Off-road motorcycle riders are being spoiled for choice these days, with so many opportunities in New Zealand to take to the hills or bush.
And, starting in just a few weeks’ time – near Tokoroa on June 19 – begins the Dirt Guide Cross-country Series that will cater for all tastes and abilities and that actually make the choice quite easy, go and ride, improve your skills by learning from some of the sport’s elite, or perhaps even try to match them in a race situation.
In almost any corner of the country you’ll see floods of vans, utes and cars with trailers, carting dirt bikes away for another weekend of off-road fun, typically an enjoyable challenge.
And the words “enjoyable” and “challenge” can certainly be used in the same breath when discussing the four-round Dirt Guide Cross-country Series.
Now into its ninth year and continuing to grow, the secret for the series’ success is that it caters for young and old alike and, while it does offer something to tempt the less-experienced novice and junior riders, it is also a challenge for the more serious and highly-competitive of senior racers.
It will feature two separate three-kilometre and 10-kilometre junior races to blast off in different parts of the forest at the same time at about 9.30am, with a more testing 20-kilometre course for the two-hour senior race set to launch at about 12.30pm.
Points are counted from just three of the four rounds, with contestants to discard their one worst result.
Adding extra spice to the Dirt Guide Cross-country Series is that the opening event will also count as the first round of the fledgling NZXC series, the brainchild of former Kiwi international and 2015 national cross-country champion Paul Whibley, who was, incidentally, also the man who won last season’s Dirt Guide Cross-country Series.
Sponsored by Kiwi Rider magazine, the series kicks off on Sunday, June 19, at a venue called “Tar Hill”, about 15 kilometres south of Tokoroa.
“This series is set in the pine forests south of Tokoroa and it has now built a reputation as being a really fun competition,” said organiser Sean Clarke, of Tokoroa.
“There is a class or category that caters for everyone. The tracks for all the events this year have been prepared,” he said.
“We want all dirt bike owners to come and have a go at bush riding. With riders getting older every year, we are really keen to provide an experience to entice the younger riders to come along and ride. There are classes for mini bike riders as young as seven,” he said.
“Only a few people ever win races like this, so it’s not about the winners but about participation.”
Previous series contenders such as just-crowned 2016 national cross-country champion Brad Groombridge, of Taupo, Coatesville’s Sam Greenslade, the Dirt Guide series winner in 2014, and Atiamuri’s Hadleigh Knight are expected to enter again and national enduro women’s class championship frontrunner Natasha Cairns (pictured above), from Thames, is also expected to make the journey.
Racing will be on similar terrain to that used for part of the big International Six Days Enduro in the South Waikato region in November 2006.
The series is sponsored by Michelin, Bel Ray, Renthal, O’Neal, DRC, Zeta, Kiwi Rider magazine, Oakley, TCX boots and Yoshimura.
2016 DIRT GUIDE SERIES CALENDAR:
Round one, Tar Hill, Tokoroa, June 19.
Round two, Ohakuri, August 7.
Round three, Ohakuri, September 4.
Round four, Tar Hill, October 2.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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