Outright Winner: Bruce ‘hardarse’ Wood
|Day 1 Morning:||Bruce WOOD||5h10’04||78k|
|Day 1 Afternoon:||Bruce WOOD||3h06’29||49k|
|Day 2 Morning:||Mathew DICKERSON||5h21’34||80k|
|Day 2 Afternoon:||Bruce WOOD||3h41’28||49k|
|Day 3 Morning:||Bruce WOOD||6h00’05||79k|
|Day 3 Afternoon:||Matt O’NEILL||2h56’39||49k|
|Day 4 Morning:||Andrew KOOP||4h49’03||79k|
|Day 4 Afternoon:||Andrew KOOP & Ryan HYDE||2h33’52||51k|
|Day 5 Morning:||Mathew DICKERSON & Michael HARVEY||3h50’27||78k|
|Place||Rider No||Name||Total Time||Total Dist.||%age|
Race Director’s Report
The Simpson Desert Bike Challenge is over for another year.
It was a tough year with dry, hot conditions and quite a lot of sand across the track.
The riders showed great determination, courage and sportsmanship. Many riders doing it hard, fronted up time and again for the start of each punishing stage.
The final result reflected the resilience of the older guys out there this year. Bruce and Koopie (1st and 2nd) notch up over 100 years between them.
I don’t think anyone rides the desert without developing a great attachment to it. Many will be drawn back again, particularly those striving for that magical 100%
This is my first year as Race Director and I was both inspired by riders and thankful for the support I received from the volunteer officials who make the race possible.
Congratulations riders and thank you to all involved
Race Director 2007
Stage by Stage
Purni Bore, Monday lunchtime – many crews have sensibly arrived early and are busily unpacking and getting organised ready for race start. Others arrive late and in disarray, one rider doesn’t arrive at all. The Race Officials didn’t fare much better, with Medical Co-ordinator Louise’s vehicle last seen being towed back out to Coober Pedy.
The carnage, both vehicular and cycle related, started early this year. The race was yet to begin but already clusters of bodies could be found peering into engines and crawling under vehicles while riders struggled to bend derailleurs back into shape and agonised over tyre choice.
Then it was off into the fast rising sun on Day One. Jack set the standard early when one of the back wheels fell off his vehicle. The mechanic at Mount Dare roadhouse has since been advised to flee for his life after repairing that particular tyre the previous day.
Searing heat and a challenging sandy track surface saw many of the riders getting to meet the dreaded ‘Grim’ far earlier than they would have liked, with just five riders hanging on to successfully complete the first stage. All looked more than a little shell shocked as they crossed the finish line – a brutal introduction to the joys of the Desert.
Most riders did front back up for the afternoon stage though. Having waved them off from the start line, the rear convoy group settled back for final refreshments prior to a leisurely start. Then Kathy was spotted walking her bike back along the track. While Grim watched with malevolent joy, others sprang into action to get her broken chain repaired. Despite initially expecting to have to sit out the stage, Kathy decided to ‘go as far as she could’ before being swept …. and then she fought back to deny Grim his last victim for the day – just squeaking across the finish line with the sweep vehicle right up her tail.
Day Two lived up to its reputation as the ‘make or break’ section of the race, with a nice coating of sand, a decent wind and relentless corrugations making it difficult to ride even the hardpack sections at speed. Bikes continued to fall apart with Mick losing his second place overall after a catastrophic bike failure involving gear cable, derailleur and rear wheel in an unusual reconfiguration. A dust storm in the afternoon added to the Armageddon-like atmosphere, with a surreal orange haze blanketing the landscape.
Many woke on Day Three thinking that they’d survived the worst that the Desert could offer. The morning stage saw half the 4WD front convoy ‘swept’ – first overtaken by the riders and then caught by the Sweep as they struggled to dig vehicles out of the enormous soft dunes. The ‘piece de resistance’ was the mighty dune at Water Stop Three – here Timekeeper Su and Track Marker Murf finally chucked in the towel, fearing the lead riders would soon appear on the horizon and deliver the ultimate indignity – beating the Timekeeper to the finish line. An appropriate ‘chicken run’ detour around the dune was quickly marked out for following vehicles before Su and Murf made a dash for the lunch stop.
