My mountain biking highlight over the past decade was surviving cancer.
Diagnosed about now in 2012, followed by seven weeks of radiotherapy and chemo.
Why mountain biking? Well, getting back on the bike and into the Whakarewarewa Forest was one of the primary reasons that kept me going, even when I was just over 50 kilograms and green.
Other big highlights? Four Singlespeed events, two World Champs in 2010 and 2017, a National Champs in 2013 and the ANZAC Champs in 2015. The two Worlds were very successful with a combined 1500 riders from around the globe over the two events.
However, it's 2013 and 2015 that really stick in the memory. Run by a bunch of mates, fun first, still with good entry numbers and the customary extravagant, colourful costumes, big, loud crowds, hilarious prize-givings at the Pig and Whistle and Rawiri Bhana on the mike.
In May 2012, mid-treatment and with morphine as my friend, I noticed that no other club had picked up the rights to the event for 2013 after the New Zealand Singlespeed Champs in April, in Nelson. I emailed the crew suggesting we run it. I'd help if 1) I was still alive and 2) profits went to the Cancer Society.
Since its establishment in late 2007, giving back was always at the heart of the Rotorua Singlespeed Society and $5000 was raised in 2013.
Which was just the start of a remarkable run.
In 2015, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage allowed the RSSS to use ANZAC in the title of the event as recognition of the society's commitment to the community.
That year $15,000 was raised with $6000 each to Kidney Health New Zealand (one of the RSSS committee, Lance Tavinor was donating one to his brother, Grant) and the RSA Welfare Fund, and $3000 to the trails.
The 2017 Singlespeed World Champs doubled down on that with a total of $30,000.
Two thirds of that was donated to Lifeline Aotearoa. The rest went to a couple of local mental health initiatives including the Rotorua Brain Injury Trust and equipment and signage for the wonderful volunteer crews who help maintain the bike park for the Rotorua Trails Trust.
There are too many people who've contributed to all this to name – a remarkable group of enthusiasts, very experienced in event organisation, budgeting and sponsorship (and sponsors, including Gregg Brown from the Pig and Whistle, there from the start in 2008), video and photography.
Gary Sullivan from Nzo is the Singlespeed Society's President-for-life. At the raucous celebration/prizegiving after the 2015 Champs he famously said "not bad for a bunch of amateurs".
What's always humbling is that every time we've run an event I've got in touch with a whānau of skilled and talented photographers and they always turn up. Their work is seen around the world in an arm's length list of media outlets – all for T-shirts and beers.
You never know what's around the corner. One day you're riding along, next, you're over the bars on Rosebank…
Live life to the full. Every day.
Te Miro, near Cambridge, is hosting the 2020 New Zealand Singlespeed Champs with entries opening on February 24. See Rotorua Singlespeed Society Inc on Facebook for the latest news.