Let’s face it, when it comes to the heroic Isle of Man TT, or the gruelling Dakar races, you need to have a healthy mix of bravery, talent and determination. Oh, and a pair of massive cahoonas of course, with a bit of good old-fashioned luck thrown in for good measure.
It’s actually sparked up a bit of a heated debate in the MCN office over which sport has the most hardcore riders, and arguing over it is getting us absolutely nowhere. So, we thought we’d throw the question out to you, our loving readers, to help us settle it once and for all:
Now, they’re both brutal sports in their own right, road racing comes with a long list of riders who have sadly lost their life, friends or family to the sport, and plenty of others lucky enough to survive an accident who have suffered life changing injuries. It’s literally a life and limb commitment where riders are placed at the mercy of the roads that people travel on every day, all while exceeding 130+mph average speeds. It’s been branded as the most dangerous race in the world, and with very good reason too.
Let us also not forget the golden moments that have glittered the history of the iconic Island races. Or moments where riders like Ian Hutchinson have come back from horrific crashes and injuries to win not only the coveted silverware, but also the admiration of both public and racers alike. Surely the TT racers are a different breed?
But, what about the Dakar Rally? It’s challenging terrain, extremely long distance and duration mark the ultimate test of both mental and physical fortitude. Many riders simply don’t finish each year, not for lack of skill or bravery, but simply because the race is that demanding on man and machine. At the mercy of the elements and in some of the harshest environments on the planet, riders and teams compete not only for the glory of winning, but also to simply reach the finish line.
If that wasn’t enough, the route changes every year, so there’s no way the riders can properly prepare for exactly what lies ahead, experience on the bike, sheer determination and physical fitness are key. With over two weeks of hard-fought riding, this year sees the race covering nearly 9,000km through three countries. Surely, you’d need to be mental to enter?
The Paris-Dakar Rally also had to be moved from its spiritual home in Africa because of the real threat that terrorism posed to the racers, and also the times when competitors have been held and robbed at gunpoint. And, if the bandits and terrorists didn’t get you, then it might have been because you were simply lost or stuck in the middle of the Sahara Desert, as Sir Mark Thatcher – son of the late Baroness Margret Thatcher – found himself when his vehicle broke down, where he subsequently went missing for six days.