Repsol, Central Bohemian Region, Motopalichttp://www.indigoracing.cz/
Just how does a conference interpreter end up riding in the world's most famous rally? For Gabriela Novotna the story starts in 2009, when she turned 21 and got her hands on a Ducati Monster 696. A few years later, she discovered her true passion after getting a first taste of offroad and enduro and began riding in earnest. After picking up experience in Romania, Albania and Morocco, she eventually set her sights on the Dakar -and in 2018 she became the first woman from the Czech Republic to take part in the rally in the bikes. It was certainly a baptism of fire for the 30-year-old, who was forced to abandon after a crash on Stage 10 -although that didn't prevent her from riding around 80 kilometres with a broken collarbone. She also had a near miss with car driver Patrick Sireyjol, but says that it was all part of the learning curve, and that she cannot wait to be back in 2019. Gabriela is not targeting a particular position in Peru -she just wants to remain focused throughout the Dakar and ensure that this time, she makes it to the finish line in Lima.
“I always wanted to have a bike, but I was only allowed to have a driving licence at 21. I started with a Ducati road bike, but then I got a chance to ride offroad. Within a month, I sold the Ducati and bought an enduro bike. Since I went offroad I've never gone back. I also tried navigating and riding together and absolutely fell in love with it, I discovered my passion. I thought 'this is what I want to do in life!' So I bought another enduro bike, found a personal trainer and started riding motocross, training systematically five or six times a week. My family's reaction was interesting. My grandmother said, 'And that's why you went to three universities, to ride a bike in a forest?' If I could afford to just ride it would be a dream, but I think it will be necessary to keep up my day job! “My decision to do the Dakar came on New Year's Day in 2015, and three years later I was at the start line. I loved last year. I loved every second, every minute, I was so grateful every morning. It was such a disaster for me not to continue. Even though it was horribly painful, with a broken collarbone, I would have kept going. I'm excited to go back. I loved Peru, it was my favourite part last year, so I'm excited it will be there again. For me it's very important not to focus on position. I will try not to follow the results, but I will push myself to my very limit, to go as fast as I can. To go to a race and not race is stupid -you can go for a ride if you want to do that! I want to be satisfied with what I do each and every day.”
On Monday evening, Gabriela Novotná managed to reach the bivouac before the sun dipped below the Pacific Ocean. It was a huge relief for the Czech rider, who had finished the previous stage at the stroke of midnight. "We went back through a dune sector that we had already visited the day before, but everything was different", she explains. "The dunes were amazing...
Gabriela Novotna has started the fifth stage, but the brave lady rider is likely to experience another difficult day after having sprained her ankle.
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