They’re not called the Bush Riders for nothing.

The renowned Bush Riders’ Motorcycle Club, based in Pahiatua, holds an enviable reputation for staging cross-country dirt bike races and, with such diverse and interesting terrain all within an easy drive of the town, it’s not hard to see why this is so.

Starting this coming weekend, November 11, the 2018 edition of the popular Central Cross-country Series kicks off near Waipukurau with many of New Zealand’s leading motocross, cross-country and enduro racers expected to line up. As well as serious senior-grade riders, the five-round competition also caters for veterans, intermediates, “social” trail bike riders, women and juniors, with the 90-minute junior race set to go at 10am and the two-hour senior race set to blast off at midday. Additional prize-money of $100 is offered to the rider who holeshots (snatches the lead at the first corner of) the senior race (sponsored by George and Luce Williams of Grassendale Genetics) and there’s also $50 on offer for the junior holeshot rider (sponsored by Jacob Hyslop of Hilltop Contractors).

Leading riders expected to line up on Sunday include former New Zealand and United States cross-country champion Paul Whibley, from Himatangi, last season’s Central Cross-country Series XC1 class champion Adam Easton and fellow Masterton man Allan Gannon, who was outright winner of the series last season. Others likely to shine on Sunday include Napier’s Bryn Codd, Stratford’s Karl Roberts, Eketahuna’s Daniel Christie, Feilding’s Hugh Lintott, Masterton’s Sam Callaghan, Marton’s Ethan Breuer, Whanganui’s Seth Reardon, Eltham’s Adam Loveridge, Masterton’s Jacob Hyslop and Hunterville’s Hannah Rushworth, to name a few.

Bush Riders’ Motorcycle Club president Grant Christie was keen to emphasise the ‘famous hospitality’ offered. “It’s a real family atmosphere at these events. The social side of these races are as good as the racing, with our legendary free venison barbecue and free refreshments at the end of racing. This is not like a motocross, where everyone just packs up and leaves when the racing is done,” he said. “We are again looking forward to providing a great series and a competition that offers both a challenge for serious racers and a great afternoon’s riding for the less serious riders too. I think we must be doing something right because the series has continued to grow over the years and attracts riders from near and far.”

Always a well-attended series, it can trace its beginnings to 1989, although there have been several name changes over the years and, in 2012, it became known as the Central Cross Country Series.

The series is supported by Hewitts Motorcycles, Dannevirke Honda, Farmlands Waipukurau, Mills Honda, Axis Design, Nulook CHB, Stevenson & Taylor Ltd, Bushett Contracting, Hilltop Contractors 2015 Ltd, Dirtbike Parts Ltd, BJ Dickson Building Ltd, Grassendale Genetics, Bisset Honda, Ag Tech Machinery, K & N Livestock, Tararua Shearing, Chunky’s Contracting, Ramsay Earthmoving, Sargent Motorcycles, Lintott Construction Ltd, Langlands Motorcycles, AFC Motorcycles, Nixin Contractors, TSS Red Barron Motorcycles, TFM Tractors, Maunsell Contracting Ltd, Codd Builders, Motoland Hawke’s Bay, Bay Motorcycles, 02 Engineering.

The Rescue Helicopter Services will benefit from a $10 donation for each rider entered on Sunday.

At each round there will be trophies for first, second and third for the leading overall senior and junior riders and, at the final round, there will be a prize-giving with trophies for the series overall winners and the various class winners.


2018-19 Central Cross-country Series calendar:

Round one, November 11, Waipukarau

Round two, December 16, Woodville

Round three, February 17, Hawke’s Bay

Round four, March 17, Marton

Round five, April 7, Eketahuna


Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan