Some of the classiest BMX riders in the world will be at the first Rotorua Bike Festival in February.
Olympians Marc Willers and Kurt Pickard are entered in the National Qualifying Meeting on Saturday February 16. London silver medalist, Sarah Walker will be at the event, but is still recuperating from a shoulder injury.
The meeting is one of the headline events of a very busy second weekend at the festival.
"Sarah will be here with her silver medal and Marc Willers is coming back from the USA to race," said Chris Newson from BMX Rotorua. "Marc is one of the fastest bmxers on the planet at the moment and to have him race at our track is something very special."
It will be the first time the BikeNZ BMX high performance team will be together on home territory for some time.
"All three will be available for photos and to sign posters during the day," Newson said.
"We can't wait to see Marc and Kurt in action and Sarah is a BMX Rotorua member so it's always great to have her around."
The National Qualifying Meeting has extra significance in 2013.
"The UCI BMX World Championships are in Auckland in July, so qualifying for births at the National Champs is very important for a number of riders as it will be the only way they will gain entry to race at the worlds," Newson said.
"We are expecting over 500 entries in February and there will be selection races for the Elite and Junior Elite Men and Women and also the 17-24 Men's 20 inch Challenge class."
The racing promises to be even more intense than usual.
"The qualifiers will be very hard fought and promise to be nail biting spectator viewing," he adds.
"2013 is a huge year for BMX in New Zealand with more than 2000 riders expected to attend the World Champs and riders all over the country have been training for months in the hope of achieving a podium finish in their respective age groups in July."
While the National Qualifiers will be the serious part of BMX Rotorua's festival week the club is also organizing a couple of other events.
Bike Speedway is on the programme on evening of Thursday February 14. It's a simple concept that originated in post-war Britain with tracks built in and around the rubble of bombed out cities.
"It's raced on a flat oval track with a start/finish line and four riders trying to complete four laps as fast as possible," Newson said.
"Rules are fairly simple, too: pedal and turn and cross the line in front of everyone else."
The sport is very popular in Britain but new to this country.
"This is probably the first Bike Speedway event ever run in New Zealand," continues Newson.
"Bring your bike, helmet and a smile, it's going to be a lot of fun."
The club is also running a Bike Jumps Jam to keep the big crowd expected to race and spectate at the Qualifier meeting entertained after racing is over.
"Big Jumps, big tricks, DJ's, shopping stalls, food and bikes," Newson said. "Hot on the heels of the BMX racing in the afternoon the Jumps Comp will be a great party with awe some action. Anyone is free to enter and there will be prizes and money up for grabs."
BMX Rotorua is a major part of the city's cycling scene.
"They always attract big crowds and top riders," said festival co-ordinator Neil Gellatly. "The local clubs like BMX Rotorua along with Cycling Rotorua, the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club and Descend Rotorua are all running events that will help make the festival a very exciting 10 days."
The full programme for the first Rotorua Bike Festival is on the website: www.rotoruabikefestival.com