Monday, 2 January 2012

RIP Jorge Boero

Jorge Boero - Dakar Rider and Adventurous Spirit

I don’t know how many of you follow The Dakar Rally.  To many it seems a pointless endeavor for petrol-heads but I have to say I love the adventure of it.  It had been my intention today to write a light piece on the logistics of The Dakar.  Sadly though Jorge Boero, an Argentinian biker crashed and died in yesterday’s special stage.  It is a sad day for The Dakar, bikers and of course Jorge Boero’s family.  
Many of you will wonder what the link from The Logistics Project to enduro bike riding is.  There are actually several links, as medical logistician I have worked in northern Darfur to run Medical Emergency Response Teams to deal with land mine strikes amongst the humanitarian community.  I was massively impressed to see that The Dakar managed to have heli-borne medics with Jorge Boero within 5 minutes of the accident.  This is a speed that any metropolitan ambulance crew would be happy to achieve.
There is a second link and it is The Geographic Information Management Project (The GIMP).  Back in 2005 I was in Kashmir with the United Nations Joint Logistics Centre (UNJLC).  Part of UNJLC’s effort was to create maps of the disaster affected area for the humanitarian community, we had an impressive array of GIS specialists but one of the challenges was to collect the raw tracking data for them to work with.  There were a plethora of people trundling the main routes between towns who were willing to take GPS tracks.  The problem was, that in Kashmir the disaster affected area covered a huge area of semi-rural communities who lived in small pockets spread liberally among mountains and valleys.  The routes to these communities were less well travelled as many of them were impassible by 4x4 at an early juncture so further information hadn’t been gathered.  I have for many years been an avid mountain biker and it struck me that a couple of fit and lightly equipped mountain bikers could quite easily map these areas with a few days of concerted effort hence the RECCE 246 team was born with the help of UNDSS.  The team  walked, biked and, where possible, drove into the most inaccessible ares of Kashmir to track the routes into the disaster zone.
On forming The Logistics Project it struck me that such a team could be needed again in the future.  We are also passionate in involving everyday people into disaster relief and development. My time leading JPHRO taught me that inexperienced volunteers could accomplish mighty things with a little direction.  Many brought skills such as carpentry, cookery and put them to best use.  The Logistics project came up with the idea of The GIMP; Mountain Bikers, Fell Runner, Mountaineers and Enduro Riders deployed at short notice for an intense period of gathering GPS tracks for GIS teams to use.  When we realised that Geographic Information Management Project spelled GIMP we initially laughed and thought we would look for another name.  Then I checked the definition of gimp and it turns out that it is the finishing touch to upholstery, a flattened braid; that kind of summed up The GIMP to me.  It isn’t core to what The Logistics Project do but it is one of the things we do to add value to our presence in disaster zones.  It is a way to engage the skill , expertise and passion of those willing to take a risk and do something amazing, perhaps the spirit of Jorge Boero.   If you are an experienced mountain biker, enduro rider, mountaineer or hill walker and you like the idea of being involved in The GIMP feel free to email

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