The spirit of Munro

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    Palmerston North motorcyclists (from left) Martin Stewart, Nick Langford and David Stewart are in Invercargill for their first Burt Munro Challenge.

    IT has been nearly four decades since the Stewart brothers started riding motorbikes with their neighbour in Palmerston North.

    Tomorrow, the trio are set to ride one of the same models they had when they were 15 years old, in their first Burt Munro Challenge.

    Martin and David Stewart set up camp with their childhood friend Nick Langford at the rally site at Oreti Park, near Invercargill, on Monday.

    They brought their motorcycles all the way from Palmerston North, including a 1982 XR500 they had spent the past year getting ready for the event.

    Much like Burt Munro himself, they made do with what they had their gear to their motorcycle parts and even their camping utensils.

    “We just went to the second-hand shop before and got ourselves a nice pan, knives and forks,” Martin Stewart said.

    “All our [motorcycle] gear is from TradeMe.”

    As for the wet weather on Tuesday, none of them were fazed.

    “We don’t care, we’re trying to be tough bikies,” he said.

    Mr Langford laughed as he stared at a plank of wood on a tin can they were using as a table and described it as “glamping”.

    David Stewart, who would be riding the 1982 model in the beach race, said it was easy to turn up with a whole lot of money and win but it was just as easy to do it with next to nothing Munro-style.

    “I used to live in America and my friends there watched The World’s Fastest Indian and were just puzzled by how determined Burt was.”

    Only petrolheads would understand how “iconic” the XR500 was, he said.

    “We’ve had it in a million pieces and put it back together. The modifications never stop.”

    Despite all the hard work involved, all three riders were raring to go after a long trip to Southland.

    “We’re here for the bikes, the music and the Southern hospitality want to win everything,” Martin Stewart said.

    Following the success of the 2005 movie about Burt Munro’s life, the Southland Motorcycle Club created the annual challenge in his honour a year later.

    The four-day event attracted thousands of riders from throughout New Zealand to take part in myriad competitions at different locations in Invercargill and its surrounds.

    The event started yesterday and would run until Sunday.

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