A GUERNSEYMAN is planning to take on a gruelling race through the Moroccan desert to raise funds for Les Bourgs Hospice.
Phil Page became the first Britain to complete the Merzouga Rally last year and plans to return later this month to complete it for a second time.
‘It’s a really different type of event and a massive challenge on the body, the bike and what little brain I have. There are lots of bike enthusiasts in Guernsey and I enjoy meeting up with them but this takes spending time with petrol heads to a whole different level,’ he said.
Mr Page and his girlfriend Lolly Guard leave Guernsey on 15th October and will drive 2,500km down to Morocco for the race preparations. The five day event, which will see him cover over 1,000km, starts on 20th October and will Mr Page cover established tracks and unchartered ground.
‘It’s a timed race across all sorts of terrain including sand dunes, dried up river beds and mountainous goat tracks, all of which can be very challenging. There is also one night ride as well,’ he said.
‘On top of all that, the course isn’t marked and we don’t know what each day entails until the night before when you are given a road book which includes all of directions and any special instructions such as checkpoints that you have to follow while you’re speeding along. Some tracks will be marked but most of the time we have to use a compass which can be logistically difficult while you’re riding but you don’t want to stop as that will increase your race time.’
Mr Page said that good navigation is what determines the winners of the race, which is used by many as a practice run before Dakar.
‘The top riders will be doing speeds in excess of 160kph (100mph) and will complete each section in about four or five hours. It will take me about six or seven hours and there will be some who take all day or who won’t even be able to complete a section before it gets dark, which is why they insist that we carry survival blankets, emergency food and water on each stage as well as the six litres of water we’ll need each day for racing in temperatures which can top 40 degrees celsius,’ he said.
After finishing each section, Mr Page will need to carefully check his Yamaha WR 450F over for damage and make any necessary repairs before the briefing and will eventually head for bed around midnight ready for the 5.30am wake up.
Mr Page has set up a website at www.offroadraising.co.uk so that islanders can follow his progress and the website also has a link to a JustGiving page. All the money raised will go to Les Bourgs Hospice.
‘It’s an incredible charity and their support helps people deal with real life-affecting challenges. A week in the desert will be tough for me but it’s nothing in comparison to what some people live with,’ he said.
Mr Page said that he had been overwhelmed by the support he had received.
‘I want to thank Shane Marriott from Enrapture who built the website, Ben Le Page from BLP Cycles who have donated the tyres, everyone who makes a donation and of course most importantly my girlfriend who gives me amazing support, works behind the scenes as my manager and has given up another year’s holiday for a 5,000km round trip to a race course in the desert,’ he said.