My latest attempt at a cross-country roadbook navigation event, daily, it still feels like I haven’t captured the essence of the rally. Now that I’m back in Sarajevo, sore and aching all over, poor old DR650 awaiting a clutch change, I’m still processing what had just happened. I’ve completed Trans Alentejo Rally in Portugal and Hellas Rally Raid in Greece, but the four days of pure awesomeness that was Bosnia Rally have finally changed something inside my head – and behind the handlebars, a woman named Egle said for the Adventure Rider.
Coming from adventure riding background, I always thought I wasn’t interested in racing. Rally racing was for Dakar superstars and enduro pros, I assumed, and a cross-country navigation rally start line was no place for somebody like me. I began riding in my late twenties on a little Chinese motorcycle, didn’t get a bigger bike till three years ago, and haven’t done any professional or extensive motocross or enduro training. While the two previous rallies taught me roadbook navigation and just pure survival, my speed was still that of a mildly startled tortoise rather than a rally racer, I was still on my old, beat up DR650, and I still had little clue about combining fast navigation and fast riding.
I confess, I almost wasn’t expecting much from Bosnia Rally. It was a non-timed event, and since Stefan Rosner, organizer of the rally, told me there would be “lite” tracks available for big bikes and riders who weren’t too confident on technical tracks yet, I figured I’d just have four relatively easy days. I’d take my time, focus on the roadbook, and just sort of plod along while better and faster riders would take it to the next level.
But something unexpected happened once I got to Kupres, the small town where the Bosnia Rally bivouac was based. For one, quite a few riders were there as complete rally noobs. For another, while the rally was very professionally structured, the atmosphere in the bivouac was chilled out and friendly.
But the best part was meeting three other riders, Gabriella, Lieven, and Nick, who were going it alone just like me. Somehow, we were all the odd ones out amongst some very serious Germans and Austrians on their shiny BMW’s and KTM’s, and we ended up hanging out and riding together. We decided we’d do the full rally version and not take the easy routes; we’d tackle the technical sections as well as the fast ones, or at least try, come what may. Because Gabriella, Lieven, and Nick were all much faster than me, I ended up pushing my edge further than ever before.