Tomorrow’s big race near Atiamuri feature some of the same terrain used for the separate Husqvarna Hard Adventure Enduro events, “but on a more compact 25 kilometre course”.
The event had originally been scheduled to run in March, but the fire risk art that time was too great and so it was postponed until now.
Event organiser Sean Clarke describes the challenge as “mostly Bronze level trails, but with a few Gold and Silver deviations”, meaning there will be something for everyone but also that it will provide a stern test for the elite riders entered.
And this perhaps plays right into the hands of 25-year-old Cambridge diesel mechanic Dylan Yearbury, one of the favourites to win the race after his recent impressive outings at similar events across the country.
Yearbury (Husqvarna FC250) was a stand-out competitor at the Nut Buster Hard Enduro, part of the two-day final round of the New Zealand Extreme Off-Road Championship series near Christchurch last month, and he also won the three-day Husqvarna Hard Adventure Enduro near Tokoroa last year, so he certainly holds no fears for the four-hour cross-country “sprint” at Atiamuri on December 14.
Another to watch for will be Napier’s Mackenzie Wiig, the Husqvarna rider (pictured here) an awesome force in recent events such as the New Zealand Extreme Off-Road Championships Series.
Riders entering the Atiamuri event must nominate themselves as either Gold, Silver or Bronze grades competitors – depending upon their age, ability and fitness levels – and that’s the course they will be assigned to tackle, with the grades each scored separately.
Clarke said the event, which will run from 11am until about 3pm, would have mass appeal.
“This Hard X event is to show riders what a three-day hard enduro is like but in a compact way,” he explained. “It will be a lot easier to enter and ride. Riders don’t need a GPS device on their bikes, they don’t need head lights or tail lights and they don’t need to be concerned with the thought of six hours of gruelling riding, like what they might encounter at a hard enduro … this is really just a long cross-country race.
“Everyone is probably thinking it’s going to be a psycho-hard event, but it’s not,” said Clarke.
Another of the elite Gold level riders will be Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker, a record eight-time national trials champion, and it will be his fine balance attributes and his skill with precise throttle control that he acquired from that parallel motorcycling code that may give him a slight edge.
Taupo’s Hadleigh Knight is another worth watching out for. He won the three-round Dirt Guide cross-country series which wrapped up near Tokoroa three weeks ago.
The outright winner of the Hard X event last year was Helensville’s Tom Buxton and this is one rider in particular who rivals such as Yearbury, Whitaker and Knight will most be keeping a close eye on this time around too.
The Husqvarna Hard X race is being held in a private forest on Ongaroto Road, about 30 minutes’ drive south of Tokoroa and 30 minutes’ drive north of Taupo, and the venue will be signposted on SH1 near Atiamuri. There is no charge for spectators.
The Husqvarna Hard X race is sponsored by Husqvarna New Zealand, Forest and Trail Events, Michelin Tyres, Kiwi Rider magazine and Satco NZ Ltd.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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