Txomin Arana is one happy rookie

    He takes off his helmet to reveal a stubby beard and a wide grin. An Ikurrina scarf wrapped around his neck, he tells us how the last day but one of his first Dakar went. "I liked today's [yesterday's] course. I was focused, but that didn't stop me from falling near kilometre 270. The roadbook warned of two hazards, the second being a level-2 one. Actually, I thought I'd already gone past it, but I slammed into the ground shortly after. I was riding at almost 80 km/h when it happened…" A sore left hand and an achy body are no big deal for the young Basque rider. His debut Dakar has been like a dream. A lively dream, true, but one without any major mishaps. "I'm one happy rookie", he says. "The paths, the tracks, the dunes, the landscapes, everything I've seen was amazing. Just like the friendly atmosphere among bikers." He has only run into trouble one other time in 8,000 kilometres of racing. "Riding into Chile and Calama, a problem with the fuel intake cost me almost four hours." However, his focus was not on finishing near the top, but to keep his countrymen up-to-date. "I send daily reports to Radio Euskadi, alternating between Spanish one day and Basque the next." Txomin, who was born in Ereño, is taking it easy to make it to Valparaíso and become the first rider from Biscay to finish a Dakar… earning him a hero's welcome back at the Gernika Off-Road Club.

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