Dancing Under The Stars
A 20-year involvement in motorsports along with his love of the great Australian outback combined to offer Denyer his biggest challenge yet. Three days and nights battling the 176,500km2 of red sandy desert in central Australia that straddles the Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland. “I love doing what others can’t or won’t,” Denyer explained while reliving the great adventure. “The Simpson is a hardcore place to manhandle a motorcycle, particularly when you don’t have a support vehicle. You’re taking a chance with it, and it’s kinda nice to walk up to the line of danger and put a toe over it and hope for the best.”
When it came to choosing the right bike for the arduous adventure, Denyer couldn’t look past Yamaha’s classic 250cc single-cylinder adventure machine.
“The WR250R was the perfect bike for us,” he said. It’s lightweight and sits on top of the sand a bit nicer. And when you’re crossing more than 2000 dunes you’re gonna be dropping the thing a few times. So you need a bike you can pick up that doesn’t burn all your energy. The WR250R was an absolute dream – it got me up Big Red no dramas.”
"I thought I’d made the worst decision in the world. It got on top of me both physically and mentally."
Riding the Simpson Desert alone would be pure insanity, so Denyer’s companion for the trip was long-time mate, Adrian Christie. The office executive and part-time adventurer was placed in charge of logistics, working out fuel distances and the minimal camping gear they would need to carry so they could travel as light as possible. His calculations proved to be spot on, with the duo completing the remote crossing with just one litre of the previsioned 26 litres of fuel to spare!
Despite tackling some of the fastest and fiercest racing circuits in the world, behind the wheel of a V8 Supercar, Denyer admitted to being nervous as he was about to set off. “Sand is such a beast to ride and tough to conquer, he said. “To be honest, halfway through the first day, if I had mobile service and could have called a chopper to take me out I would have. I thought I’d made the worst decision in the world. It got on top of me both physically and mentally. But that’s the cool thing about challenges like this - you reveal your true self when you have to dig deep because you have no choice. And it was so worth it. I’m glad I persisted.”
There are a few routes to choose when tackling the Simpson, the most common is the French Line, straight through the guts. The pair headed west on this track for the first leg but found the sand was chopped up by 4WDs, and it proved a real challenge. “The sand was super soft and many of the dunes had big holes in them where the 4WDs had been spinning their wheels – they were really hard to ride, it was super physical” says Denyer, who adds they both endured some big spills along the route.
On the return from the turnaround point at Dalhousie Springs, the pair chose a different route known as the WAA Line. The route was not as busy and in better condition than the French Line. “It would have been a lot easier to run this route both ways, so it pays to do some research,” Denyer revealed.
The pair completed the return trip double crossing in just three and a half days, tackling 2200 sand dunes and travelling more than 1010km across the remote and unforgiving desert. “The Simpson is a punishing and spectacular temptress. It was long, exhausting and exhilarating and I will remember those desert night stars forever. A brutal but brilliant adventure,” Denyer concluded.
While Denyer’s adventure-riding bucket list still a few items to tick off, another crossing of the Simpson Desert is not one of them. “I never want to do this again. Shoot me if I forget.”
“The WR250R was the perfect bike for us”