In May the finals of the NZ Vinduro and the NZ VMX Series were completed along with the NZ VMX AGM. And the intervening weeks have blown by quickly as I am in catch up mode at home and readying myself by the fire as we go into the Wellington winter hibernation. So lets take a recap…………….
The venue was in the Atiamuri pine forest which was the home of the old Roger White Trail Rides – so in short a great venue which has been tried and true riding venue for many decades. The event was hosted by Sean Clark of Forest Trail Events and it was pleasing that there was in excess of 60-riders of all eras (other than the 4 speed pre 70s) being represented. This included those who were just coming along for a trail ride but also getting to experience their ride in an enduro format – a great way to whet your appetite for vinduro.
The course offered up about 70kms in total distance divided into three sections or loops of 12, 23 and 35 kms, the longest one being completed at the end of the day. There were also three terrain tests.
The weather in the morning was indifferent though with a light misty rain settling in as the clock ticked over to #1. Result - despite copious application of Fog Off and Rain X, the goggles quickly clouded over and the rain stuck to my lenses like the proverbial to a blanket so it was off with the goggles and going commando as it were. This sort of made for a slow start for me as soon as the googles were gone the glasses quickly became splattered in mud and rain.
This it was the first enduro that I had ridden the TE 185 so it took a little bit of time to settle into woods riding on a 2 stroke. And noting that fellow VMX rider Lee Forsyth was on the minute behind me on his MX 250, it wasn’t belong before he caught me and passed me a disappeared off into the trees. Still by about halfway through the first loop I had settled into a rhythm and was beginning to catch up riders.
The first terrain test was a usual well-groomed mainly freshly graded track that Sean builds for his events. In normal circumstances this is great for roosting but given the wet conditions the smooth trails were a little slick on top leading to a few moments and overshoots – not my best effort but satisfactory. A short hop back to the checkpoint point saw me rolling in about 10 minutes early allowing plenty of time for a refuel and a check over of the bike.
Section two was a repeat of the first with an extension added to stretch out the distance to 23 kms. I was feeling a lot more comfortable this time out and was able to maintain a good pace all the way through including through the terrain test. This was helped in part that the top layer of slop and been moved off and the mist/rain had relented somewhat. Only one technical problem in the loop was that my rear axle nut came loose and required tightening. While I have a castle nut and split pin in place, I haven’t got the right number of washers (too lazy) on the rear axles which means the nut can come loose before being halted by the split pin. I had meant to fix that but……………………….Notwithstanding this I came in early again and was feeling pretty pleased with my performance.
Section three would be the real test though. This time we were at 35 kms and the average speed bumped up to 30KPH - I knew this was going to catch a few people out. So off we went into the depths of the forest. Section three was basically an extension of section two that just kept on keeping on. It was good terrain but by about the 20km mark I was starting to fade – hmmm my fitness was not up to speed. And as soon as this starts happening in muddy conditions - you start making all sorts of mistakes and misjudgements.
Unfortunately I had one of those moments where I just didn’t get didn’t get my line right heading up hill and as a result got redirected off the track and stuck in some bush. With a bit of lifting and shoving I had extracted the muddy bike but had to head down the incline again so that I could get a clean start up the hill. While this was not a major crash by any means this one event sapped my energy levels and I could feel my pace dropping off rapidly. In my brain I had calculated that the impact of that one crash would cost me about 5 minutes overall and given the faster trail times for this section it was going to be a close call if I was to zero the section.
On the final part of the section there was another very short terrain test and while this was pretty easy I was limping along pretty slowly and was pleased to see the end of the test and the conclusion of the final section. At which point the sun came out and as anticipated I had lost 3 mins on the section! Dang.
Overall results in the Class Gold Classic Class saw Lee Forsyth come in first place with 1142 points on the MX 250, myself in second with 1414 on the TE and Barry Moody third with 2250 on the XL 250 which was a good effort given the slop and that the heavy XL was not behaving.
Overall for the series though Barry came in first overall, Lee third place and myself in 4th position.
The very next weekend was the final round at Taupo.
This was a bit ambitious by me given that post Kinleith, the TE looked like the jowls of Rabid Warthog and had been put through a sand blaster for good measure. it needed a total going over to get it back into shape, plus I had to do all the entry administration for the event, get the T Shirts organised, organise the Nth versus Sth teams and then drive back up to Taupo on the Friday. Somewhere between all that I had to do some work too. Hmmmmm..............
