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Coast 2 Coast 2023: Stage Three - The Darker Side of Adventure
A Great Rally Overshadowed by an Even Greater Tragedy
Today’s report was supposed to talk about a ubiquitous chase through a cacti forest. It was supposed to talk about trials, tribulations and glory. Moreso, we were supposed to be celebrating the racers’ triumphs on the stage. But, too often, things don’t happen as they’re supposed to, especially on an adventure – rallies being no exception. The term itself – rally – means assembling to fight for a similar purpose. And with every battle, there are winners and there are losers, it’s just hardest when the loss is so immense. Today, late into Special Stage Three at the Coast 2 Coast Rally, Jesús León Villamayor tragically succumbed to injuries he sustained in a fluke accident. No one else was involved, but plenty felt the pain.
While we should be grateful that this sensitive topic isn’t a common headline in Motorsports these days, it’s still an occurrence. One we all dread. From inside looking out and the outside looking in, life-changing and life-ending casualties at events like this affect everyone in the many circles surrounding it. From friends and family, to ORGA and competitors, even media and fans, we all feel that tidal wave of panic and then sorrow on some level. In rally-raid, especially – one could argue. It’s not a sport so much as it is a home. And the people in it, if for only seven to 15 days, are family. You eat shoulder to shoulder, joke with each other, complain in cahoots, even sometimes cry together (it happens more than you think). And that’s only in the bivouac.
On-course is a completely different type of bonding. One that only the competitors can truly feel because they are the only ones who can understand just what it takes mentally, physically, and emotionally to overcome an endless barrage of obstacles, roll into camp exhausted, then dust yourself off and do it all over again…Day after day. They also can truly comprehend the threats which come with thrill-seeking. Explorers, adrenaline junkies, soldiers, bicycle delivery guys – anyone who knowingly puts themselves a bit closer to peril for a bigger purpose. Even if that purpose is merely to live life to the fullest, in a way that seems right for you. That mindset in and of itself is what ties rally racers to one another. And why when one their own suffers an injury, there’s a call to arms to offer support. Worse, when there’s a loss, why everyone shares in a united sorrow.
“The entire Coast 2 Coast Rally organization extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jesús León Villamayor, whose unexpected passing is a terrible tragedy for all who knew and loved him. He was a passionate promoter and enthusiast of motorcycling in Mexico, and not just one community will suffer the loss of this good man. Chucho, we are going to miss you.” – Patrick Reyes Morrison, Coast 2 Coast Rally Race Director
Now, plenty of people will be quick to blame the rally. Or see this grave misfortune as something other than an accident, which is understandable. It’s easy to point a finger and seek reasons for why someone so good, with such a huge impact on so many people’s lives should pay the ultimate price so soon. But death doesn’t pick favorites. It comes when it comes, and while we do our best to postpone the meeting, we hardly even notice it’s close until it arrives. All that happens when we speculate and pin the events on others – without just cause – only hurts those people who are still here and are very likely also as crushed as the rest of us. The owners of this event could hardly hold back their emotions between sentences they were so distraught at losing their friend. And now even more concerned than ever with the well-being of their guests.
Of course, feeling bad isn’t a satisfying enough response for those wanting answers. So here are some facts: the path where the incident occurred was wide, flat, and had zero dangers marked on the roadbook (because there were none). One rider was on the scene when it happened. Another showed up within roughly three minutes. CPR was administered until ten minutes had lapsed which is when the event medic arrived. Dakar’s protocol is 15 minutes, if that offers perspective. What people don’t know, even those who fought to keep him alive, was that he was gone before they could even try. It was a matter of moments. Something which more or faster resources wouldn’t have been able to help. It’s a harsh reality, yes. But in the end, kismet chose a new soul, and Chucho’s soul was far better one than it could have asked for.
According to friends of “Chucho’s”, he was the sort of person who was always smiling. He had so much energy that it infected others. And he was someone who always wanted to help, whatever the circumstance. Never raising his voice or becoming angry – at least as far as anyone could see in public. Not only did he have a passion for motorcycles, but he had a true passion for racing. Both of which he promoted and supported within his communities with fervor. The ugly truth is that it’s so hard to lose those who were so good. Because, selfishly, it’s his effect on everyone that will be missed. And his is a void that would need to be filled. But as a person who chose to live life outside of the box, who enjoyed speed and travel and staying a little on the edge, it would almost do him a disservice to mourn. People like that don’t want tears in their memory.
Instead, they want celebration. A congratulations that he chose not to be sedentary, he had a wonderful family, friends and career. He was happy and lived fully. Most of us spend our entire lives just trying to make it to our deathbeds. And while the idea of dying at an old age sounds fine for plenty of people, for those who really want to live, doing nothing in order to survive is more terrifying than doing anything which could possibly kill you. The only way to statistically delay mortality is to avoid danger. To avoid danger is to circumvent life. That’s the real risk. Adventure is overcoming your fears so often they turn into joy. Rally Raid is designed to punish. It’s an amalgamation of intimidating hurdles meant for you to face as many times as it takes to conquer them. So, to honor a fallen comrade, one who didn’t let terror immobilize him, don’t cry, don’t shy away from danger, and if given the chance, always choose adventure.
To learn more about the Coast2Coast Rally: https://en.coast2coast.mx/pages/sobre-nosotros
Follow the race on Instagram @rallyc2c and through hashtags #RallyCoast2Coast.