What makes a truly great mountain bike event?

There are a lot of components – like a world class venue. You need riders and, if you're selling tickets, they better be world class, too, and ready to throw down a spectacle to attract paying punters.

Rotorua has hosted a range to events that comfortably fit these categories.

Fun fact: We are the only international mountain bike destination to have hosted a UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, a final round of the UCI Trials World Cup, the WEMBO 24-hour Worlds, Singlespeed World Championships, a round of the Enduro World Series and Crankworx.


Read more: Graeme Simpson: 'Keep being you' A letter from Mum and Dad
Graeme Simpson: Ride Rotorua a grassroots Rotorua gem
Graeme Simpson: There's nothing like a night-time ride in the forest

That's a record that's unlikely to ever be topped.

And it illustrates the really, really broad church that is mountain biking, Rotorua-style - as well as the diversity of our trail network that provides for demanding XC, Enduro and downhill racing.

And why it's so attractive to a broad range of recreational mountain bikers. "Rotorua is the premier, all-year-round mountain bike destination in the world," says deputy mayor, long-time MTB stalwart and chairman of the local Crankworx board of directors, Dave Donaldson.

Often riders from over on the coast or Hamilton or even Auckland will describe the Whakarewarewa Forest bike park as their "home trails".

A lot of mountain bike parks are set in spectacular landscapes. My second favourite trails are the US Southwest, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

Dramatic buttes and vibrant earth tones and rocky slick rock and singletrack.

Whakarewarewa has its own uniqueness and flavour, especially through native forest sections that can never be logged.


So, we tick a lot of boxes when it comes to event delivery.

There's one component that is equal to all the above, if not more important. That's a great team of people.

Clint Trahan has captured Crankworx and Enduro World Series events in Rotorua. Clint's based in Whistler in Canada and on his website he decribes himself as a "dream chaser".

His photo shows the Crankworx Rotorua 2018 team, still standing, still smiling after a week of long days and hard metres with a lot of behind-the-scenes heroes.

He's a big fan of Rotorua: "If Whistler is the heart of Crankworx; Rotorua has become the soul," he told me.

"Every moment I've spent in Rotorua has been some of the best experiences in my MTB life. Riding in the Whakarewarewa Forest is a surreal experience in itself. Eagle vs Shark sealed my love of the area.

Through community support, the passion for the sport from people like Tak Mutu, Tu Mutu, Ariki Tibble, Crankworx really has put Rotorua on the world map, making it a must-ride destination."

"I've no doubt about the sincerity of Clint's comments," says Dave, who's in the dirt in the photo.

"He's the only guy who's called me 'Mister Donaldson' for over a decade, and does so while pumping my hand, with a huge smile expressing his delight to be back down under. I'm immensely proud and humbled to sit among this talented team who strive year on year to make Crankworx Rotorua the quintessential mountain bike experience for athletes, fans and the industry.

"And they're showcasing Rotorua's undoubted cool-factor to a global audience in the millions".