Katie Robinson is a 31 year old amateur motorbike rider from Eton QLD, who rode her first-ever motorbike race in the Don River Dash in 2021. Last year she took out third in the women’s bikes and has made trail rides and racing a part of her life.
The Don River Dash is a two-day off-road and endurance race through natural terrain that sees bikes, buggies and trophy trucks race in a reverse grid format, which means more passing and more action. Competitors race 25km upstream along the largely dry Don River bed navigating a mixture of sand, rocks, jumps and water before turning downstream to complete the 50km loop. In total competitors test their skills over two days and across 300km and the unique reverse grid format sees plenty of competitors passing.
“There nothing better for a relationship than heading out on a bike trip. All the minor irritations fall away when you’re twisting throttles. Who cares who cleaned the toilet and who’s supposed to be making dinner,” according to Katie.
A hobby in motorbikes was on the cards from an early stage as Katie assisted her partner, Justin in the shed fixing bikes. The many weekends spent fixing bikes has paid off for Katie has she heads into 2023’s Don River Dash.
The Don Riverbed is the track for the Don River Dash and it changes every year due to rainfall and water flow in the months before the race. Adding to the unknowns, 80 buggies race through the riverbed first thing on the second day, making the race track unrecognisable for the bike riders.
“I think the main challenge we face is mindset. The right mindset has a huge impact. How do we think? How do we believe in ourselves? How can you concentrate? Think of other influences, or can you focus your concentration on only yourself and your riding. Everyone is racing under the same conditions in the allocated time frame. You can’t win the race on the first lap, but you CAN lose it. Self-doubt keeps you in your comfort zone,‘ said Katie.
“In one section of the track, I drowned my bike in a water crossing, wetting my spark plug. I remember looking down at my bike, re-gathering focus and energy. I noticed that Justin had written on my bar pad the word BREATHE. Seeing that note quickly reminded me to maintain focus and confidence,’ added Katie.
The Don River Dash is one of the most diverse motorsport races in the country, attracting amateurs on their first race through to professional athletes with sponsorships to back them. Big names in motorsport; Dean Ferris, Liam Walsh and Toby Price, all race in mixed races on the same track. This is one race that familiarity with the track doesn’t help – the great leveller, raw skill.
“It’s not all about speed, so it doesn’t matter if you’re not the fastest. The results won’t happen overnight; You need to work hard in order to achieve this. Consistent persistence work is needed to get closer to your goals. But have fun doing it. Motorsports isn’t all work and no play, though, so enjoy the journey, embrace the race, embrace the fails and the mistakes, and embrace the “bad” races because these all redirect your focus, your goals and your training. Therefore, taking you steps closer to success. And at the end of the race, shiny cup or not, we’ll have a beer, and we will celebrate the good the bad the ugly and the safe return to the pits,” shared Katie.
Some tips from Katie for other women wanting to get on the bike:
- Mindset is everything
- Manage your stress, it will affect your ability to concentrate otherwise
- Remember to breathe
- Visualise your performance before the race – ride the track in your mind and go over your technique
- Winning isn’t just the podium finishes, it’s improving lap times, gaining confidence and walking away knowing you raced as hard as you could.
- No hour spent on the bike is wasted, gear up!
The 2023 Don River Dash event is being held on 8 – 10 September 2023 based at the Bowen Showgrounds, 25 Mt Nutt Road, Bowen, The Whitsundays. Visit the Don River Dash website for more information.