Queenstown’s motocross king Scott Columb is impressing on bikes without motors.
Columb, 32, has found his moto mojo after a nine-month break and took a creditable fourth, behind a trio of professionals, in the motocross nationals after the fourth round of races in Taupo last month.
What happened next is turning heads.
Columb returned home, pulled his mountain bike out of the shed and raced the Oceania champs, powering to second in the downhill’s masters section.
“It was my second downhill race in 15 years and I was a bit pissed because I was 0.73sec from winning the thing.”
He was denied by a pretty handy rider, though - Levin’s Nathan Rankin, a former national champ.
Columb’s clearly no slouch on a man-powered bike. His freakish time was good enough for 11th overall, and would have put him ninth in the elite men’s section.
“Since I’m not fulltime professional any more you can try other things.”
He describes it as nice and quiet compared to motocross - “you could hear yourself breathing”.
Mountain biking’s a good change for Columb, who prefers it in the summer when dirt tracks become dustbowls.
He can just pop up to Queenstown’s many tracks after working at the family business, Offroad Adventures.
“It’s a good crossover - it’s not as physically demanding as the motor biking but the hand-eye [coordination] is the same.”
Last year, Columb wasn’t sure if he’d continue with motocross, which took him to 29th in the 2008 world champs. He lost confidence with his old team’s bike set-up after a series of crashes.
But he’s been happy and comfortable this season, after becoming a privateer with help from Whiteline Kawasaki in Paeroa. He puts the turnaround to the bike, a Kawasaki 450F.
“Most people would say bikes are very similar but this Kawasaki suits my style. They’ve redesigned the bike, lost 4kgs, and for me having the confidence in my equipment was the key.
“I’m excited to be racing bikes again. It was tough eating the dirt and not being up the front of the field.”
Columb’s not competing overseas any more and likes the luxury of entering races when he wants to.
He’s eyeing a few races over winter. There’s the Michael Godfrey Memorial event in Waipara, Canterbury, at Queen’s Birthday weekend and the Tarawera endurance race near Kawerau in July.
He reckons he’s got at least one or two seasons of motocross left in him.
“My thinking is I don’t have any kids and I’ll keep riding bikes for as long as I can.”