When we last caught up with Brad ‘Ponga’ Evans he was preparing to pack up his gear bag and board a flight to Africa to complete his goal of competing in and finishing in the top 10 of the 2014 Roof of Africa Hard Enduro.
We are happy to report that Brad completed the event and did achieve his goal of finishing in the top 10. He actually smashed that goal by finishing in 7th place in the Silver class and now looks towards his next challenge: the 2015 Red Bull Romaniacs.
We were able to ask a few questions between work shifts over the Christmas and New Year holiday period and finally had the chance to put this article together.
PTS: Gday Brad, thanks for taking the time once again to share your experiences of Africa with the Perth Trail Scene members. Can you start off by telling us how you think your went in general? Are you pleased with your overall result?
Evans: Yea, I went there with the goal of a top 10 and to come away with 7th was pretty cool. It’s such an eventful race, nutrition in particular was a big thing that I should of payed a lot more attention to. Day 2 for me was massive, being on the bike for over 11hrs, and all I had was breakfast. I had nothing left in the tank towards the end of the day and I lost a lot of positions because of it. But in saying that, I also had a couple “lucky” escapes which could have quite easily ended my race on the spot, so overall I’m happy with 7th and stoked to cross the finish line. I learned a lot during that race and It’ll all help for Romaniacs in July.”
PTS: Some of the images that we saw, especially those from Irina (Irina Gorodniakova), were spectacular. Can you tell us about the terrain and how it compared to what you’re used to back in WA.
Evans: The scenery was unreal and the terrain was some of the hardest I’ve ever ridden. Thats one of the things I like about Extreme are unreal! Not that you get to enjoy them for long haha. Any one can go to these different countries and be a tourist, but what we get to see and experience during these races is something really special and something that not many other people get to see. We’ve got technical riding we do in WA out Brunswick and Nannup but it doesn’t compare to riding up Rocky Mountains 3000m above sea level on mountain goat trails, that’s hectic!
PTS: You mentioned the last time we spoke that you would be set up with a bike courtesy of Alfie Cox. How did the bike go?
Evans: The bike ran sweet, well almost haha. Think it was the second day I was there and we organised to head out for a ride a little out from Durban with a couple German riders, great lads, was just the 3 of us and we headed out into the jungle. Everything was sweet until we got to the bottom of this valley and my bike just cut out. Heres me thinking great, stuck in the middle of Africa with all sorts of animals that will happily eat you and it was starting to get dark, every 5 seconds I was looking over my shoulder haha. Then all these bushes and tree branches started rustling coming towards us and I thought yep, I’m done. I was pretty stoked when I saw it was only a bunch of monkeys coming down for a closer inspection! Turns out it was just a loose plug to the ignition on the bike and we got out of there haha. Other than that the bike ran sweet and never skipped a beat. I love the KTM300, such a great versatile bike, they will eat everything you throw at them.
PTS: Wow, yeah I would have been thinking worst case schenario too, like a lion or something stalking me! Can you tell us a bit more about Alfie? I met him at Erzberg last year and he is a really nice bloke. He seemed to have taken a bit of a shine to you – I think I recall seeing him welcome you at the finish line and you both looked like old friends!
Evans: Alfie’s a legend! I couldn’t of been on a better team, he’s won it 9 times and knows the race better than anyone which is very helpful and his crew know exactly what to do and how to set the bike up. Alfie and his family made me feel right at home from the start and he’s quite the character so we got along pretty well. Turns out he’s also pretty good at rally driving the big race van through the back streets of Lesotho when we where heading back to the casino for the after party, classic!
PTS: Haha, what a legend! You’re somewhat of a veteran at this hard enduro caper now. You’ve completed Romaniacs and now the Roof of Africa and now you are planning on returning to Romania this year. What, if anything, did you learn in Africa that you didn’t already know about hard enduro racing?
Evans: Probably not to take any big risks out there and to ride safe and smart. Early on day 2 I got a bit impatient and careless on an up hill section and ended up launching the bike to the moon and it felt like I was falling back forever, that got a bit scary, it resulted in bent handle bars and had to ride the rest of the day with the throttle side bent right down. That sucked, it could have quite easily have ended my race. All day I was paranoid the bars were going to snap.
Also on the last day I was pushing pretty hard to try catch back up and I had a few good spills which made me ease up a little. You have to remember it’s a long few days, riding smart is a whole lot better then sending your bike off a cliff or breaking something and having to get choppered out.
Eating properly during the race is another thing, that hurt my results the most. It might feel like you’re losing time when you stop and eat something quickly but the time you’ll lose from having no energy to keep going will be a whole lot more. I didn’t think it would effect me as much as it did so that’s something I’ll force my self to do from now on. I did eat properly on the last day and made up a lot of ground and felt a whole lot better on the bike.
I knew a little about this stuff before but going through it will definantly make me enforce it. I think the whole race itself caught me by surprise, I knew it was going to be tough but I didn’t think it would be anywhere near as hard as what it was!
PTS: Well, you did an amazing job then to finish in 7th considering all that! Now, people want to know about the after-party. Your partner at Romaniacs, Rosie, was very popular in Romania and you mentioned in our previous chat that she may make an appearance in Africa. How was it?
Evans: Rosie was a big hit again, she got launched off the balcony at one stage then I’d see her randomly through the night in some “awkward” positions haha. It was tame compared to Romaniacs but, there was no table stacking and climbing and no bikes got burnt, I think Alfie knows a bit about that incident haha, and the race killed a lot of people’s spirits too I think, it done a number on me! It was still great fun and there were some good stories being told, Redbull and Vodka where very popular also haha!
PTS: Brilliant stuff mate. We know you can ride but your partying antics might even be more infamous! Anything else you’d like to metion before we finish up?
Evans: Yea, I’d like to thank everyone that got behind me: Sander and the team at Bunbury KTM for their help and support over the years, we’ve done some epic riding; Joe at Panel Worx, he’s a legend; Kristy at Collie Graphic Signs & Logos , she must think im a pain in the butt but thanks haha; my Mum and Dad and family, Greg Yates for all his wisdom; Alfie Cox and his family and team for making me feel at home, and for giving me the chance to come over and race; Irina for the sick photos, and of course Perth Trail Scene for helping keep everyone up to date and for all of your support. It all means alot and I really appreciate it, thanks.
PTS: Thanks Brad!