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CYCLING

Festival of Cycling to Set a New Benchmark

Friday 7 September 2012, 12:23PM
By MJ Media
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CHRISTCHURCH

Welcome summer by being part of a two-day cycling extravaganza with the iconic Festival of Cycling in the first weekend of December.

The popular Festival of Cycling is back in its eighth year with a new naming sponsor, Benchmark Homes, and new events to cater for all cycling enthusiasts.

Benchmark Homes is a Canterbury-based home design and building company that has a proud history of supporting cycling. It has taken over the reins from the Armstrong Motor Group who had partnered with the event since its inception in 2005.

Benchmark Homes is synonymous with Christchurch cycling as the company already sponsors a local development team as well as a South Island based elite teams racing series.

“We are very excited to further our involvement in New Zealand cycling by supporting the Festival of Cycling,” said Benchmark Homes owner Natasha Evans.

“With all of the different events on offer we consider this a great way to support the local community and reinforce Christchurch and Canterbury as the epicentre of cycling.”

Event director Simon Hollander is enthused to work alongside Benchmark Homes as they steer the event into a new era.

The event will return to the 2011 venues after the road course around the Port Hills and the central city criterium had to been abandoned following the Christchurch earthquakes.

The first day of action is in the stunning Waipara region where entrants will get the chance to ride through the scenic North Canterbury countryside.

A 90km figure eight course which includes the satellite towns of Greta Valley, Scargill, Waikari, Harwarden and the Weka Pass provides the perfect challenge for recreational riders while offering an ideal race course for those more competitive. Another option is a two-person relay that includes a trip for both teammates on the historic Weka Pass Railway.

In addition to the road rides, the Benchmark Homes Festival of Cycling has partnered with the Hurunui Vineyard Trails to offer an off-road alternative for those who prefer thicker tyres. There will be a 20km mountain bike ride on the Vineyard trail, and a 10km off road ride for the kiddies.

If running is more of your thing, a 10km run through the local vineyards is another option.

Canterbury University plays host to the second day of racing, with the tight and technical criterium course a favourite with the fans with plenty of entertainment on offer as the country’s top cyclists showcase their skills.

The two-day cycling showcase boasts a stellar list of past winners including Olympic team pursuit bronze medallist Marc Ryan and professional road cyclists Greg Henderson, Hayden Roulston, Jack Bauer and Linda Villumsen. While the event attracts New Zealand’s best cyclists both the road ride and the criterium cater for all ages and abilities.

Entries will kick off with a special offer - the first 100 Cantabrians to sign up an out-of-town friend will get their entry for free.

With the promise of the warmer spring weather, now is the time to brush off the bike and begin training so you can be part of a summer celebration of cycling.

The Benchmark Homes Festival of Cycling is Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 December.

For more information and to enter visit www.festivalofcycling.co.nz

Caption: Children line up for their turn on the Festival of Cycling criterium course
Credit: Bruce Wilson