This year’s Wildwood Extreme Enduro was my 3rd attempt at the race. I had DNFed the previous 2 years so my goal for this year was to at least finish the event!
It has become a tradition between my good friend Kristie McKinnon and me, to dress up in some sort of costume for the race. As Wildwood is the last event of the season it is a way to have a bit of fun after the pressure of the year’s racing. In 2012, we rocked it in B1 and B2 (Banana in Pajama’s) outfits and in 2013 we were the pink and purple fairies. For this year, we got into the festive spirit as Santa Claus’s helpers and boy it was hot in those outfits!
The prologue was a quick sprint lap around the enduro-X section of the track, which determined our race start order. I finished 31st outright for prologue and just snuck in front of Kristie.
Then it was time race. So dressed in our Santa suits we lined up engines off and hands on head for the start of the main race!
I scored the holeshot on my Sherco 300ir but it wasn’t long before I got stuck and Kristie took the lead on her trials bike. I managed to make up ground on the open sections but when I hit the long gnarly uphill rock garden I had to resort to pushing my bike. Kristie catches up with her trials bike giving her a massive advantage amongst the boulders and asks how I am doing? We had a laugh and I managed to pass her back while she was in the pits re-fueling. I took this as a challenge and pushed forward to try stretch out a lead.
Wildwood is one of the toughest races in Australia – both on rider and bike. I had several crashes negotiating the rock sections and as the race wore on these translated to problems with the bike.
The Sherco pit crew were on point every pit stop doing their best to keep me going. But in the final lap with a damaged coolant hose resulting in lost coolant my high tech bike kept stopping to prevent overheating and damage to the engine. The battery had gone flat from restarting so many times but I was not going to let this beat me. I pushed, pulled and struggled in the unseasonably hot temperature and managed to keep my bike running although I managed to stall it in the last gnarly rock uphill section. A clutch start was out of the question so 10 or so awesome guys helped me get my bike to the top. I owe them all a beer or two!
I got my bike restarted and on my way to the finish flag, after completing the Enduro-X section of the track and with just 50 metres to go (2 corners) my bike decided to stall again in the rocky mud section! I was trying my best to get moving when Kristie Mckinnon caught up to me. I told her what had happened and she turned off her bike and said, “Well, hurry up and get this bike started, I’m not going over the finish line without you, you are too close not too finish this one”! I got my bike started and nodded at Kristie to go for the win as clearly she deserved it. But Kristie chose to wait and we got through the rocks together. We tried to time side by side an equal first finish, but unfortunately due to the transponders signal, I was awarded the win by 0.012 of a second. In my heart it’s an equal first, and this one is definitely dedicated to Kristie.
Kristie displayed amazing sportsmanship at Wildwood to show what a true champion she is. How many riders male or female are there who would pass up the opportunity to win? Afterwards I asked her why she gave up first place and she answered “I couldn’t take the win; you had been riding so well and if it hadn’t been for the bike dramas you would have won. I wouldn’t have felt right if I had won because I passed you while you were stuck.”
In the toughest Enduro race in Australia there were only 50 finishers from 86 starters, I finished a respective 24th outright, which I’m over the moon about!
Thank you to everyone who helped me out over the weekend, and to each and every one of the spectators for the super support and encouragement. This event draws a lot of spectators and is one of my favorite events to be involved in due to the incredible atmosphere!