Motu Special has a mountain bike race for everyone

Sport Promotions will host the Motu Special on July 24, and it will be a taster of what Motu offers.

Sport Promotions will host the Motu Special on July 24, and it will be a taster of what Motu offers.

LET'S RACE: Race director Terry Sheldrake sees Motu School participants off at the start of the 2015 Motu Special. The 2016 edition is on July 24 and will feature distances ranging from 5km to 50km. Picture by Scottie T Photography

JULY 24 cannot come soon enough for the students of Motu School.

Each week day, the school’s 15 students don helmets, jump on their bikes and head out to train for the Motu Special mountain bike races.

Motu was once a bustling settlement of mills, banks, shops and a 100-room hotel that catered for people travelling from Opotiki to Gisborne.

When the existing state highway opened through the Waioeka Gorge in the 1920s, it was all but forgotten.

About 50 farming families live in the rural enclave that functions as the starting point for visitors to the Motu Trails network, a popular mountain-biking destination and one of the NZ Cycle Trail’s Great Rides.

In collaboration with the Department of Conservation, TMS Sport Promotions will host the Motu Special on July 24, a day of mountain-bike racing featuring distances from 5km to 50km to suit riders of every age and ability.

Funds raised go towards maintaining the Motu Community House, which serves as a community centre, school hall and bookable accommodation for cyclists, trampers and fishers visiting the area.

Race day just the taster

On race day, riders will test themselves over private farmland, 4WD tracks, stream crossings, native bush and plenty of hills, which local principal Paul Cornwall described as just a taster.

“If people come to the event, see the photos and think, ‘wow, this is a really nice area’, then we hope they will come back to ride in other places, maybe stay in the Motu Community House or with one of our other accommodation providers,” he said.

“There are limited small business opportunities in a rural community and we work hard to stay in the loop of consciousness for people using the Motu Trails. The event benefits our community so everyone pitches in to help on race day.”

Returning racer Steferl Gordon, from Gisborne, is a regular visitor.

“Eastland is such a beautiful and exciting place and is well worth the trip. Stay the weekend and explore, maybe ride the Pakihi the day before, visit Motu Falls and the kiwi enclosure or go on to Gisborne and do some riding around there,” she said.

Performance goal

Gordon is returning to tackle the 25km distance and has a performance goal for herself.

“There was one really steep section with gnarly rocks that I didn’t ride down last year. I would really like to ride it this year.”

Gordon was not the only person surprised by the ferocity of the descents. Elite adventure racer Daniel Jones won the 50km distance, despite a cautious ride by him and the women’s 50km winner, Corrinne Smit, as they prepared for an international event.

“I didn’t expect the downhill to be that steep. It was one of the most fun races I’ve done,” Jones said.

“I think we can all agree on the course; you definitely feel it afterwards.”

Rising multisport star and 25km champion Hayden Wilde agreed.

“It’s definitely a come-back-and-do.”

Arguably the fiercest battle was in the 5km children’s events, as second-place-getter Erueti King recalled.

“I couldn’t wait to cane the girls,” Erueti said.

“My chain came off but I fixed the problem. Backing myself, I pedalled as fast as I could. I had a good comeback and cut two minutes off my best time.”

Cornwall is adamant the Motu Special will become a regular diary fixture for keen riders.

“There is so much opportunity for riding in the area that we have the scope to continually grow and tweak the event, keeping it fresh.”

JULY 24 cannot come soon enough for the students of Motu School.

Each week day, the school’s 15 students don helmets, jump on their bikes and head out to train for the Motu Special mountain bike races.

Motu was once a bustling settlement of mills, banks, shops and a 100-room hotel that catered for people travelling from Opotiki to Gisborne.

When the existing state highway opened through the Waioeka Gorge in the 1920s, it was all but forgotten.

About 50 farming families live in the rural enclave that functions as the starting point for visitors to the Motu Trails network, a popular mountain-biking destination and one of the NZ Cycle Trail’s Great Rides.

In collaboration with the Department of Conservation, TMS Sport Promotions will host the Motu Special on July 24, a day of mountain-bike racing featuring distances from 5km to 50km to suit riders of every age and ability.

Funds raised go towards maintaining the Motu Community House, which serves as a community centre, school hall and bookable accommodation for cyclists, trampers and fishers visiting the area.

Race day just the taster

On race day, riders will test themselves over private farmland, 4WD tracks, stream crossings, native bush and plenty of hills, which local principal Paul Cornwall described as just a taster.

“If people come to the event, see the photos and think, ‘wow, this is a really nice area’, then we hope they will come back to ride in other places, maybe stay in the Motu Community House or with one of our other accommodation providers,” he said.

“There are limited small business opportunities in a rural community and we work hard to stay in the loop of consciousness for people using the Motu Trails. The event benefits our community so everyone pitches in to help on race day.”

Returning racer Steferl Gordon, from Gisborne, is a regular visitor.

“Eastland is such a beautiful and exciting place and is well worth the trip. Stay the weekend and explore, maybe ride the Pakihi the day before, visit Motu Falls and the kiwi enclosure or go on to Gisborne and do some riding around there,” she said.

Performance goal

Gordon is returning to tackle the 25km distance and has a performance goal for herself.

“There was one really steep section with gnarly rocks that I didn’t ride down last year. I would really like to ride it this year.”

Gordon was not the only person surprised by the ferocity of the descents. Elite adventure racer Daniel Jones won the 50km distance, despite a cautious ride by him and the women’s 50km winner, Corrinne Smit, as they prepared for an international event.

“I didn’t expect the downhill to be that steep. It was one of the most fun races I’ve done,” Jones said.

“I think we can all agree on the course; you definitely feel it afterwards.”

Rising multisport star and 25km champion Hayden Wilde agreed.

“It’s definitely a come-back-and-do.”

Arguably the fiercest battle was in the 5km children’s events, as second-place-getter Erueti King recalled.

“I couldn’t wait to cane the girls,” Erueti said.

“My chain came off but I fixed the problem. Backing myself, I pedalled as fast as I could. I had a good comeback and cut two minutes off my best time.”

Cornwall is adamant the Motu Special will become a regular diary fixture for keen riders.

“There is so much opportunity for riding in the area that we have the scope to continually grow and tweak the event, keeping it fresh.”

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