EXTRA ROUND HAS CROSS-COUNTRY RIDERS OF ALL AGES READY TO GO BUSH
It seems you can’t have too much of a good thing, because the Dirt Guide Cross-Country Championships have just been boosted in size.
Now into its eighth year and continuing to grow in popularity, 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 more serious and highly-competitive senior racers.
Lengthened from three to four rounds, this year’s series is set to kick off in forestry at Tar Hill, south of Tokoroa, on Sunday, featuring two separate 3km and 10km junior races to blast off in different parts of the forest at the same time about 9.30am, with a more testing 20km course for the two-hour senior race set for 12.30pm.
Points are counted from just three of the four rounds, with contestants to discard their worst result. Sunday’s event will also count as the opening round of the fledgling NZXC series, the brainchild of former Kiwi international and just-crowned national cross-country champion, Paul Whibley.
Pahiatua’s Whibley is “cherry-picking” from several competitions to form his own five-round NZXC series. The series organiser is Tokoroa enduro icon Sean Clarke.
“I really enjoy putting this series on, especially for the junior riders,” Clarke said.
“It gives them a look at what cross-country and enduro racing is like in the forestry. I never got to ride in the bush until I was 15 but now we have the minis riders starting at 7, so it gives them a great start in this type of racing.
Sean Clarke will oversee the Dirt Guide series.
“We run two courses for the minis and juniors, which are just smaller versions of what the seniors tackle.”
Last year’s Dirt Guide Series senior winner was Sam Greenslade, and he should again feature this weekend.
The North Shore man didn’t win every race last season, but consistency earned him the main prize, his results over the three rounds getting him home over fellow North Shore man Chris Power, with former national enduro and cross-country champion Adrian Smith (Mokau) third.
The winner of round two in last year’s series was Taupo youngster Greg De Lautour, while Callan May (Titirangi) won the final round.
The Dirt Guide series is a popular stand-alone series, separate from the nationals, and perfect preparation for Kiwis wishing to head on to greater things.
May is a good example of a rider who has done that. He is overseas again this season, regularly finishing among the leaders in the prestigious Grand National Cross Country Series in the US, and won’t be at Tar Hill.
Other riders to watch include Tom Buxton (Helensville), who won the intermediate grade last season ahead of Daniel Marsh (Te Puke). Jake Wightman (Waimauku) was the top junior in both 2013 and 2014, while Rachel Archer (Te Awamutu) won the 85cc class last year and should be expected to shine this time. Round two of the series is set for Ohakuri, also south of Tokoroa, on August 9, with round three at a new venue near Atiamuri on September 6.
The final round is a return to Tar Hill on October 4.
Dirt Guide Cross-country Championships
Round one: June 14, Tar Hill, south of Tokoroa Round two: August 9, Ohakuri, south of Tokoroa Round three: September 6, Atiamuri (new venue) Round four: October 4, Tar Hill