Taking on the Kozi Killer

Esk riders Jodie Chapman and James Wager are taking on Round 1 of the Australian Hard Enduro Championships this weekend. Pictures: JACOB HAYDEN

Esk Motorbike lovers James Wager and Jodie Chapman are putting all of their time and savings into competing in the Australian Hard Enduro Championships.

Round 1 of 4 in the competition kicks off this weekend at Mt Kosciusko in Victoria, nicknamed ‘the Kozi Killer’.

Wager said he competed in 2022 ‘just to see what it was like’.

“It was more of an information-gathering thing for me,” he said.

“This year we’ll actually have a crack at it.”

Wager has ridden bikes for most of his life, coaches motorbike riding, and is the president of the Toowoomba Motorcycle Club.

Wager’s partner, Jodie Chapman, has been riding for five years and met Wager through coaching.

This will be her first time competing in hard enduro, and she’s up against 280 competitors with only five women in the field.

“I basically just want to not do a DNF, my goal is to finish and to experience,” Chapman said.

Hard enduro involves man-made and natural courses with obstacles.

“The format is, for the prologue you have an hour to try and do as many laps as you can of a 2km or 3km track, and that dictates your starting position for Sunday,” Wager said.

“Sunday is a four-hour cross country, so you have four hours to do as many 15km laps as you can.

“There’s a man-made obstacle course as part of the track and then you pull out into the bush and in the bush you can have everything from massive hill climbs, creeks, big drop-offs, logs and all sorts of stuff.”

Wager said his goal was to place in the top 10 in the silver grade.

“In order to race gold the year after you need to place top 10 in silver, so no matter how much experience you have to do one full series in silver to get that vetting process rolling,” he said.

Wager and Chapman practiced on their family’s property in Esk and at the Toowoomba Motorcycle Club.

“Neither of us are drinking, we’re just doing everything we can to keep the bodies right, hydrating and eating properly,” Wager said.

“Every weekend is on the bike, whether I’m coaching our out training… it’s a lot of time behind handlebars.”

Wager and Chapman thanked their sponsors, Esk Stihl Shop, Toowoomba MPE, TJM Toowoomba, and their families for the support.

“I think we’ve budgeted $10k-$15k in fuel for the year, entry fees are $400 each per event, and then we’ve got gear, tyres, wear and tear, spare parts, trailer, vehicle and accommodation… it just doesn’t end,” Wager said.

“The amount of money we’ve put into, and our sponsors have put into getting us across the line is pretty impressive.”

Wager and Chapman planned to leave for Victoria on Wednesday 3 April, and will by joined by a dozen riders from southeast Queensland, including Brian White from Fordsdale in the Lockyer Valley.