Bend and Snap: The Wade Ibrahim Approach To Wildwood 2022

Author: Mitch Ladyman


Wade Ibrahim doesn’t just do hard enduro, he does it with some ‘snap’! (Killa pic from OK Photos)

In wishing Wade Ibrahim all the best for Wildwood 2022 I sent him this message “If there is a gate Bull, go at it” “100% will be” was his response and 110% did he.

But in the language of the Bull, ‘go at it’ translates to ‘go over it’, ‘go through it and even……. ‘go under it’.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what’s it worth to know what Wade was thinking when he attacked the Koppers log guillotine at Wildwood? Every other rider got off their bike and skull-dragged it under. But not Ibrahim!

He rode at it, raised his body weight up and then let it fall to compress the suspension at the precise moment he met the obstacle, getting all six foot something and his WRD KTM300EXC under the barrier in a fluid symphony of bike and rider.

This has to be what is so spectacular about Hard Enduro as a sport!

It is not just about what the riders are riding; it is how the hell they are riding it.

At Tasmania Wade was first to arrive at Step Mother’s waterfall. He had no idea what the traction was like up it, nor what the landing zone was going to be like topside. The solution?

“I had no idea how slippery it was going to be, so I made the safe decision to let the bike roll up on its own.” The hilarious insanity of it all! Roll up on its own! Really?

Dozens of riders followed suit, making a seemingly impassable natural barrier no barrier at all. Footage from Allan Palmer Photography shows Chris Perry going up the ‘Ol Bag’ on the bike and Sam Preece not only going up on the bike but on the bike with both boots still planted on the pegs!

Photo by Allan Palmer, words by WRD’s Craig Shaw “He Elsa’d that shit”

But if you really want to know what makes the Bull tick, then his history at Wildwood acts as a pseudo-timeline of his evolution in Hard Enduro. The Dirt Bike Burrito crew captures this evolution beautifully in their podcast from May, 2021.

He hadn’t heard much about hard enduro in 2016 when he got wind of Wildwood. He entered the event thinking it comprised just the ‘prologue’ portion of the track. That made plenty of sense given his only familiarity of hard enduro at the time was a Stadium Enduro X event he’d had a crack at not long prior.

Surprised was an understatement when he ran out of ‘prologue’ track and dropped over the edge of a cliff into the gully country where only the wilderpeople dare tread.

But Wade being ‘Wade’ had entered Expert class, so backing out was not an option: he just got on with the job and, in doing so, came in second place!

He has done Wildwood five times now, so the track presents no new surprises for him.

“There is not much time for rest at Wildwood. It sorts a lot of people out. You need to be strong in the mind and keep pushing.”

He is the first to admit that fitness is not his most bankable asset, and a meat pie is always on the race prep menu. But riding lazy and letting the bike do most of the work seems to work well and obviously enables him to just keep on attacking; relentlessly. And from that comes the wins.

And the track? Wildwood! It obviously suits him because this year he obliterated the rest of the field. So far ahead was he when he crossed the finish line that his own father was scratching his head. And this was despite having to repeat a section he’d missed!

At full charge he ‘forked’ up a little in the early stages of the race, taking a Bronze line instead of a Gold. But always one to do the ‘righty’ by the event and his fellow competitors, Wade doubled back to redo the Gold line and still managed to finish first.

In and out of the naughty corner, Wade had to double back and redo a section after forking up a little and taking a bronze line. (Insanity captured by young up-and-coming Victorian photographer Jasmine Harbright.

“Wildwood is a track where I know I can beat everyone through every section and be stronger physically and mentally to overcome it whereas most crumble due to the ‘no rest’ nature of the track.”

The most interesting point in the evolution of this rider is that now his mantra must change.
It used to be “No reason you can’t do it if someone else has. There is nothing stopping you. Tell yourself that. If someone has done it, then it is doable.”

That was the attitude that has enabled him to get to this point in 2022: winning multiple national level Hard Enduro rounds.
But that mantra doesn’t cut it anymore for a rider that is at the front of a pack in a sport that is evolving at such a rapid rate.

So, what will the mantra of the Bull be in 2023?
Perhaps it will be: “Well….. if they’ve put bunting tape either side of an obstacle, I guess that must mean it can be ridden, yeah??”

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