Sport

Sam Davie reflects on a year without racing

By Andrew Johnston

SAM Davie has spent more than his share of time in the sand.

But he's rarely had to get out of it with a wedge.

With the lockdown of communities and the shutdown of his beloved sport due to the coronavirus pandemic, the motocross rider has found himself trying his hand at something new - golf.

And while he thinks he's getting better, he's the first to admit it's not what he's meant for.

“I'm not very good at it,” he said.

“I've been doing some mountain bike riding as well, but I thought golf would be something I could try. And so far, I think I'll stick to riding.”

Like so many, Davie has had to sit back this year and watch not only the sport he loves but his career as well put on hold.

Major races like Finke and Hattah have been cancelled, leaving Davie without a major part of his life.

“I started riding bikes when I was three. I'm 25 now, I've been doing this for more than 20 years,” he said.

“There were a few weeks after we had to stop where I was completely lost. I had no idea what I was going to do.”

“When we did go into lockdown we knew there was going to be an extended period of time where we wouldn't be able to ride, but I thought by now we would be on the up.

“But it's continuing to have an impact for our team at Husqvarna. We've lost five mechanics and a team manager who have all had to be laid off. These are jobs which have been there for 30 to 40 years and are now gone.

“It's not specific to us. Every industry is going through it, but it's definitely been a tough period.”

Though the cancellation of the bigger races didn't end up being a shock, Davie had initially held out hope some competition may have taken place.

“At the start of it I was getting out and riding as much as I could, more in hope things weren't going to be as bad as people were expecting,” he said.

“In terms of Finke, we train from late November until the race on the June long weekend, so I wasn't going to stop in case the race went ahead.

“We got the news pretty early from the event organisers that the event had been called off. Naturally we were all disappointed, but we were glad the call was made early.

“We make multiple trips up to the track in the build up to the race so we can get a proper feel for the event.

“It's not cheap to get all the equipment there, so calling it early was great for us financially.”

Riding was initially a banned activity under the state's original COVID restrictions, however Davie was able to obtain an exemption due to his career.

But as someone who has seen the dangers of riding first hand, he believed the right thing to do was to wait it out.

“We weren't allowed to go out with a support team in the initial stages of the lockdown,” he said.

“We are doing speeds of up to 170km/h on fairly intense tracks. The reality is if you have a crash on your own at that pace, you could be lying out there for weeks before someone finds you.

“Especially with what is going on at the moment, there aren't a lot of people just cruising around out there. I simply wasn't comfortable.”

Instead, Davie has stuck to his mountain bike riding, his bursts of golf, and a limited time of low speed training to keep his skills sharp as he begins to eye off Finke's hopeful return in 2021.

“Things are changing from day to day,” he said.

“A lot can happen between now and the end of the year, so hopefully by November when I would have to really start my training I will be able to do so.

“There are still a few races which may be able to go ahead across the country, but with what is happening in Victoria, I don't like my chances of being allowed to compete.

“I spend a fair bit of time in the gym, and then aim to get as much bike time in as I can.

“The way we prepare has changed. We do different styles of rides to stay on the bike, but it's simply getting whatever opportunity I can.

“Eventually racing is going to be back. We will have the opportunity to do what we love, and hopefully it will mean we can race again at Finke in 2021.

“Now I have an opportunity to set myself a really good fitness platform. It will be interesting to see how the approach works.

“It will be great to ride again, but also, it will be great to be back to normality.”

And when the borders open up internationally, maybe an opportunity to take on some of the bigger global events.

“This time has given me an opportunity to sit back and look at the future and where I want to go in the sport,” Davie said.

“Obviously Dakar is the dream, though an expensive one. But there are also some lead-up rallies which I would love to do.

“I'll just keep looking and see where it leads.”