Dawn of 4th January 1986.My first night in the desert has just ended and I long for the first rays of the African sun. I feel the enthusiasm of the first timer.Something is telling me that I’m about to store one of the strongest and purest mementos of my life.
I wasn’t wrong. I’ve searched well for this memento and it will never leave me for the rest of my life. It shows itself in the shape of a bitter cold, about zero degrees centigrades, that engulfs me half naked with a dumb expression among the dunes, luckly without any witnesses. The skin craves the warmth of the sleeping bag, the rest of me curses my juvenile recklessness.
Is like this that my first Paris-Dakar’s diary begins, two words that still today awake in me the awe owed to the big challenges of life.
Nonetheless I owe everything to the Paris-Dakar, a store of experiences, and teachings that made me the Edi Orioli who you know. I owe the fear but also the extasy of travelling standing on the footboards for hours, while the mechanical stallion under me claws the sand at 200 km/h .
But above all I owe my most marked and uneresable characteristics like mule’s kicks on the skin: they are the deep allergy to inactivity andthe insistent woodworm that pushes me to challenge the unknown which is the mirror image of myself.
So I owe all to what I am and what I’m not.
And thinking that it all began with by my father’s hand. It was him that gave me as a present my first “Gori 50” for my GCSEs. A second hand bike, with a handful of horsepower, but that teaches me a lot about two wheels.
I brake it down three times and three times I dismantle it and reassemble with patience and stubborness, until it starts again. It’s a training ground that helps an awful lot: the italian enduro title
in 1979 su SWM when I was 17 and ther first World Cup title at the “6 days” in 1980.
I can touch the sky with my fingers even though my dad brings me back home to study after every race.
We are in the mid ‘80s. Destiny has written a date and a name in his book and I stumble on both of them.
It’s 1986 and Massimo Ormeni, then sport director of Honda, asks me to take part in the Paris-Dakar. I didn’t sleep well that night because it was a dream that suddenly becomes reality.
My God, I think, am I worthy of so much trust?
The answer to this question arrives two years later to my delight, to the delight of my team and of“Toscanaccio” Ormeni; I win my first Paris-Dakar, the one of tragical dawn. Overcoming the favourite French (the inventors of the race) and dozens of international competitors, Edi Orioli from Udine, indomitable knight ofan indomitable Honda NXR 750, is crowned King of the Desert between the gun shots of the Tuareg and the flashes of the press.
In 1990, I do repeat the success on Cagiva and in 1992, maybe after a sun stroke, I began wanting to challenge the desert by car.
So I take part in Pharaohs’ rally on Mercedes where I finish in 5th position. Not bad for a rookie.
But it’s the bike that calls me back to duty, four wheels becomes two again and the king of the desert strikes again, with Cagiva in 1994 and with Yamaha in 1996. The old Edi Orioli is back again, the one who has began covered in oil of his 50cc bike and ended up in the history books of the desert races for four times.
When everything seems to bring me back down to earth, the challenge begins again. BMW proposes me something I can’t refuse: go and conquer the desert for 5th time. God, it’a challenge tailor made for me.
They will be two difficult years and exciting efforts, even though I won’t be the one who benefits from the hard work to which I’ve dedicated my usual heart and soul.
It’s the tough law of the desert and of my life, someone tells me,despite the fact I don’t believe in rules.
They tell me: Edi, wisen up, find an easy job, maybe behind the desk of a bike dealer, you’re not young anymore you’re now 38.
Lies. The Paris-Dakar has given to me lots but I don’t consider the game over. In the mean time there was a question bugging me in my head: Is there ever going to be the challenge of an italian brand? Is it possible that not even the Japanese are coming forward?
Wait Edi, don’t rush. For once don’t think about what you’re missing but about what you’ve got. Stop and think to what the Dakar has already given you, to what you’ve tasted, lived, used and stored in your experiences’ depot. And think how many times you said to yourself: well, I do need a brake to think, just to sip every past emotion like a glass of nice wine.
Then I said to myself: after all my mileage as a person is really low and I wonder how many more deserts there are left.
But this is the story that I will tell you another time..