Me & My Bike

Motorcyclist - - Contents -

BIKE 2001 KTM 640 Ad­ven­ture RIDER Chris Grimm AGE 55 HOME Char­lottesville, VA OC­CU­PA­TION In­sur­ance Au­di­tor

all my bud­dies had ktms, so I had to have one. Then a friend of mine found the Heroes Leg­end Rally on­line. I was sit­ting in the fam­ily room of our old house, and Patty was sit­ting in the chair when I asked her, “Hey, do you mind if I go do this thing where we go from Paris to Dakar?” I had no idea what I was get­ting into.

I trained for a year. I rode, lifted. It was all car­dio stuff. I didn’t ride my big ad­ven­ture bike, though. I was go­ing to be on that piece of s—t for 15 days. Why the 640? It looked like the real deal. That was the only thing that looked like the 660. That, and

I talked to Chris Jones, a for­mer Dakar fin­isher from Atlanta. I re­lied on him to tell me what failed on his bike. He was like, you can put two spare levers here, your CDI goes there, your spare coil goes here, you can take this much fuel line.

This was the year the French tourists were killed by the Is­lamic Maghreb, the year they can­celed Dakar. The or­ga­niz­ers felt it was too dan­ger­ous for their group. Our group was maybe 300 peo­ple, so they said, we’re still go­ing. At home, I was watch­ing the news, but at that point in time, al-qaida wasn’t even on our radar. Nei­ther was the Tal­iban.

The Val­ley of Death was the hardest day. It was a 120-kilo­me­ter stage, and the en­tire road­book read sable sand, sil­ver sand, khaki sand, rock and sand. I was rid­ing with a few guys, and I dropped my bike. I was start­ing to feel it al­ready.

We all got down the dune, re­grouped with a cou­ple of peo­ple who were in­jured, and they were just done. There were plenty of guys that just stopped. We had 20, maybe 30 kilo­me­ters left. Not far, but it was just blaz­ing heat. We were in these lit­tle dunes only 6 or 8 feet tall, lit­tle piles, wind­ing through, and I kept drop­ping my bike. When I dropped it go­ing too slow, I was just like, “That’s it. F—k it. I’m tired of pick­ing this f—king pig up, I’m not f—king do­ing it any­more, I’m f—king tired of this s—t.”

I was rid­ing with a Dutch kid on a lit­tle Honda 450X, and I was pick­ing my bike up, and I can still re­mem­ber his look. He looked over his shoul­der and was like, “Come on.” He could see the bivouac. It was only 40, 50 feet away. I just couldn’t see it be­cause it was right be­low the level of the dunes.

I rolled up, and Clive Dredge, our crew chief, looked at me and said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I had no ex­pec­ta­tion of see­ing you at the end of to­day.”

He’s lived in the desert most of his life. His say­ing was: “I haven’t taken a sin­gle picture of the desert as long as I’ve lived. If you want to go see it, get off your ass and go see it.”

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