Under the title "THE DREAM RALLYE DAKAR" the Dirt Biker Magazine reports on Mike's ambitions, his preparation during the last years and the difficulties of financing such a project.
THE DREAM RALLY DAKAR
Mike Wiedemann will race the toughest rallye in the world in 2022
Probably no other race has fascinated motorsport fans like the Dakar Rally for decades. The riders cover around 9,000 kilometers in the desert rally within 14 days under extreme conditions. One of the youngest rally participants on the motorcycle will be 23-year-old Mike Wiedemann from Königschaffhausen. He qualified and will take part in the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia in January 2022. We took a closer look at Mike's previous career and then asked him for an interview.
When you talk to Mike, it quickly becomes clear that the Dakar Rally - or the rally known at the time as the Paris-Dakar rally - has always fascinated him. Every year since childhood he has watched the spectacle in the desert in front of the television. To take part in the Dakar himself has understandably always been his greatest dream. His father gave him his first motorcycle for his fourth birthday, and in 2010 he started racing. In his sporting career he has won numerous titles, including the German cross-country champion in 2017. In addition, he has already taken part in the Enduro Team World Championships three times. “Participating in a wide variety of off-road events over the past few years has gradually improved my driving style, my experience and my physical condition,” he reports. He learned a lot and developed personally at the German championship, several Six Days participations and extreme enduros such as the ErzbergRodeo or the beach race in Le Touquet, France.
But thanks to his outstanding sporting achievements in the rallies in Morocco and Spain, Mike had the chance to realize his dream of the Dakar Rally sooner than expected. Of course, he also knows that participating in the legendary desert rally costs a lot of money. A start would be impossible without sponsors. Fortunately, he has already found reliable partners in the areas of clothing, tires and oil. “But I'm still looking for other sponsors, including via the gofundme platform, which I've also linked on my homepage. Because in the end I am naturally happy about any form of support, ”emphasizes Mike.
More than physical exercise is necessary
One is the money, the other is the physical preparation. The extreme sporting performance that one has to deliver at the Dakar Rally must also be available. “In principle, I've been preparing for years,” says Mike. He trains practically every day. In addition to training on the motorcycle itself, he goes jogging, swimming and mountain biking, plus targeted strength training. “I usually do pure strength and endurance units alone,” says Mike. He calls in a trainer for mental training units or when it comes to the topics of balance, concentration and coordination.
A knee operation after an accident at work threw the trained automotive mechatronics technician back a good two months in preparation. But he quickly recovered from this setback. The corona pandemic prevented many racing events in the past year, but Mike took part in the races of the German championship last September. “I didn't do particularly well, but I gained a lot of driving experience again. That was the most important thing to me. "
At the end of September, Wiedemann and his team will go to Spain and Morocco to complete a World Cup run as preparation and dress rehearsal. “The desert terrain there is similar to that of the Dakar. So I think it will bring me a lot again to drive in the terrain for a week. ”Mike knows very well that it is a major disadvantage for Germans not to be able to train regularly in the desert terrain like participants from more southern countries.
Immense challenges at the Dakar
In January 2022, Mike will be the youngest German participant in the world's largest off-road adventure. For two weeks he will drive around nine hours a day through the desert terrain on his motorcycle. A total of 13 stages are on the program - and only one day of rest. The start is always early in the morning around four o'clock when it is still cool. Then we drive until late afternoon. To orientate yourself on the stages, Wiedemann must always have his road book firmly in view. Because while the co-driver takes over the navigation in the car starters, motorcyclists naturally have to navigate themselves. However, Wiedemann also dealt with it: “That's why my preparation also includes intensive road book and navigation training.” He knows that orientation can be a challenge, especially in the dune landscape. Another hurdle on the Dakar will be the marathon stage
Which bike would you like to start with?
I start with a 450 cc rally machine. I'll buy the bike myself and sell it again after my rally. For me that is the only logical solution, because you can only conquer the Dakar Rally with the best equipment. You could also convert a bike, but I can't afford the effort. A rally bike is very different from a standard enduro bike. Just think of the large tank or the extended swing arm.
We know a rally is very expensive. How do you finance this dream?
I get a lot of support so I can't list them all. But every single one of them helps me tremendously with their support. Starting with my family and friends, to sponsors and the team. Everyone supports me as much as they can and that just makes me very happy and motivates me all the more to do my best in the rally.
Are there any differences in your preparation?
How are you currently training on the bike to master the long stages?
Right now it's difficult for me to collect time on the bike. Unfortunately, many routes are still closed here. For this reason, I keep myself as fit as possible with physical training. I try to do sports every day, but still incorporate a good combination of routine and variety into my training. Cycling, jogging, swimming or mobility training are the key points. I often include other activities such as jumping rope or hiking. I have found for myself that the variety in my training is the optimal way to both keep myself motivated and to become physically stronger. A new addition is the mental and coordination training that I learned from Matthias Walkner. That means, I also train my head to be able to accomplish several tasks in certain situations. This is also a welcome change in my training and I have a lot of fun. When things really get going again on the tracks, I will of course collect more time on the bike in order to get in the perfect mood for the bike and my speed.
It still takes some time to get started. How do you feel at the moment?
Excitement, respect or anticipation?
I'm not at all excited at the moment. Of course that will come too, but at the moment I'm very relaxed. At the moment it's more the anticipation that accompanies me every day. I do my best every day to start next year as prepared as possible. Still, I really have respect for adventure. I know how exhausting and dangerous the rally can be. You see it every year. But I've now made the decision and I'm looking forward to the Dakar Rally.
Would you like to thank someone now?
Yes, I would like to thank all of my supporters who have accompanied me on this adventure. Special thanks go to Peter Mayer, Klaus Schwingenschloegl and Markus Schmitt, who help me a lot, and of course to my family and friends. None of this would be possible without you!
Thank you, Mike, for the insight. We are very excited and look forward to your adventure.