2009 KTM 450 EXC | Me & My Bike

Photography by Don Karle

Name: Ned Suesse
Age: 34
Home: Colorado Springs, CO
Occupation: Owner, Doubletake Mirror

“My favorite thing about motorcycling is exploring: finding out what’s beyond another horizon. Most races don’t offer much chance to do that, but the Dakar Rally is different. Covering more than 5500 miles of South America in two weeks should more than satisfy my appetite for new ground. After leaving Mar Del Plata, Argentina, on January 1st, the 2012 route crosses the Argentine Pampas and climbs over the Andes before dropping into the Atacama Desert, finishing 15 days later in Lima, Peru.

“My bike is an ’09 KTM 450 EXC carrying 7.4 gallons of fuel, a full range of guards and assorted protection, plus a fairing to protect the GPS navigation setup required for the race. Because factory rally bikes and parts are so expensive (almost $50,000 for the latest factory model), some friends helped me fabricate most of this stuff. I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s a deep satisfaction in knowing where each nut and bolt comes from and exactly why it’s there.

“There’s never a good time in life for a race like the Dakar. I pay my mortgage with a folding dual-sport mirror I invented (www.doubletakemirror.com) but that doesn’t put nearly enough money in the bank for a race like this. Just getting to the starting line is a huge challenge, never mind the perseverance required in the race. I’ve dreamt about this for years: Every romp down a fireroad becomes a stage; every ride home a liaison—the untimed sections between a bivouac and the start of a stage. Watching the race on TV last January, I realized it was time, even if the financial implications are suffocating. Pinch me; I’m racing in the Dakar!

“I’ve done everything I can to prepare, from racing in Baja—three starts, three finishes—to the eight-day Raid de l’Amitie in Africa last April—eighth out of 140 riders—and crazy, epic rides with my friends. It’s been a blast. My goal is to finish. My greatest fear is having some 50-cent part take me out of the race before I can answer The Question myself: Am I up to this? Can I finish what I start? The Dakar is the deep end of off-road racing, and I’m jumping in with everything I’ve got to make sure the answer to that question is yes. You can help me get there and follow my progress at www.neduro.com.”

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