This Annual event was spruced up by a challenge originating from none other than commentator extraordinaire Neil Ritchie when, while speaking at the funeral of Steven Adamson, he challenged the Taranaki Motorcycle club to make their King of the Mountain event a memorial to that special man. While I had never raced that event before, it only took a little pressure from the club to come compete, especially once I found out who it was dedicated to.
I remember Steven racing his KX250 at Taupo the day of his accident in 1996, along with the helicopter that flew him away following his terrible accident. Since then, for many of the fifteen years that he was with us he was a friendly face and great person to talk to whenever he made it to the races, not being one to miss the nationals at his home track of Barrett Road where the race was to be held. All of which made it an easy decision to race.
Ride during the week like you plan to race, then on race day simply ride like you practice- that was my motto coming in to the day, made easier after having ridden at least ten days out of the past two weeks.
A decision to ride two classes on my Botany Honda supported CRF250R paid off straight away when not only did I qualify first in the Lites class but also pipped Cody Cooper on his 450. I seriously wondered if there had been some mistake in the timing but was not going to make a complaint as it gave me the best gate for every start- possibly the clincher to the rest of my day.
Riding up to five seconds a lap faster than names such as Cam Dillon and Tom Managh in the Lites class made for some big wins but they were never easy as I pushed for the fastest time I could in each lap. Not only did it help my training but gave me every chance against Cody in the 450 class where the real story lies.
Race one in the Open class saw me launch off the gates with the lead, only to drift wide in the first corner. For the next 17 minutes I chased hard, losing some time to Cody in the middle of the race but making it back to finish only seconds behind, but that was only the beginning.
The next race was Cody’s turn to rocket off the gates only to drift wide and give me a chance down the next straight. He blocked me off soundly but from there I hounded him hard until making a pass stick and leading the way for the next few laps. He did get me back but this was really going well.
After seven hard rides (including the two practice/ qualifying sessions) I was worried about the concentration abilities of my dehydrating brain. It could have been the reason behind a wild move that saw me once again pass Coops, only to fall right in front of him. With no where to go he kindly avoided me and only hit the front of my bike. Feeling plenty sheepish I got back up and still chased him hard, only to have him eventually wave me past to see me win the final open class race.
Some detective work later made me realize that he had gotten a flat tyre when he hit my front brake caliper and despite putting a fresh tube on for the King of the Mountain/ Steve Adamson Memorial race he once again had to concede the win when thin metal on the inside of his worn front tyre gave him another flat, but only after I had kept a gap on him for the first four laps or so before he pulled out.
It was a very special win, made even more so when I found out this was not planned to be an annual memorial event but so far just a once off where I get to keep the Trophy donated by Superior Stainless. Not least of all I also managed to get fastest lap of the day with a 1:52.000, not a bad advertisement for a standard 2012 CRF250R or the new Troy Lee Designs riding gear and Airoh helmet- definitely the best helmet I have ever worn.