How many Pioneer members does it take to upset the applecart in the first and second rounds of the North Island Champs? Four. Well three really as Scotty got a bit upset by an ex Merlin riding observer who happily clicked a five on his card for what was obviously a one eh Scotty. Thursday night had us jamming four bikes, riders, and gear into the van and heading to the ferry for our first crack at the North Island series being held around the New Plymouth area. Rob was having a ride in clubman and Scotty and myself were having our maiden ride in Presidents due to us both carrying knee injuries, while our current #3 NZ President Ross was to show the rest of Team DOM the intricacies of dodging rocks and gamesmanship of the elder statesmen of our beloved sport. Our trip up was a head wind battle and was punctuated by the odd stop for the obligatory lollies and ice creams and was reasonably uneventful until we reached Patea when a rendition of Poi E rang out before we had our cultural horizons broadened upon the viewing of the towns concrete waka. It wasn’t long after this that the roadsides became crowded with throngs of flag waving and cheering citizens with signs egging us on to toot and rev of which we obliged. How did the Taranaki club organise these thousands of people to greet us to their fine trial? As it turned out they didn’t, we had driven into the middle of an American car parade which was part of the Americana event being held in the area for the week. Our one hour trip to destination had just doubled, but it didn’t matter and we had ourselves laughing at the situation.
Saturday dawned overcast and saw us return to a property that we rode on in the 2005 Nationals so funnily enough we already knew a lot of the sections. Around fifty riders fronted with the new VCS system being trialled in the junior class which meant that the juniors were spread through the grades from expert to clubman and would by weekends end find that the best junior was actually riding expert and acquitting himself very well. The premiere class, Presidents, was going to be tough and it was obvious from the outset that concentration was going to be a major factor in the days results. Sections consisting of slippery tree roots, rocks, and the odd bank were negotiated for the day to find that the best concentrator happened to be DOM#1, Ross, followed by myself only one point ahead of current NI#1 Warwick Merriman. Now having watched the All Blacks in the World Cup final, and Canterbury v Auckland the night before I had become acutely aware that you only had to be one point ahead of the opposition so I taunted Warwick to the bitter end with a single point thrashing. Saturday nights dining was an adventure in itself at the local Crowded House restaurant. We were spoilt to have the company of the Roller Derby girl things and DOM#1, Ross, and DOM#2, Scotty, even got to have a very close encounter with one of the aforementioned creatures. Lucky buggers, not!
Sunday delivered a clear blue sky and lots of tree roots and punga infested sections with slippery creeks and a hill climb thrown in for good measure. Briefing was completed and the land owner advised to stay away from the fences as they were electric and to the best of my knowledge this was the only hazard on the farm. Unfortunately all the local riders knew about the other hazard and didn’t think to say anything to the visiting riders, or maybe they chose not to say in the hope that those bloody Mainlanders would be caught out and drop down the placings. We soon found that our leading president rider would make the ultimate sacrifice to Scotty and myself and uncover the dark secret of the Naki trials fraternity. Whilst riding through possibly the easiest section of the day Ross was set upon and thrown over the bars of his brand new Sherco by a three feet high punga. In fact Ross was the only rider to lose a point on this section all day and Barnsey the observer had great delight in breaking the monotony of clipping cleans and gave him a five for his flat paddock body slam. I got the distinct feeling that Ross wasn’t happy and this was reflected in his result with a slip to seventh place for the day. I however was very grateful for his selfless act and had a good day to finish at the top of the pack giving Warwick another hiding by one point who in turn gave third placed Ray Skinner an absolute thrashing by one point. Overall results for the weekend saw DOM#3, Rob, pulling off a magnificent third place in clubman, Ross did enough on day one to secure third in Presidents, and I doubled my one point buffer to edge Warwick for first. DOM#2, Scotty, had a good weekend but could only manage to win the smelliest bot bot competition. Upon completion of prize giving we said our goodbyes and headed for Wellington to catch the ferry on Monday morning and drive back to reality. Whilst in the Hutt Valley on Sunday night and looking for dinner we did discover that no matter how loud an individual revs like a car while standing beside the KFC drive through ordering intercom they will not take your order, even if you toot. You have to walk up to the drive through window and knock to place your order with the startled staff. Stay tuned for the next trip to Tauranga in a month to learn of more escapades of TEAM DOM.