Working 9 to 5
By STEVE SPINKS
DURING working hours, Lismore's Susan Sim is a mild-mannered secretary.
But come the weekend, the 32-year-old turns into a mountain biking endurance warrior.
It's a big transformation.
Gone are the suits and the make-up of her day job and out comes the helmet and the bike.
"You get filthy," Sim said.
"You're covered in dust, sweat and everything. At the moment most of the tracks are very dusty."
The dust and grime hasn't stopped Sim from having a successful week on her bike, including an astonishing 18 hours of competition.
A week ago she won the Workforce One 12-Hour Mountain Bike Challenge at Kooralbyn, near Beaudesert.
Last weekend Sim headed south and won a six-hour race at Coffs Harbour.
Ultimately, the question endurance athletes always have to answer is:Why?
Why put your body through the continual rigorous training?
Why subject yourself to a tortuous 12 hours of competition?
Any why make it harder for yourself by doing the race off road?
"I guess I just love the challenge," Sim said.
"You have to look after yourself and make yourself eat and drink.
"You have to be mentally strong and to pace yourself so you finish."
Sim, a former Kadina High School student, started cycling as a teenager.
"The majority of my riding was done on the road or track," she said.
"Five years ago I got into mountain biking seriously.
"I guess it's the unknown element of being in the bush rather than on the road watching the bitumen that I enjoy."
Mountain bike endurance racing is a tough sport.
The 12-hour event at Kooralbyn started at 8am and concluded at 8pm.
Competitors just keep going until they can't go any more, with the winner the rider who has completed most laps.
The last two hours of the race is conducted in darkness with only a bicycle headlight as the guide through the blacked-out bush.
"I guess that's just another challenge," shrugs Sim.
Today, Sim will start a ride with 30 other cyclists from Tweed Heads to Grafton.
It's a four-day distance ride to raise money for cystic fibrosis.
As you can see, cycling dominates Sim's time.
But she doesn't have dreams of representing Australia or furthering her sporting career.
Sim just loves the challenge ... and that's enough.