We’re in Ambert.
Christchurch is dozens of thousands of miles away and this blonde kid has just won his first World Championship. He returns back home to the other side of the world every winter or, rather, every summer: to that house and to that ten-acre estate about fifteen minutes from New Zealand’s capital.
Here, far away from everything, far away even from the achievements of the great Enduro riders he didn’t know as a child, is where he grew up together with his brothers and where he learned to ride a motorbike. He had his own hero under the same roof.
“Growing up in NZ I didn’t know much about European riders, just my local hero, Dad. He had ridden in the Czech ISDE in 1989, the first NZ Team to compete in a 6 Day. They finished on bronze.”
Engines are part of the family’s DNA.
It all starts when he is five years old and the children are given a mini quad. In the beginning they push each other on it as they are convinced it’s not working. As soon as they start it for the first time they learn how to steer and immediately afterwards how to jump. They jump so well that the poor vehicle gives in.
The next step is a must and Hamish gets on a motorbike for the first time.
“Grandad sent us a quad the other grandchildren all had when we were about 5 years old. Mum and dad told us it didn’t go and we spent the first few months pushing each other on it. After we learnt to take turns helping each other they surprised us by starting it. We broke the frame in the first few months jumping it! Then we progressed to two wheels.”
It’s the relationship with his brothers that forged Hamish’s temperament. Whether on a motorbike, on a skateboard, on a bicycle, or on skis, there was always one thing that dominated amongst them: competition.
Sometimes it got so serious that they got to know the limits of how far a vehicle, whether motorised or not, can be pushed.
“I have two older brothers: we spent a lot of time playing on bikes and I didn’t like losing. It was always a competition, who could jump the highest, go the fastest, learn a new trick. Not only on motorbikes, but also on skateboards, pushbikes, skis. I remember one time racing my brothers down the paddock in a drag race, I didn’t want to lose so I kept the throttle on for too long, ran out of room to stop and ended up crashing into the electric fence!”
Riders in this discipline normally start with motocross, but Hamish is immersed in the world of Enduro from the very beginning.
“Dad organised events and we would spend each weekend exploring farms finding and making good Enduro tracks. Great memories!”
It can’t have been easy for a boy, even if he was fast, to go to the other side of the world to race new riders he often hadn’t even heard of.
However, the experience of a child taking his first steps in the world of motorcycling and that of a young rider joining the World Chsmpioship circus have one major thing in common: you have to get on a bike first and foremost because you love it. No rider, not even the most innately talented, will ever win anything otherwise.
It was the fun he had that made him spend entire days on a motorbike:
“Ride, Ride, Ride – I only came in to eat and sleep!”
It’s this enjoyment which enables him to improve constantly even today, which made him take on the challenges of a new adventure, branded EnduroGP, in 2018, and which will continue testing him in the future: race after race, category after category.
His main aim is to improve even more in order to be able to tackle, and beat, the best riders one day. It’s an excellent sign that good results are already achieved during this early evolutionary stage when the rider is still developing. If, on top of that, you’re the first Kiwi ever in the history of Enduro to bring home a world title, it’s even better.
Hamish crowned his 2019 with the Youth 125cc championship won in Ambert. He sweated for it until the very last race of the season.
One thing, however, remains clear. Even if he is a World Champioship rider and part of a great team like the CH Racing Sherco Factory Racing, his approach hasn’t changed and it’s obvious why he loves Enduro so much.
“Leaving the paddock not knowing what to expect. Being in nature, not knowing what is in front of you and exploring. Riding different terrains, being challenged by all types of riding – Enduro is trials, Cross Country, MX all mixed together. This is what makes it different and complete.”
It’s also special thanks to the affection he received, and the following of fans he gathered, as soon as he got to Europe to take on this new challenge.
It’s a challenge that has only just begun and there is a bright future ahead.
We thank Hamish Macdonald and the CH Racing Sherco Factory Racing team for their availability.