It was a classic battle of the ages for one competitor at this year’s Bay Honda Tarawera 100 off-road motorcycle endurance race in the Bay of Plenty.
In the case of Te Puke man Graham Foote, it was one 1958-model farmer and one 1974-model Honda motorcycle against an iconic event dating back to 1978.
And, unfortunately for the courageous 53-year-old and his durable 37-year-old CT90 Honda, the 34-year-old event was the winner.
Even when brand new, the CT90 was not meant as a competition machine, perhaps a CR250 motocross bike of the day more suited to the task, so when Foote lined up alongside more than 170 other riders to tackle the Bay Honda Tarawera 100 at Te Teko, near Whakatane, on Saturday, a few eyebrows were raised.
You could argue that Foote’s 1974-model bike was more suited to being placed in a museum than entered in an off-road marathon and, perhaps, a 53-year-old man should have been thinking twice about the ordeal too, but contesting the Tarawera 100 on the CT90 was simply one of the things on Foote’s “bucket list”.
Foote and his tiny bike completed just one 40-kilometre lap and it took them two hours and seven minutes, the entry officially listed as a “did not finish”. In contrast, the leading riders, on 2011-model bikes, completed the four laps that made up the 100-mile (160-kilometre) race distance.
Foote bought the bike for $400 on Trade Me and decided to enter it in this year’s Tarawera 100 because “it seemed the right thing to do because this is a Honda-sponsored event and my wife wouldn’t let me ride the Goldwing”.
“I was a bit worried about passing machine scrutineering. I thought I might have to nugget the tyres because there were cracks in the rubber,” he laughed.
“It was one of the things on my ‘bucket list’, the things you must do before you kick the bucket … to do an impossible event on an inappropriate bike. It was never about winning, of course, just surviving and enjoying the experience.
“I had a great time and I was amazed everyone was so supportive, some even offering energy drinks and Moro bars to me at the end.
“I’m glad that bucket list item is ticked off though. I was knackered.
“My next goal is to complete three laps on my 1994-model Suzuki DR350 that I bought in 1995 and it’s never done more than two laps at the Tarawera 100.
“I certainly got my $400 worth of fun out of CT90 and it’s running better than ever now. I’m now using it for a farm training job in Reporoa.”
The Honda CT90 and Graham Foote – a couple of real survivors.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com