The Festival Returns!
Sonny Bill Williams in Chicago.
The 3rd annual Festival starts on Black Friday February 13 with another expansive range of events and a great line-up of event organisers.
“The programme is filling out nicely with established favourites returning and some exciting new events,” said Martin Croft, from Rotorua Events and Venues. “The full line-up won’t be finalised till the end of this month, but the ten days will be packed again.”
The first two Festivals were very successful and there was a marked growth curve between 2013 and 2014.
“There were just under 5000 entrants over all the events this year and around the same number of spectators,” added Croft. “We expect to see an increase on that next February.”
Dramatic action at the National Downhill Championships (Alick Saunders)
The Festival has events from across the spectrum of biking, including road, BMX and mountain, and unites the strong local community based clubs that drive the sport in Rotorua.
Participants across all the 30 or so events range from 2 year olds on wooden scoot-along bikes to national and international athletes taking full advantage of glorious summer weather.
The National Mountain Bike Championships will be a feature event of the first weekend with New Zealand titles on the line.
The second weekend is headlined by the Skyline Sprint Warrior and the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro, which both sold out a month before race day in 2014. For the road cyclists, there will be the opportunity to circumnavigate Lake Rotorua as part of Bike the Lake.
In between, there is a full range of events that will appeal to beginners right up to the most adventurous and experienced riders.
“Sport Bay of Plenty have joined us as partners to run the community events,” said Croft. “Getting people on bikes, sometimes for the first time, is at the heart of the Festival.”
All the events are open to enter, some are free, others are just a gold coin donation and all are open to spectators.
Bike Speedway in front of Rotorua's iconic Art Gallery and Museum (Mead Norton)
“Participation and the health of the community is what the week is all about,” said David Crowley, chair of the Charitable Trust that oversees the Festival. “Over the past 20 years Rotorua’s reputation as a bike-friendly town has developed and we are fully committed to building on that over the next 5 to 10 years.”
The organisers who run events under the Festival umbrella are a crucial part of the mix.
“Yes, they are a great group of people, some are experienced organisers taking financial risks, some are volunteers from our great local clubs.” Crowley continued. “What they all share in common is a passion for biking in all its different shapes - and forms and a capacity for very hard work.”