24hr 2006: Welcome to the world’s biggest 24 hour
XC freakbike race
After Rat Patrol Oz's victorious appearance in the 2005
24hr race, the lycra crew prolly figured it was only a
one-off, a passing trend, just a couple of crazy guys
wearing 'funny' clothes riding... a... bike? Nobody was
too sure about what they saw on 4 wheels that day. Indeed,
it was the sociable double tallbike, Master Gravity Esquire
with Rat Patrollian pilots, who were officially first
to finish at the conclusion of the world's biggest
cross-country bicycle race. What a scene!
But what to do as an encore??
Well, for a start, we didn't like having to camp with
the thousands of competitors who choose to ride shop-bought
XC bikes and don the obligatory brand-coloured cycling
lycra, nor did we like the idea that we couldn't have
bands playing live music all night, a BBQ, welding equipment,
a fridge, a private XC track or our own Rat Events. So,
we went ferrel and planned for the next year — 2006
would be Rat Patrol Oz's year. They even asked to put
our team profile up on their website!!! Little did they
weeks later, Nancy Porker and Limp Jimmy 'find' a key
to the forest and, with the help of many, begin to set
up our own race. A race within a race. A Rat Race: this
time we had entered a chopper team and planned our own
special event — this would never be repeated again!
Careful planning had gone into choosing a campsite which
was just far enough away for people not to be able to
hear the 24hr party, which would be cranking the whole
weekend. We needed a place with it's own access track,
a nice vibe, somewhere with blue-sky light AND sun protection...
we finally found that place!
While Pork Chop and I only drove into the site once,
many others drove in loads of infrastructure on a daily
basis, right underneath the noses of many an anal race
organiser. Who knew we were there? Nobody. People saw
us heading into the forest but nobody even suspected our
dastardly intentions, nor could they have imagined the
scale at which it would come to fruition...
a week of living like an animal who can weld and knows
the value of an ice-cold beer, our venue was set up with
massive chopper racks, our own XC track, large stage and
performance areas, many couches, a bar, a kitchen, power,
extensive mood lighting, our own camping ground —
and even a toilet! Of course, we also had a Green Room
for the many performers who played for free. "WOW!",
that's all people could say, "WOW!!".
not many people of the thousands present said that, as
we wanted to keep it low-key and private; the only thing
that might have destroyed what we had created, could only
be the very reason we did it in the first place —
people. Those few-of-thousands who were led to our site
couldn't believe what they saw. Their mouths hung wide
So it was, smiling people invaded the beautiful space
we had created, setting up their own tents and using our
toilet. These people were not speaking our week-long festy
bush dialect, but they would soon pick it up in order
to be able to communicate with us; race day had finally
Team Rat Patrol Oz presented themselves at the start
line with all team members present and ready to ride.
We heard people saying things like "Ha! Look at those
guys, they'll NEVER make it around the 20km XC course!!!".
But for once, you could ride Zed's Dead around Race Village
and people didn't have to ask what all the crazy springs
were for, as they could clearly see what the 8" of
silky-smooth front-end wheel travel was doing, even tho
the back-end suspension system was incomprehensible...
I think we looked 'formidable' and 'serious' once we got
to the starting line, victory was ours!
Instead of running the 800m Le Mans start (in 2005 we
gingerly 'jogged' only 200m), we just waited on our choppers
— no, we weren't racing in relay like the other
teams, we thought it best for the whole team to ride at
the same time. Dr Splat wore the much-adorned Horse Hat
of Honour, Fr Knob was pimping his Holy Water, Nancy dressed
up in pilgrim attire for the occasion, Bloody Mary wore
a neck tie and carried a 20 litre container of water on
his back, and I looked cool AND tough.
set off, and after an initial mechanical at the 300m mark,
we rode strongly to the top of the switchback section
where many hundreds watched far below. "Shit!"
Fr Knob said. He realised he should have checked the Sproing
Bike to see if it's one brake was functional — it
wasn't. Nor was Splat's beast... At this point we were
struggling to stay ahead of the meat wagon (first aid
officers bring up the rear), so Knob went back to camp
and left the building in his own style without telling
his team mates, while Splat decided to adjust her brakes
some and predominantly go with the old foot-braking technique
to impress the large crowd on the most challenging and
dangerous downhill section of the track. At the bottom,
we sat down, smoked and waited for the omni-present Father
When all those people witnessed our downhill chopper-handling
skills, they realised we weren't just a bunch of idiots
riding funny bikes, moreover, we were idiots who could
ride much better than most of the other competitors, AND
we rode funny bikes. Before that, we were some clown act,
afterwards people realised we were serious clowns.
We had a few injuries of body and bike, but made it
though in style!!
Eventually we arrived back at Basecamp Ludicrous and
proceeded to party until the next day. Yep, a one-off
event, kick arse we do :)
Limp Jimmy, officially crossing the finish
line looking rather seedy, wearing no shoes or helmet.
I didn't hear anyone objecting...
We did our lap in around 4 hours so, that
time divided by 4 team members equalled (by our reckoning)
a time of around 1 hour — NOT BAD!!!!! Many people
almost crashed from catching glimpses of us sitting by
the track in the middle of the forest, smoking cigarettes,
laughing and dousing ourselves in water in the hot, dusty