Every year on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend there is a race run in the outlying desert area near Alice Springs. It’s called the Finke Desert Race. Locals call it the Finke, or just Finke because Aussies shorten everything! The organisers label it ‘the most fun you can have with a helmut on’… okay I’ll have to take their word for it. Last time I tried anything with a helmut on was about 40 years ago. The race is gruelling and dangerous, and that’s just for the spectators! Seriously, it is to my thinking an extreme event, that draws thousands of people from interstate, and even internationally, to our little town. Food disappears from the grocery shelves, traffic is crazy and parking is at a premium. Those of us who aren’t into racing fast things on difficult terrain aren’t impressed, but it is good for the town.
I have never been to the race but I’ve seen enough video and photos to have a fair idea what it is like since my parents owned a motocross race track when I was a teenager. Mom and I ran the kiosk (her mostly) and Dad did all the hard work and my two brothers along with hundreds of other competitors, raced. At that age of course I loved looking at all the handsome young men dressed in their leathers and cheeky grins, but I digress…
This year is the first time I’ve known someone who is competing in the Finke. He’s a serious young man and trains and prepares very strategically for the event. This is his fifth race. He is our daughter’s boyfriend and has posted a very well made video on YouTube if you are interested. It is not long and will give you a good look at the surrounds near our town.
On my walk at 7am this morning, truck after trailer, loaded up with big bikes and camping gear were on the move. Did I mention that the race is over 400 kilometres long?? The competitors race to the halfway point the first day, they camp over and make repairs or whatever, then they race back the next day to the finish line.
Today is the prologue which is a bit like time trials, where they categorize the vehicles and assign heat times and numbers to everyone. There is a division of ages and vehicles. Buggies, cars and quads, as well as various classes of motorbikes race. More than you wanted to know, probably. As I watched the trucks and trailers on the move this morning I tapped into the nerves and energy many of them would be feeling. I could identify with that excitement of doing something you love, but that challenges you, and wanting to get on with it so you can feel your potential.
It’s almost enough to make me want to go and watch…