“It’s a real illustration of the strength of biking in our town,” said Festival event coordinator, Martin Croft. “There are 30 events in total, again, with the whole range of ages, skill levels and different types of bikes represented.”
One of the new events officially launches the festival on the evening of Friday February 13. The Runway Project will open the runway at Rotorua Airport to all-comers from 7:40PM after the last flight of the day. The evening will culminate in a head to head, straight-line time trial for elite riders with international race licences.
“We are really excited about this and Jason Cameron, the organiser, has been working night and day on it,” said Croft. “Local companies, Fever Pitch Visuals and Bluedog Media, will be producing a live stream of the evening, too.”
Revolve Rotorua, a ‘down to earth cycling club for women’ are organising three new events on the calendar - road and mountain bike rides for women and a Rotorua Mountain Bike Club women’s beginner’s ride. “It’s such a wonderful way of being part of the thriving Rotorua cycling community,” said Agnes Arnold, from Revolve Rotorua. “And an opportunity to share our passion for biking in general, and women's cycling in particular, with as many like minded people as possible.”
Park Ride adds another dimension to the Festival on the first weekend. It’s an up and down sprint race in the city’s central car park, open to any type of bike. It’s an increasingly popular form of bike racing round the world.
“With the National Mountain Bike Champs on at the same time we are expecting a few stars to turn up, “ said organiser, Tim Farmer, from Nduro Events. “We’ll be pumping out the sounds and there’ll be a laser light show.
Another new event at the festival is the 16-inch Dual Slalom ‘World’ Championships. “Small wheels and big time fun,” said organiser, Rob Smail from Bike Culture. “It’s light-hearted, but competition will be very serious at the sharp end.”
The event is also for a serious cause. It will be run at the new Dodzy Memorial Skills Park. This was built to celebrate the late James Dodds, a true mountain bike legend, and paid for from public donations. “It’s $5 to enter,” added Smail. “All money will got to maintenance of the park, so we hope people will donate more.”
Ride to Recycle is what it says on the tin. This will be a midday cruise round Sulphur Point to collect litter. “Rotorua is such a beautiful place,” said organiser, Marcello Ojerio. “We want to keep it that way.”
The Big Film Night is another new event to the festival programme. It is a collection of prizewinning films and documentaries about mountain bikers, road racing, bike touring, vintage bikes, custom bike frame building and bike mechanics at work “cargo style” in Cuba.
“I’m really thrilled to have the Big Bike Film Night come under the wings of the Rotorua Bike Festival,” said Brett Cotter, who has curated the collection. “This 10 day celebration of biking has gone from strength to strength and it is an established, iconic event on the calendar”.
The final new event of the week is on the final day of the Festival, Sunday February 22. “The MTB Beginner’s Open Day is all about community, participation and events for everyone,” said Croft. “Getting people on bikes - and that’s what the inclusive nature of the Festival is about, too.”
Open Day organisers, Paula and James ‘Geeza’ Alexander, are enthusiastic about sharing their passion for mountain biking.
“We’ll guide people on flat, easy trails so that they can 100 percent enjoy the experience,” said Paula, with a beaming smile. The tour will include a basic skill session and then a leisurely 30-minute ride in the forest.
“Kia kaha ake, give it go is our motto,” added Paula. “With three weeks before the festival kicks off, the programme is in place and we are raring to go,” said Croft.
“It will be the start of a very exciting few months in Rotorua.”