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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Costumes were encouraged for racers and fans.
Karaoke and basketball contests decide next year's hosts
New Zealand's Rotorua will host the 2010 edition of the Singlespeed World Championships. The North Island city was selected after New Zealand won a tense and unconventional bidding process at at the singlespeed worlds in Durango, Colorado, this past weekend.
Round one of the competition was a Karaoke/American Idol-style elimination contest entered by four nations. John McCartney, representing the Rotorua Singlespeed Society (RSSS), assumed the role of Freddie Mercury. Italy also made the cut, but Canada and Hungary were eliminated.
Contestants traded microphones for gym clothes for round two - a smash-mouth game of basketball with McCartney, fellow Kiwi Vicki Butterworth and a pick up team of locals who out-lasted the Italians to win 42-37.
"Vicki and John are both dedicated singlespeeders and the Rotorua Singlespeed Society contributed a thousand dollars to each of them to help them get to Durango to compete in the race and the bidding for 2010," said Graeme Simpson from the RSSS.
Both Vicki and John are members of the Society, but neither live in Rotorua. "Vicki's from the Hawkes Bay and John's from Queenstown on the South Island, so it's not about geography, it's about love for the sport and a great single-minded community," said Simpson.
"Vicki won the best costume award at the 2009 New Zealand Single Speed Championships, held in Rotorua. She wore full 1940s dress and rode a matching bike. John is on the organizing committee for the next New Zealand Single Speed Championships in Queenstown on Anzac weekend in 2010."
Rotorua has previously hosted the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships in 2006. It hosted the national singlespeed championships in 2008 and 2009. This past month, it also hosted a UCI Trials World Cup round. It features dramatic geothermal landscapes, iconic, historic buildings and it is a centre of Maori culture and adventure sports.
The race will likely be run in the 100km of singletrack trails and forest roads in the Whakarewarewa Forest on the southern outskirts of the city.
Organizers have promised to keep alive the practive of giving the winners' tatoos. "That's a tradition from the dim, dark, early days of the World Singlespeed Champs," said Dean Watson, who will be the event organizer. "No one really knows why, but we stole the idea for our nationals and we'll be sticking to it in 2010."
They are also expecting a huge turnout. Although entries were restricted to 450 in Napa, California, in 2008, more than 750 others were turned away. This year in Durango, over 1,000 riders participated.
Dates for the 2010 championships are yet to be decided. "We'll get together for a few beers and and discuss it, which is kind of the singlespeed way," said RSSS president, Gaz Sullivan. "They're traditionally late August, early September, but I think we'd like to push them a little later in the year when the days are longer and it's closer to summer." The event will be held in conjunction with a new mountain bike festival called the Rotorua Bike Festival.
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