WHAT STARTED on a whim has now become an insatiable obsession for Echuca endurance rider Sam Davie.
This time last year Davie had decided 2016 would be his final attempt at Finke for the world’s most gruelling desert motor endurance event.
He didn’t finish that race and was instead airlifted back to Alice Springs with a separated shoulder joint and concussion.
It took three months before he was cleared to ride again, by which time he had already begun planning his next trip to the centre.
‘‘After the race everyone always says they won’t be coming back,’’ Davie said.
‘‘But give it two months once you’ve forgotten about all the bruises, blisters and aching bones and you’re right back into training for the next one.’’
This year was the 22-year-olds third attempt at the race, having first finished ninth outright in 2015, and despite qualifying in 15th on the Saturday he managed to make up ground on both days to finish fifth outright this year.
‘‘I was pretty disappointed with my qualifying position,’’ Davie said.
‘‘I was hoping to start around 10th or sooner, but to finish in sixth position — which is where I should’ve started — after day one was pretty good especially given the dust.’’
The dust had been the worst he had encountered at Finke, with no wind on the Sunday to clear the track of the red, cloudy haze.
Davie described it as riding with a hessian bag over your head and made chasing the leader all the more difficult.
‘‘I ended up passing about five riders in the space of 50km on day one,’’ Davie said.
‘‘But every time you went to pass you’d be riding blind, it was like having a hessian bag over your head.
‘‘It was easier coming back on the Monday and I tried to make up as much time as I could, but it was just too late to make up any real ground.’’
Davie has only been racing competitively for three years but had been on the back of a bike since he was three-years-old.
Broken bones and on-going concussions had become the norm — two broken wrists, both ankles broken, a broken collarbone and a shoulder reconstruction making up just a minor fraction of the list.
‘‘In the end we all love what we do,’’ Davie said.
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