Overall Winner and the only 100% finisher
Age Group Winners
|U40 F||2||Katarina CERVIKOVA||328|
|U40 M||22||Jason DREGGS||443|
|U50 M||9||Alan KEENLESIDE||489|
|50+ M||1||Lynton STRETTON||465|
|6||19||Lynton STRETTONAlan KEENLESIDE||48||3h47’17|
We knew this was going to be an interesting year, even before we left home. With a good field of 30 riders keen riders the problem was widespread flooding rains earlier this year. Many parts of the Warburton and Eyre Creeks were still holding water.
Road reports were that the Inside Birdsville Track and the Warburton Crossing were closed but we remained hopeful they would re-open in time. The only good news was that the QAA line had re-opened making the race to Birdsville possible.
This year the race would divert at the end of the Rig Road (stage 5) and head north along the K1 line before turning east to Birdsville.
Day one provided cooler temperatures around 30’C with heavier sand between the dunes than the previous year, taking a large toll on the first day, leaving only 13 riders still in 100% contention.
Day two morning saw the temperature rise rapidly to 41’C, combined with a track that was heavily covered in sand and slow going, the riders soon started dropping like flies. When the dust storm blew in around 11am, the remaining riders quickly dropped off leaving only Alan (#9) on the track to complete the stage.
Similar conditions in the afternoon and on day 3 left the field exhausted and struggling on the K1 line, unable to find the hard track which was often buried in a metre of sand.
Day 4 start with a short stage to the Queensland boarder on the start of the QAA Line. Most of the riders grateful for the cooler conditions and shorter distance. The Convoy then made a 76km transit to the west side of the Eyre Creek for a well earned break.
The final stage was shorted to 66km, across the Eyre Creek and massive dunes before crossing Big Red and rolling triumphantly into Birdsville.
I would like to congratulate all of the riders on their effort. Whilst the temperature were much lower than previous years, the amount of sand on the track made the event extremely tough. With only 1 rider completing 100% of the course, Alan’s effort was truly inspirational.
To all the age group and stage winners, well done, especially Katarina taking out the female U40 in her first event. Well done to the crews for looking after their riders so well.
Many thanks to the Officials and Committee who donate there time year after year to supporting this event. We couldn’t do it without you.
And to everyone, thank you for working together, especially considering the uncertainty regarding the course changes.
The Bean Attitude Award was presented by the 2008 winner, Kane Chandler and went to New Zealander Andrew Jameson. He had been a great competitor all week. He was even seen riding his own bike up a dune then walking back down to get his mate’s bike and help him over.
And to our sponsors Dirt Works, Stan’s No Tubes and Crank Brothers, a missive thanks for all their support helping to promote this great event and the rider prizes for this years event.
The charity auction after presentations included all sorts of donated items from hand-made jewellery to a Bali holiday and raised more than $4500 for the RFDS. The Birdsville Hotel even chipped in a pair of their shirts to help the fund-raising efforts.
Combined funds raised by riders and proceeds from the race, raised over $22,000 for the RFDS in 2009.
After some pretty bleak times in the middle of the week, hunkered down in dust storms and battling through heavy sand tracks, the race finished on a fantastic note and with a great sense of camaraderie.
Race Director 2009
Stage by Stage
Upon reaching Dalhousie Springs on the Sunday afternoon, we found about half the convoy camped around the springs. Most choosing to stop for the night and enjoy the hot springs before heading on to Purni Bore. The camp was a buzz with anticipation as many old friends spent the time catching up or meeting the new faces. With everyone safely into Purni Bore and registered by 3pm it was time for the briefing and an outline of the course changes.
Day 1 (Tuesday September 29th)
There was the usual panic as the crews hurried to pack and be ready to leave in the forward convoy. Whilst the initial start of the stage looked good, the coating of sand between the dunes was always going to make this day hard. As we proceeded, track conditions worsened. Last years winner, Lynton Stretton road extremely well to take out the first two stages in a good time. With only 13 riders completing 100% of the first day, it was pretty obvious that the field would struggle on day 2.
Day 2 (Wednesday September 30th)
Day 2 morning has traditionally been the toughest stage of the race. This year was no exception. Heavy sand on the track left all the field struggling. With thesweep working overtime at the rear of the field, only 7 riders made it past the 40km half way mark on the morning stage. The temperature quickly hit 41’C before the dust storm blew in from the north, making it difficult to even see anything. By this stage I had that sinking feeling that I was about to have the dubious honour of presiding over a second race with no 100% finishers. Finally an exhausted Alan Keenleside (#9) managed to drag his body across the finish line less than 6 minutes ahead of the sweep. The afternoon stage saw little let up in the sand but it was enough to allow 7 riders to complete the stage.
Day 3 (Thursday October 1st)
This is traditionally an easier stage seeing the riders skirt around the edge of thelarge salt lakes between the 20 and 50km points with the last dunes on the Rig Road providing plentyopportunity to get off the bike and admire the views as you push the bike over. From hear we diverted north. What wasn’t expected,was the large drifts of sand over the K1 Line. The last time the ridersused this track in 2000 it was hard andflat mostof the way. This year there were drifts of sand up to a meter deep and kilometres in length. The riders who made it to the end of the Rig Road were suddenly crushed by the deserts latest torment. The afternoon saw little change in conditions with only small sections of good hard track to ride on in temperatures in the low 40’s. Just as the forward crews started to make camp, another dust storm blew in reducing visibility to 50 meters before the cool change finally hit dropping temperatures back down. Not to be out done the desert tormented the riders during the night, flattening many tents causing many to make alternative camping arrangements.
Day 4 (Friday October 2nd)
Only a short stage this morning. About 20km of sandy track before crossing onto the salt lakes for a flat, fast and well deserved ride up to the start of the QAA line before turning east and heading to the Queensland boarder. Many of the riders enjoying the early morning temperatures and the tail winds to complete the 41km stage in good time before packing up to make the 76km transit to the Eyre crossing. With the convoy arriving in camp by 3pm,it was a good chance to get around and meet people and have a well earned break.
Day 5 (Friday October 3rd)
Because of the unknown terrain the last stage was shortened to 66km. The riders were given 3 hours (10km/h) to reach Big Red (30km) then the sweep would resume normal sweep time of 12km/h for the last 36km into Birdsville. With good hard clay track across the flood plains between the dunes, the only concern was how long they would take to walk up and over these massive dunes. Slowly but surely most of the riders were able to complete the final stage. Although the course was shortened by 100km the additional sand on the last 3 stages more than made up for missing long ride around the hard claypan on the Warburton and Inside Tracks.