By Su Spencer
After three days and six stages of the 383km Simpson Desert Bike Challenge in Australia, just two riders have thus far been able to complete 100% of the race distance.
Leading the event is first-timer, but experienced enduro rider, Lynton Stretton of Queensland in the 50-59 year category. An hour and 19 minutes behind is race veteran Heinz von Holzen from Bali. Heinz will turn 50 later this year. After the success of the oldest rider in 2007, Bruce Wood, it seems that riding smart and knowing what your body can handle is the secret to success in this arduous adventure race.
In third place, at 355km (93% of race distance completed is another "mature rider" - Warren Quinn from Parkes, NSW. And a very creditable fourth place, at 325km (85% of race distance) is being held by former Crocodile Trophy competitor Roman Petr from Slovakia.
Race conditions have been hot (41 degrees on day three and less than 5% humidity) with sandy, with track conditions similar to the tough 2007 edition. Unfortunately this has caused an existing shoulder injury for Mt Isa adventure rider Ron Whitehead to flare up and force him out of the race. Also suffering under the tough conditions were the father and son pairing of Lawrence and Emerson Reece, both first-time entrants.
Day four will see riders tackling the gibber plains and corrugated tracks from the southern end of the old Birdsville track heading north. The weather is expected to be possibly hotter, the UV will be extreme, and it will be a tough day for all riders and supporters.