SDBC – 2015 tour de French line
I can remember quite clearly getting the Simpson newsletter email, I usually have a quick read of them to see how things are proceeding. There was a friendly reminder that entries closed on August 15th, it was the 11th and I had not even considered entering the 2015 challenge. After competing in the 2011 event which did not actually enter the Simpson desert proper due to fires I had always thought that one day I would return. With the last minute support of Al (race director) I was on the rider list.
A serious 5 week training schedule followed. Unlike four years ago when training began about 18 months out from the even, this undertaking would be short sharp and unpleasant (kind of like riding a push bike up a sand dune actually). A young family meant quite a lot of home trainer in the evenings. While very unpleasant I have decided that this is a great way to get into shape for the Simpson for 3 reasons.
There is a lot of sweating involved, like the Simpson.
It’s mentally tough, like the Simpson.
2 hours on the home trainer in my opinion is equivalent of 3 hours regular riding, good value for money when time poor.
I also did a lot of short (90 second) hill reps on my fat bike, this was very similar to sand due efforts, typically a 2 hour session. Lastly I completed one long (100k-200k ride per week, not overly high intensity.
The race itself was incredible with 1200 sand dunes and amazing people to share the experience with. From Purni bore the dunes are small, reasonable firm and close together. They get bigger, softer and further apart as the race moves east. This is a very general description as there were some nasty dunes just 40km into day one!!
Stage 6 was easily the toughest riding, 42km in the afternoon mostly over big complex dunes. These are not the usual dune where you can see the track disappear over the top. The track winds it’s way over very big dunes that don’t really have a ‘peak’. After working hard (either walking or riding) to a summit, there may be a very little descent then another massive climb. From water stop 2 at 20km to water stop 3 at 30 km was the most difficult riding of the 500km journey.
Day 4 (stages 7 & 8) was tough due to it’s length, 134km , and a stiff head wind. Combine this with tired legs and some whopper dunes and you have up to 10 hours of sand riding in one day. I will never forget the biggest descent of the race from the last dune coming into Big Red. The colors were incredible, it was fast and the vista was a massive flat plain interrupted abruptly by the iconic Big Red dune. Twenty minutes later we were riding/walking up little red then descending into our beautiful overnight camp at the base of Australia’s most famous sand dune.
Day 5 started with a laps at the top of Big/Little Red, a once in a lifetime experience and very different to the previous 1199 sand dunes. I saw more than one rider (me included) topple down the steep side of the dune still clipped in. Riding as a group into Birdsville was tough due to corrugations and a head wind but the thought of completing the first successful French line route was enough to keep us all going.
My love of riding pushbikes and the outback make the SDBC an obvious choice for me. 2020 has a ring to it….