It was an excellent race. We were pushing hard. Puffing like steam trains. Heart rates through the roof. And that was just the 500 meter dash to get the bike onto the start line.
At least there was no need for an official warm up that morning. For this years Tarawera 100 I was riding a slightly worked CRF450X with better tyres and pipe, along with suspension revalved by Moto SR. That day the bike and my riding meshed extremely well. It was only panic that would prove to be our undoing.
Thanks to those early preparations my actual race start went according to plan. By the end of lap one I was into second place, thanks in part to the electric start on my steed for the day. Not because I used the button at all, it was simply because I knew that it was there as a back up in case my initial kick didn’t fire, or the bike suddenly stalled somewhere on the trails. It was a relief to my unfit arms to barely need to touch the clutch, and the broad power from its dyno-tuned engine meant I could stay in third gear for everything from tight turns to short straights. We got on well.
It wasn’t all plain sailing though, an attack coming from Enduro star Adrian Smith after each of the three pit stops. His fueling was so quick that I actually thought he was doing two laps to each one of mine, a misunderstanding that would prove to be my downfall.
On the final pit stop I took the time to have a decent drink of water, then finished my refuelling early. I didn’t want Adrian to lead me into the final lap and figured that the bikes 9.5 liter tank would have only needed topping up if Adrian was doing two laps to one of mine.
That last lap was one of my best, feeling the flow and riding fast. By the time we had just a few kilometers of trees left I was actually half expecting to catch a glimpse of Ben Townley at some stage as perhaps he had gotten dehydrated, a prediction it turns out could have happened- until I ran out of gas.
Where It Went Wrong
It would have been fine had I not panicked. I didn’t even look into my tank until I had wasted around 15 minutes trying to figure out some way of getting fuel from someone else’s bike into my own, and when I did look, there was still fuel in my tank. The realization that I would have a reserve option on the fuel tap hit me like a pine branch slapping me in the face.
It was a very humbling thing as I rolled through the finish line in 9th place and had to admit to my mistake. To lose a certain second place on an enduro type bike, something which would have put Honda on the first two positions of the podium, was pretty soul destroying. Anyway life goes on and I am sure we will be back for another go. It was an awesome race and my thanks go to those from Tony Rees Honda who helped me out, with a hearty congratulations to the organizers. Hopefully next time I will finish the job properly!