Question: Can eleven Type A personalities get along for fifteen days? Answer: Yes, if they’re riding bikes and being taken care of by Pampa Adventures.
The Dakar Chasers
1. Jim Hyde, Rawhyde Adventures. Jim was the Organizer, Expedition Leader, Protector and Main Cheerleader of our group. (www.rawhyde-offroad.com ) Saved my ass more than once, but that can be said for most of my fellow Dakar Chasers
2. & 3. Tom and Ken Petrillo. Tom and Ken hung together like brothers should. Tom’s my hero, being an auto parts magnate, as he’s owned and sold more great cars than I’ve ever seen. Ken’s my hero as well, not because he owns his insurance agency, but because he ‘s like rated #1 in some AMA motocross series. Very studly dirt rider. Also saved my bacon more than once.
4. Kent Clausen, hotel developer from the Big Sky Country (or somewhere out there…) I think of him as Gentle Kent, being an X Football player. Didn’t take any knocks on the head as he’s a very, very sharp hotelier.
5. Raphael Bertolus, Jim’s friend and LA high-end builder. Raphael set the record for being stopped by the police. THREE times. He claims it was my fault as the police were looking for me.
6. Charlie Walton, Las Vegas surgeon. Charlie was my roommate for most of the trip and a fine one at that. Then, he deserted me for someone else. I’m heartbroken.
7. Chuck Brown, retired BART manager. What more can I say, Chuck’s fast and a major babe magnet. Does it get any better than that?
8. Jim McMichael, Reno investment banker. Jim’s riding strategy was keep your head down and plow straight-ahead, no matter what. Probably what’s made him a successful financier.
9. Bassel Fares, 747 pilot living out of his flight bag. Basel joined us a little late but immediately got in the swing of things. Always rode covered from head to foot in black. I suspect he’s wanted somewhere…
10. Mark Smead, retired software developer. Mark was totally prepared, had all the latest gadgets, and was always up for the next ride. Did I mention he helped pick me up out of sand?
There’s no doubt that the Three Amigos pictured above were the real heroes of this trip. Jim’s company partnered with the Argentina-based Pampa Adventures who mapped out the entire trip, brought two chase trucks, and cooked some great meals in the remotest areas imaginable. And, believe it or not, they did it with a smile on their face
Left: Ignacio, “Nacho.” Good-natured, the Main Man and chief interpreter on the road. As a bonus, Nacho mapped out my South American motorcycle trip route J
Middle: Dario. Driver, cook, and all-around great guy. Always quick to go to the cooler for a cold one. And he drove his truck fast enough to keep most of us at bay.
Right: El Jefe, Jorge . Master of the expedition, a really welcome site at the end of the day standing in front of the hotel. Picked great hotels and restaurants. Had almost as many clothes with him as Raphael.
Which brings me to my final observation: I’ve now been to four relatively poor countries (Nepal, India, Chile and Argentina) in the past year and guess what – people seem a lot happier there, than here. What’s up with that?