Desert Challenge news, training and gear tips, rider stories, 4wd information.
Simpson Desert Bike Challenge Newsletter
MARCH 2014

Race Route for 2014

One Classic Route please?

One thing that always gets a lively discussion going for riders and officials is the desert track conditions.  Sand, rain, wind, heat, flooding, corrugations, dunes. The desert creates so many variables it's never a dull trip and riders live in fear of encountering a harsh combination of conditions.
Several alternatives have been used over the years to circumvent unworkable track conditions and one thing that has eventuated is that we now have two main race routes that provide a great and exciting race for riders and support crews alike.
Firstly The Classic Route has long been the 'standard' route and traverses the Rig Road, petrified forest, water holes, Warburton crossing, gibber plains and the Birdsville Inside Track. 
Our second route, The QAA Line Route stays within the National Park for most of the event and features Poepells Corner (the junction of 3 states) and the spectacular dunes rising to 30 metres culminating with Big Red the largest dune in the desert at 40 metre tall. 
The QAA line has become established as a 'do-able' route since the advent of Fat Tyre bikes and has been invaluable in providing an alternative when the 'Classic' route was closed due to flooding at the Warburton crossing.
It's generally agreed that both routes have their attractions and provide a unique and different experience for riders. After discussions with riders, crews and officials, the organising committee decided that both routes should be kept on the books and rolled out alternatively or as conditions dictate.
Hence 2014 will be (insert drum roll) - the year of The Classic Route. The Warburton Crossing is open and the hum of mountain bike tyres has not disturbed this patch of ground since 2008! Lynton Stretton, outright winner in 2008 is rumoured to be coming back to re-claim his position as the 'Classic Route' champion, but he's a bit older and there's lots of new blood out there. And some other old blood too.

Grim (aka Andy Griffiths, the Grim Sweeper for more years than most riders can remember) has registered.  He claims he's only aiming for (another) 100% medal to to hang on the wall next to his 60th Birthday cards, but... (For the record - Bruce 'HardArse' Wood was 57 years old when he won the event in 2007. In fact our Legendary Webmaster was Race Director that year and noted at the time that between them HardArse and Koopie (Andrew Koop) - 1st and 2nd - notched up over 100 years between them. So bring out your old blokes!)

So - our new Race Director is a legend.  Some people say Grim is a legend (others have less kind things to say about him) and The Classic Route is a legend!  We're digging in the cupboards to see if we can persuade a few more legends to join us this year - as riders or officials or just for pure entertainment value! Watch this space. 


Sponsorship - Muru Cycles

As many people know, Muru Cycles (aka Wayne and Kyria Chapman) has provided great support for the event over recent years. They've been involved with the race as rider, officials and sponsors.
Wayne, a Fat Bike fanatic, gives great advice with no obligation, and also sells bikes that suit the Desert Challenge. 
Muru Cycles will continue to sponsor the Desert Challenge in 2014.
And a word from our sponsor... 

Muru Cycles is proud to be a continuing sponsor of the Simpson Desert Bike Challenge.

As you might imagine, FAT tyres are perfectly suited for riding on the soft sand of the dunes and the swales. 
Muru takes that one step further with our use of titanium for our frames, forks and handlebars. The material has a natural compliance, an ability to absorb small vibrations and impacts, that can take the edge of the long days in the saddle. To put it simply, nothing rides like titanium.

We even offer a special "desert edition" complete bike specially set up just for the Desert Challenge. It comes with a Muru titanium frame, fork, handlebar, shimano shifting, Thudbuster suspension seatpost, barends (yes... they still make them) 4.5" tyres, 1/2 frame bag for hydration bladder, feedbags, gas tank and more. It even includes spare tubes.


New Race Director!
And the winner is.....
Yes the moment you've all been waiting for... who will be the Race Director for 2014?
This is an important role and helps to set the tone for the event each year. The Race Director calls the shots, tells the jokes, and plans for the worst. It's good to know there's a capable person at the helm each year.
Alan Keenlside has thrown his hat in the ring to take on the role for 2014. Alan has ridden the event for the past 5 years, won it a couple of times and seen the many challenges thrown at other Race Directors.
He is a welcome addition to the Race Organising Team and we look forward to having him 'in the saddle' in 2014. 
Alan's other claim to fame is his rivetting YouTube video (with 10,000 views) on how to convert your desert fat tyre bike to tubeless. You shouldn't miss this - click here for video.

Your congratulations can be sent to Alan at

Desert Challenge Inc. Team for 2014

The Desert Challenge Inc. Annual General Meeting was held recently in Sydney. Sydneysiders attended and as well as out of towners, Iain (Melbourne), Kate & Grim(Adelaide) and Ed (Canberra).
We're running a lean mean machine this year, with two teams - one team  to run the organisation and one to run the event.  The usual suspects are back with Iain Blair as El Presidente and Ed Bourke as Webman Kate Reynolds as SecretaryWe welcome back Mark Polley to fill the Treasurer's role and as mentioned previously, Alan Keenleside will be Race Director.
If you would like to become involved in either the Organisation committee (including administration, fundraising, sponsorship and merchandise) or the Event committee (everything else) or if you would like to get involved in some other way, please contact our Secretary Kate for a no obligation discussion.

Pic above shows attendees at the AGM.

Training 2014

Training up for 2014? Need some motivation? Join the Strava Club.
For those who don't know about Strava (have you been on the moon?), it's a training system which might be would dubbed 'Facebook for Cyclists'. You record your rides using a 'Garmin GPS' system and share it with the world.
You can record those long miles, hard climbs, best times etc on your Garmin and share them in intimate detail with others by uploading the information, maps etc to the Strava website. Check out the leader board and see who has done the hardest work this week...
You'll get to the point where, as many Strava addicts know, if it's not on Strava then it didn't happen. Your Garmin will be in your back pocket just in case you jump on grandma's old clunker and ride down to the shops. 
Desert Challenge have set up a club that you can join CLICK HERE and bookmark the site.
(You will need to setup a Strava account first on and login before you can view the Desert Challenge club.)
Haven't got a Garmin? You can get them at your bike shop. Click Here for info
The Desert Challenge Club is mainly for 2014 riders to compare notes. Other aspiring riders may join if they have done or are planning to do the Desert Challenge in the future.
Beware - if we get too many non Desert Challengers in the club, we may have to remove them.)

Currently Billy Somerville and SingleSpeeder are dominating the leader board but it shouldn't be too hard to knock them off (wink wink).
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