Hellas Rally Raid officially kicked off today with a short prologue stage in the nearby hills. Gravel, hairpins, few puddles and ruts, and before you knew it, the stage was over. The top three riders in the bike category overall are Leonardo Tonelli, Matteo Cura and Chris Birch; top three in Hellas Lite are Manuel Garcia, Lewey Hook, and Derek Wylie. Me? I came in last, both overall and in Lite, and while it’s a little demoralizing, it’s also liberating: now, it’s just me vs me during the next six days of Hellas.
The worst part about today was waiting: the first rider went out at 3 pm, while my start was after 6 pm, which meant I had a whole day of freaking out, running around Karpenisi looking for brake pads, and generally battling the wait and the anxiety. Because I came in last, I’ll be the last out tomorrow, too, and with over 250km of special stage, I’ll be late to get back to the bivouac.
Once out of the start, life instantly got better. I was passed by the last few riders, but now, on the bike, it was just me, Lucy, and the roadbook. Greece is incredibly beautiful and despite two slow speed crashes, I had an awesome time just riding. I don’t have the speed, but I hope I can just keep showing up, keep plodding along, and make it to that finish line in six days.
Hellas Rally roadbook feels pretty easy to read, with lots of extra information to keep yourself on track. Although I am allowed to have a GPS, I barely looked at it today. Roadbook navigation is faster, safer, and easier when you’ve got to get moving.
Lucy is missing two spokes, the front brake pads are wearing uncomfortably thin, and the handlebars are a little bent. Other than that, the bike feels great, and although it’s not an elegant KTM450, the sturdiness of the DR650 gives me courage. We might just make it through!