A little different to our recent ‘Croc Contenders’ features – this interview with 2008 Crocodile Trophy winner Ondrej Fojtik was done by on of MarathonMTB.com’s European contributors, Robert Matusek.
The man of the day is barely staying on his feet, shivering through the merciless nasty cold downpour. And yet he gives interviews patiently and generously. The brave protagonist of the day is Ondrej Fojtik who is just about to realise what he tackled. The valiant winner of the long distance Salzkammergut Trophy might have already plotted his season concluding endeavor, the Crocodile Trophy. An enterprise conducted in more favorable conditions than the cruel Salzkammergut.
“Well, don’t get carried away by clichéd Australian pleasant hot weather” remarks Ondra – as his inner circle of friends calls him fondly “ Sure, for those favouring warm conditions, the Crocodile Trophy is the way to go”
But the winner of the 2008 edition knows all too well, that the CrocTrophy can be highly unpredictable and erratic at times.
One gets the notion that Ondra has the prowess to deal with the elements much better than his opponents.
“Oh that’s really not true” he beams, after hearing that statement numerous times “It’s not like I’m fond of the biting weather. I think no one enjoys cold, harsh conditions. Maybe I can brave it better?”
But that’s a good psychological ‘weapon’ and ‘food’ for his rivals who may hold the belief that if the going gets tough, Ondra will push through.
Speaking of which; the 2012 Crocodile Trophy features another high profile field, and the coveted highest place on the podium won’t lessen the fierce battle in the heat of the Australian wilderness.
“There is no question and denying the fact that I’ll fly over with the highest ambitions” admits Ondra ” even though, it remains to be seen who are the high hitters. The fact is, I won’t let it get to me. I have just got to stick to my game plane and follow it all along.”
That’s the enormous experience and expertise this man carries in his backpack. Paired, obviously, with his very reserved attitude whereby there is no such thing for him as to put himself under pressure.
“No, frankly it doesn’t add up. At the end of the day, you ought to deliver, and as far as I go, I can do so only if I do my own race “ he smiled.
Ondrej Fojtik remains grounded, despite his glorious track record so far, his trademark of humbleness is unique. There aren’t any star-affections in place, and the almost in unison echo of his fellow competitors is that his attitude, on and off the bike, might be one of those key elements that keeps him consistent and victorious all season long. That will pay a high factor in Croc Trophy too.
“You never know how the day ends up. This endeavor is so unpredictable, there are so many factors you have to be aware of, and which all too easily get distracted you. Don’t let them get to you. I better stay calm and listen to what my body has to tell me. Just one mile at the time.”
How is his final attempt affected by his race-season thus far?
“Now, truth is, the season drags on pretty long, and it’s been at times a roller-coaster. I had races where I shined, but also times I was unable to find a rationale for the rather poor performance. But I get down to the Trophy fresh-minded and psyched to end up on high notes.”
That most probably is associated with his fondness for the race. “You bet! Other than that, Australia as a country has been appealing to me from the get-go I came to learn it back then.” he admits “ So maybe that helps a bit too to brave the race adversaries.”
Speaking of challengers, word has it; some of them deem him the biggest threat and respect him accordingly. Most of all due to his tenacity and manner he deals with setbacks.
“Thing is, it isn’t over until it’s over – yeah sounds like a truism. But I really want to believe that even after an off-day, the next one presents another chance, so you just have to grab it and see what is still up your sleeve.”
“Just to name my major opponents, obviously Krenn, a successful Austrian road racer, sticks out. Next to him, my friend Rybarik from Czech, and couple of others. Certainly, staying out of trouble, keeping a sound health and balance is key.”
His positive outlook is infectious, and remains to be hoped that even in the deepest moments of a crisis his approach won’t be influenced.
Is there such thing as extra need for inspiration drive?
“No, not really. Frankly, the stage races per se are inspiring enough. My fondness for this type of races is immense. It’s a test for me, on a physical and mental basis. I have got a very special rapport with both, CrocTrophy and Ironbike. My affection to desert and mountains is vast. The CrocTrophy is a pure-breed bike race where you need to be almost self-sufficient, being able to deal with all things an outback features: living in tents remotely from the civilization, capricious stages on daily basis, horrendous bursts littered with dust. You will have to pay dearly for every mistake you do” he adds” I’m fond of those remote places also; you are mostly at the mercy of yourself and your buddies next to you. Plus, I got great company by couple of great Czech friends of team X-sports I do represent and ride for in this race.”
In regards to his material, he isn’t concerned: “I came to like my 29” Lapierre hardtail, also I think the tubulars will be of an advantage. I remain hopeful that it all that says intact and the material factor won’t affect me.”
Good ingredients for another successful Crocodile Trophy for Ondrej. In a couple of day its so far and we will learn how he does in the desert and wilderness
Stay tuned to Ondrej Fojik’s Crocodile Trophy daily race recaps .