February 10-19, 2017

1.9 kilometres of 'smooth'...

 
Riding one of the smoothest 1.9 kilometres of tarmac in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty sounds easy, right? 
Not when the sun has set and the only illumination are landing lights and a big screen conveying the action to a crowd of over 1000 - and with riders hitting over 60 klicks.


That was the story of the Flying Men's and Women's Kilos at the Rotorua Airport and the local, annual Bike Festival in February 2015.
It sounds like roadie paradise.
And the top 3 in the men's race went to form. First across the line were Cameron Karwowski, Sam Bewley and Jordan Castle.
Olympic track bronze medalist, Bewley is a Rotorua local who earned his legs, lungs and skills on Rotorua's IMBA gold status MTB trails. He's a Pro Tour road rider for ORICA-Greenedge with the grand tours in his sights.
Karwowski, Bewley and Castle on the podium (© Mead NortonHIGH REZ
“The Flying Kilo was something I was really keen to do regardless of the result," Bewley said after the race, as twilight turned to darkness. "The idea of racing my bike on a runway, right next to Lake Rotorua, right on sunset, was more than tempting and it lived right up to expectation. The buzz from all the riders after the Flying Kilo was amazing. Great job and idea by the organisers and a fantastic way to kickstart the Rotorua Bike Festival.”

The trackies and roadies didn’t have it all their own way. Downhill mountain bikers, Keegan Wright and Wyn Masters, suited up in lycra to take fourth and fifth.
Masters is a Kiwi favourite and after some off-the-record comments about 'roadie tactics' was effusive in his praise for an event that is open to all bikers.
“To show up to a packed carpark was a pleasant surprise and testament to the strong cycling community in Rotorua," said Masters. “The Flying Kilo was an awesome event. It’s not often I get to bang bars with NZ’s road and track elite. It was great to be able to nearly stick with them the whole time and show them what DHers can do."
Dynamic action, the Runway Project (© Peter Graney). HIGH REZ
An outstanding success in 2015, the Runway Project is back on February Saturday 13 on the opening weekend of 4th Rotorua Bike Festival.
Entries are open at 
www.rotoruabikefestival.com/runwayproject.

The Runway Project is a mini-festival of cycling, including a unique chance to ride on the airport runway. '
From volunteers to riders to sponsors, it is a real community event. 


Air New Zealand proudly supports the Runway Project and has a long history operating services in and out of Rotorua since 1948.
“We're delighted to support this collaborative initiative,” says Ian Collier, Regional Affairs Manager for Air New Zealand. “It’s great to be part of the Rotorua Bike Festival which sees the airport and community working together to celebrate cycling in a unique way.”


Rotorua Airport Chief Executive Nicole Brewer agrees. 
"It's great for the airport to be part of the Rotorua Bike Festival," she says, "and fantastic to support a local event that means so much to our community and economy. 
Hosting the event, again, is a way we can be involved and also encourage people to experience the airport from a different vantage point. It’s unique and a fun way to give back to the community that we are a significant part of.”

The afternoon will open with the Bike Music Stage and some top quality food.
Then, it will be the chance for enthusiasts, young and old, to take part in Ride the Runway. It’s free to register online. There are over $2000 of spa, gym and beauty therapy vouchers to win on the day from Rotorua’s QE Health, a spa, wellness and rehabilitation centre for over 70 years, and a $1,000 travel voucher provided by Air New Zealand.
Holland Beckett Lawyers provide legal advice to Rotorua Airport.
In 2016, they are backing the straight-line, drag race Flying Kilos, with a ‘People’s’ category for all-comers and another for Elites, with some of New Zealand’s top competitive cyclists competing. 


“The People’s Flying Kilo is free for entrants in Sunday’s Bike the Lake event and only ten dollars for others,” says Runway Project event director, Jason Cameron. “The Elite race is restricted to 20 male and female riders and is by application only with cash prizes up for grabs.”

The first Runway Project at the 2015 festival was a rousing success.
“We were amazed by the response, with over 1000 riders and another 400 people enjoying the action on a gorgeous evening in Rotorua, with the sun setting over the lake,” continues Cameron. 

One of New Zealand’s greatest cyclists, Julian Dean, will be back in February, not to race, but to take the opportunity to ride the runway with his 7-year-old son and MC at the event.
“The first one had a great feel about it and it was a real buzz to share it with Val leading up to the event and getting out on the runway with him…he was fizzing,” says the veteran of the Grand Tours, World Championships, Olympics and a mountain biker who began his biking journey on the BMX track in Waihi, a seaside town in the northern Bay of Plenty. “It was a great reminder of what cycling is about, what cycling can bring to a family, a community and what it means to Rotorua.”