2022 Race Report

2022 Race Report

This year we visited the best riding that the Simpson has to offer. Peter Gwynne (9) kept the heat in the racing with aggressive and competitive riding. For those chasing their 100% medal we saw courage, determination, and unwillingness to quit. These are the hallmarks of the Desert Bike Challenge which make it such a great event.

Day 1

Peter (9) showed his intentions on Stage 1 gaining a convincing lead of 10 minutes over James Tranter (20). Ben (16) arrived in third place, 20 minutes behind the leader. Overcast conditions and firm riding enabled the entire cohort to complete this stage.

The winds eased in the afternoon. Peter again took the win, chased a minute later by a pack of riders, Tim Trew( 5), Ecki (8), Malcom (10) Dan (18) and James (20).

In the women’s event, Julie Shaw (3) showed her ability leading Colleen (2) by an hour with Monica (4) in third place.

Our Fine Fairy made her first appearance at the evening race briefing. She did an excellent job, raising funds for the RFDS before receiving the first Goose of the Day herself. After breaking parts off her fine vehicle, the Gnarwhal, her first reaction was to lay blame on her absent partner, Ben, the very guy that built the truck!

Day 2

Stage 3 ran along the rig road.

The leading riders formed a bunch, enjoying the tail wind up the swale to finish together in only 3 hours 24 minutes. Julie (3) joined them only 4 minutes later.

We saw our first swept riders, Tim Sommers (12) with tyre issues, Stephen Campbell (24) and Stephen Moore (6) who wasn’t watching the clock.

Stage 4 was again fast and furious with the riders catching the tail of the front convoy at the end of the swale at 17km. These cars then had to wait for the sweep. Other cars got stuck traversing the dunes of the WAA line.

Peter (9) proved that a time trialist can do well in the sand, winning the afternoon stage in 2:04 with Malcom (10) and Ecki (8) two minutes behind, gaining a little time on James (20). Julie and Colleen both completed the stage, but the softer sand was too much for Monica’s narrower tyres, and she was swept at 33km.

The goose would have gone to Frank Falappi (support rider 2) for having the tyres on his ute too hard, had it not been for Peter Kelly’s honesty. Peter was found guilty of giving dodgy advice and received the goose.

Day 3

Day 3 started an hour later to allow for some vehicle maintenance. The Knolls track has some great riding with dips twists and turns but it’s slow for cars. The front convoy was once again in danger of being caught. Only when we turned east onto the French Line we were confident of escape.

Riders 8, 9 and 10 rode on together to take the stage win over the big dunes and short swales of the French line. Julie crossed the line 49 minutes later.

It was this stage with increasing wind and temperature that cost the David Griffin (1) his 100% medal. He was swept at 61km. Monica (4) soldiered on to 68km – she might have made it if not for the heat. Stephen (6) very nearly made it home but was swept 5km from the finish.

The riders took a well earned rest before the evening stage. Peter Gwynne had no reason to race hard but came out hard. The support crews watched in awe as he streaked across the salt lake pursued by the other leading riders. Much amusement followed as he sank into the axle deep in mud. Suddenly the race was back on! Daniel (18) capitalised on the mistake to win the stage in 45 minutes pursued by Ecki and Peter. Julie completed the stage in 53 minutes.

Dale Coutts (7) forgot that most basic of equipment, his helmet. He borrowed a lid, made it to the finish and collected the Goose of the Day.

Day 4

Today we returned to our long format racing traversing the Simpson from Poepels corner through to the base of Little Red.

The morning stage blasts north up the K1 line before turning east onto the big dunes of the QAA.

Peter (9) put in a convincing win over the big dunes, leading Ecki and Malcolm by 8 minutes. Julie cruised in over an hour later. Troy (23) had a bad day and got swept at 45Km. It was great to see Colleen (2) complete this stage and retain her 100% as last rider home. She’d been riding 1:40 longer than the leaders.

The Hay River track is an interesting ride but not part of this year’s course. In fact it’s never been one of our courses. Still, the Sweep was keen to lead the rear convoy up the Hay River, missing the turn onto the QAA line he has followed so many times in the past. A new day, a new route and a new Goose.

The afternoon stage on day 4 marks the end of the hard ridding. It’s been a long day, riders are tired, the sun is up and the sand is drying out. Whilst the dunes are bigger, the swales are broader and it gets easier the closer you get to Birdsville.

Recent flooding around Big Red had changed the tracks and it took a while for the course markers to find a route that they were happy with.

This stage is the final threat to those on 100%. We were all very sad to see Jorn (14) get swept at 26km, fatigue and conditions finally caught up with him. Standing on Little Red our thoughts went to Colleen. Would she make it in time? Finally, in 4:11 she arrived as the last rider home. Courage, determination, and sheer stubbornness are what this race is about.

Jason Morrison offered riders free beers if they could clean little red and it looked like his wallet would not be required until Julie (3) pushed a route up a the right hand side and made the climb without stopping.

Day 5

Day 5 opens with the iconic criterium on top of big red. Eckhart and Malcom found their joie de vivre in the technical sand riding wining the stage in 1:04. This placed them ahead of James in joint second, which was not their intent.
We timed the stage and presented the times. James was now 2 minutes behind Ecki and Malcom and the only place to resolve that was on the course.

True to his nature, Peter raced Stage 10, the Birdsville Bar Blast, working with James. 34km in 1:08, an impressive performance at the end of 5 days of riding. Ecki and Malcom stayed with the main group to shepherd the riders home.


We set out to join the best riding the Simpson has to offer and we certainly achieved that. Many thanks to Peter Gwynne whose aggressive riding kept the front to the race alive.

Congratulations to Julie Shaw for her convincing win in the women’s category.

Many times, it’s the riders at the back of the field that need the most determination and courage to stay ahead of the sweep. Congratulations to all our 100% finishers, in particular to Colleen (2), one tough lady who had the whole camp cheering for her.


Overall winners:
Overall Male: Peter Gwynne 25:59.
Overall Female: Julie Shaw 31:10.

19Peter Gwynne25:59500.0100.00%
220James Tranter26:17500.0100.00%
38Ecki Altenkamp26:51500.0100.00%
310Malcolm Murray26:51500.0100.00%
55Tim Trew27:05500.0100.00%
616Benjamin Fallon28:29500.0100.00%
718Daniel McGuire29:17500.0100.00%
819Ilia Korovin30:21500.0100.00%
93Julie Shaw31:10500.0100.00%
1011Ashley Goldstraw32:55500.0100.00%
117Dale Coutts33:36500.0100.00%
1222John Heer34:21500.0100.00%
132Colleen Falappi35:27500.0100.00%
1417Sam Martin37:38500.0100.00%
1514Jorn Jacobsen32:17472.094.40%
1615Stuart Wagner31:08456.091.20%
1721Kenny Mcilwain31:13431.086.20%
1812Tim Sommers30:56422.584.50%
191David Griffin32:13422.584.50%
204Monica Dickson31:40411.082.20%
2123Troy Reddick25:32409.581.90%
226Stephen Moore29:52370.574.10%
2324Stephen Campbell19:22229.745.94%

100% medals – 14/23 riders

Age Group

M U50James Tranter
F 50+Julie Shaw
M 50+Peter Gwynne
M 60+Jorn Jacobson
SDBC2024: 1 October to 5 October 2024