18 October - Wrap up
Container packing day!! This year unfortunately the Wellard container packing was early Sunday morning. For some of the crew it was a real struggle as they had partied on until the wee hours of the morning and from what I understand “what happens in Portugal stays in Portugal” so there is no kiss and tell stories from me. Ha, Ha.
The evening of the awards dinner was held at the Casino in the centre of town where we had a nice meal and drinks supplied by the FIM who were the governing body for the event. In true European style the presentations did not start until way after ten thirty pm once all guests had eaten.
After the club riders were presented with their awards our Wellard Women’s Enduro racers were called up and in doing so made Australian history being our first ever ISDE women’s Trophy Team and getting onto the podium.
Jacqui, Jemma and Alison also received a few wolf whistles from those who realised that racers don’t necessarily have to be hairy chested blokes.
There were lots of people around our table that were extremely proud at what the girls had done. This podium announced that Australia had arrived and ensured Women’s teams will be supported by Motorcycling Australia for many years to come. For me personally knowing that Wellard was the major factor in the girls being able to make it to this years event is pretty cool and to be able to say that in my own way had a small part to play is just another chapter in what we have achieved in the motorcycling world.
There are a few people we need to thank in assisting with our campaign this year.
Firstly Mauro Balzarini the man who initially came up with an idea to send a club team to the 2007 ISDE in Chile, we now reward you with a World Championship podium for your support. Without your passion for the sport and love of helping everyone we could not have returned you this fantastic result.
Bill and Aurelio from five star Yamaha you guys rock. Nothing is ever a problem!!
Sean Phillips from Belray lubricants, we have used them every year so far in some of the harshest conditions and there is nothing your products can’t handle.
Jason from Endura, your rehydration and energy products have given our riders the energy to finish these tough races for the last three years running. They are the best!!
Ray Howard at Yamaha Australia for getting behind the girls and helping with the WR250F’s the team used. They are a great bike that has never let the riders down in some of the most extreme conditions that you could imagine.
Lisa Mclean. Every year we stress you out with our requests and demands from early in the year when we are getting things organised right up to at the event from the other side of the world. You are a legend thank you so much!!!
Thanks to all the team of supporters who came along to help, we always can do with a hand!!
Thanks to all the people who sent messages from home especially all the Wellard family who have been logging on to see how their team has been going, they really did help. Anyone I have forgotten sorry as it has been a tough couple of weeks.
Oh by the way we got the container packed and it is on its way back to Australia!!!
17 October - Day Six
Today was the last day of competition for the Wellard Women’s team. It consisted of ninety kilometres of trail and time check points before arriving at the most awesome Motocross circuit I have seen for a while. It was used this year for a round of the FIM World Motocross series.
Situated in a gully it was a hard pack circuit snaking up and around either side and was filled with massive jumps, step ups and drop off’s. Once the girls had arrived finishing their trail section for the day they had some time to kill as the final stage of the event is the Motocross test.
It is a bit weird finishing off an Enduro with another discipline of riding but it has been done that way forever and gives the opportunity for people to see the riders in action without chasing them through miles of scrub. It is also the time when promoter’s can get television coverage.
As we drove into the venue it was evident that a lot of people had come to see the riders. There were cars parked for miles along the road in as far as we could see.
Because of the live television, things were scripted well. The girls were due out just after twelve noon. With one sighting lap they were lined up behind the start gates and in no time at all were blasting their way around the track.
With just six two minute laps to decide if they stood on the podium in their first ever world championship event Jacqui was on the gas like a jack rabbit!! She took the challenge to the front couple of girls and her Motocross skills became evident as she hit the big table tops and got plenty of air. Jemma and Alison were a little back in the pack at the start and had to fight hard to make time on the front runners. Even though this was a motocross race scoring is still judged in time from the leader and both girls new they just needed to maintain a certain distance to clinch Australia’s first ever Women’s podium.
