally there is usually this one horrible moment that one has to surmount. I have the feeling that today’s crash was it.
I think I will be ok after this,” he grinned at the inane logic even as he shook out sand from his undergarments. Such is the speed that these guys extract from their rear tire that Santosh’s back was caked with sand thrown up because of the churn.
The Dakar was struck by tragedy on Tuesday. Underlining the dangers of this event Polish biker Michal Hernil was found dead at km 206 of the special stage number three. The rider was 39 years of age and this was his first attempt at the Dakar. Apart from the fact that he was found 300 metres off the route, the cause of his death could not be ascertained.