A few weeks on from Crankworx and the force is still strong in this one.

I was media accredited, but I was busy with other work and up on the hill less than I wanted to. I also felt 162 in the media centre.

When did the MTB media get so young?

Read more: Graeme Simpson: Rotorua Springs has a nice ring to it
Graeme Simpson: 10th anniversary for Tarawera Ultramarathon
Graeme Simpson: MTB legend Brett Tippie in Rotorua


Catching up with some tremendous people is guaranteed at Crankworx. My 2018 roll call was a distinguished list.

Takurua Mutu, of course, if only for a brief handshake. He's a busy man who recently moved to a new role with Crankworx as business development manager, covering funding, sponsorship, marketing and high level planning. This is crucial for the future success and growth of the event.

In 2013, well before Crankworx was on the event horizon, I wrote a story for New Zealand Mountain Biker headlined Blood Brothers.

It was about Tak and his brother, Tuhua, and another young, Maori matua, Rawiri Bhana, and their involvement in mountain biking.

Their passion, their commitment, their love for the community was front and centre. I still couldn't have predicted how far that would progress in the past five years. Looking back, though, the vision for the future was there.

"If we truly want Rotorua to be the cycling 'Mecca' we need the whole community to buy into the concept," Tak told me at the time.

10 Apr, 2018 9:21am
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26 Mar, 2018 8:00am
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25 Mar, 2018 10:32am
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24 Mar, 2018 10:06am
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"If the community believes it and lives it, it is almost certainly true. And it's a healthy, energising and spiritually motivating movement."

On Crankworx Saturday, I had a chat with Wendy Ardern. My first memory of Wendy is her delivering muffins to a trails working bee in…2001, 02?

She was involved in the early days of the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club along with her husband, Alden.

He was a rock, back then - trail building, on working bees and running all our downhill races.

Like a lot of committee members, he graduated to a head of department role on the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships.

Alden managed the build of the downhill course up at Skyline.

One of the UCI technical delegates in 2006 said he'd never met a course manager before who knew every single root and rock on the course. Working bees on this were always entertaining and some of the bones of it are still being used.

More recently, Wendy was on the club committee overseeing the introduction and initial funding of the Emergency Response Unit with Barbara Jenks. This is a service that is so critical with the rapid growth of mountain biking in our forest.

Arthur Klap joined us. I need an entire column to list his achievements and importance to mountain biking in New Zealand. The short version starts with the 1997 UCI Mountain Bike Cup in Wellington (with the legendary Kennett Brothers).

Arthur was event director on the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships and is a director of MTB Events, the company that holds the licence for Crankworx Rotorua. For ski and snowboard fans, Arthur is the recently retired event director of Winter Games NZ.

As we chatted, Dave Donaldson wandered up. Like Arthur, it's hard to know where to start with Dave's contribution and I've run out of words.

To be continued.