As the chequered flag was waved history was made by the Wellard Team who were on the podium in third place a relieved, tired, excited team of girls were still to let it sink in how well they had performed.
There was a trophy presentation at the circuit for the television where they were awarded the team cup and then later on that evening at the casino in Figuera da Foz
They received their medallions for placing on the podium. It is now after twelve a.m. and the girls were last seen heading out to party a little before being up early tomorrow (I mean today) to pack the container for shipping back to Australia.
Tomorrow’s blog will be a wrap up of Wellard’s 2009 ISDE so if you have been tagging along for the ride drop in one more time as we close this chapter on the adventure.
16 October - Day Five
Day five of the International Six Day Enduro saw the Wellard Women’s Team lying in third place for the event. With nearly 1600 Kilometres of trail under their belts Jemma, Jacqui and Alison have fought hard every day through some of Portugal’s harshest conditions. Physical and mental toughness has shown through on many occasions and today was no different as they were confronted with a new day of trail and special tests.
In the week leading up to the event there was a special test marked out on the low lying flats of a river. It was covered in swampy reeds and the ground was treacherously marshy in some places. As a trophy team the girls are fortunate enough to be more towards the front of the four hundred and fifty rider pack, so when they went through the section today for the first time, with the warmer conditions we have had in the past few days it had dried significantly than when we saw it last week, making it slightly easier to navigate. In the world of Enduro, loops are often done twice per day. So this meant that by the time the girls got to it a second time, more than six hundred bikes had passed over the ground.
In the afternoon lap things had changed significantly, the ground was wet and rutted and the water had leached through making conditions extremely difficult. This is where a good support crew (which they have of course) comes into play. Before the riders reach the section the support crew will make their way through the reeds and mud to view the best lines. Then they will go to the start of the special test to inform the riders on what to be aware of and where to go. Luckily we also had sufficient crew to leave one there to actually point out the best lines as well. The Wellard girls managed to make it through the muddy section unlike some of their competitors especially their American opponents (see pictures and video blog) who were just behind our girls in the podium chase.
With another seven hours today of riding on new trail and special tests the girls have maintained their third place and chipped a little time off second and as fortune has it they increased their lead significantly on fourth which gives them a little breathing space.
Tomorrow is the last day of competition that consists of a ninety kilometre trail ride before arriving at a Motocross track once used in the GP circuit of Europe. There they will compete in a full Motocross race in front of live television to decide the final standings for the 2009 International Six Day Enduro.
So make sure you log on at least one more time to see how the Aussie girls stack up against the best in the world!!
15 October - Day Four
Day four of the event started out with the morning cold start from the Parc Ferme around 8.40am and the Wellard girls were on their way into battle again.
While the riders are the main attraction and the real reason we are all here, in the background are the support crews who keep the girls on top of their game. Not only do they man the many check points around the course, they have to be many other things as well. This ranges from Mechanic, Mentor, Motivator, through to Doctor, Masseur, Mum and Dad.
The riders are the ones who come first when receiving everything that is required to make their job easier, as without them there would be no result. But the support crews are who actually do all the hard yards and provide the best possible environment for the riders. They are the ones who have to traverse from one place to another at high speed ensuring all is well between check point and special tests. They navigate through miles of road and crazy streets in little towns with foreign signs and language to miraculously appear in the middle of nowhere cheering on riders when they just want to give it all up.
They are there to take bum bags at the start of a special test to lighten the load so riders can achieve the best possible time and then hand them back before disappearing like lightening before reappearing for the next test many miles away.
Support crews are there long after riders have headed back to the hotel to recover from the big day they have had. They ensure riding gear is sorted, mousse tubes are fitted to the next day’s tires and air filters are clean and oiled ready to be fitted. So next time you here a rider say “today was tough” spare a though for those who behind the scenes that provide so much and expect so little. The humble Support Crew.
