If you receive our newsletters and haven’t heard of the Tarawera 100 then either you are one of our overseas subscribers or are very new to our great sport and need to read my little explanation at the bottom of this story. So, seeing as many of you have at least thought of doing this event, it is time to tell the story!
This year it was Bay Honda that took over the sponsorship of the Tarawera 100 which was well displayed by the Honda flags scattered all over the hills surrounding Pit Lane. Something that caught them by surprise was Graham Foote bringing in his trusty steed for some race preparation- a well used 1974 Honda CT90. That is the step through Postie bike made famous as one of the highest selling bikes of all time but definitely never intended for a punishment like this!
Graham was the first rider that I saw fully kitted up and ready to race that morning. On the start line he was focused on completing his race, the two laps required in the Super Vet class that he was entered. And he may well have accomplished that had the gearing not been so tall that he had to push the little bike up hill after hill. Completing his first lap in 2:07 minutes he decided it wasn’t worth the effort of another lap but don’t worry as I am confident he will be back- possibly with a geared down CT110 next time.
Battle of the Coaches
Our last off road race saw Richard Hutchinson feature in the Leatt four hour which he did in preparation for this event. Right from our first coaching session ‘Hutch’ (as he is known) had the goal of beating his friend Adrain ‘Dozer’ Rowan at the T100. Hutch’s natural talent combined with the right guidance saw him giving his friend a real hurry up until bike troubles and an injury messed with his training.
In the race he described a bad start as a blessing in disguise as it meant he could ride around the big pile ups (one of which I was at the bottom of) before beginning his move through the pack on his way to 60th position. Meanwhile Dozer had put his great preparation to practice and, combined with a great start he proceeded to finish a very impressive 19th place, putting it down to the coaching he had done with Karl Power, a classic ‘Battle of the Coaches’ that will stand 1-0 in Karl’s favor, for now anyway!
One of the front runners that really stood out to me was Peter Smit, a Bay Honda rider who also came back from a bad start to finish up with the front runners with very impressive speed.
Another was Reece Burgess, a third generation T100 rider who ended third overall, close behind another hard charger on his 250cc four stroke, Rhys Carter. Then there was Julie Greenslade. She not only won the womens class but then went on to do an extra lap, finishing an un-official 39th overall even though it wasn’t going to be counted.
Of course the supreme accolades go to Team Suzuki’s Cody Cooper for winning by minutes, just like last year except he had to battle back from a bad start. Even he said it was very tough, harder than last year which helped him really deserve that over sized $1000 winners cheque.
And me, well….
“So how did you go then Broxy?” To be honest I would rather not think about it! Having been so keen to win I had everything I needed with a great bike and help in the form of Peter Findlay. My fitness was lacking being in the off season but I was confident never the less- until a misjudgment off the start saw me fully submerged in one massive puddle. While I tried to battle my way back to the front my gloves and seat were too slippery so I ditched the gloves and went bare knuckle style.
That might have been ok had I not forgotten to get another set of gloves on my only pit stop, a horrible mistake that saw my hands literally cleave to the grips like Eleazar of Old Testament fame, only to tear off the grips again for each steep up hill. I just had to do my best to keep a pace on that didn’t require hanging hard on to the bars- even at that pace I was still plenty sore the next day!
The Marathon of Off road
Of all the races of the year in New Zealand it is the Tarawera 100 that many riders consider the epitome of off road racing. A physically grueling event held around 30 minutes north-east of Rotorua it batters both bike and body through 100 miles (yes, thats 160km of trails) of tight corners, sharp bumps and fast up hills. It is a race where a rider is demanded to ride near full pace with a good start and no major mistakes, nearly four hours of MX style aggression on a track that can bite you at any time.
I hear you say “That doesn’t sound like much fun. Why would you want to do that to yourself?”. It is a question that most of us are asking ourselves many times during that grueling race. Of course just like anything in life that is worth anything, it is the hardship that makes an accomplishment satisfying and of course if you are blessed enough to win this event your name goes down in history alongside a very worthy list of names. Unfortunately I have not quite made it to the top yet after seeing it devastatingly slip through my fingers on the final lap in 2006, something I would love to put right some day soon. “Next year” echoes tauntingly through my head…