It’s the Rotorua Bike Festival tourism trifecta.
Three events on three consecutive evenings at three of the city’s leading tourism venues - all during Rotorua’s 10-day annual celebration of cycling.
The first event could only happen in Rotorua - the Shweeb World Championship on Wednesday February 19.
The Shweeb is a unique pedal-powered pod hanging under a monorail on a figure-8 course at Agroventures Adventure Park. The aerodynamic pods swoop and flow over the terrain at up to 50kph, swinging out in the corners for a thrilling ride.0
“Because the Shweeb is the only one in the world, if someone sets the fastest time, it's a world record and they win $1000,” says Mary Tolley from Agroventures. “The bike festival is growing each year, attracting more visitors and we’re very proud to be involved in such an iconic event.
On Thursday evening the focus moves to a Dual Slalom race at OGO on Mount Ngongotaha.
The organisers are describing this as 'rivalry at its most naked'. Dual Slalom is a really crowd-pleasing format. There are two competitors per heat, side by side, battling it out to the finish line in a downhill, knock-out challenge.
The course was designed and built by a talented group of young Rotorua riders and friends including downhilling brothers, Louis Hamilton and Connor Hamilton. And the site was the venue for the 4X event when Rotorua hosted the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships in 2006.
“It’s a real honour to be building this track,” says Louis, who’ll also be lining up in the National Downhill Mountain Bike Championships on the opening weekend of the festival. “It’s the first opportunity we’ve had to ride here since the Worlds back in 2006.”
There’ll be a added twist. The top riders of the day will throw on their speedos and bikinis and exchange their bikes for OGOs to see who the fastest ball roller is.
The final part of the trifecta is on Friday February 21.
The Sprint Warrior will be at Skyline Skyrides, just down Fairy Springs Road from OGO, on the only mountain bike trails accessible by gondola in the North Island.
It was hugely popular with riders and spectators, last year, and was the first of the 2014 festival events to sell out. However, there is an Open Day on Wednesday for riders to get a look at the Warrior racecourse, without the pressure of racing.
The views from the top of the Warrior and the Dual Slalom courses are spectacular, taking in Lake Rotorua, Mokoia Island, the city, Mount Tarawera and the Whakarewarewa Forest.
The 130 kilometres of world-class mountain bike trails in the forest are one of the main reasons Rotorua is regarded as a top mountain biking destination. They’ll be home to a range of events at the festival including the National Mountain Bike Championships and the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro.
The Gravity Enduro was the second Festival event to sell out, with 150 more entries than in 2013.
Entries for other events like Ibis Bike the Lake are also well ahead of expectations.
“With just under a month to go, we're on track for another successful festival with good numbers and events for pretty much everyone through the week,” says Jeremy Christmas from the Rotorua Bike Festival Trust. “And having Rotorua businesses like Skyline, OGO and Agroventures backing the festival is a really good sign for the future.”
The Festival has had excellent local support.
“Over the last 18 months and two festivals the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust and Events & Venues Rotorua have given the festival a platform to build on,” continues Christmas. “The support of Media Works local radio stations, the Rotorua Daily Post, local design and media companies, photographers and the great people, businesses and clubs organising the events all add up to a wonderful community effort.”
The 10-day Festival runs from Friday February 14 to Sunday February 23.
The full programme is on www.rotoruabikefestival.com
with regular updates at facebook.com/RotoruaBikeFestival