By Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
Riders will need a good dirt bike, insane riding skills and a fair amount of luck at the third annual running of the Husqvarna Hard Adventure Enduro competition this Labour Weekend.
It is expected to be a “last man standing” affair again this year, with plenty of obstacles lined up to sap the spirits, trap, trick and wear down even the most experienced of dirt bike racers.
Staged in forestry land around Tokoroa, Putaruru and Taupō, it will take place over two-and-a-half days over Labour Weekend – starting Friday evening, October 19, and winding up on Sunday afternoon, October 21 – and, when the bike engines are switched off, or the riders cry “enough”, late on Sunday afternoon, that “last man” will have earned every accolade that could be heaped.
Cambridge diesel mechanic Dylan Yearbury had been forced to withdraw from the inaugural event in 2016 when grit got into his eyes and caused them to painfully swell up.
For the 2017 edition, Yearbury was back to “settle some unfinished business” and he did just that by winning it and this perhaps makes him favourite to win again this weekend.
The event is designed to be difficult. Using a similar format to the notorious Red Bull Romaniacs international hard enduro that is held each year in Romania.
Each day’s track will be different, will be up to 150-kilometres in length and will feature Gold, Silver and Bronze-graded sections.
“This event will not be a typical New Zealand hard enduro; it will be real Adventure Enduro, and each grade will be set to give riders a real sense of adventure, as well as testing rider’s ability to complete the grade that they have entered,” said organiser Sean Clarke, himself a Kiwi international with outstanding racing credentials.
“This event is as close to the Red Bull Romaniacs as I can make it, so Kiwis can take the challenge here before going overseas. It will let riders know where their riding skills are at and what they need to work on.”
Sean explained that riders would follow a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) course that is re-set daily and uploaded to their handlebar-mounted GPS device.
It kicks off on Friday with riders signing in and then undergoing motorcycle and equipment scrutineering in Tokoroa from 3pm.
“The riders can expect two days of hard riding on Saturday and Sunday that will push them to their limits,” Sean said.
There are about 300 kilometres of trail and tracks waiting for the riders, with section names hinting at what lies ahead – names such as “Parachute Drop Up”, “Log Jam”, “Keep your Lunch Down”, “Last Climb”, “Rock Garden”, “The Big Down” and “Romaniacs Ridge”, while riders will also have to take their bikes on a Flying Fox across a river.
An indication of just how challenging the racing might be is in a note to riders that they must also carry “survival equipment”, including a cell phone, first aid kit and survival blanket.
There is $3000 in prize-money, with the event sponsored by Husqvarna NZ, Forest Trail Events, Kiwi Rider magazine, SATCO logging attachments and Michelin tyres.