It’s hard to believe the crisp suited Lydon Poskitt of the quality function has just returned from one of the most gruelling adventures you can have on two wheels. Dust ridden, dry and dirty conditions are a far cry from the comfort of the office.
When we spoke to Lyndon back in December, his aim was clear. To finish the race. Alive. Finishing 46th out of more than 450 participants was beyond dream land. Evidenced by the smile that’s been on his face ever since.
The 9000km route began in Lima, Peru on 5th January, crossed the Andes into Argentina and finished in Santiago, Chile on 20th January. A trip packed with tales of adventure. Some good, and some not so good. We’ll start with the latter…
A few deep breaths
Take the onset of severe altitude sickness at 15,500ft. Climbing mountainous terrain to a height almost four times greater than Ben Nevis forced Lyndon to take at least one short break from his bike on that particular stretch. A few deep breaths, and onwards again, riding through freezing sleet in summer race clothing, it was the worst conditions Lyndon had faced on a bike.
Approaching the Atacama desert, rain was on the forecast. Though uncommon for the climate, the rain descended on the high mountains, the results of which meant a few rivers to cross. “Not something you’d have thought you needed to prepare for, some bikes didn’t make it across. Even cars got stranded and were swept up in the river. Others sunk in the mud.”
Then, as he entered the Atacama desert, he described the temperatures as brutal and said “It was like riding into 1000 hairdryers on full heat pointing right at you.”
Lyndon added “At some points, you’re riding at 100mph, others you’re battling through at walking pace due to rough terrain. The conditions are harsh. It’s a test of endurance and because each stage has a staggered start, you’re pretty much on your own!"
"One of the most rewarding parts of the race for me was overcoming a mechanical failure on the bike. Just 34km into a 350km timed special test, one of my front fork legs had broken. It could have been a show stopper, either being forced to retire or leading to a nasty accident. I was at a crossroads. I had to decide whether to carry on and hope for the best or get off and try and fix it. I got off the track, stripped the bike, got out some liquid metal and fixed it. Waiting for it to dry felt like an eternity, as the other riders passed by. I got back in the seat and stayed in the race.”
A proud moment
Lyndon’s highlight came when he became the 1st British motorcyclist in over a decade to finish in the top ten on a Dakar stage. It was a proud moment for Lyndon who follows in the footsteps of John Deacon, a name well recognised across the motorcycling circuit. The achievement earned him headlines in Motorcycle News, covered here.
So apart from skill, what else did Lyndon attribute his success to? His dedicated dad and brilliant bike. Fondly regarded as the ‘alarm clock’ for the team Lyndon’s dad, Robin, was first up each day to ensure the bike and the entire crew were set for the day. Seeing Lyndon off, he’d jump into the support van (which was limited to 60 mph) and make the journey to the next point in order to see Lyndon in and give the bike a full service before bed.
Working as part of a nine men crew made up of three riders (three bikes) and six support crew, the team went through 90 race tyres, 80 litres of oil and 45 oil filters and air filters between them!
An engineering background
Which brings us nicely onto the bike. Attracting much interest throughout the race for its build and looks Lyndon added:
“I think my day job in Quality and my background as an Engineer had a lot to do with how the bike turned out. To survive something so rigorous you need a meticulous eye for detail and a keen focus on safety. These things really helped me develop the bike into a robust and reliable machine for the job. Lots of riders experienced problems with fuel vaporisation. Thanks to my knowledge from the business, I was able to make sure that I protected the fuel supply and avoided this ever becoming an issue.”
So would he do it again? “Of course, but I’m not sure you can remortgage your house more than once!” So it remains to be seen whether Lyndon can rally up support from his sponsors to make a return. But that’s not the end of his exploits, Lyndon’s already planning to take part in the Red Bull Romaniacs race in July and other rallies in Dubai and Australia are also on the cards. From one quality adventure to another, it doesn’t look like Lyndon’s slowing down anytime soon.
Listen to Lyndon reporting back from the race.