Safe pairs of hands are always an important part of any event organisation.
People who can be trusted to never let the side down whatever the universe throws out.
Rotorua mountain biker, Paul Laing, is a fine example of that role.
The 54-year-old has a familiar origin story when it comes to his generation of riders.
"How I got started depends what you call 'start'," he says. "I used to ride my Healing 10 speed through mud and drains on my way to primary school when I lived in Ohaupo in the mid to late 1970s.
"Then I got given an old Raleigh 1/2 or 3/4 size bike and we built tracks down at the local rail siding with jumps. Eventually I got a BMX after Dad got fed up having to pay for the Raleigh frame/ forks to be repaired). I got a Morrison Sidewinder circa 1982, then a Specialized Stumpjumper in 1989. It got more 'serious' after that."
His current bike is a Santa Cruz Hightower LT, his favourite trails are Te Ruru and Minerals and he has continued to ride for a variety of reasons. "The best parts are the freedom, independence and being at one with nature," he continues. "To travel, explore places, to hang with friends, to be healthy, to test my skills."
As well as competing in a broad range of events, he's been behind the scenes, helping on many others.
That includes handling the financial aspects of most of the Rotorua Singlespeed Society events, ensuring the success of national, Anzac and World Championships. Making sure the sums add up has resulted in substantial donations to charities.
Being part of this is a simple equation for him.
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"Giving back, fun and involvement. My inclination is to participate, but my day job helps with a skillset that makes organising 'relatively' easy."
He's Commercial Manager at Red Stag Timber, one of Rotorua's largest employers and, driven by the philosophy of founder, the late Phil Verry, a company with strong beliefs in being active in our community.
"Red Stag has a philosophy of 'leave it better' - job, community and environment," he continues. "This means supporting a range of projects from the Cambridge Velodrome, the Rotorua BMX track and Cycling NZ, including the MTB High Performance Hub."
"Red Stag has also been a keen supporter of local trail builders, the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club and, now, the Trails Trust with product and cash and leveraged our connections to bring other - absolutely willing – sponsors, such as Permapine, onboard."
The portrait of Paul is by Graeme Murray and part of a Ride Rotorua project to capture images of a wide range of riders - from familiar faces to weekend warriors and some of the unsung heroes that make up our mountain bike community.
To see more, check out Ride Rotorua on Facebook and Instagram. Ride Rotorua is a not-for-profit website set up to provide information about trails along with places to stay, eat, shop, bike guiding, shuttles and other local services – all supported by some local businesses who care about making Rotorua a better place. www.riderotorua.com