Preview: Husqvarna Hard X has somethng for everyone
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Dirt bikes, forest tracks and just enough twists, turns, bumps and logs to make it interesting. That’s the second annual Husqvarna Hard X on March 30
The event could be New Zealand’s ultimate of extreme cross-country races, but don’t be frightened off by the event’s daunting title, because, although it could indeed push riders to their limit, it should still appeal to individuals of all skill levels.
The event in the Kinleith Forest, near Atiamuri, is a four-hour cross-country race that will feature all the great trails and hard bits of a Husqvarna Hard Adventure Enduro, but on a compact course, with hard sections deemed suitable for the grade that the rider enters.
Organiser Sean Clarke said the event, which runs from 11am until about 3pm, would have mass appeal.
“This is the second time we have held a Hard X event,” said Clarke, who has also run the difficult Husqvarna Hard Adventure Enduro Events in the same area, about 30 km south of Tokoroa.
“This Hard X event is to show riders what a three-day hard enduro is like but in a compact way,” he explained. “It will be a lot easier to enter and ride. Riders don’t need a GPS device on their bikes, they don’t need head lights or tail lights and they don’t need to be concerned with the thought of six hours of gruelling riding, like what they might encounter at a hard enduro.”
Riders classify themselves as gold, silver or bronze grade competitors and the course they’ll face will reflect that level of proficiency.
“Everyone is probably thinking it’s going to be a psycho-hard event, but it’s not,” said Clarke.
He said the bronze class would be about the same level as a hard section at a trail ride, with the silver and gold class courses a little harder.
One of the elite gold level riders will be Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker, a record eight-time national moto trials champion, and it will be his fine balance attributes and skill with precise throttle control from that parallel motorcycling code that may give him the unbeatable edge, although he missed out on the main prize at last season’s inaugural event. Outright winner last year was Helensville’s Tom Buxton and this is one rider in particular who Whitaker will be keeping a close eye on.
“Last year I finished second after leading half to three-quarters of the race,” recalls the 27-year-old.
“It was a technical course, but perhaps not as hard as I would have liked it. I think Tommy [Buxton] would be favoured again this year, but we’ll see what happens, eh?
“This year I am focusing on national enduro and cross-country events and not so much riding trials bikes. The fact that I have ridden a lot of moto trials events gives me an edge at events like the Husky Hard X, especially when the course gets steep, with killer up-hills and down-hills and then creek crossings.
“That’s where I make up ground over the other riders. Speed is involved, but it’s not so vital and I’ve been getting better with my speed anyway,” he said.
The following day, the Husqvarna Hard X Trail Ride will be held at the same venue. This is more of a social ride and parents are invited to ride with their children.
The events venue will be signposted on SH1, 30km south of Tokoroa.