Hero. Legend. Brother.

4) Lance Tavinor © Allan Ure web

Photo: Allan Ure Media Release: Monday February 2

Rotorua mountain biker Lance Tavinor was all those things and more when he took on the solo category in the 24 hours of Nduro in the Whakarewarewa Forest over the weekend.

With $5 from every entry going to Kidney Health New Zealand, he was riding for a cause close to his heart. His older brother Grant is ill with kidney disease. Lance is undergoing rigorous testing to see if he is a suitable donor. He also put himself through one of the most challenging tests for a mountain biker, when he started the Nduro at midday on Saturday.

“He went out a little fast with his race face on at the start,” said his pit crew boss, Benny Devcich who works with him at local bike shop, Cyclezone. “But he settled into a good rhythm as night fell.”

The weather and riding conditions were perfect. After one of the driest and hottest Januarys on record, there was rain on Friday night and the race started in a refreshing drizzle.

Lance was still going strong as dawn broke on Sunday morning. He passed the 300-kilometre mark on the demanding 14-kilometre course as the clock ticked down to midday.

While multiple 24 Hour Solo World champion Jason English, from Australia confirmed his favouritism to win the men’s race and Kiwi Anja McDonald rode a brilliant race to take the women’s title, the focus turned to Lance’s last lap. He was cheered on his way by a big crowd of supporters and arrived back to an even bigger round of applause. “I had to ride that last lap upright,” he said as he enjoyed a post-race beer. “My back was so sore I couldn’t lean in to the handlebars.”

He took a long swig and then held out his hands. They were bruised and calloused. “Sleep next,” he added with his trademark grin. “If there was a Spirit of Rotorua Mountain Biking award, Lance would be a front row contender,” said Rotorua Bike Festival event coordinator, Martin Croft. He was there to watch the end of the race, which was a dress rehearsal for the WEMBO 24 Hour Solo World Championships.

This will be one of the feature events at the 2016 Bike Festival. This year’s festival launches on Friday February 15 and Lance will be there. “I’ll see how the recovery goes,” he said. “It's a great time to be in Rotorua at Festival time, with all sort of events to enter or watch.”

Last year, he channelled Elvis at the Bike Speedway in front of Rotorua’s historic Museum and Art Gallery. “I might have to just sit in a chair and spectate this year,” he added with a grimace.

Fundraising for the Tavinors and Kidney Health New Zealand continues in April at the New Zealand Singlespeed Championships – very special 100th anniversary Anzac edition.

Race day is Sunday April 26: www.rotoruasinglespeed.com

Donate to Lance’s fundraiser for Kidney Health New Zealand: https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/lancekranksitforkidneys

Rotorua Bike Festival: www.rotoruabikefestival.com