As the mist hovered over 1800 hectares of ridges and deep valleys of East coast Australia’s lower Central Coast region, an air of tension and nervous laughter abound those congregated at the ‘Red Bull Lost & Found’ base camp in the Watagan State Forest in the wee hours of Sunday 4th September 2011.
Nobody could perceive how this inaugural MX orienteering event would unfold, least of all the small band of dedicated enduro motorbike riders about to head into a maze of 70km switchback single tracks, technical rocky ascents, soft clay, deep sand pits and wide open forest trails all in a search for only three elusive wooden crates, each brimming with a plethora of prizes including tickets to red Bull X-Fighters, signed Robbie Maddison merchandise, Swatch watches and more.
The mist evaporated and fumes radiated as bikes came to life; casual light heartedness turned to grimace; and clutch fingers feathered. Suddenly the roar of four-stroke’s thundered off the start line into a wilderness of thick eucalyptus scrub, all intent on one objective… to win.
The rules were simple. Collect clues to the location of the crates at each checkpoint. The first to the crate wins; there were no prizes for second place!
But it is never as simple as it sounds and it quickly became clear, this game was for both the hare and the tortoise.
Three separate and diverse trails nulled any follow-the-leader pace and the routes eventually converged into a sole ‘enduro heaven’. Challenging man and machine, the terrain kept bums off seats and brake fingers hovering.
At the pointy end of the field, Micheal Blaine offered up a lesson in XC skills as he annihilated the steep climbs and narrow single track aboard his KTM 400 EXC but his blistering speed was also his Achilles heel. “I didn’t even see the first crate. I knew it was out there between checkpoint one and two, but I must have ridden straight past it. There was no use turning back! I just went on looking for the next crate.”
Broken fairings, molten bodywork, busted sumps, and missed crates quickly became the game of the day but grins were aplenty for Dave Collins, Rod Carter and even Michael Blain who each picked up a crate to take home.
“The day was a huge success,” noted Red Bull’s Field Marketing Manager Brent Nassibian.
“The trails were challenging enough for the experienced contenders while still allowing everybody to get home safely. DNF’s and injuries were limited and I am already being asked, “When is it on again?” We intended to run Lost and Found in the lead up to X-Fighters but it’s exciting this project now has the opportunity to become an annual event on it’s own.”