Bike festival hits the ground rolling

By Alison King

Rotorua is known as a mecca for mountain bikes but the city has been taken over by bicycles of all shapes, sizes and descriptions celebrating everything that is two-wheeled.

From mountain bikes orienteering in the forest to speedy road bikes down Eat Streat, the Rotorua Bike Festival has kicked off to great success, showcasing the city as a bike destination and encouraging people to ride.

On Saturday the festival started with a Let's Ride MTB Skills Training session, the North Island Bike Polo Tournament at Kuirau Park and the World Shweeb Champs at Agroventures. Yesterday the fun continued with a free Family Fun Ride at Waipa, Orienteering BOP MTB Adventure Quest, Victoria Grove Costume Hire Pimp My Bike in the Government Gardens and the Rotorua City Street Criterium and Parade.

The World Shweeb Champs were won by Rotorua's Garth Weinberg and cyclist Sarah Pitcher-Campbell. Mr Weinberg's time was 56.3 seconds and Ms Pitcher-Campbell's 1 minute and 1 second.

Events and Venues events manager Martin Croft said the festival had gained so much traction that people were planning how they could be involved in the 2014 event.

"It's been fantastic," Mr Croft said. "Numbers at each event have been great and we're pleased with how people have got on board with it. This first weekend has been very busy.

"Some of these events are new and that's always a challenge but to see people participating gives us confidence carrying this forward. The whole idea is to take biking into the city, with events in the CBD people become part of it."

The Rotorua City Street Criterium yesterday did just that. The event was a multi-lapped race starting and finishing outside the Novotel and taking cyclists on a looped course including Arawa St and Eat Streat.

Diners were able to cheer the cyclists on as they passed.

"I watched the UCI trials when they were in the city [in 2009] but I've never watched a criterium before," said spectator Karen Hunt.

"I think it's fabulous racing and it's great in the city - it's the perfect venue and it's great to use the city this way. We've got ringside seats."

The festival continues today with the Redwoods Coast event at 5pm. This is a race from the top of the tarseal on Nursery Rd down to Longmile Rd without the use of pedals. The person who coasts the furthest wins. Entry is by gold coin donation.

Tomorrow is Tykes on Trikes, the Summer CRI Tuesday Night Criterium Series and the DoC Rainbow Mountain ride.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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