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Terra Australis …. how hard is it?

Time to turn attention towards Terra Australis now that Cloudride19 is done and dusted.

Four months till start date on August 31. That’s a neat 16 week 4 x 4 training block folks … get on your bike!

Three entries so far and a few others on the sidelines I've sent the course notes and race route to.

Terra Australis …. how hard is it?

If you think this ultra distance bike event might be a challenge too far think back to how much more difficult it might have been 25, 50 or 100 years ago.

An early shearers bike packing rig ... circa 1919?

Historically many adventure riders have tackled these remote corners of Australia and accomplished some amazing feats of endurance with stark resources, vague route description, bush tracks and an unknown timetable. Today we have super contemporary lightweight mountain bikes, tubeless tyres, minuscule weight sleep kits, bikepacking bags and to the metre accurate gps satellite navigation. For fuel we have roadhouses, towns and urban centres stocked with cold drinks, food to go and accommodation options for a bed and occasional refresh from bush camping.

How hard can it be?

For most of us northern and central Queensland is remote, isolated and has a degree of apprehension because of the unknown. For some this might present as a serious challenge in a contemporary world of certainty. Reality is it’s not a third world backwater out there. Our agri business managers and property owners in these remote areas are operating with cutting edge technology. Solar powered water management with remote cameras. Increasingly, sonic noise dog grid/gates, hi-tech fencing to eliminate kangaroos/dogs to improve pasture rotation and productivity. Their station homesteads and staff quarters are usually an oasis with lush shaded lawn and cool covered outdoor areas, air-con, satellite internet and television. Many have a D8/9 Cat Dozer, a Road Grader or two, Multiple 4WD vehicles, stock transport trucks, a fleet of Quad and Xbikes to manage their huge land holdings. On the ground in these ‘remote’ corners there was a quizzical raised eyebrow from the Station owners or staff at ‘ultra distance’ bikepackers riding out through their country. Once they understood we were prepared, resourced, informed not one in my experience expressed concern or caution. They had nothing but surprised admiration for our adventure and what we were doing…. after a chat would often say ‘good on you and good luck for the rest of your ride’. These people are living out there every day and saw us as equals prepared, equiped and resourced to cope with the conditions and distances that is their everyday workplace.

There is no hyperbole or exaggerated claims about how hard riding the TABE is on this website and there wont be.

The race route hasn’t been setup to crush the spirit of human endeavour and make it ‘the toughest’ of anything. In my experience the ‘difficulty’ on any given day in these multi-day ultra endurance events is more often or not shaped by the 1] weather conditions. 2] poor ride strategy decisions…food-water-sleep. 3] sometimes a bike or body mechanical fail. In the main the difficulty factor lies in the accumulation of fatigue and it is how well a rider manages this both mentally and physically over the course of weeks that determines how ‘difficult’ the race is. To put this another way, any fit experienced biker, road or XC could go out and do a day ride on any 150-250k section of the TABE and complete the technical and physical challenges in 12-15 hours … doing it for 25-30 days is where the ‘difficulty’ factor kicks in!

As we have witnessed in 2018 with proper planning, perseverance and determination it’s achievable. There are tough sections. It’s hot in the opening Queensland weeks. It can be cold in the southern alpine region. Along the way more difficult sections are intermixed with some fast transit sections and with favourable weather riders can put away some decent daily kilometres. As I’m fond of saying, some days are diamonds, some days are stone.

In short, riders have all the resources available to achieve success in completing the Terra Australis …. the logistical preparation is a simple functional process. The more challenging task is to prepare ones emotional, mental and physical determination. Embrace the challenge and be prepared to accept adversity when it inevitably arrives ….. that’s when the adventure begins.

Entries to date … closing July 1

David Waugh 47 Armidale NSW

David’s already toured the ride south to north on the Bicentennial National Trail back in 2000 and has shared some fabulous pics of his adventure.

David Waugh's 2000 BNT adventure

David Waugh's 2000 BNT adventure

David Waugh's 2000 BNT adventure

The Terra Australis route has some common sections to the BNT however Terra Australis is a much quicker journey south avoiding most of the locked gates and private property constraints of the BNT…. and some of those brutal HAB sections!

David Waugh's 2019 Terra Australis race bike.

Peter Gargano 66 Coffs Harbour NSW

Peter Gargano, Cloudride Prologue finish at Bent Spoke

Peter already has the remote iconic WA Canning Stock Route ticked off his bucket list and aiming at adding Terra Australis to his achievements. Peter comes predominantly from a road background but has purchased a new Giant XTV Advance hard tail and is in the process of making some modifications to suit the conditions. He recently did some gear and rider testing on the 500k Cloudride Prologue as the senior rider in a field of 37 finishing in 3D:6h. Six and a bit of that will get him down to Wilsons Prom in a none too shabby 40 days.

Our third entry is;

Walter Bruminich 56 Brisbane Qld.

Walter at Ovando 2014. Pic: Angler@ Stray Bullet

Walter tackled the US Tour Divide in 2013 and came unstuck midway down with a race ending injury after collecting the wing mirror of a pick-up truck. He returned in 2014 and along the way struck up a friendship with US rider Evan Deutsch finishing together in the top ten and just under 20 days. They reacquainted again in 2016 with Evan coming down for the inaugural NZ Tour Aotearoa. Riding at social pace they finished the 3,000k top to bottom a little outside the minimum ten days. Evan Deutsch of course went on to win the 2017 US TransAm breaking Mike Hall’s race record time and will be one of the race favourites going into this years Tour Divide. Bottom line is Walter should be able to handle himself pretty well on this 6,000k odyssey.

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