The bikes baked dry the mud and clay. Riders climbed wearily from their seats, trying to move an uncooperative body. Clumsily their boots touched down onto wet earth. Triumphant in mind, body, and soul. I watched proudly from the sidelines as the Lost Motos conquered a course made for National level riders - The Transmoto 8 Hour. Transmoto is a team motocross enduro event. A timing unit strapped to the front forks acts as a relay baton. Its swapped between bikes and riders each lap - a distance of 14 kilometres. Its a tough challenge on any day but with the course soaked by torrential rain each of the hill climbs, river crossings, single tree-lined tracks, and down hill slopes was a challenge in itself.
We’d arrived Saturday morning during intermittent rain and set up camp. As we settled in under our gazebos the rain fell harder. The ground softened hour by hour. All of the racing I do is on dedicated tarmac racetracks. Places where millimetre adjustments in suspension influence seconds and safety. I could not comprehend the thought of mud, water, and grass under my tires. I was glad to be supporting Faidon, Adrian, Brad, and Arron. My only job was to keep the team fed and hydrated. Although, as I found out during the day, the best support I could be was just to listen to their challenges.
Racing started on Sunday at 7am – Desperately early for the sound of two stroke engines. As phone alarms rang throughout camp the excitement grew. As I peered out of the tent, I was glad it was the others taking on the torrential conditions.
I was in awe as riders pinned their throttles and wheelied over ruts, and bumps, and water. Brad joined the fray as the first rider out. Arron nervously trod around camp. His anxious thoughts collecting like the mud on his boots.
“I don’t think I can do this” he said, “I’ve only been riding a handful of times offroad.”
Supporting someone through his or her anxiety requires patience; Listening to each statement rather than offering solutions. I don’t believe I was the best at this on the weekend. I can clearly hear the words “You’ll be right” come pouring from my mouth. However, I did try my best to practice asking, understanding, and repeating Arron’s concerns. The Lost Motos as a group pulled together in supporting one another. Ideas and strategies usually reserved for bettering lap times or increasing performance were shifted. The goal was to simply complete a lap of the extremely tough circuit.
I thought it best to give the guys time and space to prepare themselves for their challenge. I mounted the custom postie bike prepared with full knobbies and a 125cc pit bike engine (thanks Rising Sun Workshop!) to find a new vantage point to watch the race. The Transmoto community were all smiles wherever I went. Ignoring their own wet feet and dirty camps they focused on the high revs, flying dirt, and countless stacks. Cheers went up as exhausted riders renewed their spirits by pinning the throttle, throwing caution to the wind, and sending a rooster tail of mud off their back wheelie.
Just trying to get around the pits on the postie had left me tired – What was it like out there? As I arrived back to our camp Adrian answered the question.
“They won’t be back for at least an hour” he said, while laying down for a nap. Brad had gone out on track again to support Arron and Faidon on their respective laps of the course. Still riders were passing our camp. They were finding places to bury the throttle where I’d likely slow down. Such is taking on the challenge of racing, or just being on your motorbike.
It was a long hour we waited - hoping to see each of the guys safely back to camp. First was Faidon, arriving alone, his anxiety washed away piece by piece as he conquered each obstacle. Only minutes later did Brad roll into camp with Arron right behind. Arron’s shirt amazingly yellow and a smile you could see in his eyes. Like a proud dad I photographed them, their bikes, and their relief. There was 5 hours left in the event but we’d already won.