Cycling: Olympian ready to take on challenge

Olympian Rosara Joseph will race at the Rotorua Bike Festival in February.

One of New Zealand's outstanding cross-country mountain bikers of the last decade will take on a new event, the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro on Sunday, February 17.

"I'm really excited to race the Gravity Enduro because I did a few enduro races in Europe and North America earlier this year and I caught the bug," Joseph said.

"The enduro racing format combines fitness and strength with fast, technical riding. It's mentally and physically challenging - and a whole lot of fun."

Joseph is a multiple New Zealand and Oceania champion. She represented New Zealand in cross-country at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, UCI World Cups and World Championships and won silver at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and said she had fond memories of riding the world-renowned trails in Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest.

"I spent a weekend in Rotorua recently with some friends and had a fantastic time," she said.

"There's such variety in such a small space - jumps tracks, smooth swooping tracks, steep and rooty tracks - it's all around fabulous."

Joseph has raced in Rotorua at rounds of the National Series, Oceania Championships and the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships in 2006.

"My favourite racing memory from Rotorua would be those World Champs in 2006. It was early in my racing career and I absolutely loved racing at home, on a great track and with a supportive and raucous crowd."

Gravity Enduro is increasingly popular round the world and is widely regarded as the future of mountain bike racing.

"Enduros have lots of long downhills, but also pedalling and climbing," Gravity Enduro organiser, Neil Gellatly said.

"Anyone can race it, not just the pros - and so it's a real people's event."

He said interest in the Gravity Enduro was high.

"The first entries came from Australia and we've had quite a few more from across the Tasman, including a big group who are coming for the festival week."

The Gravity Enduro will start in downtown Rotorua with riders cruising out to the Whakarewarewa Forest to take on the timed, multi-stage race.

"The festival launches with Rotorua's longest-running mountain bike event, the Cateye Moonride on Friday, February 8, and will wrap up with the Gravity Enduro on the final day," Martin Croft from Rotorua Events & Venues Rotorua said.

"As the festival grows over the next few years, the Gravity Enduro will grow, too, and we're sure it'll become one of our iconic events just like the Moonride."

The Rotorua Bike Festival is supported by the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust and will run from February 8-17. It's a 10-day celebration of cycling and a mix of events and entertainment.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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