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 February 16. London silver medallist, 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 berths 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."
While the National Qualifiers will be the serious part of BMX Rotorua's festival week, the club is also organising a couple of other events.
Bike Speedway is on the programme on 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 has a following in Britain but is new to this country.
"This is probably the first Bike Speedway event ever run in New Zealand," Newson said. "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 at the Qualifier meeting entertained after racing is over.
The full programme for the first Rotorua Bike Festival is on the website: www.rotoruabikefestival.com