Over the past 15 years, Crankworx has hosted some of the best bikers in the business, competing at the highest level across a variety of disciplines.

And from March 19 to 24, the event returns to the trails of Rotorua for the fifth time, bringing with it a host of economic benefits.

"We have seen progression every year both in the number of events and the economic return and media views of it," said Dave Donaldson, deputy mayor of Rotorua Lakes Council and chairman of the Crankworx Board.

"Over the four years that we've staged this event, we've had the economic benefit assessed at $18.4 million."

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In 2018, Crankworx content was seen by 12 million viewers worldwide, both in live broadcasts and online platforms.

Speaking from the Skyline gondola, Donaldson listed the city's mountain biking assets.

"Across behind me, on the other side of the city there are approximately 160km of mountain bike trails and here at Skyline there's a gondola-accessed mountain bike park.

"There are economic benefits to the city from mountain bike tourism. Those benefits have been assessed just in Whakarewarewa Forest alone at between $30 and $50 million per annum," he said.

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"All of that food and beverage, accommodation, right down to supermarkets and petrol stations - all benefit. It provides jobs. It's the legacy effect of these major events that keeps people coming back to Rotorua."

But the impact is also felt across New Zealand.

"[Riders and supporters] will go to other notable riding centres in New Zealand either before or after they've been here at Crankworx. So places like Queenstown, Nelson, Christchurch, Wellington, will all see an uplift in international visitation around Crankworx."

Bryce Shapley, owner of local mountain biking store Cycle Zone, has seen the sport go from hobby to a global phenomenon. While Cycle Zone sees an increase in business before and after the event, the week of Crankworx itself is actually quiet.

"For us in the store, we get a lot of additional foot traffic but the actual business side of it is not anything significant over what we would normally have. But it does add a long tail and pretence to all the riders being here.

"We get a lot of riders come to town before the event, a lot after the event, and obviously during but the focus is Crankworx itself whilst it's on. We notice that before and after is the benefit to us rather than during the event itself."

Rotorua is now considered an international hub for mountain biking. Shapley believes this is the result of years of hard work from a number of local organisations.

"Firstly, with the land ownership model that's here - the iwi, the forest owners, managers. The amazing co-operation we have from all those groups that have a vested interest in it.

"So, access is probably the key driver there, that we're allowed to use the land. Access that people have volunteered their time in the past to build that trail network, predominantly for themselves and others around them. So that local community has grown into what is now an international community of riders."

The future of Crankworx in Rotorua ultimately sits with its funders, the board and one very passionate deputy mayor.

"I guess the reason I'm appointed as the chairman is because I've been mountain biking in Rotorua since the early 1990s, competed, been a club president for about seven years of the mountain bike club and just part of the growth of mountain bike culture in Rotorua.

"And I love it – it's a lot of fun," Donaldson said.

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