Great viewing for biking action

Spectators will have plenty of options for viewing the action at the Skyline Sprint Warrior on Friday - an event that is bringing mountain biking back to the slopes of Rotorua's Mt Ngongotaha for the first time in six years.

Friday's downhill event forms part of the inaugural 10-day Rotorua Bike Festival and about 200 riders, including 20 elite competitors, are expected to take on the new 1.8km trail.

The Skyline Sprint Warrior track has been built by a team of top international trail designers and builders, and features plenty of twists, turns and jumps.

It's expected to take the 20 elite riders about 2min 30sec to race.

The track makes the most of the natural terrain and views across the district in an area which can't normally be accessed by mountain bikers.

Spectators will be able to see the action from a number of excellent vantage points.

The last time the Skyline Rotorua mountain side site hosted mountain bikers was in 2006, when the city held the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships.

Skyline Rotorua general manager Bruce Thomasen said the event presented fantastic viewing for spectators - as well as a great challenge for riders.

"We're excited to be able to bring mountain biking back to Mt Ngongotaha and to offer this opportunity to riders and spectators alike. It's great to be part of the inaugural Rotorua Bike Festival, which we believe will be a fantastic addition to what our city has to offer," Mr Thomasen said.

"There's been huge interest in the event and the track builders have done a great job of creating an experience riders of all abilities - and spectators - will be able to enjoy. We expect the event will provide plenty of action for both riders and spectators."

Mr Thomasen said there were spectator options to suit people of all ages, including a discounted gondola pass which would allow people to access parts of the course higher up the mountain.

"Where else in the world can you get a gondola to the top of the mountain and then a luge to watch a spectacular mountain bike race? It's going to be as exciting for spectators as it is for riders."

Mr Thomasen said there was plenty of free viewing around the finish-line area, including an additional trick jump which will provide lots of entertainment.

The Skyline Sprint Warrior event is the brainchild of Mountain Bike Rotorua's Tak Mutu, who said many people had been keen to see the mountain bike trails reinstated on Mt Ngongotaha.

"We're rapt to be bringing mountain biking back to Mount Ngongotaha," he said.

"The track-building crew have worked really hard to create something we think both the elite riders and weekend warriors will find challenging and enjoyable. It has something for everyone.

"Rotorua really is the mecca of mountain biking. With 140km of purpose-built trail systems in the Whakarewarewa Forest, it is no wonder that people travel the globe to ride in here. Now being able to provide a gondola accessed gravity mountain bike trail will only solidify our place as one of the top riding destinations in the world."

The slopes of Mt Ngongotaha were first raced in a downhill event in 1991 and the 2006 Oceania championships featured downhill and cross-country tracks, which were decommissioned after that event.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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