Tattoo quest sorts out superheroes

By Alison King

As far as world championship events go, this one had to be the most unorthodox experienced.
One thousand mountainbikers, the majority in costume, tackling the ups and downs of the Whakarewarewa forest in the quest for a tattoo - yes, a tattoo.
The Kiwibikes Single Speed world championships are a niche event, involving beer short cuts and celebrating flamboyance.
Asterix and Obelisk, three Evil Kneivils, a sumo wrestler, a clown, fairies, Vikings, a bear, a fully camouflaged rider and a disco ball - just a few of the hundreds of costumes carefully put together over the past 12 months.
There were the team of Australians wearing matching cricket jerseys and dreadlocks under their helmets. The Bike Vegas crew decided to go one further, dressing up as Croucher beer.
They admitted later they managed just one of the two laps, with shop owner Dave Joy falling into the stream.
Having a better ride was the Apocalypse Riders on their skeleton bikes.
The group of English riders could have been mistaken for a New Zealand gang with their patched jackets.
The superheroes were out in force, several Spidermans, Supermans, The Incredibles and Batman raced the trails.
Kiwi comedy icon Fred Dagg had swapped his farm bike for a single speed complete with a cow bell.
He rattled in among the final finishers to rapturous cheers.
Finishing the race wasn't everyone's goal, getting around just one lap was enough for some - broken chains, failed coaster brakes and flat tyres suffered on the course.
Rotorua is unlikely to witness such a spectacle again but it was certainly a spectacle to behold.
And there was some racing too.
It came down to who could drink their beer the quickest and that was one thing Rotorua mountainbiker Garth Weinberg hadn't practised.


Ten seconds separated Weinberg from 2009 Single Speed world champion Ross Schnell as they entered the Waipa car park and raced for the beer tent that stood between them and the finish line.
Weinberg knocked his back and sped off, skidding across the line, landing on his backside full of jubilation. It was a moment he had been dreaming of, he said.
"It was a dream but never a reality," Weinberg said as he waited for the tattoo to be inked.
"I knew who else was competing. I thought about it going through Dipper the last time. I could hear the crowd cheering for me, then I heard them cheering for Ross.
"I would have been stoked for top five. I knew there was a chance I would be up there but it all came together."
Weinberg's race was that of a champion. He had a good start and picked off a few other contenders early on.
He took the long course on the first lap, avoiding the beer tent, but suffered further on.
"I couldn't breathe going up Pig Track, I was trying to drink and ended up throwing up. I was trying to keep my head together and stop myself from choking on the vomit."
He came through and soon made up ground on Schnell, coming into the half way mark seconds behind.
The pair rode close together but while Schnell took the long way around Weinberg veered off for the beer short cut and took the lead.
It was a lead he held on to until the finish, crossing the line after 1 hour and 55 minutes.
"I'd not practised the beer drinking at all," Weinberg said.
"I'd already decided where the tattoo would go as this is the last time I'll win something like this. It will go on my heart."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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