Like most great ideas, this started over a couple of beers with some mates.

Story by Matthew McFerran  / @matty_mac

Coming from a motocross then Freestyle background, desert racing was never once on my radar, in fact I remember I use to fast forward the Johnny Campbell section in Terrafirma 3 to get to the Motocross, but after restoring an old XR600 I decided to see what it was all about and enter Australia’s toughest desert race.

The Finke Desert Race is an off road, multi terrain two-day race for bikes, cars and buggies, through desert country from Alice Springs to the small town called Finke. The race is located in the centre of Australia and has the reputation of being one of the most difficult offroad courses in one of the most remote places in the world.

Not knowing any of this, me and my mate loaded up the 24 year old stock XR600 and started the 3 day drive out to the centre of Australia to Alice Springs where the race starts. Over 470 riders had entered this year, all which were on basically brand new bikes and here I was on this clapped out XR600 I brought off Facebook market place with just some fresh plastics, shit was about to get real hard quick. 

I somehow qualified 185th which put us in a half ok starting position for day one. Sitting on the start line waiting to leave, it really started to sink in how under prepared I was for this, no training what soever, no pre running and riding a bike that was over 24 years old, but fuck I was excited. Day one I finished 181st and day two finished 175th overall with a time of 5 hours and 31 minutes.

Crossing that finish line was something I had never felt before, I fully broke down. This was without a doubt the hardest thing I had ever done on a motorcycle and the hardest I had ever pushed myself before, which was overwhelming but a cool feeling.

My goal was always just to finish and I couldn’t have been anymore stoked to finish where I did. At the finish line I said I would never do it again but a couple of weeks later writing this, I will definitely be back and doing it on the same XR600.