At the end of the rope
Dakar 2023 |
Stage 13 |
January 14 th 2023 - 16:52 [GMT + 3]
Michael Jacobi is about to wrap up his first Dakar with a broken right shoulder. Not even getting injured on the second day of racing could blunt his determination.
Once again, he clenched his teeth. Once again, on the road from Shaybah to Al-Hofuf, Michael Jacobi overcame the pain to reach the finish of the stage and dig to the bottom of his heart and soul, as he has been doing since the fall that almost ended his Dakar way ahead of schedule within 40 km of the Sea Camp. Flashback to 2 January… "I ricocheted against some stones and ended up on the ground", explains the man from Haute-Savoie. "As soon as I got back on my bike, I realised something was wrong… I clenched my teeth to get back to the bivouac because it was just the start of a long and difficult special. There were stones all over the place… I thought to myself that this Dakar was the project of a lifetime and there was no way I wasn't going to make it to the finish." The diagnosis came in at the end of the second day of racing: an acromioclavicular fracture of the right shoulder. The doctors brought up the possibility of throwing in the towel. His answer? "Strap my shoulder, I'm riding my bike tomorrow!" This is how Michael Jacobi came to clench his teeth and push his limits for the last twelve days. "The next day, when I got back on the bike, I did wonder what the hell I was doing there. I was in a world of pain… When you ride in these conditions, everything is different. You can't stand up, so you stay seated and take it all… You suffer. And then it rains, it's cold… All's well, this is the Dakar!" Michael has never been lacking in determination. In 2017, a nasty fall in a motocross event sent him to hospital with fractured vertebrae. He came within inches of paraplegia. After months of suffering and rehabilitation, his mental fortitude helped him to walk again before jumping back onto a bike. He even went back to racing in rallies in Tunisia and Morocco. The siren calls of the Dakar returned to fill his dreams… "When you're a biker, the Dakar is the most iconic race", he says. "The one you must do at least once in your life." A logging driver the rest of the year, he claims to be as good at calculating risks on his motorbike as when he drives his lorry with wood on the roads of Haute-Savoie. This is how he finished the penultimate special of his first Dakar on Saturday evening, ready to tackle the last few kilometres and get his hands on the finisher medal, which he has quite possibly earned more than anyone else. "There have still been plenty of times when I wondered what I was doing there", he says. "And others when I thought to myself that it was really beautiful and that I was incredibly lucky to be there. Good days, bad days… The finish was hard, with all these dunes and big descents where I struggled without being able to stand up. In the end, you compensate so much that you end up with muscle spasms everywhere, you're all blocked, stiff… I think that if I'm still here today, it's because it's my first Dakar. Otherwise, I would've got the hell out of here… I would've jumped on a plane and gone home."