Discover the stories of the Dakar's heroes Inside the Bivouac

A thirst for adventure

Dakar 2023 | Stage 5 | HA'IL > HA'IL
January 5 th 2023 - 22:07 [GMT + 3]

At 55 years of age, James Pearson is participating in his first Dakar. It is a new experience for this American rider who has been travelling the world for over two years to quench his thirst for adventure and competition.  

Since the Dakar reached the region of Ha’il, James Pearson has been among the last bikers to complete the specials. On Wednesday evening, he was accompanied by Morrison Hart, one of his countrymen also enrolled in the Original by Motul category for unassisted bikers. Tired out from looking for their way in the sand churned up by the dozens of trucks that had reached the finish before them, the two Americans took the time to tuck into some pasta and drink a coffee in the company of the Alpha 3 team in charge of the finishing line, a snack reserved for the last competitors to arrive exhausted at the end of the stage. As they left for the bivouac, James thanked everybody present, whilst specifying that he hoped he would not have to take advantage of another such welcome. Unfortunately for him, on Thursday, the second loop around Ha’il lui gave the same outcome. This time, his friend Morrison, who was quicker to escape the Saudi night, was not there to keep him company. On getting out his time card, to the applause of the Alpha 3 team, James propped up his KTM to enjoy the coffee he was offered, but without pasta this time, tucking into an equally flavoursome and appreciated sandwich and muffin. “Now that I’m here, it’s a bit like I’ve made it home,” said the American, before recounting his laborious end to the stage… “My problem is when the sun sets. As soon as the sun gets low in the sky, I can’t see a thing and I can’t manage to follow the course or spot the tracks… I even almost got off the bike to wait until night fell and then resume racing. In the end, I make a better job of it when I’m using my headlights.” For better or for worse, James reached the finish. This elegant 55-year-old is competing in his first Dakar. However, he is far from a beginner in motorbike racing, and he knows a thing or two about the desert as he regularly rides in California. “I’ve been riding for almost 30 years,” he explained. “The hardest race I’ve ridden, was the Baja 1000… I spent 28 hours on the bike just to get to the finish”. The idea of taking part in the Dakar took root in 2014 when he rode to South America with a group of friends to discover the most prestigious of rally-raids, setting off from Colorado where he has lived for the last few years. For James Pearson, motorcycling is not just a matter of competition. It is also rhymes with adventures and experiences. This is why, two and a half years ago, he loaded up his truck and, with his partner Deborah, set off for Europe. A manager of a Harley Davidson and KTM dealership located in Denver, this native Canadian who took American citizenship in 2006, decided to take an enchanting break in order to quench his thirst for discovery. “I’ve been saving up for years to prepare for this journey,” he said. “We drove to Canada and then took the boat to Liverpool”. From there on, it was a series of journeys and off-road competitions for James, leading them to Romania, where he took part in the Balkan Rally, then to Turkey, Israel and Jordan, from where they travelled on to Saudi Arabia. James has already been through thirty countries. “During the last two years, I’ve regularly sold my bikes to buy others depending on what type of race I was going to take part in… I found the one I’m using for the Dakar in Jeddah”. He did not think this edition of the Dakar would be so difficult. “It’s the length of the days that is more tiring than the route itself,” he says, all the more so given that in the Original by Motul category for unassisted bikers, James has to carry out the upkeep of his machine by himself. Fortunately, he is very skilled in such an exercise and his younger brother David is also at the bivouac, also taking part in the same class. With the firm intention of reaching Dammam, James will not leave it at that. “We’ll return to Europe via Iraq and then I’d like to go and spend some time travelling through Africa. After Australia, South America, North America and Europe, I will have covered most of the continents in the world”. Once that is done, it will be time to return to Denver to renew acquaintance with his motorbike dealership.    

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