After a sunny weekend off, Hüttcross returned to the parks of the Hutt Valley under laden storm clouds. The morning made a promising start, breezy, bracing, with smatterings of rain. Keen racers with families and spectators in tow trickled into an increasingly sodden Moonshine Park as organisers scrambled to secure wind-ravaged race tape and pop-up-and-blow-away gazebos.
The combatants of the lower grades exhibited true camaraderie, offering one another hands and legs up fiendishly steep stop banks before sledging back to park level on the slick mud, the course designers no doubt rubbing their hands with glee. Kids pedalled themselves into a frenzy before a hefty B-grade field of 70-odd made further mincemeat of the already shredded park, the crunch and grind of punished bikes lingering in the observer’s ear long after riders whipped by.
A thinned out A-grade field threw open bragging rights for the picking, making for the most aggressive and brave riding yet. The lead changed, changed back, and then changed again, until all that was left was a solo, sodden young man who, on finishing, didn’t see the victor’s flag through mud-filled eyes and set out for another lap in the torrential downpour.