Getting airborne over the dunes was not really an option this year with many a 4WD ingloriously beached on top of a sandy crest. Shovels and snatch straps got frequent use to haul even the most seasoned Desert driving veterans out of trouble. Dr Greg’s super deluxe camper trailer (the use of which was justified by claiming it as a mobile ICU), posed a small problem, resolved with a spectacular double snatch strap rescue involving ‘V8 Dougie’, Tim’s V8 Landcruiser, the roaring of engines, flying sand and fevered prayer by Dr Greg.
For the riders the huge dunes posed little problem, perhaps even a flicker of joy as they launched themselves off the peaks at previously unknown speeds. But the salt lakes, which traditionally offer some respite from the sand and corrugation, were this year a relentless slog through thick sand drifts with a howling headwind.
Day Four started with the expectation of better conditions, although the Race Directors were at risk of being lynched by the mob having made such promises before.
By this time it was becoming apparent that there were difficulties being experienced with the back ends of the field. Grown men were found fighting over the only spare bike seat available – a super cushy girlie type saddle.
Donna was hastily promoted from her position as Medic 0.5 to the revered ‘Bum Queen’, and is currently receiving intensive counseling and therapy after her traumatic experiences over the last couple of days of the race.
The support crew role also seemed to be reaching a new level this year – with Bruce’s crew seen decimating their pillow supply and spending some time trying to insert extra cush on to Bruce’s tender tush.
The race drew closer to Birdsville and the smooth freshly graded Inside Track provided balm for battered bums.
A few took advantage of waterholes along the Diamantina River for a much needed wash, including Grim, who was later fined for trying to drown the long suffering “Goose”.
Team Axxis members Mick and Dicko took the final stage win in crowd-pleasing double mono style – we all felt the pain as Mick landed on his thankfully well cushioned butt.
Meanwhile Bruce gritted his teeth, rode off the saddle and gave his all to hang on to his 100% finish and first place overall – an impressive effort which makes him the oldest competitor in race history to win the event.
Ed and I would like to thank all the volunteers and officials for their tireless efforts in the Desert this year – Timekeeper Su and Route Marker Murf, Medical Co-ordinator Louise (and Steve), Medics Dr Gerald ( and assistants Kai & Maree), Dr Greg (with co-driver Helen), Donna, Water Stop Co-ordinator Ray, Noel and Margaret, Water Stop One – Gill and Keith, Water Stop Two – Chris and Kym, Water Stop Three – Jack and Wendy, Sweep Andy ‘Grim’ Griffiths (and ‘Sweep Bitch’ Kate) and ‘Tail End Charlies’ Mark and Dennis.
That elusive 100% …the facts
Well, the 20th anniversary race has been & gone …., and this year Mother Nature reminded us once more just who is in charge out there.
Only two hardy souls were able to add their names to the list of those who have successfully completed a 100% finish. Congratulations Bruce and Koopie on a mighty effort.
Figures from the early years are sketchy but over the past twenty years around 700 people have taken on the Desert – with the score currently standing at:
Cyclists: over 200 with a 100% finish
Sweep: around 500 riders swept
On a year-by-year basis:
(*= shortened course)
*1988: 23 starters unknown 100%
1989: 30+ starters 15 completed 100%
1990: 24+ starters 12 completed 100%
1991: 32+ starters 10 completed 100%
1992: 51 starters 21 completed 100%
*1993: 49+ starters 21 completed 100%
1994: 31 starters 4 completed 100%
1995: 51 starters 15 completed 100%
1996: 43 starters 22 completed 100%
1997: 44 starters 2 completed 100%
1998: 37 starters 6 completed 100%
1999: 41 starters 2 completed 100%
2000: 54 starters 4 completed 100%
2001: 32 starters 21 completed 100%
2002: 22 starters 3 completed 100%
*2003: 15 starters 13 completed 100%
*2004: 30 starters 18 completed 100%
2005: 24 starters 6 completed 100%
2006: 11 starters 5 completed 100%
2007: 17 starters 2 completed 100%