For two wheel fans there was only one place to be at the end of last month: Invercargill, at the Burt Munro Challenge. The Ride Forever crew was there, and we had a blast.
Inspired by the film, The World's Fastest Indian, the Burt Munro Challenge rolled out its 11th incarnation between the 24th and 27th November. It's the largest motorcycle rally in the Southern Hemisphere and an extraordinary event, drawing thousands of enthusiasts from across the globe.
This time around the weather forecast was unremittingly wet for the duration. It didn't seem to have put people off though, as there wasn't a bed to be had in Invercargill. And, as it turned out, the forecast was as accurate as usual, i.e. not at all. We had rain, sure. We also had lots of sun, heaps of wind, sleet and daytime temperatures that varied between 4º and 24ºC.
While the campers might have had the odd cold night, the weather didn't halt the racing. From Motocross, speedway and a hill climb to beach racing, street racing and a whole day on circuit at Teretonga Park, the action was non-stop.
The beach race is perhaps the most iconic event of the weekend, and the sun came out on Friday afternoon big time. Unfortunately, so did the wind: increasing in strength throughout proceedings and eventually turning Oreti beach into a giant sand blaster. Despite that, substantial crowds lined the dunes to watch stars like Josh Coppins and Guy Martin show their skills.
Guy was also in evidence at the speedway, piloting a borrowed outfit, and at the street race on Sunday, where he navigated a wet and freezing cold track on his 260hp turbocharged Suzuki. He had intended to use the machine at the hill climb but the wet conditions there limited him to a sighting run only.
Whatever the weather, it was always dry and cozy in the Ride Forever tent at the rally site thanks to a massive heater. All weekend long we welcomed a steady stream of visitors, and things got really crowded when Dave Moss undertook set-up demonstrations on peoples bikes.
Our other great friend from the USA, Brittany Morrow, was in great form, speaking movingly about her life-changing crash and delivering in-depth information about protective gear.
Two competitions got lots of entries - finding a series of faults introduced onto a brand new CBR300R, kindly loaned by Southland Honda, and a road-code quiz that proved surprisingly hard! Congratulations, then, to our winners: Conrad Cooper of Invercargill who won a $500 service voucher for his bike and Bob Beck of Cromwell who won a $250 gear voucher. Well done to both Bob and Conrad!
There were also loads of giveaways, including side stand pucks, tyre gauges, neck warmers and more.
The whole event really was a blast (literally, at Oreti beach ) and if you haven't been before, it is a must for any NZ rider. Check out the pics and well see you next year at The Burt.