What made the final more interesting was that the entries didn’t stop coming in plus we had 13 or so riders from the South Island plus the presence of international riders Geoff Ballard and Viv Jacob. Yip we topped 160 plus for the event which is an all-time record. This also required the committee for the sake of safety to make some amendments to the race order and structure as some of the fields were bursting at the seams.
In the background during that week Chairman Darryl August ably assisted by his local team put together a good race track only 10 minutes’ drive out of town. Another new venue for us with nice wide sweeping track with plenty of room with a few mild elevations and drop offs. Another masterpiece.
But of course on the Saturday it rained. Not heavy but just persistent misty annoying rain all day - pretty much how we started out with Round 1 at Waiterere. So again it was off with the goggles. But if you going to ride in the rain then Taupo is probably the best place to do it. The pumice base means that the water does tend to drain away to some degree and there is always some of traction to be found.
On balance the track held up pretty well however there some slippery sections and ugly ruts in the corners which demanded that you really think about your lines. The absolute master of this was Peter Ploen on his RM 370; frankly you can see why he was a NZ champion. Watching Peter in the mud was a lesson in how it should be done. His lines were always opposite to the main route taken by the pack which meant that he maintained traction and speed around the entire track. Absolutely stunning to watch.
Of course what comes naturally to Peter was not so easy for an average rider like myself but by the third round of racing I was exploring the opposite parts of the track and found if you hammered your way over the slop in the corners and pop out the other side you could keep pretty good track speed. In fact I was finding it a real blast and could of kept racing all day. A big vote of thanks for helpers at the event. The conditions weren’t easy out there in the paddock and I particularly commend Jane Phillips who volunteered to stand out in the rain and flag marshal one of the more tricky drop offs.
The overall results of the series will be placed up on the website shortly. I was reasonably happy with my efforts achieving a third overall in the Smallbore Pre 75s and a second overall in the Pre 78 class. Having ridden 7 of the 8 rounds I gave myself the best chance for the points to count and significantly benefitted from a reliable run throughout the series.
36 brave and somwhat hungover souls managed to survive the prize giving to make the AGM next morning.
The AGM provided the opportunity to elect a new committee, consider a whole bunch proposals and set the framework for going forward for 2018/2019. I think the AGM covered the full gambit of what could be considered - ranging from capacities, to eras, start gates, start straights, testing 4Ts, pre 70 deviations……………….
It would be fair to say that there will not be any wholesale changes or significant expansion of what we do – just refinement. In reality the events are probably about as large as we can safely manage and there will be a need to look at the race order again to decompress some of the fields. In fact most of the fields have grown in attendance so we need to think carefully about how we accommodate the existing classes let alone attracting even more riders.
We also hope to have in play a DJ Memorial (Pre 86) Event to be held annually in August of each year for those of you intersected in the earlier vintages. That aside the AGM has given the committee good guidance on what works and where opportunities for improvements lie. In the meantime the committee will take a break and then reassemble in June or July and start the planning work for the next series. We should also have better clarity by then what is the consequences of M Bovis and if this will restrict our access to land or not. The draft minutes of the AGM are available for reading at this link if you are so inclined.
I need to do a bit of housekeeping on the website. The bleak winter nights should help with this.
One of the key things that I will be doing is cleaning out the riders register again. The simple rule is – if you didn’t ride the last series or didn’t use the number you were allocated then you will be deleted from the list. Pretty simple eh. The cleanout is necessary as a few riders drop off the radar and we need to allow for new riders to come through and have fun.
The next NZ VMX project bike is looking slightly forlorn in the garage at the moment. I have not done a thing to it other than order a manual that covers the disassembly of the Sachs engine. After reading it - the prospect is terrifying - its like working on an alien. Chairman Darryl has not been overly supportive either by promising to send me a carton a false neutrals for free to go with the others that I will find in the gearbox.
And sitting alongside the Deek is the TE 185. The only thing that I have done to it post Taupo is to give it a quick hose down. It now sports a ripped seat and incredibly faded paintwork after the two wet races in Kinleith and Taupo.
Looks like I have got some work ahead of me over winter!