Hard Enduro a learning experience

Round 1 of the Australian Hard Enduro Championships was 'a learning experience' for Esk locals James Wager and Jodie Chapman. Picture: JACOB HAYDEN

Esk motorbike riders James Wager and Jodie Chapman had a hard time in Round 1 of the Australian Hard Enduro Championships held at Mt Kosciusko on 6 and 7 April and nicknamed ‘the Kozi Killer’.

“It was a learning experience, that was for sure,” Wager said.

“There were a few hurdles, like it rained since we left, so we’ve had wet camping for the last five nights, we’ve had wet beds, we’ve had cold.

“I don’t think I’ve seen it above 20 degrees.”

Wager and Chapman competed in the silver and bronze categories, respectively, racing along a 2-3km track over an hour on Saturday to decide race-start positions on Sunday.

“The prologue, I struggled with the cold, it was raining the whole prologue at 15 degrees or 14 degrees,” Wager said.

“I didn’t prologue as well as I wanted to, and it was quite tough so Jodie didn’t actually finish the prologue.”

Wager said he finished mid-pack on Sunday’s race, a four-hour cross country on a 15km lap.

“Jo did a lot better than we thought she was going to, but unfortunately she broke her bike, so she got a DNF for a mechanical,” Wager said.

Despite her DNF, Chapman was still proud of her effort on a wet-weather track.

“I hadn’t done any wet-weather training at all because I was nursing an injured shoulder,” she said.

“I hadn’t really tackled a lot of riding in the rain, so to actually get as far as I did… I was pretty stoked to get up on some of the ridges and overtake a couple of the guys.

“I felt positive about my control and my ability to keep fighting.”

Wager said the Hard Enduro competition was, unsurprisingly, very hard.

“I think there were a lot of riders that didn’t actually complete a lap [on Sunday], it was quite hard,” he said.

“The track was marked out for the dry, and there was about 50ml rain more than what was predicted.

“There were no major crashes or breakages, there were quite a few moments but nothing silly.”

Wager said he would have to budget slightly more for the next three rounds.

“I’m not camping ever again at a race, for the next three I’ll just be biting the bullet and paying for accommodation,” he said.

“There were a few things that rolled me and probably the biggest one was the accommodation, we haven’t slept properly since we left.

“The first night was in a motel, and then we were sleeping in the wet, in the rooftop tent from then on.”

Wager’s goal was to win top 10 in silver in the year’s competition.

“We’ll see how I go, I might have to change that goal,” he said.

Round 2 will be held 11 and 12 May.

“The event’s called the Goldfields Extreme, it’s about half an hour out of Bathurst,” Wager said.