Looking for your next challenge in life? How about peddling 1200kms of the harshest terrain Australia can throw at you including extreme heat, unrelenting tracks of dirt, dust and unending corrugations, boulder strewn creek crossings, savage range climbs up to 20% gradient and possible bush fires?
Caption: The SheSpoke Cycle Wear team to tackle the Croc Trophy, the world’s toughest MTB race that features searing heat, serious crashes and remarkable feats of human endurance. From left: Lauretta Howarth, Maree Roberts and Sharman Parr.
If that appeals, then the world’s toughest mountain bike race, the 2010 Crocodile Trophy may be your panacea.
This event has had a past winner swear they will never return to attempt to conquer it again. It has pulverised the spirits of some of the world’s most highly credentialed male and female cyclists; from Olympians and world champions to winners of solo endurance races across entire continents.
But three women mountain biker riders from Cairns in Far North Queensland are going to give it their best shot as the only women’s team to have entered the race in its 15 year history.
Riding for SheSpoke Cycle Wear, a women’s specific cycle wear company, the three riders, Sharman Parr (56), Lauretta Howarth (37) and Maree Roberts (40), will start in the field of 99 contestants from Cairns on October 19 and aim to be at the finish line nine days later in Cape Tribulation. There are only seven women in total entered in the race.
Sharman is the only team rider to have previously attempted the event. She has qualified for the Kona Ironman five times, is the first women to have completed the Simpson Desert 5 race, and considers pushing herself to the limit something you do before breakfast. “But this race is brutal. For me it was like doing 10 Hawaii ironman and was tougher than any of the 10 day XPD adventure races I have done. It’s a race where you are pushing yourself to the limit every day trying to go as fast as you can against the elements. Then at the end of each day you are in the middle of nowhere for the night camping.”
While the two other members of the SheSpoke Cycle Wear team have not had the same endurance experience, they bring their own cycling skills to the race. Lauretta has Ironman wins to her credit and Maree has been known to ‘blow away’ a peleton of male riders with her superfast sprinting abilities.
“Ret (Lauretta Howarth) is a little dynamo on the hills and Maree (Roberts) is a time trial queen. As we all work and do not have the luxury of full time training it will be about the journey to the finish line and of course beating a few men. This year is about making history for women, with the first ever team to finish, so, go girl power!” Sharman said.
And once across the finish line Sharman, Lauretta and Maree will put on their high heels, apply their lipstick, dab on their perfume and hit the dance floor at the gala dinner. Not only will they have performed an amazing physical feat, they will have inspired women of all ages and abilities to throw aside their fears, grab life by the throat and give any challenge they undertake their absolute best.
For more details on The Crocodile Trophy race visit the website on www.crocodile-trophy.com or to view more details about the SheSpoke Cycle Wear team members check out their profiles on www.shespoke.com.au
photos Janos Schmidt