Whitby’s Rory Mead is a glutton for punishment.
The national enduro champion won the inaugural Red Bull City Scramble endurance event in downtown Auckland in May this year.
That win appeared to be a springboard for the 22-year-old Yamaha star to look for fresher and more difficult challenges because part of the prize for winning in Auckland was a paid trip and entry into the Erzberg Extreme Enduro, deep in the Eisener Alps of Austria, just a week later.
He and his Yamaha YZ250 not only survived his Erzberg debut, he finished a remarkable sixth overall out of more than 1500 starters.
Not satisfied with that, the Wellington builder decided to enter himself in the Roof of Africa extreme enduro, set for the mountain kingdom of Lesotho on November 26-28. He leaves in a fortnight, excited about his prospects but under no illusions that it will be very demanding.
The Roof of Africa race will not be held along the same route as last year’s race and, in fact, it’s tipped to be even more difficult and testing, as it sends riders through the Black Maluti Mountains in mid-Lesotho.
Fellow Kiwi riders Chris Birch and Ollie Sharp, both of Auckland, will also be tackling the Roof of Africa.
Kiwi legend Birch, a multi-time former New Zealand enduro champion, is actually the defending champion at the Roof of Africa event.
Birch, riding a KTM 300 EXC, was not only winner of the notorious Roof of Africa last year, he also did it by a huge margin of 48.5 minutes.
The Kiwi international rode his own race from start to finish over three days and 450 tortuous kilometres.
But first-timer Mead is taking it all in his stride.
“Yes, I hear it’s pretty gruelling stuff,” said Mead.
“There will be lots of sharp-edged rocks to ride over but I think my trials riding experience will help there. I’ll have support on this trip from Shimmwels Yamaha in Johannesburg.”
When Mead returns from Lesotho, He’ll have little time to catch his breath before taking on the Maramarua Three-day Enduro in the Waikato on December 4-6, just days after he steps off his international flight.
“Then I’ll do the next round of the Grand National Cross-country Series,” said Mead, who currently leads that series after two of five rounds.
“If all of that doesn’t prepare me for defending my national enduro title in 2010, I don’t know what will,” he laughed.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com