Ned Suesse – racer and adventure bike personality is set to tackle Dakar. We had the opportunity to get a quick interview in with him as he is swamped in preparations for the grueling challenge.
Ned Suesse prepares to challenge Dakar
So Ned, I understand you have decided to tackle the longest and toughest race in the world: Dakar. I know it is a dream of most racers, but what made you decide to step up and do it?
The Dakar is never going to be convenient to participate in, but I realized that it was possible right now and that opportunity wasn’t going to stick around forever. While the finances of the race are pretty daunting for me as a self-employed entrepreneur, I can make the time and the training happen right now, and I didn’t want to let the chance at my dream slip away. So, I thought hard about it, decided it was worth the risk, and committed to being at the starting line.
To me, the attraction of the Dakar is twofold- first, I think it’s the greatest test of man and machine in the motorcycling world. It’s not far off from crossing the US twice- riding from here in Colorado to DC to San Francisco and back, all off-road, in 2 weeks. That challenge fascinates me and also inspires me. Second, I love riding and when I see the photos from previous Dakars, my first thought is how much I want to ride my dirtbike there! I’m really excited to get the chance.
Tell us a little about your background, what kind of riding and racing have you done in the past?
I started as a street rider, but pretty quickly realized that I was going to get in trouble zooming around on sportbikes like I was, so I switched to Dual Sport, and then to dirt. I’ve raced enduros for years and have earned A status in that, and I’ve also done a bunch of desert racing in BITD and SCORE. My favorite kind of riding is big epic days of exploring, I race as a way to see some different places but I don’t think of myself as a racer, per see.
I’ve finished every big race I’ve started, but I’m too much of a wuss to want to go fast in the desert. I like to ride at 80% and enjoy the chance to inhale the miles. That’s my plan for Dakar, too. I’m going to avoid taking chances and pinning it, and just keep it on two wheels and minimize drama. Wherever I finish will be fine with me, provided I do finish!
What bike will you be riding, are you building it yourself?
I’m on a KTM 450 XCW, I have a ton of miles on these bikes and really like riding them.I’m building it myself with a very minimal rally kit- Acerbis tank up front and an aluminum rear tank for 28L total fuel, and a fairing made with the help of friends. Everything is aimed at making a simple, reliable bike for a reasonable budget. A bunch of companies have helped me build a better ride- see www.neduro.com for more info.
How do you get race support organized for an event like this?
Charlie Rauseo and Rally Management Services are great folks who I’ve known for years. As soon as I thought about going, they were my first call, and I’m contracting services from them, to haul tires and spares, and get support during the race. Their experience has been invaluable. What are some of the unique challenges that most people would never even think about?
I think the core of the Dakar is the scale. We think about the Baja 1000 as an endurance race, but this is many times that. The obvious implications are the stacks of tires, but when you see 30 air filters and 15 oil filters in a stack, you start to realize how much riding it is.
Another aspect I never considered until getting ready is the schedule. For a race in January, the bike has to ship from North America in October, and of course there’s a lot of testing to do before that, so very quickly it’s a full time job from June on, especially if you’re trying to raise support, train for the race, and build the bike at the same time.
What sort of training will you do to prepare for so many days of riding?
I think the Dakar is as much a mental test as a physical one, so I’m preparing in two ways. First, I’m Riding a lot! I’m also biting the bullet and working with a personal trainer (I hate the gym). On the mental side, I’m working on staying focused and positive through all the steps required to get to the starting line. You eat an elephant one bite at a time, so I’m just working on making headway every single day.
How can people follow your progress as you get ready for Dakar?
The best way is on my blog- www.neduro.com. People can learn about the effort there, and if they are interested, sign up to give a little support there as well. A bunch of great companies are behind me, and folks who can help me, will get some great offers from these companies in return.