While tucking into Christmas pud as dessert, spare a thought for Lyndon Poskitt, adventurer, engineer, facing a very different “desert”.
Lyndon is spending Christmas and New Year limbering up in Lima for the challenge of a lifetime – the gruelling 14-day Dakar rally starts on January 5.
Even breaking his foot 12 weeks ago, after his cycle skidded on oil, hasn’t stood in his way.
His house may not be on the line but the Warton-based BAE Systems worker has re-mortgaged it to raise the £70k he needed to compete.
He’s still looking for contributions big and small from friends and sponsoring companies.
Some big names have chipped in – and he even got given £6 pocket money from a local lad the other day.
And if you’re in the market for a late present his rather sleek website offers a nice line in gung ho rally T-shirts. There’s a 10-day delivery delay as his girlfriend handles that side of things.
Lyndon says he’s spent long enough sitting on the sofa watching the race from afar and wishing he could be there.
He’s ridden for almost as long as he could walk – and doesn’t fancy joining the Honda Goldwing brigade in later life pootling around Bowland and eating bacon butties at Devil’s Bridge.
He wants to live life not so much in the fast lane as the off road endurance track.
“I don’t want to look back on life and regret opportunities passed up,” he admits.
“I knew I could do this. I just needed to find the money.”
The combination of adventurer-engineer is a good one for the off-road trip the 34-year-old Warton planemaker has in mind.
Go-getting Lyndon is gunning for the ultimate challenge, the Dakar rally is acknowledged to be the toughest event of its kind on the planet.
So how do you follow that? “You don’t,” Lyndon admits. “It’s as tough as it gets but there are other challenges. I’m looking at them.”
Lyndon has modified his Austrian bike (similar models have trounced opposition in recent years) and tweaked it to handle the extremes of riding at altitude with attitude over desert and mountain terrain.
He heads to Peru tomorrow. His bike’s already on a ferry, along with a convoy of support vehicles, kitted out to cope with the rigours ahead.
The bike will get through new tyres daily, along with oil and filters, brakes, and other bits. “It amounts to a full car service every night,” says Lyndon.
Just how he will cope remains to be seen. He’s been training to get his stamina up – running, cycling, biking long distances daily. But he has only his wits to rely upon to keep him safe and healthy.
His 60-year-old dad’s along for the ride too, as chief engineer. The pair are both engineers - Lyndon for Warton’s BAE Systems multi-role fighter aircraft (and bikes, his private passion), his dad for posh cars. It’s led to a few exchanges in recent weeks, he concedes. “We both do things in a different way,” he admits. “Now we agree to disagree.”
Now it’s all about getting the show on the road. And what a road! Only five other British riders are competing in the 9,000km Dakar rally. There is, says Lyndon, a 50 per cent “attrition” rate. Drivers, riders, fall by the wayside .
They face numerous hazards along the route from the start line in Lima, following the path of the Condor over the Andes from Peru, through Argentina to Santiago in Chile for the finish.
Lyndon has already braved altitude sickness, riding at 10k feet for three days to test his head for heights.
More than 500 participants from 50 countries are involved – 200 by bike, 40 by quad, 50 monster trucks, the rest by car, including a Smart car, the bodywork fitted onto an XP 900 Polaris. Bikes may not afford riders the same protection but are sleek, nimble and capable of stealing a march past the more lumbering beasts of the desert.
Lydon’s competing on a factory motorcycle extensively modified using his expertise as an award winning member of the Warton engineering team. One of his babies is the Typhoon – with which he’s pictured.
Lyndon added: “I have made a number of modifications to the bike using my aerospace knowledge. These are mainly to increase reliability and improve the performance.
“But work is work and bikes are bikes – both are about setting goals and achieving targets but many workers don’t know what I do in my spare time.”
He tends to stock up his holiday entitlement to knock off a challenge. “In 2009 I rode across Africa east to west – that was amazing. I finished work on December 16 and returned in the middle of January. The company is really supportive at championship race level – such as Dakar -– and give me unpaid leave, extra time off.”
It’s not all torque-and-trousers for a race watched by over a billion TV viewers in 190 countries. “I’m in it to finish it, not win it,” Lyndon says. “I’d love to be in the first 30.”
n The race starts on January 5. Follow Lyndon’s progress on Twitter @LyndonPoskitt or www.lyndonposkittracing.com