Tāne Toa: A warrior on the World Circuit

Tuhoto Ariki Pene has been competing on the world downhill mountain biking circuit for the last four months. He gave it his all, is stoked with his results and now he can’t wait to get home, have a cup of tea with his whānau and enjoy his mum’s cooking.
Tuhoto Ariki (Te Arawa) has been competing since he was three years-old and made the step up this year to compete as an elite for the first time. Tuhoto Ariki, says it was a big jump.
“It is a huge change, it’s such a fast pace. I’m doing what I have always done but you have to go like twice as fast. It was good though, it’s all the preparation and getting everything together as well, that steps up too with elite.”
Tuhoto Ariki had some strong results, he qualified 14th at the 2021 DH World Championships in Val di Sole and then came 22nd in the finals.
“I just did what I could as an elite. I had some goals in mind but it was mostly to qualify, which I did, and,” Tuhoto Ariki let’s out a chuckle, “make it on TV, I did that too.”
Tuhoto Ariki said it took him a little while to warm into the competition - his time on the bike had been cut short leading into World’s after he broke his wrist.
“I started out a bit slow and that was pretty frustrating because I wasn't up to speed. I was riding like a woosey but I got over it and during the season I picked up.”
For the first few months the weather was not ideal with rain becoming the main theme. “It was kind of annoying but it helped because we had been training in the rain so we were used to it and we had that advantage.”
One of Tuhoto Ariki’s strengths is that he is good at keeping his cool and he says he is “pretty chill, as long as I know everything is in place, I’ve had enough sleep then I just go out and ride and enjoy it”.
The world’s, for Tuhoto Ariki, were also a good way for him to extend his network of riders and to get to know his Union teammates. For him the time off the track was a highlight.
“We have a pretty crazy team, we were just killing it. We all get along and they are all pretty cruisey. I couldn’t be on a team if it was really strict. That would be no fun. We get to race week and we switch on. That’s really cool.”
His family back home in Rotorua are his biggest fans and he says knowing they have his back makes a difference. “They have made some big sacrifices for me and that means a lot. They help whenever they can and as long as I am happy they are all good. It helps to know they are there and it will be good to catch up with them soon and see what everyone is up to.”
Crankworx in Rotorua, the Summer Series in the South Island and then the MTB National Series and Championships are just around the corner for Tuhoto Ariki. He doesn’t really have a down season, “after all those races I’ll head back overseas.”
Tuhoto Ariki’s passion for his sport is entrenched in who he is and he says he enjoys the ride every time. He is looking forward to chucking in his EarSHOTS bluetooth headphones, loading up some good tunes and getting back on his home soil again.
“I love adventures and I love going fast. Smooth and fast. I just flow.”