Bundy firey is ready to blaze a trail
FROM fighting fires to racing dirt bikes, it's easy to see Bundaberg's Jonathon Blackley likes to walk on the wild side.
Mr Blackley has been riding motorbikes since he was 14 years of age and the Finke Desert Race has been on his bucket list for more 20 years.
"I'm bloody excited,” Mr Blackley said.
"I've been aiming for this for a long time, and I've been committed for the last 13 months.”
The annual event is a round trip from Alice Springs and has been operating for more 40 years.
"It's a race from Alice Springs to Aputula, which is in Finke, it's an Aboriginal community 226km from Alice and you race down one day and race back the next,” Mr Blackley said.
"Six-hundred and fifty bikes and around 200 cars have entered, and I just want to be that guy who can say he's done the Finke and maybe inspire others to do it too.”
Some of the best riders in the world will be there and for Mr Blackley, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race alongside the likes of Toby Price.
A knee operation in August last year came as a minor setback for the rider, but no matter the obstacle, nothing was going to stand in this firefighter's way.
"This time last year I said I was going to do it,” he said.
"I'm 39 years old and that's important because I always said I was going to do this before I turned 40.
"The knee operation was a hiccup, but at no point did I think I wouldn't make it.”
Being in the fire service for 16 years meant Mr Blackley had a decent level of fitness and was able to bounce back rather quickly.
"I've been working out three times a week and getting a lot of bike time and sand riding,” he said.
"A few weeks back I went up (to Rockhampton) for a coaching session where we just did on-bike training, (my coach) watched me ride and gave me pointers on feet placement, body positioning, lines to take into corners, throttle and clutch control, and all that sort of stuff.”
Mr Blackley will have to ride the 226kms in four-and-a-half hours to qualify for the return trip the following day.
"The time frame is attainable, and the pros will do it in just over two hours, but it's not a trail ride and it's not a walk in the park,” he said.
"To say you've done the Finke is a real achievement and they want to keep it that way, it is a race after all.”
This trip has come with a large financial commitment from Mr Blackley and his family which could not have been achieved without the help from local sponsors.
"Locally, Mega Motorcycles Bundy and Top Job Earthmoving have helped me out greatly and I really appreciate everything they've done for me,” he said.
Mr Blackley is a motocross lover through and through, and next on the bucket list is another marathon riding events.
"I'd love to do the Hattah next,” he said.
"That's the second biggest event in Australia, and my boy Jacko can do that one with me because they've got juniors.”
You can follow Mr Blackley's Facebook page for updates at https://bit.ly/2IvZbKo.