Chasing the Dakar, I had no idea the rally would turn my world upside down, infect me with an insidious rally virus, and make me ship my bike to Europe and enter a cross country rally myself.

But it did.

I also didn’t expect I’d ever try racing – ever – because while I love bimbling along dirt roads on my DR650, I’ve never done any serious enduro riding. And because while I somehow found my way from Colombia to Chile, my navigation skills are questionable at best when using a GPS, so giving me a roadbook at this point is similar to presenting a hamster with Encyclopedia Britannica.

I didn’t expect I’d have the audacity to say “yes” to an invitation to the Trans Alen Tejo Rally in Portugal and then Hellas Rally in Greece.

But I did.

It’s a bad idea. But then, it’s bad ideas that are responsible for my riding around the world, so adding one more to the list seems fairly harmless.

First Cross Country Rally as a Novice www.advrider.com

As I’m packing a few essentials into my Mosko Moto duffel bag before tomorrow’s flight to Lisbon, I realize how woefully unprepared I am. Trans Alen Tejo is a non-compete rally, a rally replica, really, so whatever happens, I should at least finish the route and hopefully, learn something along the way. Hellas, on the other hand, is a different kind of beast. Although I’ll be racing Hellas Lite, a class created especially for rally noobs, I’m still terrified. For me, this is my personal Dakar.

The only remaining question, as I stuff my gloves into the bag and click the buckles close, is why.

Why end a perfectly decent run in South America where the scenery is to die for and the people are amazing? Why abandon all and go all in for a three-day rally in Portugal? Why abuse a loyal, trusty DR650 and put it through seven intense days of rocky trails and sand in Greece, when it could just plod happily along South American trails till the road runs out?

I don’t have a reasonable answer to this. It’s hard to come up with a grown-up reason why chasing a rally high is worth it all. But somehow, it’s even harder to imagine getting stuck in a comfort zone.

So here’s to bad ideas and new beginnings.

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