2017 winner, Eckart Altenkamp

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“Why?” is the question I heard most often.

“Why on earth would anyone want to cycle thru the Simpson???”

It’s a good question. There are obviously many reasons NOT to participate in this event…

Personally, I have 2 answers to offer: One from before the event and the 2nd with the benefit of hindsight.

My original thinking went something like this: “I am getting older and would like to do something significant before I die.” Naturally, I would not admit this. If asked, I would say that I liked both cycling and the outback and that it sounded like a great challenge etc.

AFTER the race, however, I know that my decision to participate was one of the best calls in my life. Everything about this event is amazing. The epic location, its wonderful people, the total commitment, the care for each other, the support and respect amongst riders, the struggle and reward when you cross the finishing line sum up to an experience that I value beyond measure. It was superb!

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Successfully mastering this challenge requires a comprehensive team effort. Firstly, you need to work with your own support crew (in my case my two oldest sons). Then you will work with the other riders. And you will rely on and trust all support folks, from medics to water stop people and possibly also the car mechanic (we did).

By the time you arrive in Birdsville you will have become a life-time member of a group of very special people. You will have had the wonderful experience of being able to TRUST everyone around you. And you will take this back into your daily life after the ride.

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Yes, the effort to participate is enormous – and so is the return. I believe that this journey changed me as a person. It feels as if I had grown a little. It changed my perspective on what’s important in life, sharpened my view on purpose. I am more confident in my own abilities and I am keen to share my experience with others.

Who would have thought that there was so much goodness to discover in such a desolate place? I am just happy that I signed up and found out.

So, in case you fancy riding across sand dunes into the rising morning sun, with an ‘endless’ straight track ahead, you should give it a go. You don’t need to be an elite athlete. Look at me! I am now 50 years old and this was my first multi-day event. I love riding both road and mountain bikes and I can push myself. That’ll do.

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What you will need, however, is a sense for adventure, health, the ability to ride long distances, a suitable bike, the time to train and travel and the means of getting there, i.e. a 4×4 plus driver.

I can assure you that you will never look back. Unsurprisingly, many of the riders you will meet are returning ‘clients’. Who knows, you might run into me?

Eckart

 

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