Ride Rotorua. It seems obvious doesn't it?

It wasn't always so. I went to the 2004 and 2005 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Les Gets and Livigno as part of the build-up to the 2006 Worlds. Rotorua was still considered a long way away.

That changed a bit when Dave Donaldson, 2006 event director Arthur Klap, and I presented to the MTB Media in Livigno. It was a busy day and our time kept getting reduced.

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"Just play the DVD," one of us suggested. Haunting Māori instruments, a gorgeous song by Moana and the Moahunters and images of New Zealand and Rotorua helped seal the deal. It was less about trails and more the landscape and the geothermal environment.

"Not just Hobbits" probably is one of the least memorable lines I've written and words can be cheap. However, local photographer and video producer Graeme Murray made the entire script fizz.

Having a world championships in our town really was a turning point.

It was pre-social media, so eyes on actual coverage in print and on TV were one of the benchmarks. That was well into the tens of millions, worldwide.

Another indicator was traffic to the event website.

More than 1.2 million photo views in 10 days was the result. Almost all those images were by Graeme.

It was all oily rag stuff and there was a lot of Kiwi ingenuity across the entire event – by a magnificent team of great people.

Afterwards, there was no money to keep the website going.


However, some locals, who'd all been neck deep in the 2006 event in one way or another, decided to keep the momentum rolling by setting up and funding www.riderotorua.com in 2007.

Gregg Brown from the Pig and Whistle (and, later, long-term president of the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club and one of the driving forces behind the Trails Trust along with Mike Gray and Rob Smail), Nduro Events founder Dean Watson, and Gary (Gaz) Sullivan from Nzo (and another past MTB Club and current Singlespeed Society president) funded and fired up the site - own time, own dime, volunteers.

I joined once it was up and running and it was a joy to see it grow. Time passed, we all got involved with Rotorua Singlespeed Society events, including another world champs in 2010 and more international spotlight.

Dean married Marieanne from Ireland and moved there. I went travelling and came home to other preoccupations.

Meanwhile, Gregg and Gaz kept the site up to speed. The main goal was to provide local knowledge on the individual trails in the Whakarewarewa Forest. There are far, far more than 11 years ago.

All good things take time and, a few months ago, we decided to join the Facebook revolution. Graeme Murray had already got the Ride Rotorua Instagram page pumping with his breathtakingly beautiful imagery, so better late than never.

The site also had a refresh and a free trail map, designed by Gaz, was added. It's available both online and as a download: riderotorua.com/trail-maps

What's been astonishing is the rapid growth of Facebook page "likes". From a standing start on April 10 to more than 7000 … wait, 9000 … wait …
All mountain bikers and from right across the world, join them: facebook.com/RideRotorua
Video: Te Tihi o Tawa Trail with Gary Sullivan from Nzo and Chris Southwood and Mick Ross from Flow magazine in Australia (Producer: Graeme Murray).