The first Rotorua Bike Festival in February 2013 will kick into high gear another big year in one of New Zealand’s premier adventure sports destinations.
The Festival will run from Friday February 8 to Sunday February 17 and the week will culminate in the BikeNZ Mountain Bike National Championships on Saturday February 16 and Sunday February 17.
Many of New Zealand's top downhill and cross-country mountain bikers will be racing, with 2013 national titles on the line.
The Festival will be a celebration of all things cycling, a mix of fun and frivolity - and serious competition.
“There will be brand new events and established events that will move within the festival week,” says festival coordinator, Neil Gellatly who will be running the 2W Gravity Enduro and Bike Expo during the festival.
“The final weekend of the festival is a big one with the serious business of the National champs and the 2W Gravity Enduro on Sunday. The multi-stage Gravity Enduro is when riders can mix it up and have some fun to finish the week on the trails the Whakarewarewa mountain bike network is world famous for.”
Gravity Enduro is a new concept in the mountain bike world and rapidly growing in popularity. It features timed runs of long, fast flowing stages.
"The beauty of this sort of race is that it can be won by anyone on any bike – cross country jockey, downhill pilot or weekend warrior - with fitness and skill playing an equal role," says Gellatly.
Behind the scenes a lot of work has been going on to ensure the Festival is a success.
“It’s been a long time coming and now it’s happening, it’s very exciting,” says Martin Croft from Event and Venues Rotorua (Rotorua District Council events unit), which will be supporting the inaugural event.
“Over the past ten years Rotorua has hosted two world mountain bike championships, the Oceania mountain bike champs, numerous national events and annual races that have all shone the spotlight on what a great cycling destination this city really is - and the festival will just underline and reinforce that reputation.”
The Bike Festival will open with the 6, 12 and 24 hour Cateye Moon Ride, starting on Friday February 8. It’s the iconic event in the Rotorua mountain bike calendar and the longest running.
“The Moon Ride has traditionally been an early winter event,” says Mr Croft. “Moving it to summer will give it a very different feel – and is the perfect way to launch the festival week.”
The Festival brings together a group of people who’ve been involved in events and the promotion of mountain biking and cycling in Rotorua for many years.
Rotorua District Councillor, Dave Donaldson, is one of those. He’s worn a lot of different hats over the last ten years, including chairman of the organising committee for the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships.
“Having a festival as a focus of the sport and a hugely popular recreational activity in Rotorua is a big plus,” says Mr Donaldson. “We’ve all talked about bringing mountain biking out of the forest and ‘into town’ and the events around the 2006 Worlds and the 2010 Singlespeed World Champs hinted at how that can work. It will be an exhilarating and entertaining week.”