January 10 th 2021 - 11:51 [GMT + 3]
James Alexander, the last biker to reach the bivouac in Ha'il before the rest day, is tackling his first Dakar with contagious enthusiasm. The 50-year-old Botswanan is having the time of his life on the Saudi sand.
James Alexander was the last biker to finish the timed sector on Friday, as he had been on Thursday. "But I'm not as tired this time round", he blurted out as he retrieved his card. "I suffered a lot yesterday, so this morning I took it easy because my whole body was sore. I ended up going too slowly... If I'd been smarter, I could have avoided having to finish the stage after nightfall again. Riding at night is hell. You can't see a thing, you get lost... An hour during the day is like three hours at night. And, since riding at the back means the sand has been kicked up all over the place, you have to crest the climbs to get some traction. We should be allowed to ride with a second headlight pointed at the dunes!" The Botswanan, now taking part in his first Dakar, rides a Yamaha WR450 F, just like his countryman Ross Branch. "Well, mine isn't a factory bike", he chortles.
James took advantage of the rest day to go shoot the breeze with Ross. "We hadn't been able to fool around for two days..." The two of them are friends and, in fact, it was Ross who persuaded James to sign up for the Dakar. The factory Yamaha rider dragged his older friend to the African tracks. James, racing in the affordable Original by Motul category, only hopes to reach Jeddah. "I've been riding bikes since I was 17", he says. "It's always been my passion. Racing in the Dakar is a way for me to discover a new dimension of this world and meet amazing people. What I especially like about the race is how competitors help one another." On the road to Ha'il, James Alexander also interacted a lot with the spectators who came out to watch the bikers tackle the dunes. "I drank lots of tea because I had no water left in my Camel-back. They also offered me camel meat, but I settled for cereal bars." The rest day was a real breather for him. "I slept, I got rid of all the sand in my boots and had someone take care of my ailing feet." All set and ready to go for the second week.