My name is Matthew Tisdall, and I am 49 years old. I am very happily married to my beautiful wife Sally, and we share two children Millie (13) and Tom (12). We live in Melbourne, Australia.
Sally and I run GDP Group – a successful property services company with offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. We employ around 140 staff and focus on works to high rise buildings that include general construction, height access, remedial works and window cleaning.
Outside of work, and as a family we enjoy water skiing, snow skiing, hiking, tennis and travelling. We all enjoy some form of competitive sport. I am a keen road cyclist and have also done some water ski racing in past years.
I grew up in country Victoria, but I never had a dirt bike. My father was the local doctor and he believed two wheelers were too dangerous. Instead, he gave me a Honda 70 three-wheeler which I loved.
In 2008 I decided to travel to central Australia to watch the iconic Finke Desert Race. At some point prior to the event I determined that it was a long way to go just to watch the race, and that I should participate and enter the race. Without telling anyone I bought a Quad bike online. I assumed it would be the same dynamic as riding a three wheeled motorbike. I did very limited training and hadn’t set foot on the track before the race. However, I did it, and made it to Finke and back well within the cut off.
Over the years I have always followed the Dakar Rally, and in 2010, my young family and I travelled to South America. We managed to travel to Chile and then cross the Andes so we could experience the great race. My wife and I had one of the best days of lives that day. It was a fabulous adventure. At that point I thought that one day I might be lucky enough to get involved in the sport, but never would I have thought that I could get to such a level to contemplate competing in the Dakar.
After the Finke race in 2008 I had to concentrated on building our business. However, I knew I would come back to race at Finke some point in the future. I had also seen some video footage of the Australian Safari and thought that I could build my skills to target that race again at some point.
It wasn’t until the age of forty-three that I finally had time to get back involved in off road racing. It was then that I bought my first dirt bike. Within a year I had taught myself to ride it well enough to go back to Finke and race again. I have now completed the race, without incident, a total of six times. In fact, I have just returned from the 2019 race, where I achieved my best results to date.
In 2014, Australia only had one other navigational race at that time, the Condo 750. I raced it in 2014 and successfully completed it without injury. With the Australian Safari being cancelled at the end of the 2014, I looked overseas to get my next rally experience. I made contact with Patsy Quick from Desert Rose Racing and she suggested I compete in the 2015 Rally Du Maroc. I had never ridden a motorbike overseas and had never embarked on sand dunes. The race certainly tested me, but again I finished the race without any major penalties and without missing any stages.
In 2016 went to Mexico and competed in the Baja Rally, again supported by Desert Rose. It was a fantastic experienced and I came 32nd.
In 2017 I competed in the Moroccan Desert Challenge. Unfortunately, I fell off my moto and broke my clavicle on the 4th stage. However, determined to finish it, I returned in 2018, on my own rally bike and finished 16th.
2017 was the inaugural year for the Sunraysia Rally. A four-day navigational rally held in New South Wales, Australia. I completed all stages of the race and finished 20th.
I returned in 2018 and again, successfully completed all stages, and finished 23rd.
At the beginning of 2019, I targeted the Africa Eco Race. I bought a 2019 KTM Rally Replica. Like all my overseas rallies to that point, I was supported by Desert Rose Racing. This race was very successful for me. I didn’t receive any significant penalties; and I finished all stages and placed 23rd.
Its been a long journey to get to this point in my racing career. I have now developed my moto and rallying skills to a level which makes finishing the Dakar Rally feasible.
My daily cycling keeps me very ft, and I have also developed a training plan to ensure that by January next year, I will have superior fitness levels.
I am hopeful that ASO will give me the opportunity to be at the start line in Saudi Arabia 2020.