Howick’s Liam Draper, one of the race favourites. Photo by Andy McGechan,

Only the brave need apply … or the extremely talented …. or the lucky.

The second annual Husqvarna Hard Adventure Enduro near Tokoroa next weekend is expected to be a “last man standing” affair again this year, with plenty lined up to trap, trick and wear down even the most experienced of dirt bike racers.

The event, in forestry land between Putaruru and Taupo, will take place over two-and-a-half days over Labour Weekend – starting Friday, October 20, and winding up on Sunday, October 22 – and, when the bike engines are switched off, or the riders cry “enough”, late on Sunday afternoon, that “last man” will have earned every accolade that could be heaped.

The event is designed to be difficult. Using a similar format to the notorious Red Bull Romaniacs international hard enduro held each year in Romania, the New Zealand Husqvarna Hard Enduro event will be held in the forestry zone between Putaruru, Tokoroa and Taupo.

Each day’s track will be different , will be up to 150-kilometres in length and will feature Gold, Silver and Bronze-graded sections.

“This event will not be a typical New Zealand hard enduro; it will be real Adventure Enduro, and each grade will be set to give riders a real sense of adventure, as well as testing rider’s ability to complete the grade that they have entered,” said organiser Sean Clarke, himself a Kiwi international with outstanding racing credentials.

He explained that riders would follow a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) course that is re-set daily and uploaded to their handlebar-mounted GPS device.

It kicks off on Friday with riders signing in and then undergoing motorcycle and equipment scrutineering from 3pm.

Starting in the SATCO logging attachments yard in Tokoroa at 5pm will be the event “prologue”, with riders tackling a man-made course to determine qualification and starting positions for the following day.

Riders will complete one lap of that obstacle course to determine their start order for the main race. From about 7pm, the Gold, Silver and Bronze races will be held, with the top 10 riders qualifying to compete in finals for each grade.

Any rider that does not complete one lap of the prologue course will receive a 30-minute penalty and, although he or she will still be able to start the race on Saturday, it will be from the rear of the field.

Two days of gruelling riding then lie ahead for the contestants and not all are expected to make it to the finish.

Riders will be set off, one at a time, every 30 seconds. The first day’s start order will be decided by the prologue results and day two’s start order will be determined by the results from day one.

“The riders can expect two days of hard riding that will push them to their limits,” said Clarke.

“Although not quite as hard as the Romaniacs, it will still be a good work-out, with a lot of trail riding between the hard bits. There will be between six and eight hard sections per day and total riding time for the fastest in the Gold grade is expected to be between five and six hours.”

He said the Silver and Bronze grade courses will be slightly easier, although still very challenging.

An indication of just how challenging the racing might be is in a note to riders that they must also carry “survival equipment”, including a cell phone, first aid kit and survival blanket.

Some of the leading riders listed among the entries include Howick’s Liam Draper, Manawatu’s Paul Whibley and Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury and these riders could be expected to be among the favourites to win, as long as the treacherous course doesn’t claim them first.

The event is sponsored by Husqvarna NZ, Forest Trail Events, Kiwi Rider magazine, SATCO logging attachments and Michelin tyres.

© Words and photo by Andy McGechan,

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