Annie Seel has become one of Sweden’s most famous motorcycle riders. Making a name for herself in the rugged sport of off-road racing, she has taken on many challenging races in her career to include motocross races, desert rallies and the infamous Dakar Rally.
Seel began riding motorcycles in 1984 and has never stopped. She’s raced in rallies all over the world including Baja, Paris, Australia, Argentina, Chile and Dubai to name a few. This year, Annie returned to South America racing in the 2010 Dakar Rally.
She says being back in South America is a good experience.
“Being in Argentina is fantastic, the crowd here really cheers you on, and today I found 'pack' standing by the side of the road with a big Swedish flag saying ‘Go Annie’ - what a great surprise!”
Though Annie is a veteran endurance rider, she says Stage 1 of the Dakar presented a few challenges but finding her rhythm took very little time.
“The stage was very technical in the middle, slippery and also stones to consider,” she explained. “The dust is always annoying and we sure had some of that today. But no problems, I just passed it, and frankly - it was a great day on the special.
"The driving was really smooth, I was calm and I never felt any pressure, not even in the clouds of dust, waiting to pass some of the slower riders. I simply found my pace and went with the flow!”
Going with the flow is something Annie seems to do whenever she competes rarely letting what most would consider a setback, keep her from her goals. Last year Seel took on and completed in the Dakar Rally with a 76th-place finish and a handful of minor injuries. In 2002, she broke some bones in her right hand on the fifth day of the Dakar but finished with her hand taped around the throttle because, she says, "The pain disappears when you cross a certain limit."
This year, Annie finds herself facing similar circumstances with a hand injury in Stage 3.
“I fell down a few times, which was okay, but then, when passing a ravine I got caught, fell again and realized I hurt my thumb. So trying to go fast, but not being able to do so, holding on to the handle bar wasn’t all that great. As of now I’ve got it taped, and tomorrow we’ll see how it works, the doctor said it was a stretched out ligament.
Seel is riding a KTM 525 “Super Rocket” built by fellow Swede Magnus Arnalid. The team she is riding with is Meca'System who is sponsoring a large contingent of riders: 10 motorcyclists and four on quads. It is, she says, “A very professional team I trust, and we will in fact be the biggest team represented in the Dakar with 10.”
By the 7th Stage Seel’s injury seems to have subsided giving her an opportunity to appreciate the surroundings. But the Dakar is the Dakar and there is never a shortage of obstacles.
“The stage and the scenery was beautiful and wild. These high dunes we were riding parts of the stretch was incredible,” she says. “The sand has a thin layer on top, like a crust, and underneath it’s the really, really soft sand. A lot of the riding was done in fesh-fesh (fine, powdery sand), and in some really heavy sand.
“The first part I was riding and feeling that it was moving on smoothly, close to the 200 kilometer mark I started to notice that something was wrong with my rear wheel, and sure enough it was the wheel bearing, broken, letting the wheel starting to move around, worse and worse.”
Despite it all, Annie Seel approaches the event with a conviction and drive that keeps her moving forward no matter what.
“What I am really happy about, despite the fact that the wheel bearing broke and had me going on a rocky ride, is the fact that I am still in the race..."
*Additional sponsors that have helped Annie are DekkPartner/Michelin, Elmborgs Dental, Happy Industries, Karnag, KTM, Lindroths Machines and Loctite.