Now the dust has settled, Motorcycling Western Australia State Womens Team rider Kat Kingsley shares her story on her quest riding the Australian 4 Day Enduro Championship earlier this month in Cessnock NSW.
I was super excited after hearing about the 4 Day Enduro at one of the state rounds last year. I questioned whether I was even good enough to enter and compete. I trained extremely hard for 4 months prior to the event - in the gym, on the bike or mountain biking as much as I could.
The 4 day enduro was finally upon us. I was very excited, yet nervous. I was determined to finish. Day 1 consisted of bulldust and ruts, which I was not very experienced in riding. It felt like it took me all day to figure out how to ride. Half way through the ride I felt myself fading, my energy levels were decreasing but I arrived at a check point and decided, No! I have to keep going. So I had something to eat and pushed on. I completed day 1 with a few penalties but I was very proud to have completed 215km of the toughest trails I have ever ridden as well as being the furthest I have ridden in 1 day.
Day 2. I was excited to get on the bike, I felt like I was finding my groove after spending 8 hours on the bike the day before. Day 2 terrain was a bit more like home, consisting of rocky hills which I was much more familiar with. Day 2 was challenging but a lot of fun. My hands were warming into it but my legs were killing me.
Day 3. I was nervous, more nervous than Day 1 & 2. I think because I knew I just had to make it through this day - being the last long day of enduro riding. My clutch was leaking, fork seal was blown and my electric starter wasn't working. In the 15 minute work period I managed to fix my electric starter thanks to the helper’s guidance from team WA. I knew today had some big hills to climb so I was relieved I would not have to kick start the bike. As reinforced by the commentator - Day 3 trails were hard, very hard. It was day 1 trails ridden backwards; and some! This means, the ruts that were already ridden through twice by 350 bikes were about to get even deeper.
I dreaded 2 of the special tests knowing how chopped up they would be. Either way, I started the day determined to give it my all. There were many tough hills with endless single trails on the side of steep hills as well as many rocks, trees, bulldust, roots and RUTS. One of the hills there was about 10 bikes stuck. Each bike had about 2 or 3 turns to get up this section with sweeps helping. On my third attempt I managed to conquer it but not without the sweeps helping stabilise my bike. Momentum was the key; if I put one foot down i would lose balance and fall to the side.
My main thoughts for each day were - do your best, don’t give up - this is what you have been training for, look up (for when I'm tired), be smooth, keep momentum, always have traction, stand up as much as you can and have fun! Well, about half way through day 3, all of these encouraging thoughts started to fade from my mind. My energy was fading and muscle fatigue had well and truly set in, in both my arms and legs. I was no longer looking up or as far forward as I should have, my speed had dropped because of the technical sandy single trail and the rocky up/down hills. I had been training on single trail a lot but not so much sand. I was ok with the rocky up and down hills because I knew I just needed to keep traction - it wasn’t about speed. My legs were killing me from 'paddling' through the deep ruts.
After 90kms of single trail I was very much relieved to finally see a check point. I felt i had already hit the wall; like I my body did not want to go any further. The helpers who greeted me where asking "Are you ok?" - as I was so exhausted I couldn’t say much and was even emotional. I told then I hadn't eaten since breakfast (I made a big mistake of not eating at the check point to try and save time). I had something to eat and decided "right! I haven't timed out yet! I must keep going". The guys at the check point seemed concerned "you shouldn’t keep going if you too exhausted and your mind isn’t focused". I promised I would be careful and ride within my limits; so I pushed on. The next section did not let up, it was more technical single trail. Not long into this section I hit the wall again. My body just could not hold on any longer and was making all sorts of mistakes. I became emotional and erratic. At the next check point I decided it was no longer safe for me to continue. I had nothing left in the tank.
I was greeted by 2 men at the Control with no pants, dressed in skimpy nurse outfits as well as the medics. All I could manage was a small chuckle. The medics wanted to ensure I was ok by monitoring me for at least 30 mins. I slowly peeled my legs and hands from my bike and shuffle over to the medics. I was upset as I knew this was the end of the race for me. I was emotional and disappointed that I could not go on, but proud to have achieved 18 hours of the toughest riding of my life.
I am so appreciative of all the help and support that I have received for this event. I can't thank the WA Team enough for helping me with mechanics during the work period, for fuelling up my bike and handing me food to fuel my body and for encouraging and supporting all team WA riders through this event. Thanks to my sponsors West Coast Honda, Brian for suspension and engine work, Viral goggles, Ride tribe FXR racing and Pipe King. Thank you to the Motorcycling WA Women’s Committee for their support and Triton Transport Services
It has been a great experience and a lot of fun. I have learnt so much and gained a lot of confidence in my riding abilities despite not being able to finish. I want to see WA on the national podium and I hope I can one day be a part of this dream.
I already want to start training for the next 4 day and I'm excited to see how far I can develop my riding abilities over the next year!
Kat encourages any other women to come and join in the fun with the female riders at State and Club Enduros. Everyone supports each other and the women’s class is always supported by the guys and organisers.