A gruelling challenge

A Sunday ride in the Noosa hinterland may sound like a relaxing way to spend a Sunday morning, but for Naomi Hansen it’s about five hours of gruelling torture.

Hansen is lining up for the 2008 Noosa Enduro, 100km through some of Noosa’s most beautiful and punishing terrain against some of the country’s best mountain bike racers.

The 2008 edition will be Hansen’s third tilt at the event she now calls her local race, and she said she was hoping to win in front of a local crowd after finishing second two years in a row.

But with a few changes to this year’s course, Hansen is under no illusions about the mountainous task facing her on July 13.

“There’s this new section and it’s just tough,” she said.

“It’s along fire trails but there’s more holes and creeks, there’s a bit of mud out there and there’s these climbs that are just monsters.

“And that’s meant to be the easy 50km section.”

Hansen took to riding as an enjoyable and healthy way to get to work but after an accident while on an internship in Philadelphia, she promised her worried mother that that was the end of her road riding days.

Instead, she took to the bush and began a love affair with the mountain bike and entered a few rides as an amateur.

“I started winning and thought, this is great, so I stepped up to elite,” she said.

Riding mountain bikes competitively has taken Hansen from Tasmania to Alice Springs, not that there’s much time to take in the scenery.

For the Noosa Enduro, Hansen has the wood on her main rival after beating her two weeks ago at a six-hour endurance race at Mt Perry.

But there’s still 100km of Noosa hinterland between her and victory. In the meantime Hansen has kept to her six-day-a-week training schedule, so no doubt a sleep-in on Sunday mornings is definitely out of the question in the Hansen house.

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