Mountain biking: Colour, fun and hard riding


With just under three weeks to go, the full house signs are up for the 2013 Pig & Whistle New Zealand New Zealand Singlespeed Championships in Rotorua.

The Rotorua Singlespeed Society ran the first championships in 2008 and again in 2009. This year race day will be on Saturday April 27.

In 2010, the society hosted the Singlespeed World Championships on the renowned Whakarewarewa Forest trail network when around 1000 mountain bikers from 30 countries competed.

"The New Zealand champs are on a much smaller scale," said society president, Gary Sullivan. "It doesn't mean they won't be as loud or colourful."

Singlespeed events are more eccentric than mainstream mountain bike events with costumes and beer shortcuts. However, at the sharp end they are just as competitive with traditional winner's tattoos at stake for the leading man and woman.

Garth Weinberg is someone who knows how tough it is to ride a one-geared bike over demanding singletrack.

The Rotorua rider is a three time national singlespeed champion and won the 2010 World Champs in front of his home crowd.

"Having my family at the finish made it even more emotional and I still get choked up when I see photos or video of the finish," said Weinberg. "Having the champs back in Rotorua is splendid, because we get the best crowds and the atmosphere is like nowhere else."

The championship weekend will start on Thursday April 25 with a dawn ride to the Anzac Day service at Ohinemutu Marae on the shores of Lake Rotorua.

"There is a really big crew of Aussies coming here for the singlespeed champs," said Paul Laing, from the RSSS. "The event has always been run on the week of Anzac Day, so it'll be good to share a beer with a few of them."

The society is hoping that all mountain bikers and cyclists will join them on the dawn ride and at the race itself.

"There was a big spectator crowd at the singlespeed Worlds in 2010, which added to an amazing atmosphere," said Sullivan. "We want people to come out on April 27, make some noise and support locals like Garth."

Race HQ will be at the Waipa Mountain Bike car park just south of Rotorua. "We're keeping the course under wraps, for now," said Sullivan. "But some favourite viewing places are included on the course and are an easy walk from the car park."

The event website, with a full programme, is www.rotoruasinglespeed.com.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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