Weekend of cycling and music a hit

By AMY SHANKS

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After a full-on weekend of singing and cycling, organisers were positive about the region's first ever For the ride of your Life festival.

Cyclists of all ages and abilities, from families to professional sportspeople took part in a range of events, whether competing or just watching from the sideline.

From a lap-by-lap Criterium along Marine Parade to bike polo at The Sound Shell, an urban bike race down Napier Hill and the national Cyclocross Championship in Taradale, there was plenty to take in.

Mix in 28 homegrown bands playing free gigs at four venues across the city, and you have a winning combination.

The brainchild of Napier City Council Economic Development manager Ron Massey, the event provided some mid-winter thrills and brought people to the region.

Event co-ordinator Vicki Butterworth from Bike NZ said locals and out-of-towners alike were keen to get involved and feedback had been positive.

``It's been a huge success,'' she said. ``If anything it was really hard to get around everything.''

While all of the events achieved satisfactory numbers, yesterday's Cyclocross was the jewel in the crown, with over 100 riders from New Zealand, Australia and America competing.

``The weather held out and there were loads of spectators making noise and showing their support. The energy was just electric.''

Cyclocross champion Katie Compton, ranked number two in the world, even joined in as a ``ghost rider''.

Another highlight was the BMX Big Air demonstration at SK8Zone on Saturday, which featured world class extreme displays.

``[Sk8Zone manager] Pat McIvor was saying they had 50 out-of-town riders, and he thinks the display was as good as, if not better than the Big Air Champs in Wellington,'' event co-ordinator Kevin Murphy said. Multi-gig music competition City Showcase was also a well-attended event, though the cold weather did deter some spectators at outdoor Sound Shell performances held on Saturday and Sunday.

``Numbers-wise, all of the inside gigs went really well,'' Mr Murphy said. ``The Cabana was a full house, Shed 2 was full, and we couldn't have fitted many more in the harpoon room [at Thirsty Whale], but there could have been more at the Sound Shell, so that's something to think about (for next time).''

In all, 28 bands took the stage, but only four went head to head in a final at Sound Shell yesterday.

At just 18-years-old, winner Ash Graham from Wellington was ecstatic to be given the opportunity to perform at City Showcase London and Rhythm &Vines next year.

``It's a great thing to come to Napier for the first time and have this happen,'' he said. ``I didn't think I had the chance, the week before I came was chaos, my band couldn't make it so I got a couple of family friends and ran them through the songs.''

Overall, their attitude and love of music shone through on stage and impressed judges and text voters.

``I just live for music, I spend all of my time thinking about music, writing music. Before we went on stage we just said let's have fun, and that's what we did.''

Mr Murphy said the competition was close with one point between Mr Graham and second place act Five Mile Town.

``It was very tight to the end of the day, the four bands we had on display for the final showed the selection of talent and a variety of genres. Ash has been on the scene for about two or three years now so this will be big for him.''-->-->

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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