For every story that is told about any given motorcycling event, or perhaps any sport for that matter, there are also dozens more that could also be written, except that journalism resources can’t always stretch that far.
But, just this once, we have decided to touch on some of the previously unsung heroes of weekend’s racing near Tokoroa, offering these few words about a couple of the talented but ultimately unlucky competitors at the opening round of The Dirt Guide/NZXC cross-country series.
Rotorua’s Scotty Birch (Honda) had travelled just a few metres when he crashed in turn one, at the end of a very short start straight, perhaps only 50m metres long, and so was forced to begin his battle for glory behind more than 130 others who had gotten clean away.
He picked himself up and set out after the disappearing hoard and, just a couple of corners later came across more carnage, this time four-time former national cross-country champion Adrian Smith (Yamaha) a victim and, as Birch started counting off the riders as he picked them off one or two at a time, Smith being the first among them, both riders knew it was going to be a very long and gruelling two hours in the forest that afternoon.
But, even after taking it in turns to start the race dead last, never-say-die riders Smith and Birch both charged on and forced their way through the field.
Smith eventually finished the race in fourth place and Birch fought back to 10th spot overall. Respect!
Another hard luck story could be written about Atiamuri’s Hadleigh Knight. The Husqvarna rider found himself in second place early on, not far behind Whibley and looking very comfortable in that position too.
But then, on lap two, he ran out of fuel almost within sight of the timing zone and pits.
Although in an impossible position, Hadleigh Knight rejoined the race and managed to get back up to 111th place, finishing the day three laps behind Whibley (the only rider to complete six laps).
So there you go … when else would you read a bit about riders who finished fourth, tenth or even 111th in a major sporting event?
Of course the biggest group of unsung heroes are all the supporters, mums and dads, sponsors, event organisers, lap scoring crew, rider marshals and caterers. To them we say, on behalf of all the riders, thanks very much.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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