Rotorua Bike Festival 2014 - road cycling headliners

Wednesday 4 December 2013, 1:22PM
By Rotorua Bike Festival


One of the North Island’s favourite cycle challenges will headline some top road cycling action at the 2nd Rotorua Bike Festival, in February.

Ibis Bike The Lake is a familiar part of the Spring events calendar in Rotorua. Now, it has a ‘Summer Edition’.

Event organizer, Shane Hooks, says being part of the Bike Festival was a sharp move.

"The weather in February is normally always settled and, with such a beautiful cycle challenge, the decision to join the Festival was a logical one".

Bike the Lake, on Sunday, February 16, will be part of a big opening weekend of the 10-day Festival. It's an event with a 10-year history and a wide and varied support base - from elite cyclists to grandparents showing their families how it's done. The chance to cirumnavigate the lake and achievable distances are a big drawcard.

Recreational and competitive road cyclists will be able to enjoy either one or two laps around Lake Rotorua with distances of 42 or 84 kilometres.

“We’re also trying to add value to cycle challenges like this,” continues Hooks. "The price of these events has increased substantially over the years. This year, anyone who registers before January 1, pays only $48. On top of that, the first 250 registrations receive a finisher medal and a "chopper" T-shirt. This makes Bike The Lake the best value cycle challenge in New Zealand".

Another exciting road event will wrap up the festival on Sunday February 23 when the Inner City Street Criterium brings bike racing right into downtown Rotorua.

“This was really successful at the first Festival in February, this year,” says Jeremy Christmas from the Rotorua Bike Festival Trust, a group of passionate local cycling enthusiasts overseeing the event. “It’s an important part of bringing the Festival to the general community and getting people on their bikes.”

With just over two months to go till the opening day of the Festival on Friday February 14, entry to some of the key events is already open.

Some of Whakarewarewa Forest’s 130 kilometres of world-class mountain bike trails will get a good workout from the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro on Saturday February 22. This is a multi-stage event perfect for experienced trail riders.

It’s a fine blend of endurance and technical skills where weekend warriors can rub shoulders with star riders. One of New Zealand's most successful cross-county mountain bikers, Olympian and Commonwealth Games silver medalist, Rosara Joseph, won the women’s category at the Gravity Enduro at the first festival.
The evening before (Friday February 21) will feature the Sprint Warrior on the other side of Lake Rotorua at Skyline Skyrides on Mount Ngongotaha.

This is downhill mountain biking at it’s best with gondola access to the start line. It was a favourite with riders and a big spectator crowd at the first festival. Entrants ranged from local mountain bikers, having a go, to world-class pros like Kiwis, Sam Blenkinsop and Wyn Masters and two-time Elite Women’s Downhill World Champion, Emmeline Ragot and her French teammate, Loic Bruni. It's the only gondola-accessed trail in the North Island and the Warrior adds an extra practise day on Thursday February 20.

The venue was where Rotorua hosted the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials Championships. This was the event that first shone the international spotlight on the city as a mountain bike destination.

Jeremy Christmas is a UCI international commissaire and regularly attends major cycling events, round the world.

“I’m biased, of course, because I live here, but the 2006 Worlds was one of the best,” he says. “It really proved how well we run big events in Rotorua and the Festival is doing the same.”

The Festival programme features a full range of cycling events - road, mountain bike and BMX, with almost everything in between.

“There are events for everyone and just about all ages,” adds Christmas. “It’s an important part of what makes a successful festival tick.”