Ky motorbike riders go off-road in the red centre

By James Arbuthnott

LOCAL motorbike riders Tim Sherman, Jamie Soares and Scott Collins recently competed in the Finke race in the Northern Territory – one of Australia’s most difficult off-road courses in one of the most remote places in the world.

Sherman finished 39th in his first attempt at the two-day, multi-terrain endurance race after qualifying 82nd out of 750 competitors over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June.

“My body was pretty sore afterwards,’’ Tim said. ‘‘I was mentally tired from the whole race because it’s fairly high-speed and dangerous – there’s always a couple of close encounters.

“On the first day my fuel cap wasn’t done up properly and I had to make up positions in the first 20 kilometres because it was fairly dusty and dangerous. Also, if I didn’t get past them then, I knew I’d get held up later in the race, so I had to make a few risky manoeuvres.”

Tim was talked into the Finke by his friend Scott Collins, who has been competing in the race for 12 years.

But Scott wasn’t so lucky this year due to a chance encounter with another friend.

“I came off my bike when I ran into the back of a four-wheeler in the dust,’’ Scott said. ‘‘Then when I was trying to recover my bike off the track it got ran into by another four-wheeler – which happened to be a mate of mine from Echuca.

“I did some running repairs and got my bike going and finished the race.”

“It’s a long race and anything can happen – there’s no guarantees with anything, really.”

In his first attempt at the Finke, Jamie Soares passed 219 other contenders after qualifying at 458, eventually finishing at 239.

“We did a lot of training and I was very happy with how it all went,” Jamie said.

“It was a great experience with all the people that went up from Kyabram and around. Tim and I did a lot of trips over to Rainbow in the desert; we were riding every weekend more or less.”

The 450km track from Alice Springs to Apatula – formerly known as Finke – then back again, traverses waist-deep sand whoops and hard clay with rocky outcrops. At speeds up to 150 km/h and two fuel stops, Tim, Scott and Jamie’s efforts were helped by friends and family who camped to give the boys water, goggles and fuel.

“They basically camp out in the middle of the desert for a few days. The next time they see us is at the fuel stop for about 10-15 seconds at most,” Tim said.

Cars, buggies and bikes descend into Alice Springs for the yearly Finke race to camp.

“The swags get trucked to the campsite which is in a dustbowl,” Jamie said. “You buy tickets to get your tea, so they feed you but you really have to sort yourselves out.

“The trickiest part is the logistics of it and getting the support. We had probably three to four people help out and one had their mum and dad. I had my brother and a couple of mates waiting at a fuel stop.’’