Two wheels, 240kmh
Mayor John Tregidga was up in the lofty towers looking down on his town as they roared past.
One by one the two wheeled power bikes came flying down the main strip of Paeroa, rounded a few hairy bends and jetted off again down a straight backstreet.
How fast are they going?
About 240kmh, Tregidga reckons.
But these aren't even the crowd drawers. People come to Battle of the Streets for the sidecars, he says.
At the mention of the term sidecar, one conjures up images of Hagrid and Harry Potter taking off for Hogwarts, the machine carrying them barely holding together.
These sidecars are something else.
The front rider is safe in a "Worlds fastest Indian-esque" fit-out, while the back rider has a platform to writhe around on, and of course just holds on for dear life.
They round bends so quickly the tyres squeal on the asphalt, and there's a gap of no more than two metres between them.
Behind them is a race car, it speeds up the straights behind the bikes but takes the corners more sensibly.
The local cop used to be in charge of the car, but he kept putting it up on two wheels, Tregida said, so they had to pass on the flag.
Most of the races involve just one rider on a really fast bike, their knees seem just centimetres from the road as they lean into bends and they shave the haybales on the sides as they whizz past. Tregidga said the bales were hard, and if you're going to hit anything, you're better off going for the sacks filled with empty milk bottles.
"They're a bit softer."
As if on cue, a rider misjudges a bend and slams into a haybale.
It's enough to make you shut your eyes and just hope for the best.
But first-time Battle of the Streets racer Shane Richardson said if your mind or eyes are anywhere but the track, you're doomed.
"You just have to concentrate on what you're doing, not what you're going to hit if it all goes wrong," he said.
The Wellington 18-year-old has been riding bikes since he was given a JR50 at two years old, and yesterday grabbed an unexpected second placing in the Formula Two race. "I'm rapt," he said. "It's good fun. It's a fast track, bit bumpy but yeah, it's fun."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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