Like a spiders web, strength comes through a combination of toughness and flexibility- the perfect recipe for every winter coaching trip down south, with this trip proving to be the ultimate example.
The woes began with the purple lines covering most of Southland on the Metservice map, exactly where we were to begin our mid winter escapade. Purple lines mean that any rain falling in that area is likely to fall as snow and it looked like there was plenty of it heading that way overnight, our only hope was that it would be all done by the morning.
As it turned out we were able to complete the first session, a one on one with Leigh Proctor who showed all the character traits you could hope for. Unfortunately there was something missing, then the storm finally hit. It started with a mass of sleet and moved on to heavy snow, leaving no doubt as to what needed to be done for the next two days coaching.
Fortunately we were prepared in an almost accidental way. There were two days left over on our coaching schedule before I had to fly home, so while warming up in the Invercargill Burger King, I made the calls.
From the safety of the Robinson’s family home, who were to become my most gracious hosts for the next two days, I typed up my own storm while the white stuff settled on the rooves and lawns outside. Two days became three as the Balclutha track was also going to be too wet but I made my way towards Balclutha for the night and prayed for a dry track in the morning.
This is where the story gets much better. The first group of 250 riders turned any slop into useable traction, conditions improving so much that we were able to work on whips and all sorts of jumping, which ran on into the next group who were able to do the same. By that time even the mini track was ready for our young friend Brady to show his mastery of the skills I have been showing him since this time last year.
The temperature gauge nearly reached 6’C by the time I got to Oamaru, and with a belly full of coffee, life was good.
Hoani followed a promising young lady rider at his home track, before following me to the local Club track where we had a group session organised by Blair of Oamaru Honda. We went so far as getting the boys up the hill climb despite their protests and yes, they certainly kept wanting to do it after that.
Strength in flexibility really showed during our rescheduled Invercargill coaching when Leigh turned up by chance. I was coaching Kyle Hartley aboard his new steed, a CRF150R, and had finally been able to see what it was that really needed fixing in Leigh’s style. A kind gesture from the Hartleys allowed him to join the session while again I worked on whips, to help let the bike move when things get out of hand, before finishing with some pretty advanced soaking practice with Kyle. It was a reward for patience that I hope will help both boys in their riding.
The final day saw Kruz and Liam complete a good session before finishing with little Miss Robinson showing up Matt and Ryan on a slippery Gore track before a bike wash courtesy of Beattie Auto and the final trip to Dunedin airport.
Just to show you how tough the riders are down here, I left with the temperature gauge at -7‘C while wearing over 20 items of clothing. I landed in Auckland at what was by far the warmest temperature I had seen in over a week at 10 O’clock at night, yet was there one complaint the whole time? Certainly none that I heard.