When we caught up with Martin Michek, he was just preparing for Dubai or Tunis. In the end, this resulted in an interesting interview, where the thirty-five-year-old motocrosser talked about the strongest memory associated with the Dakar Rally, superstition, diet, ideal regeneration or the most difficult stages of the race. The interview was conducted by Tomáš Hadač.

They say you like the card game it’s raining. Is it even time to play it in Dakar?

You don’t play cards in the Dakar. You’re playing tricks with the weather there. Last year in Saudi Arabia it rained almost all the time – the conditions really played with us. The weather was really crazy! Out of the fourteen stages, it rained on eleven days, one was even canceled due to the rain. Due to the heavy rains, we had a brutal crossing. So we’ll see how it goes in January…

Which placement will you be happy with? Is it top ten?

I always try to be down to earth, but I think I should say dreams on the outside. If you say a dream out loud, I think you get closer to it. So yes, to improve on tenth place, thus my best ranking so far.

Photo: Martin Michek

Of course, there is no way to prepare for the dunes in Czech conditions.

Dakar is an extremely demanding race, is there even room to relax a little?

In Dakar, I find the best way to relax is to quickly reach the bivouac and try to find a warm shower. At that moment I close my eyes and relax in the warm water. I’ll admit that I occasionally sneak into the ladies’ showers.

What does your diet look like during races?

The menu is very rough! I like to sum it up in the sentence that I have one stick per 900 kilometers. I get up at three in the morning and return to the bivouac around five in the afternoon. I basically only eat what I have with me. In the stages, we have a quarter-hour break after 200 to 250 kilometers, where the main thing is to refuel the bike.

How much sleep do you get on average?

This is another massacre. By the way, we slept in tents in the beginning. I didn’t want to sleep next to the truck so that the wheel wouldn’t fall on me because they work there all night. Once they were taking a bike off the escort truck, which is heavy, and it fell onto the tent. So I always carefully looked for the safest possible places. However, today we upgraded and we are already sleeping in the truck. I try to get five to seven hours of sleep. So I have to go to bed really early. As I said, I get up at three in the morning, sometimes two.

Photo: Martin Michek

This year the Dakar should be even more challenging.

What is your strongest memory associated with Dakar?

Probably my accident at the crossing, when the car didn’t give me the right of way and I had to react and hit the bollards. They are huge there, three times bigger than in the Czech Republic. I spilled over to the other side of the highway. Drivers don’t look left or right there at all, it’s a wilderness there. I was glad to get up.

In 2021, I equaled the historical record in the history of our Czech country in the motorcycle category. That’s why one does it. Tenth place is unforgettable!

What goes through your head during a race?

That is a good question. Sometimes they are mixed thoughts. When you get up and it’s pouring in the morning, I’d rather stop the car and fly to the airport. But as soon as I enter the start – my thoughts are focused only on the goal! I know that the entire Czech Republic is behind me, which drives me forward. The racer cannot be turned off like a radio.

Photo: Martin Michek

Best finish in Dakar? Tenth place. Yet.

Which stage of the Dakar is the most demanding, if you can say so?

For me, the first days are the hardest, when the body gets used to the landscape. In the Czech Republic, I have nowhere to train on dunes or camel grass.

What is special about camel grass?

As the sand is mobile, there are meter-long tufts of grass. I would liken it to digging up a huge sod. And when you catch this bunch, it’s like hitting a big rock. Hopefully, I will avoid similar problems.

Before starting, I shake my hands, look at the sky and tap my hands on the handlebars. When my bike and “my girl” and I always manage a stage, I pat her on the tank.

How will the Dakar be different this time?

It will definitely be more challenging. We will ride over 400 kilometers in several stages. Already at Dakar 2023, the stages were extremely tough, and this awaits us on a larger scale. In addition, they prepared one more unknown for us in January – a forty-eight-hour stage. There will be a lot of tactics there, especially because of the weather. But I’m really looking forward to it!