Something snapped, and I was now charging through the pack. Riders were dropping like flies as the rapidly deteriorating track took its toll, but I was in the zone. Having passed Rhys Carter, who was somewhat in survival mode after a big crash of his own, I was now in 7th place and looking certain for a top ten finish. Then suddenly it was all over, and I was left to push my bike home after just one faulty decision.
It was always going to be a mad weekend.
Because of a clash of dates I had to choose two out of three events. The Tussock Buster and final round of the MX Nationals won out because of their close proximity to each other, leaving the Honda Kids Camp of Northland in the capable hands of Chris Power.
Arriving at the Waiouru sports grounds I was greeted with a strong Honda presence and the beginnings of what was to be a sea of bikes and tents. Setting up close to the dark green canvas of the sign on tent, I was given a radio and led two of the riding marshals out to what was to be my training area for the day.
One of the marshals was extra enthusiastic but fairly new to the sport, so I gave him a few tips once we arrived, then adjusted a few things on his bike once we got back. I heard later that he was amping about the help, although plenty of others sounded jealous that he had got free coaching on just his first time marshaling the event!
My three groups kept me busy, and our training area certainly had enough to challenge them. One line in particular was just not happening for probably the most advanced rider, so I had to give it a try. I made it, but only just.
After the training I had some finishing work to do to my 450 after receiving some parts from Hayden of Whites Accessories, including two tires that I needed to change. It went well and I was headed away before dark, needing a good rest before the big days racing at Taupo.
This was literally the most relaxed I had ever been for a National event. It was a good track and in great condition, getting the finishing touches from Murray Knight that morning. I was relaxed, but still got pretty nasty arm pump in practice/qualifying.
My lack of bike time was obvious both in my arms and my starts, being very slow off the gate. The first start was the hairiest, literally leaning on Daryl King into the first corner. Fortunately he is such a solid rider that it was like leaning on a brick wall and we both made it through the first turn safely.
It was pretty much just Royden White and I floating around just outside of the top ten, but we had some great battles. In race one I passed him but didn’t shut the door enough into the next turn and he got by, then I fell while starting a charge to get back past him. In race two I basically just conserved my energy behind him until around the halfway point where I made a good move before the Dam jump, thinking I had him until we very nearly came together in the air. I calmed my nerves for a while and then passed him for good on the final lap.
Then we got to race three, as seen at the start of this story. It turns out that Rhys’ lower fork and rear brake had clipped my chain guide and snapped the mounts right off the swingarm, which derailed my chain and jammed it. My bike stalled instantly and then just free-wheeled to a stop, something I have never felt before.
As they say, all’s well that ends well, and I was in one piece. The coolest thing was having my family surprise me by turning up to watch, and I really enjoyed doing some tricks for them over the center point. What an awesome weekend.