Friday, June 19, 2015

The excitement of planning a trip…

How often do we hear the statement that it’s the journey not the destination that counts. Prior to any journey commencing is the planning – this is were the fun begins!
A journey between two locations can be extremely dull and mundane unless planned in advance. The planning – creating a trip budget, researching routes and cross referencing overlanders opinions – extends the journey by adding days, weeks or months of pre-trip planning. The excitement, the anxiety and dealing with the negative soothsayers heightens the senses, evolving the planning into the journey itself.

My excitement for an upcoming trip is brewing. In late September 2015, I will be heading back to the Australian outback to cross the Simpson Desert (West to East) in support of the Simpson Desert Mountain Bike Challenge event. The cycle event, now in its 27th year, is a multi-day stage race for endurance mountain bikers. The route varies each year, with each day divided into two stages. A morning stage, which starts at 6am and an afternoon stage starting at 2pm. The distance covered is roughly 100km per day. A sweeper vehicle ensures that riders make the time cutoff and contributes to the pressure of finishing the stage in the allocated time.
Simpson Desert Bike Challenge - 2015 Route

In 2015, SDBC will start in Purni Bore and will head East along the French line and QAA line to Birdsville. One notable stage will be 20km of riding laps on the crest of the sand dunes between Little Red and Big Red - two of the largest sand dunes in the Simpson Desert.

This event is not ‘geared’ for traditional mountain bikers but rather for the fatbike. The anology given to me was ‘you won’t take a knife to a gun fight, so don’t take a 29er mountain bike to an event for fatbikes’.
In March 2015, the race event crew reconnoitered the stages and produced the following video clip:

The 4x4 and the 2x2…

My Toyota Land Cruiser Prado D4D is a comfortable tourer, perfect for covering the long distance travel required to reach the start of the event. Read more about this ‘Mum’s taxi’.
The track conditions across the Simpson Desert vary per year depending on the number of vehicles crossing the Simpson during the school holiday periods (peak times). Convoys of tag-a-long tours zigzag up and over the sand dunes, often with vehicles towing camper trailers, contributing to washouts and corrugations.

The 2x2 choice that my rider will be using is a Fatbike. Wikipedia describes the bike as follows:
A fatbike, also called wide tire bike, is a bicycle with over-sized tires, typically 3.8 in (9.7 cm) or larger and rims 65 mm (2.6 in) or wider, designed for low ground pressure to allow riding on soft unstable terrain, such as snow and sand.
A quick test ride on a local beach ensured that the load bike was the right fit... a few more rides might be required to ensure that the bike and rider are compatible...

I should be riding but trying to find a driver interested in 0430am wake-up calls, cooking food, doing dishes and washing riders clothes is a big ask!!  Perhaps next year...

Roll on September 2015…

Additional Reading:
Simpson Desert Bike Challenge Race Reports

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