After a four day weekend packed full of coaching and travel, what better way to wind down than a day on the farm with a few hours training with young Blain Hamilton, and otherwise getting to know my brand new CRF450R. At that stage the forecast was four busy days to come, and that is exactly what I got!
Balcutha was an action packed couple of days, starting with some confidence building. Taking my time with Josh, we worked our way from clutch control to power shifting in a very successful effort to help him start to enjoy his new ride. Our imaginative Brady was next, and while we didn’t need any ‘Tigers’ for him to avoid, the end result had him much further out of his comfort zone than he had been.
This was the first time my main van had been down south for a long time and it was great timing for more than one rider. Five 85cc riders joined us the next day, which would have started badly when Dylan’s bike had its gear shaft break. That was all the excuse I needed to break out the trusty CRF150R that has saved the day for a lot of riders over the years and introduced them to the world of four strokes. Of course Dylan wasn’t the only one to have a try although by the sounds of it we definitely have him as a convert so to speak.
That was not the last session for Balclutha with Tyler and Samuel having their first time with us, but soon I was off to the Catlins for a quick hunt before our coaching day was to happen. I must have used up all my good luck as we saw nothing but the odd hare- fortunately there was plenty of meat for the freezer with the two deer we had been able to intercept the morning before. That also carried on to Ryan Dodds having his first carry just a day after that- while the cat is gone the mice will play!
A bunch of young riders hit the Gore practice track the next morning, starting with Matt Robinson who lead the way with an instant ability to soak up jumps but after some work we eventually had the others doing the same thing- a very impressive thing to see that will certainly lead them a long way.
Finally we fell upon Birchwood, packed with two groups of quick riders followed by Nathan Rhind afterwards. Our loop consisted of a small section of track that shaped into some epic riding, with a training camp for the Junior Nationals packed into a half day session each, with qualifying times and start gate practice helping make it something special.
The coolest thing was watching them all at the Karl Miller Memorial race the following day. It seemed like 9 out of every 10 riders racing in the junior classes were riders I had spent time coaching in that hectic week, meaning I would have been very busy indeed to cheer each rider on for every race! I was also able to join them on the track, the first time I had opened up a 450 in anger for around 3 years. Unfortunately I was only able to race quick young locals Josh May and Campbell King once, in the feature race but I was glad to have the horsepower advantage as these riders were riding extremely well. Despite some trying I did not win the whip comp but had a great time trying, and as I had taught the winner how to whip, there was certainly no hard feelings.