Only the bravest dared to enter and only a few survived to finish, but that was perhaps to be expected from an event called the Husqvarna Hard Adventure Enduro.
This year’s third annual running of the extreme motorcycle event was again a brutal affair and the similarities didn’t end there either, with the same hard-as-nails rider who won it last season winning it outright again – Cambridge diesel mechanic Dylan Yearbury (Husqvarna TE300).
This “last man standing” affair, in untamed forestry land between Tokoroa and Taupo, offered up plenty of drama and the 23-year-old Yearbury was not immune to misfortune, which made it even more surprising that he could celebrate back-to-back wins in this stern two-and-a-half-day test of man and machine.
The event kicked off on Friday afternoon with a “prologue”, a series of sprints over man-made obstacles, including tractor tyres, concrete pipes, metal skip bins, a narrow beam “tightrope” and wooden ramps, with a few sharp-edged boulders thrown in for good measure.
Results here determined the starting order for the following two days of forest riding.
The event was designed to be tormenting, offering up tracks with varying degrees of difficulty, depending on whether a rider was graded as Gold, Silver or Bronze calibre.
Riders navigated the course using a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) device mounted on their handlebars and even that didn’t prevent some riders getting a little lost at times.
“I can’t believe I won again, after the series of misfortunate events I suffered this year,” said Yearbury. “I lost my front brake when a nut came loose and the brake fluid escaped. Fellow racer Chris Birch (from Glen Eden) stopped to help me fill the cylinder back up with water, as a stop-gap measure, and then bleed the brakes, and that got me to the end of the day, when I could replace the oil. The next day (Sunday) the bike simply stopped because I had gotten dirt in the fuel filter. I cleaned it out and I was away again, but I had lost a lot of time. Then I got barbed wire wrapped around my rear wheel and this time (another fellow competitor) Tony Parker stopped to help me.”
Twice more Yearbury was lucky to receive assistance from his rivals – Wainuiomata’s Jake Whitaker helping him scale a huge log and Helensville’s Tom Buxton assisting him on a hill climb – these actions epitomising the camaraderie that exists between these battle-hardened dirt bike riders.
“We all want to win, but we’re all mates too.”
Overall runner-up to Yearbury was Whitaker – who remarkably finished just 49 seconds behind after more than 12 hours of riding – followed by Buxton, with New Plymouth man Parker and Hamilton’s Phil Singleton rounding out the top five. Best of the Silver-graded riders was Cambridge’s Beau Taylor, while Whitecliffs’ Cody Corson topped the Bronze rider list.
“There was a massive variety of terrain that we covered, from mud, rocks, forest streams, steep hills, log cut-overs and bits of road … it had everything,” said Yearbury. “It was to be expected though … it’s in the name of the event, ‘hard’ and ‘adventure’ and it was both of those things and I’m feeling pretty sore and worn out right now.”
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan