Welsh en­duro star charts his jour­ney from hum­ble step-thru to rally great­ness

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

How did it all start?

My first bike was a Suzuki FZ80 stepthru, the two-stroke equiv­a­lent of a Honda C90. I re­mem­ber at six years old my broth­ers plonked me on it and we ragged it around the farm. I got a Suzuki RM50 af­ter that, and had a KTM 400 when I was 12. My brother used to fill up the petrol tank and start it for me, be­cause I couldn’t. He’d then point me in the di­rec­tion of a moun­tain and I’d ride it un­til it ran dry. Then I’d flick it onto re­serve and that’s when I knew to head home.

What hap­pened if you stalled it?

I’d have to push it back! So it was a good learn­ing curve on how to keep a bike go­ing. Own­ing that KTM made me want to race, and I started rid­ing tri­als. I had a Yamaha TY125, a Fan­tic 240. I rode tri­als for about 15-20 years, won com­pe­ti­tions and rode all around the world. I did a bit of mo­tocross too. But my favourite was desert rac­ing, like the Baja rally.

Why did you de­cide to do the Dakar?

I used to watch it on TV all those years ago, and saw the car­nage of trucks and cars and the true ad­ven­ture of it all and just knew I wanted to do it. I knew I’d en­ter it even­tu­ally from the age of about 18.

Didn’t you have a rough time on the last one?

Yes, I did it Malle-moto, which is the old way of do­ing Dakar – with no sup­port or me­chanic. I’ll never for­get it. The road book was show­ing 23km of straights when a lost quad rider jumped out of the bushes and came straight across me. In a split sec­ond re­ac­tion I high­sided the bike and landed on my head and broke four ver­te­brae in my neck.

That sounds painful?

Yeah, I was in agony. I couldn’t sit down on the bike, it was like some­one was shov­ing a hot poker up through my back, and I couldn’t stand up. So I rode the re­main­ing 12 days and fin­ished the Dakar Rally in a squat po­si­tion. I went for two X-rays and they only X-rayed my back, never my neck. I even had a physio grab me in a lock and wrench me back­wards.

So what hap­pened?

I dropped my bike off at the port at the end of it and was in ab­so­lute agony at this point. The flight back was hor­ren­dous. I didn’t take any painkillers be­cause all they gave me was parac­eta­mol, which was a waste of time any­way. Then I got back and went and asked a doc­tor to check me over. He looked at me and said ‘I’m not touch­ing you’ and sent me for an emer­gency scan. Within 15 min­utes they stopped the scan and strapped me to a board. So it was three weeks from the time of the crash to that scan in the UK. I had a cage around my neck for six months, but I kept walk­ing up moun­tains. Even the day af­ter I came out of hospi­tal I was walk­ing in two foot of snow up a moun­tain, as I be­lieve it helped boost blood flow and aided my re­cov­ery.

Surely that’s put you off do­ing an­other Dakar then?

No way! I’ve def­i­nitely got an­other Dakar in me. But this time I just want to go and en­joy it, not rush so much. I think the rac­ing side of me has prob­a­bly gone… but you never know.

Fully healed and back on two wheels, Bounds isn’t done with the Dakar

DESERT STORM KTM 690 Rally ‘My favourite was desert rac­ing’

THE DAY JOB Suzuki DRZ400 ‘I teach rid­ers off-road skills now’

LEARN­ING CURVE Fan­tic 240 ‘I won com­pe­ti­tions all over the world’

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