No hill climb, still got mates

Weather may have meant the Burt Munro Challenge New Zealand Hill Climb was cancelled but it didn’t dampen the mood of participants who took shelter in Invercargill yesterday.

Harihari motorcyclist Dan Lane was among a group of 12 motorcycle enthusiasts who rode to Invercargill to enjoy the event. They were staying at the event’s campsite near Oreti Beach.

He and his group had taken a practical approach to cope with the cancellation of the hill climb which is part of the five-day-long event — sightseeing and a beer.

"This is Southland, you know, and I have learnt with past experiences that you never know how the weather is going to play out. "

He said the event was more than the races, it was the experience and good time with his friends.

"We love the people in Invercargill —they look after everybody and I really love this energy, the camaraderie. "The cancellation is never a problem if you have a good group of friends — and we have.

"We will just drink more beer than we planned," he laughed.

Motorcyclists (from left) John Dyksma, Dan Lane, Brett Ripley, Owen Ripley, Deane Briggs, James...
Motorcyclists (from left) John Dyksma, Dan Lane, Brett Ripley, Owen Ripley, Deane Briggs, James Crint and Brent Steegh had a beer to cope with the cancellation of Burt Munro’s Hill Climb race yesterday. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO

Mr Lane hoped the weather would improve for tomorrow’s Beach Racing Championships at Oreti Beach as it was the race which truly "represents and honours the legacy of Mr Munro," he said.

His mate, Deane Briggs, from Nelson, had joined the event for the first time.

The cancellation was "sort of" a good thing as he was able to enjoy the attractions in the city, including the Classic Motorcycle Mecca, he said.

"Honestly I’m relieved that I don’t need to stand in this rain and hail.

"I don’t think you can have a bad time with your mates — even in weather like this. I had never been to Invercargill so it’s good to have time to explore."

Burt Munro Challenge spokesman Craig Hyde said the decision to cancel the Star Insurance New Zealand Hill Climb Championships at Bluff, came down to safety.

"We can deal with the rain but the wind is too dangerous. There’s one or two places if the wind catches you it could be a disaster."

The decision was jointly made between organisers and riders, he said.

It was the first hill climb ever to be cancelled although, in the past, the programme had been shortened due to weather.

The event could not be shifted to another day because of the need for a road closure and clashing with other events, he said.

However, it looked as though the weather would play the part for the next three days.

The Harley Twilight Drag Racing was also postponed yesterday.

They would now run the drags on Friday night with sign-in at 3pm with racing to start at 5pm.

Although this would cause a clash with the Indian Motorcycle Beach Racing and Championships at Oreti Beach on Friday night, it was the best solution, he said.

"A lot of people don’t race in both and because they’re (drag racers and) are self-sufficient. It’s a doable thing."

Despite decisions being hard to make, he said those who attended understood the reasoning behind them.

"At the end of the day we just want everyone to get home safely."

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