“Wonderland” always seemed more like a freaky nightmare for poor Alice and her small rabbit friend than what the title implies. So much sillyness never seemed like a nice childhood story to me. Even today I would resist being plunged in to that scary world if someone strapped me to the lounge chair and pegged my eyes open.
Looking back on this week it is not a stretch to compare my life to the strange tale of Alice. While I can leave the care of bouncy blue dresses and curly blonde locks to my daughter there was no shortage of the weird and wonderful to contend with, leaving me in something of a dreamy state come Sunday.
It all started with walking into the colorful international arena of the World Rowing Champs. Bouncy Castles, Maori welcomes in full battle array. Free fruit and incredibly tall athletes walking through the buzzing crowd dressed in dangerously tight Lycra. In the stands the cow bells of the Swiss rang loud and true, while the “Kiwi, Kiwi” chant grew louder as each NZ rower neared the finish line.
Because Honda Marine sponsored the event with around ten oversized outboard engines for the referee and chase boats we were invited to join the sponsors lunch along with the true VIP’s. Even our table full of the Honda Racing Team wasn’t enough to clear the buffet of all it’s ham and cheese delights.
Walking on the Walls
As soon as the food was gone we had to be going, straight to Advanced Physio for an appointment with John Appel before heading to my own bed for the last time of that week.
One far too short sleep and my Rabbit had arrived, young Stan from our last school holidays camp (page 37 of DRD). Leaving his trusty mule behind we sailed to Patetonga for the day. Nestled between the mountains and the Hauraki Plains it’s terracotta clay was in top condition. Daniel Rust and Stan were the first out there, learning to fly lower and faster than ever before. Using his skate park experience Daniel followed me through a tricky little wall ride which kept him out of the dark depths of ruts beneath.
Off with their heads!
Next the Roach brothers on their little red CRF’s hit the big kids track before Jett and friend had their turn at challenging their coach. With the Mini nationals fast approaching it was a few techniques then the stop watch that became my sword. A good thing that they kept ahead of its swing and managed to keep their head firmly on their shoulders.
In our mad rush to get packed up and on to our home in Taihape for the night we got stopped by the man in blue. A keen rider himself didn’t stop him from doing his job well, leaving the dreaded paper work in our hands with a cheerful wave goodbye. Lesson learned we arrived safe in the land of giant gumboots made of roofing iron and were asleep before our heads hit the pillow.
Last refinements for a national #1
Just past fabled Mangatainoka and the yellow plane on a stick that marks Pahiatua. A mass of jumps and berms marked the Sowry’s farm with it’s twisting MX track up on the hill lined with roading markers that we were assured were legally obtained.
I was feeling amped after overcoming a virgin jump in the timing section during a quick skid on the Supie track before heading up the hill with Sam Morison. The cornerspeed he held on the little 100 was hard to improve on which is always a good thing so I took him down to the contoured hills where a mini track had once been. Leading, chasing and pushing him we really got things going for his last chance at the trail class national title.
Bevan Bisset of Bisset Honda arrived with a herd of wild red horses. On the track I reined in their throttle jockey habits so they could really kick their steeds into life down the straight without getting bucked off. Unfortunately I may have taught one rider too well through the rollers and couldn’t get him to slow it down before he took a big knock. Nursing him back to reality took a while but when all was well the rest of us headed back up the hill for a myth busting session about hitting small bumps which went down a real treat.
More fun for the riders or the spectators?
Then we were off to a land full of pint sized little lambs going round and round a small track generally in one direction. The riders had flocked in from all over to converge on this grassy hillside for the first of the Bisset Honda mini nights. Not wanting to miss out I got to have a play all on my own and put on a bit of a show. Stan says there were plenty of gasps from the mums in the crowd along with the hearty cheer at the end and the riders were as keen as ever to get out there once I finished so it must have worked and my job there was done.
Marija Magic for Gisborne
Trekking through the forests of the East Coast late at night we finally arrived at Gisborne after a quick stay at a handy camping ground. Marija had once again worked her magic and we had two groups of keen riders with some intense one on two with a pair of riders working out their last days on the 65cc machines, getting their turn against my stopwatch.
It was something of a dream come true seeing the difference in the riding of these boys and girls since our first training session and wasn’t hard to get them to the next step again.
Tumbling Cow on State Highway
After all this we might have been in a daze heading home but were soon waken at the sight of the rear door of a horse float opening while still going 100kph. A flash of white powder flew from the metal hitting tar seal and a black and white cow soon followed. Skidding and tumbling to a painful stop the poor bovine critter lay there for a bit to get it’s bearings before magically getting up. Looking a bit unsteady and with some leather missing off it’s hind quarters it found it’s owner and meandered off down the middle of the road to eventually get back in the horse float. With our jaws still on the floor we carried on, looking for the rabbit hole that would lead us finally home. Weird and wonderful? You bet!