Tuesday, January 13th
Iquique – Calama
Bas really could not enjoy this stage of the race: there were cobblestones, fesh fesh, and cars that sped up to overtake the motorcyclists. Dangerous, and surely unpleasant. Luckily there were fans alongside the route; sometimes they were surprisingly local citizens who support the BAS-team whole-heartedly.
Wednesday, January 14th
Calama – Salta
Back to Argentina and over the Andes. Around half of all motorcycle racers disappeared, but the BAS team is stronger than what the statistics indicate: only one of the five fell out. A late start meant that the BAS-team ended up between the cars today. This caused one of the team members to have problems with the injector, and more snow is yet to come to the mountains. There were more than 5 hours of delay because of technical problems (actually 3 broken injectors). Only just after midnight, after a ride of more than 11 hours, and in terrible weather, they arrived at camp with no technical help and no truck. So it was a night of sleeping on the floor and gritting their teeth.
Thursday, January 15th
Salta – Termas Rio Hondo
Finally, an easier trip. No technical problems, but an hour of rain, and the more they descended, the warmer it got. Above all, Bas felt he was given lots of heart-warming support and encouragement from the Argentinians who were standing along the side. This day ended with an early arrival; there was still daylight this time. Bas was already at camp by 8pm.
Friday, January 16th
Termas Rio Hondo – Rosario
The first part of this stage was technically challenging: narrower paths, rivers crossings, … but it was also a pretty quiet road. Nothing to see along the way, except a pig and a turtle. And for once, very few cars tried to pass us. After all the hardships from the last weeks, the organizer gave the remaining participants a surprise: for the last boring 500 kilometers (a terribly long, straight stretch), the motorcycles could stay in the truck and the racers could be brought to the finish that way. Everyone is looking forward to the end of the race now.
Saturday, January 17th
Rosario – Buenos Aires
Everyone left in a delightful mood for this last stretch. The route was muddy because of the rain (and because hundreds of vehicles rode over it during the first stage, but then in the other direction). Traditionally, the starting order is reversed in this last stage: the lower ones from the ranking first, the fastest last. In this 13th stage, things still went wrong for Bas. Bas’s rear wheel suddenly broke in a water puddle. He fell hard, luckily without any other consequence. Progress was slow because of the bad weather, and also with a difficult-to-handle steering wheel. The organizer had to change a route again, and the tour (in which all rally racers want to speed up, of course) was more dangerous because of the harsh weather. Finally, Bas got his medal on stage. “In the past days, I have often thought that I would never do this again. But don’t be surprised if you find me standing here again next year.”