I follow the Dakar Rally every year, partly because it kicks off my riding year as it takes place right after New Year’s Day in sunny South America. I also tune in because I’ve always been a fan of endurance events dating back to my running and biathlon racing days. I just love to watch people test themselves and admire the qualities it takes to not quit when many would.
This year’s race has been an amazing test for motorcyclists with an early marathon stage that left less than half the motorcycle competitors remaining in the event. Every year during the two weeks of the race there are poignant scenes of racers coming to each other’s aid. This year one particular act of sportsmanship saw Kevin Muggleton, his own race over, assist fellow rider Mark Davidson who entered a checkpoint exhausted and demoralized. Kevin made sure Mark was fed, buoyed his spirits with an embrace and a pep talk, loaded his road book and humbly and heroically sent him off to finish the stage.
It’s always moved me the way competitors will extend a hand to help one another and it reminds me of the way we motorcyclists look after each other on the road. It has something to do with each of us knowing the risks and the rewards and being willing to share each in equal measure. There have been times that I’ve pulled over just to take a photograph and have had fellow riders pull up and ask if everything is okay.
Last week I took a leisurely, solo, Saturday morning ride on an unusually warm winter day and ended up at the Maurice River Diner in southern New Jersey. I sat by the window and watched at least a dozen other riders pull in for a late breakfast. Upon spotting each other we all tend to exchange nods or smiles that seem to say “how unbelievable is this day and how happy are you to be out in it with your face in the wind drinking it down in gulps?” It also says “see you on down the road and if you need help I’ll be there”.
Kevin Muggleton’s act of sportsmanship and humanity at the Dakar demonstrated a quality that all motorcyclists have in common. We are just as willing to share in each other’s joy as we are to share in, and thereby lessen, each other’s sorrow.