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Meet: Tuhoto-Ariki

Tuhoto-Ariki pretty much started riding as soon as he could walk. His younger years were filled with going around with his family in their bus to most of the BMX rounds in NZ.

Transferring these skills to Downhill racing, Tuhoto-Ariki chats to us about the highlights, the challenges, life beyond bikes, and his plans for the future.

• July 9th 2020

"Focus on yourself, don’t worry about being better than other riders, worry about yourself. In the end, it’s about who gets to the finish line the fastest.

Don’t distract yourself with disbelief or the old comparison game. And if you get the chance, ride with people that are better than you. Learn from the best." 

 

Wide Open: Hey Tuhoto, can you tell us a bit about how you got into mountain biking?

Tuhoto-Ariki: I pretty much started riding as soon as I could walk. When I was young, I travelled with my family in our bus to most of the BMX rounds in NZ. I really loved doing that with them! At the time I collected 7 National Champion Titles in BMX and many skills that transferred over to downhill. My dad was the shuttle bus driver when I was young so me and my brother Ihakara jumped on his bus every weekend and rode jumps track and the downhill track all day getting faster and faster by the run. Which then lead us both into the downhill scene. And when I was old enough, I then followed in the footsteps of my brother and started to race Downhill Mountain Biking.

WO: Can you tell us a bit about your journey mountain biking over the years?

TA: Early 2018 I claimed the NZ U19 National Downhill Champion Title in my first year of junior elite which was a huge confidence booster, just closely after losing my big brother Ihakara. It was a rough time for my family but I’m grateful I had a good foundation of support to keep me riding my best. And to carry on what we started. With the right mental and physical preparation I raced all the national rounds, Crankworx (Rotorua, Innsbruck, Les Gets) and the World Cup circuit (my first year). I achieved multiple podiums in Crankworx. I also placed in the top 20 in 2 World Cups, and 7th place in the UCI Mtb World Championships 2018. So wrapped up a good first season.

 

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WO: What do you like about riding?

TA: The thing I most like about riding is racing, going fast, big jumps, and riding DH with the bros! Pretty obvious.

WO: Where did you grow up, and where are you living now?

TA: I grew up in Rotorua, Maketu and Rotoiti. But Rotorua has always been where I’ll fully base myself and is also where I’m currently living now.

WO: What does life beyond bikes look like for you?

TA: Life beyond bikes for me is getting out doing adventurous stuff, walking, camping, beach trips, surfing, fishing & hunting, kayaking anything outdoors. Me and mrs do a lot of that! Also keeping close to my friends, whānau, and my culture when I get the chance. In my downtime when I feel creative I put my focus onto the paper and draw, mainly māori designs, it’s healing for me.

WO: What challenges have you faced while racing DH?

TA: I’ve faced a lot of challenges along the way, one of the biggest was that I had lost my main influence in the sport. Not only in riding but in general, my big brother!


But I knew I had to keep strong, hold our memories close to my heart, and keep my foot on the pedal.


Also, the struggle is that I race in an expensive sport and my whānau have had to find so many ways to try scrape together the money to get me around NZ and the world. I feel I’ve put so much pressure on them and in return, I race my best. I was always taught to be rich in heart so I’ve not needed to be rich in money, but when it comes to this sport, I’ve grown to learn you have to have both.

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WO: What advice would you give someone thinking of racing DH?

TA: Focus on yourself, don’t worry about being better than other riders, worry about yourself. In the end, it’s about who gets to the finish line the fastest. Don’t distract yourself with disbelief or the old comparison game. And if you get the chance, ride with people that are better than you. Learn from the best.

WO: In 2018 you traveled overseas to compete in the UCI World Cup, what were the highlights of this trip?

TA: The highlight of 2018 was that I got the chance to race my first World Cup Circuit, after just getting hooked up from Santacruz in NZ. I had to be on! I got the opportunity to see how all the overseas racing was like and sharing bike rides and food with some awesome people.

WO: So, what’s on the cards for the future?

TA: I can’t wait until I can continue to travel the world and Aotearoa racing my bike. I can tell you that I am hungry and I look forward to upping my game in all areas of life.

 


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