It's that time again. New Zealand Singlespeed Championships time.

The 12th annual event will be in the sunny Hawke's Bay on Saturday, April 27.

That's the weekend after Easter and Anzac Day is on the Thursday.

It's a perfect opportunity to take the week off and maybe get to the Bay earlier. The race venue is Te Mata Peak and Havelock North is host town.

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To enter, go to www.rotoruasinglespeed.com

The last time the event was in Hawke's Bay was 2011.

It was the year after the Singlespeed World Championships in Rotorua and the energy around one-gear racing was very high.

This all started in 2008 when the Rotorua Singlespeed Society ran the New Zealand championships for the first time.

The society was newly hatched in late 2007. All the committee were involved in the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships and were looking for a new, more light-hearted challenge.

No one really knew what sort of numbers would enter. More than 100 would've been fine.

More than 250 on the start line on Radio Hutt Rd between Genesis (now Arepa) and Challenge trails as event director, Dean Watson started his briefing was a real bonus.

A very high percentage of riders singlespeeded their bikes just for the day to be part of an event that put fun and entertainment (and, yes, beverages) over competitiveness.

That didn't prevent an absolute ding-dong, head-to-head battle between Garth Weinberg (already a singlespeed legend) and Mark 'Cabin' Leishman, one of the country's finest cross-country riders at the time and someone who'd represented New Zealand at world championships.

Garth took home the tattoo, which was appropriate as he was the inspiration for the event. There would be more ink for him over the following years.

Annika Smail from Let's Ride won the women's category after a battle with one of the world's best cyclocross riders, Katie Compton from the US, who led till crashing out on Rock Drop.

That this iconic grade 4 was included in the course was an indication of how tough it was. In spite of a great after-race party and a big Kiwi breakfast the following morning, both at sponsor, the Pig and Whistle Social House, I'm pretty sure there would've been a lot of people vowing never again.

Fast forward 12 months and the Society hosted for a second…with more than 260 riders entering.

Animal was Best Dressed in 2010, when the Singlespeed World Championships first came to the Bay of Plenty. Photo / Alan Ofsoski
Animal was Best Dressed in 2010, when the Singlespeed World Championships first came to the Bay of Plenty. Photo / Alan Ofsoski

Another successful event on a quite different course with the event village at 8 Mile Gate and including Old Chevy with its demanding climbs and descents. Tim Wilding won the men's tattoo and Annika backed up from 2008.

It was time for a change. Carey Vivian from the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club raced in 2008 and 2009 alongside a crew from Central Otago which made the trip north.

He lobbied the society to run the event in 2010 which, in retrospect, was a very good thing.

Why? Well, later in 2009, the society was awarded the World Championships for the following year after an American Idol/Karaoke competition and a basketball game at that year's champs in Durango, Colorado.

The stakes had just got higher…much higher.