You’re looking at that .GIF and thinking “wow, I can’t believe you just made me watch a man die.” Not only did motorcyclist Paulo Gonçalves not die here, he was up and racing again before the sand stopped flying.
It’s mid-January and the dust has settled on the 2016 Dakar Rally. Now we can look back at the incredible displays of fortitude that went down for an audience of cacti; of which Gonçalves’ spectacular crash and immediate recovery might be the most epic.
Obviously, he was wearing body armor. But that crash still would have felt like being hit with a blunt object the size of the Atacama Desert. Can you even imagine having the heart to shake something like that off, and then go back to work without so much as feeling around your body for boo-boos?
Say what you will about people who race bikes in the desert; they may be nuts, but you’ve got to be impressed by this guy’s hustle.
35-year-old Gonçalves is an off-road motorcycle racing veteran hailing from Portugal. He’s racked up professional accolades and always rolls to the starting line as a fan favorite. Unfortunately he might be better known for bad luck as illustrated in this famous photo of him; face-in-hands, motorcycle going up in flames on the side of the course at the 2014 Dakar Rally.
His rally-cry before going in to this year’s race, as recorded by the Dakar Rally organizational outfit ASO:
“My 2014 Dakar came to an end on stage five with my bike on fire. But I put that behind me and I quickly began to focus on the next Dakar. I’ve prepared very well. Some changes have been made to the bike. It is a machine that is constantly being developed.
We are ready, with this bike, to be in the battle. What is important is that Honda wins the Dakar.
Getting a strong start to the rally is important in order to always be in a good position. We also have to work as a team and the cohesion in the squad is superb. Marc Coma will carry the number one, so he is clearly the man to beat. He is consistent and he rarely makes a mistake. It is going to be hard but we will be there to fight.
As for me, I have recovered from my crash in Morocco. It wasn’t a big crash but I suffered injured ribs and I bruised a tendon in my arm. But I will be healthy for the Dakar.”
If you haven’t caught up with this year’s results yet, spoiler alert, he was forced to withdraw after being found unconscious in Stage 11 near the end of the race according to CycleNews.
Also worth mentioning that Gonçalves and his Team Honda are still in debates with the ASO over a penalty the team didn’t understand, says DN Sport. Though it’s no longer relevant to the race results, it’s a point of contention for fans and competitors.
None of that detracts from the indefatigable spirit he displayed in Stage 8, when this helicopter video caught him endure a wipeout that hurts just to watch, only to get up and get back on his bike without skipping a single beat.
Gonçalves is now healthy and safely returned to his home country, where he’s already preparing to take on the Dakar Rally again when it comes back in January, 2017.
Godspeed, Gonçalves. You crazy son of a bitch.
Images/video via Dakar Rally
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