In 1994 I was studying at University (Some things don’t change, I am still studying). Garry Ridley the local shop owner was going to race in the Simpson Desert Cycle Challenge. I managed to tag along for the ride. I say that I went as the mechanic and I did soak the pedals & chain each night in engine oil. I did not do much more than that as Garry was faster and very particular about his setup.
Due to the extreme dry Garry could not clip his shoes out of his pedals at the end of the afternoon stage of racing. That meant that he had to ride the whole stage each time. This could be why he was only 1 of 4 to complete the entire distance of the race. Garry is one of the toughest riders/athletes I have ever met. The race is one tough race. To give you some idea it took 3 days to get the cars across the desert to the start line. The Bicycles then raced back across the same desert tracks in just 5 days.
This photo is of sunrise over the desert on day 3. It is the photo that I like most from the trip. The calm before the storm. And yes we did have a couple of sand storms come through over the race period. The desert at its flattest it is the part between the sand desert of dunes and the stoney desert. You will notice one rider is carrying his bike. In the Simpson desert huge thorns (seeds) take out a bike tyre quicker than flies find you. Riders run slime, and tough liners in an effort to prevent a flat. Sticking to fresh car tyre tracks is the best method of avoiding a desert thorn strike. The early morning lead cars will pick up the thorns. Each 4×4 on the trip flatted at least once. We flatted twice.
I am going to bring you the desert in some more detail. I have a number of photos and stories to share. I am looking forward to bring you the following:
Desert Pre Race Prep
- The race day 1 & 2
- The race days 3 & 4
- The race day 5