Help­ing keep two wheels turn­ing


Re­cently I at­tended one of the largest off road events in the South­ern Hemi­sphere but while I was there in my four-wheeldrive ( along with many oth­ers) the event was a two wheel one in the form of the an­nual Tus­sock Buster. Held on the Army train­ing grounds at Waiouru, Tus­sock Buster is the largest trail bike event in New Zealand and is re­garded by many as be­ing the best event of its kind in the South­ern Hemi­sphere.

Tus­sock Buster is a 2.5 day mo­tor­cy­cle trail ride through 63,000 hectares of train­ing grounds and cov­ers 300 kilo­me­tres of tracks with over 1500 rid­ers, mar­shals and helpers out there rain, hail, snow or in the case of this year’s event, mostly sun­shine. Most par­tic­i­pants camped on the sports field at Waiouru or if you an old bug­ger like me and chanced upon a bed in the rather cosy army bar­racks for the week­end, you took it.

Con­sid­er­ing the dis­tance that the bikes would be trav­el­ing out to the back of the grounds, the fuel tanks on the bikes are ob­vi­ously lack­ing in ca­pac­ity so fuel be­comes a prob­lem for them. This is where a ded­i­cated team, of which I was a small part of, were sta­tioned. Here there was a re­fu­elling area cor­doned off with mini fuel tankers po­si­tioned to fuel the bikes as they came through on a pre­paid to­ken ba­sis.

We were sta­tioned at ap­prox­i­mately the half way point at the West­lawn hut area and rid­ers would come in for a break and top up of fuel us­ing a pre-paid to­ken ba­sis. The bikes had to have their en­gines turned off and the rid­ers pushed the bikes through a taped off re­fu­elling area get­ting three litres at a time. Some would re­quest a split with their mate so we would be me­ter­ing even small amounts like a litre or 1.5 into the tanks.

Not easy try­ing to read a me­ter and yet pump into some of those bike tanks mak­ing sure it wasn’t too full, es­pe­cially for those with two-strokes who then had to cal­cu­late and add their own oil. How­ever, hav­ing three noz­zles go­ing at once meant that queues were kept to a min­i­mum.

That said, it was as­ton­ish­ing how some thought that because they hadn’t used that much fuel so far, they didn’t need to top up their tank. They were prob­a­bly some of the ones that the re­cov­ery teams spent un­til 8.30pm Satur­day recovering af­ter they ran out of fuel in the worst pos­si­ble places. In the real hard to get to places for the re­cov­ery quads ( with tow­ing dol­lies), Barry was sent in with his he­li­copter to air­lift the bike out to an ac­ces­si­ble lo­ca­tion, one be­ing the West­lawn area.

The he­li­copter was also used to re­cover in­jured rid­ers back to the on-site med­i­cal team and there were a few in­juries, some se­ri­ous re­quir­ing the res­cue he­li­copter ser­vice to air­lift to hos­pi­tal. Most were treated on site but those like the guy who broke his leg in two places were dis­patched to hos­pi­tal.

Get­ting fuel out to West­lawn is not an easy task and the 1200 and 1600 litre tankers cer­tainly weigh a few tonne when full, so a good four-wheel- drive ve­hi­cle was es­sen­tial to tow them out there. Just as well Mike Drans­field’s new Toy­ota 79 Se­ries V8 diesel Land Cruiser Ute was up to the task. And my own LR Dis­cov­ery V8 was put to work and got the job of tow­ing the empty tanker back to base.

Over the week­end over 3,000 litres of fuel was pumped. The Z Ser­vice Sta­tion at Waiouru was a bit taken back when Mike pulled in with said tankers and said “Fill ‘er up”!

As to the claim to be the largest trail bike event in the South­ern Hemi­sphere, event di­rec­tor, War­rick Fun­nell got onto the phone lead­ing up to the week­end and spoke to or­gan­is­ers of sim­i­lar events in Aus­tralia. When asked de­tails War­rick told them 300kms and 1000 rid­ers to which they replied with two words; “You Win”.

Of­flim­its is a Char­i­ta­ble Trust and funds raised are put to good use, es­pe­cially for those with con­nec­tions or for­mer con­nec­tions to the de­fence force. Over the past year Of­flim­its have handed out over $ 180,000.

There haven’t been a lot of 4WD events over the first few months of this year and Of­flim­its are now plan­ning for their Ice Buster 4WD event in late July. Keep an eye out on their web­site or Face­book page for when reg­is­tra­tions open as num­bers are strictly lim­ited.

Mo­tor­cy­cle rid­ers en­joy­ing this year’ Tus­sock Buster event.

Vol­un­teers Ian and Pete on re­fu­elling duty.

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