Mike Horn has travelled the world a dozens time. You can’t think of an adventure he hasn’t tried. He has been sailing around the world and crossing the North Pole on foot. However, there was one adventure he hadn’t tackled yet, until now: The Dakar Rally! Mike is tackling the Dakar alongside one of the most experienced racers in the field and a dear friend of him, Cyril Despres.
Mike, only recently you’ve completed a grueling challenge of crossing the North Pole on foot, and already you are embarking on your next adventure. What drew you to the Dakar?
For me the Dakar has been a dream of mine for a very long time and to be able to do it with my dear friend Cyril made it even better, so I couldn’t say no. I got the call for Dakar while I was pursuing another dream, which was crossing the North Pole. To have another adventure waiting was really something I could hold on to when I was fighting the challenges that the North Pole threw at me. What I love so much about Dakar is the spirit of the event. You’re together with all these people that share an emotional connection with you. This is a strong contrast to most of my travels where I’m completely alone or only have a small group of people around for a very long time. What makes this kind of event so special is that when people struggle together it creates an incredible bond.
As an incredible experienced traveller how did your navigation skills help to navigate Dakar?
Before starting the Dakar I’d never even seen a road book before so I had to ask my daughters to teach me how to use it. But I got the hang of it quite quickly. The only thing I had to get used to was the speed I needed to give the information with to Cyril. In the beginning I was often a bit too slow with giving directions because I wasn’t used to the speed of the car. Usually when I navigate I am walking, biking or sailing… but never crossing a desert at 120kph. On the other hand Cyril has done the Dakar on a bike, all on his own a dozen times, so sometimes I doubt if he really needs me. I did feel quite comfortable overall with navigating in the desert, I rely a lot on my general feeling of direction.
How did you and Cyril meet?
People who are in extreme sports or adventures usually tend to cross quite often. I believe that people like Cyril and me have a strong emotional connection and we are part of a very small group of people who dare to push the envelope just that little bit further. We met through a mutual friend and we had a very strong bond from the start and became close friends. Cyril even named his daughter after my wife. Sometimes when I’m travelling we don’t speak face to face for over a year, but we always check up on one another.
How much mental strength do you need to tackle the Dakar?
Obviously you have to overcome some fears and be confident in surroundings like these. I guess being able to deal with uncertainty is one of the most important things. There are so many variables during the Dakar and so many moving parts. I always think that, in life in general, when you have lots of issues and struggles in the end you will still die and when you don’t have any of those you will also still do. So why have issues and struggles? They serve no purpose.
How do you like the Dakar so far?
I’m having some of the best time of my life. I will have to come back for a next event as the rally is done for us. We gave our engine to our teammate so he could continue and gain experience in the dark, he has a lot of talent and he can go on to prove great things in the future. We made a good choice because yesterday he won the stage. So in a way, we also won the stage. That's the real spirit of the Dakar Rally!
©Pictures: Dakar / ASO