NZ VMX Grand National, Koputoroa - 12/13 April 2020
Lyndon Wood making time at the Virgin Swamps Vinduro on a CAN AM MX 6
This year we were treaded to brilliant weather for Round three of the VMX Series at Marton.
Cam Smith with the support of Neil Bush and Caroline and Tylah Wind did the hard yards in setting up a challenging track in the paddocks that we have used in previous seasons. It overs plenty of elevation, scope and length. This year the track was in a reverse direction but with Cam’s willingness to drop a few fences meant that more features could be added to the track which we didn’t have in previous years and really made it a different ride. Great venue all said and done.
My intent was to take the DKW out for a blast in the Pre 70 race as I now have this close to race ready and an equal ratio of gears to neutrals which is about normal for one of these machines. One mod I had made was to fit a shorter gear shift level as used on Penton bikes to shorten the shift throw, however while this worked well in work boots and was an abject failure in riding boots as the space was a little too cramped. So it will be back to the old configuration as I think this will be best overall. So far the bike demonstrates ferocious power and underdone suspension – typical for the era I fear!
My day out on the DEEK though only extended to the practice session and three quarters of the first race. A rider went down pretty hard in front of me in my race so it was a case of pulling off the track and getting the first aid and recovery sorted. After returning to the pits, I was thgen called back out to the track due to another accident and then another one and so on. All up we had 7 accidents on the day – fortunately none ended up too serious once medical examinations had been completed but didn’t make for a good riding for me so I elected to ‘clerk the course, for the remainder of the day.
That aside a big shout out to Neil Bush, Caroline Wind, Tylah Wind, Phil Grant and Cam Smith for organising the event along with the volunteers who assisted with flag marshalling and track tidy duties up at the ned of the day.
Next up for me was the third Round of the Vinduro Series at Riverhead in Auckland. The VSE is probably one of the longest running events of its type in NZ and is well known for the demands placed on riders and machinery.
Over the years however WMCC has put in an enormous amount of effort to make the venue more rideable and sustainable from an environmental perspective. The effort put in place to build bridges over drains and swamps, placing grip treads up the more gnarly hills and protective riding strips over forestry roads all illustrates the enormous efforts that WMCC goes to limit environmental impacts and to preserve riding opportunities. While these efforts also make for an easier ride, Riverhead is not without it challenges as there are few places to rest as its pretty much all up single track forestry riding and all it takes is a bit of rain to turn riding conditions on its head.
On the day we had 40 riders rolled up for the start. And with a weather forecast that promised thunderstorms and general weather inspired gloom, most riders and WMCC were anticipating a tricky day of grovelling through mud holes and over roots. With this in mind WMCC had planned a conservative two loop track comprising a 25 km and 18 km sections with a few Gold bypasses thrown in for good measure to test the more advance riders. This would easily be completed in good weather but in wet conditions would have been somewhat lets say more challenging. Notwithstanding the reliability of weather forecasting, however, the fears of swamps and slippery roots were completely dashed with sun staying out for the duration of the event.
The first section comprised mainly single track riding. Initially it was a quick familiarisation run through the special test section through the poplars at the old HQ before riders were channelled off into the forest proper. What was relatively smooth riding to begin with through the poplars then became a discipline of dodging pine trees and ruts, and riding roots. Line selection, throttle control and staying on your toes was the order of the day – it took a bit of getting used to but if you could get into a rhythm it was possible to maintain a good flow.
The commencement of the second loop signalled the first terrain test proper – this one I completely muffed as some bunting had been torn down by an earlier riders and I find myself losing direction then heading straight into drain head over heals. Very much a slow motion crash but totally surprising myself that I wasnt hurt but I did loose a few seconds extracting myself and getting going again. Then it was on into the loop again but this time riders emerged from the forest and traversed a more open clear fell section before entering back into the deep forest section again.
While this section was shorter at 18 km the average speed had been cranked up requiring riders to stay on the boil if they were to clean the section. I made it on time clearing the section with a few minutes to spare and was able to take a breather before commencing the second TT through the poplars before ending the day’s riding. For this terrain test I felt a lot smoother and was happy with my speed.Overall in my class I went head to head with David Vass (XL 250) again and while I bet him in the first TT he returned the favour in the second TT and took out the overall by 6 seconds!!
Thats a wrap
Well that’s it for this year. For 2020 there’s still a lot on the books to complete. We are shaking down the rest of the VMX series with the next round confirmed for February at Bird's property in Feilding. This is always a popular venue with riders given its gentle rolling terrain and large paddocks, And then its off to either Arai or Taranaki in March to be followed by two days of the Grand National at Levin in April before final round of the VMX series in Taupo in May. And running parallel with this the rest of the Vinduro series, Maramaru in March and Atiamuri in May. Whew – cant complain with a lack of riding opportunities.
Planning for the Grand National is progressing well with the venue being confirmed for the Moxham Trust Farm. Day one for the event will be for TADS (twin/monoshock, aircooled drum brakes bikes) with Day two being reserved for up to Pre 96 Linkage bikes – we are expecting a huge turnout. Race planning indicates that all riders will get at least four races each day plus an option for a few feature races if you are keen. More information will be issued in the New Year on the website and on the FB site.
Have a great Christmas and see you on the flip side