Racing resumes for 2020 Dirt Guide Honours

Thames rider Natasha Cairns (KTM), likely to be among the frontrunners on Saturday. Photo by Andy McGechan,

Lush forestry near Atiamuri is calling out again to all Kiwi dirt bike racers and the thrills and excitement won’t get much better than this.

The sandy trails at Ohakuri will be abuzz again this weekend as the venue hosts round two of the always-popular Dirt Guide Cross-country Series.

The three-round 2020 series kicked off last month, soon after the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic restrictions had been eased, and the huge turn-out of riders that day signalled that members of New Zealand's big motorcycling "family" were certainly keen to get out of lock-down and back on their bikes.

The venue at Ohakuri, on State Highway 1, about halfway between Tokoroa and Taupo, offers pristine tracks, but also plenty of challenges, just enough to provide something special for riders from both ends of the talent or competitiveness spectrum.

Leading New Zealand riders who have carved their names internationally will share the course on Saturday with clubman or novice riders, but don't be fooled by the varied skill-level aspect of the series, because it is precisely events such as this that have created, inspired and nurtured Kiwi cross-country racing talent over the years.

Several Dirt Guide race regulars from the past, riders such as Manawatu's Paul Whibley, Helensville's Tom Buxton, Cambridge's Dylan Yearbury, Whanganui's Seth Reardon, Howick's Liam Draper, Titirangi's Callan May and Te Awamutu's Rachael Archer, to name a few high-profile individuals, have all raced overseas in recent times and they can each trace their beginnings to dirt bike competitions such as this one.

The third and final round of the Dirt Guide Series is set for August 15, also at the popular Ohakuri venue.

At each event, a trail ride is offered at the same venue the following day.

The popularity of The Dirt Guide Series has grown steadily since its beginnings in 2008 and, with separate trails and several different grades incorporated into the day’s racing, catering for all levels of confidence and ability.

Saturday's event is also an ideal opportunity for the lesser or beginner riders to learn from the masters and, at the same venue the following day (Sunday), it is also a chance to hone those skills during the more-leisurely trail ride.

"Only a few people ever win races like this, so it's not really about the winning, but about participation," says Dirt Guide Series promoter Sean Clarke, of Tokoroa.

The talent runs deep at the sharp end of the competition, with key riders such as Wellington's Jake Whitaker, Oparau's James Scott, Rotorua's Ethan Harris, Whangamata's Jason Davis, Thames rider Natasha Cairns and Tokoroa's Jake Wightman, to name just a few, among those worth watching and learning from over the course of the two-hour senior race.

In addition to the expert grade riders, the series caters also for junior riders and for intermediates, veterans and women as well.

The forest venue is signposted from Atiamuri on SH1, with the 90-minute junior race set to kick off at 9.30am, while the two-hour senior race will start just after midday.

The Dirt Guide Series is sponsored by Michelin, Bel Ray, Renthal, O’Neal, DRC, Zeta, Kiwi Rider magazine, Oakley goggles, Ogio, TCX boots, Yoshimura, Forest Trail Events and SatCo Logging Equipment.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,

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