Oh and as for the girls they did awesome today!! Shaving a further thirty seconds off the gap to second place and making more ground on fourth. With just day five and six to go the action is heating up so keep tuned in as it all goes down to the wire in Portugal.
14 October 2009 - Day Three
So far the Wellard girls have been on an upward march towards a podium position for the event. With every fairy tale story there is the damsel in distress and the hero who saves the day. Well I can tell you that in the tough world of Enduro’s they have to be the same person. Today Jacqui had to be the damsel and the hero when a fall at a big rocky down hill section left her with a holed engine casing.
An extremely difficult switch back on top of the rock section was a spectator’s delight as riders tried to negotiate the best way of making it down the hill. Jacqui’s turn finally came, being shorter in stature she opted to dismount and wheel the bike around under its own power, while doing this the front wheel became wedged in between two rocks an put her off balance causing her Yamaha machine to crash heavily on the rocks. After up righting her bike and regaining control of her decent she checked for any issues at the bottom where she discovered a hole in the ignition side engine casing. Luckily it was a scar type crack that did not allow much of the precious engine oil to leak out.
A repair was needed before she could continue which she got straight into. All the while with chaos around her and no assistance from support crew who were just arriving to the down hill section to see how their riders had coped with the decline, she soldiered on. I must say that the sight of a cool calm young lady getting on with the repair job with only the stuff she carried in her bum bag was inspiring to say the least.
With bikes, crazy fans and officials all around Jacqui performed a roadside repair that would see her finish all trail and special test for the day. Unfortunately she lost a little trail time along the way but the result did not effect the team position. So day four will see the Aussie chargers still in third outright just 40 seconds in front of the American team. This is a story that could not be scripted better so make sure you tune in for the results of the Wellard Women’s Enduro Team.
If ever there was a time they could use the support of everyone watching their progress back in Australia now is the time to log onto the 'Contact the Team' page and send them a message from home, so get to it!!!
13 October - Day Two
Day two and the Wellard girls were ready for more action out on the trails. The skies have been clear and temperature around the high twenties to thirties, which has made the trails and special tests a little dustier from earlier in the week when we had damper conditions.
Today was a great day for the team as all riders got a little more accustomed with the sand stages which managed to lift them into third outright. Jemma, Jacqui and Alison have been adjusting their sand riding with great results as the scoreboard reflects.
With todays trail a carbon copy of yesterday all riders were a little more familiar with the task at hand, so they just had to factor in the bikes that had been before them and how things could have changed. There were more ruts and exposed rock to contend with but on the positive some of the trickier sections were easier, tamed down by the shear number of bikes that have passed over them.
After a small crash yesterday the team were a little concerned about possible damage to one of the radiators on Jacqui’s bike but her Yamaha WR250F never showed any signs of missing a beat in the harsh conditions. A true testament on how good these blue bikes really are.
Alison brought her “A” game today and lowered her times from yesterday after discussing some sand techniques then putting them into practice. Jacqui also improved her times especially in the last beach test.
Day three brings new trail and test so in effect back to the unknown. If today is anything to go by our Wellard Aussie girls are just working out they are as good as the rest of the world’s fastest female riders and have a shot at the world title.
So don’t forget to log on to keep up to date on their progress and pleas keep sending the messages of support from home as they are really appreciated.
12 October 2009 - Day One
Today was the first day of competition for the Wellard girls. After a week of waiting and preparing things in readiness, the moment of truth was here. Jemma, Jacqui and Alison were primed and ready for action, ahead of the riders was a long day of the toughest terrain Portugal had to offer.
With Jacqui away from the Parc Ferme at 8.53am and the other girls soon after, we were at the Pit Paddock by 7.45 and in turn the girls made their way into the Parc Ferme to collect their trusty Yamaha WR250F’s and make their way to the start line.
Before long all were on route to the first control point and special test some 15 kilometres away. Their support team were spread over checkpoints while others were permanently in transit crisscrossing the countryside between special tests and checkpoints cheering their riders on from every vantage point on the trail and offering encouraging words at checkpoints.
The trail was a mixture of fast flowing sections, big rocky uphill climbs and sand. The special tests were also a mixture of hard pack rock strewn hills with rutted drop offs and steep craggy step ups. The girls attack the trail and tests like the talented riders they are. Each had their share of moments along the way where they were parted from their machines but no injuries or bike issues meant they all finished the day one intact.
After just over six hours of constant riding with only a few fuel stops and enough time to rehydrate and consume a quick snack to keep their energy level up they arrived back at the Parc Ferme where a gruelling final test on the beach awaited them. The Course was about three minutes in time and was literally on the beach right by the waters edge. The energy sapping deep sand was not exactly what the girls needed after such a gruelling day but they stepped up and gave it their best shot.
After the trail and special test times were calculated Jemma was in fourth outright, Alison was eighth and Jacqui was tenth. This was a good start for the girls as apart from Alison they were coming to terms with their first taste of the biggest Enduro event they had ever ridden.
In the last work period at the end of the day all three pilots serviced their machines. This ranged from oil changes to fitting new tires and changing air filters. For those not familiar with Enduro’s this is done in an allotted time that starts immediately when they finish the last special test, all servicing must be done and the bike returned to the Parc Ferme lock up area in just fifteen minutes. The catch is only the rider can perform the work, with a helper being only allowed to hand them tools.
Pre event nerves out of the way tomorrow will be a day racing over the same course. It will be a more known trail but with over 400 bikes having done two loops over it already the terrain will be more rutted and rough. So make sure you log on to see the progress of our Aussie girls who are taking on the world’s best.
11 October 2009
Today was the last day before all the action starts. At 8.53am Monday morning the first of the Wellard Women will start their quest for a World Enduro Championship. We are seven hours ahead of Perth time so at about 4pm in the afternoon or around 6pm on the east coast just while most will be thinking of knocking off, the girls will be embarking on seven hours of punishing Enduro riding.
You can track their progress in real time by logging onto the ISDE site, that way you can keep a track of where the girls are coming on every day.
Sunday for the girls was taken up resting and getting ready for their big week ahead. There was things to do like getting stuff ready to go out to various check points along the trails like energy bars, drinks, air filters, Goggles, Gloves in case they are needed.
So keep the messages of support coming for the team as they read them all and it is good to know the people who could not come to Portugal are still able to interact via the website.
10 October 2009
With the bikes in the Parc Ferme is was a really casual day. We took it easy and walked a special test to see what the terrain was like. This one was a flat section on the banks of the river, it was much like a tidal plane with marsh type bushes and a few mud holes. The rest of it though long taking us nearly two hour to walk was not very difficult it will get bumpy and rutted after the bikes do a lap on it.
The girls had some more official event pictures taken on the foreshore by the organisation before we took a look at a particularly difficult down hill rock section near our hotel. It comes down a steep hill and has very rocky ledges to contend with. After some time discussing lines it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for the opening ceremony parade.
Australia was about fourth or fifth country to march. All the team and their supporters paraded in front of the huge crowd gathered on the foreshore near the Pit Paddock and it was a great sight to see and hear the huge roar our riders got from the crowd. After the festivities the team gathered for a meal before making our way back to the hotel.
Tomorrow is the last free day before competition begins so the riders will rest up as they will need all the energy they can muster for day one on Monday.
9 October 2009
Today was the last day to get the bikes ready to be locked away in the Parc Ferme. Luckily there was not much to do except for a few small things, the rest of the countries have started going through technical inspection so the Pit Paddock is beginning to empty out a little. The things they check are mainly rule book item like working tail and head light which is pretty weird as the bikes are not allowed to ride at night. Included is noise testing which needs the bikes to be less than 96db. All our bikes have standard mufflers so there was no issue.
Administration was at 3pm where rider credentials are checked in against their entries and the paperwork for insurance and event specific matters are done. From there the bikes went through scrutineering no worries and will only be allowed out of the Parc Ferme during race hours. The start is now getting nearer and the expectations and excitement is really starting to build. Tomorrow is the opening parade where riders will be marching up onto the dais in front of the home town Portuguese crowd.
8 October 2009
Much of day three for Wellard’s 2009 ISDE campaign was spent at the pit Paddock. After making sure the bikes were road ready the girls rode their Yamaha WRF 250’s for the first time on Portuguese soil. Jemma and Jacqui quickly realised it was a very different experience indeed dealing with riding on the opposite side of the road they also needed to familiarise themselves with the different style of drivers in Europe. For Alison it was just a refresher as she had done the 2007 ISDE in South America and has already dealt with some of these issues before.
A few kilometres from the Paddock was the official test track to sort any last minute issues. All three girls put their bikes through their paces and returned with mixed reaction to the deep sand. So far the majority of the discussions have been around different sand riding techniques and only time will tell which will be best!!
Upon their return bikes were washed, had an oil change and Wellard graphics were fitted. All last minute details were taken care of by team mechanic Liam and his band of helpers. By this time the girls had turned their attention to walking the special test to try and familiarise themselves as much as they can with the terrain.
Tomorrow will be another day of walking special test before rider sign in and technical inspection where the bikes will be locked in the Parc Ferme from then on every night for the event.
7 October 2009
After much needed sleep day two commenced in Figueira Da Foz, the town we came into by darkness less than twelve hours before. Luckily the storms from yesterday were gone and the place was bathed in brilliant sunshine. Things certainly looked different than when we fumbled our way into town. After breakfast we made our way to the Parc Ferme where the Wellard container was waiting with it’s cargo of Yamaha WRF race bikes.
This year just like Chile in 2007 the Parc Ferme was situated on the beach front just a stone throw from the ocean. There was activity everywhere as countries from all over the world were setting up their pit areas and doing last minute preparation to bikes of all makes and models.
With a team effort we unloaded and set up the shipping container ready to do the last few adjustments before the girls do their final tuning on the test track.
Each of the bikes was fitted with radiator guards in expectation of the tough conditions that could see them on the ground more than once over the gruelling six days of competition. Jacqui has also decided to run a slipper clutch in her bike to assist with smoothing out the way her bike will react over the course of the event. Team Mechanic Liam Robertson and the girls' helpers worked on the adjustments needed to get the bikes just the way the girls will want them.
After a full day at the Parc Ferme, tomorrow will see all riders testing their Yamaha machines before they have an oil change and new Belray Thumper oil is put in along with mousse tubes and race tires.
5 and 6 October 2009
The 2009 Wellard Women’s World Enduro team has started their ISDE campaign in earnest. All members met in Singapore and Portugal to come together for the first time as a team.
Riders Jemma Wilson, Jacqui Jones and Alison Parker all come from the east coast while team management and mechanic are located on the western seaboard. After a gruelling flight schedule that started from Australia we moved through Singapore, London, Lisboa and then finally a two and a half hour drive to Figueira Da Foz in Portugal.
After nearly twenty four hours of flights and airports we struck the first of what will be many issues associated with our adventure. Jemma had brought from Australia the custom suspension which she used this year in her Yamaha WRF race bike. On arrival in Lisboa Portugal we were told that her suspension components were not transferred from the plane in London and were still sitting at Heathrow.
Though assured they would be on the next plane from London it set us back in time. So while some of the team kept on to Figueira Da Foz a few stayed behind to receive the valuable cargo.
Little did we know it would be seven hours until we saw the missing cargo and finally be able to set off to our hotel. Peak hour traffic and Mother Nature in the form of a thunderstorm and driving rain made the trip just that little more interesting.
After getting lost a couple of times in the unfamiliar terrain we managed to roll into our hotel at 11pm for some much needed sleep.