"There is logic to this madness," was the quote of the day at the singlespeed mountain bike world championships this weekend in Rotorua, New Zealand. Attributed to race director Dean Watson, the Kiwi overseeing more than 850 one-geared and free spirited cyclists prepare to race whilst he was perched in a cherrypicker.
The first time New Zealand had ever hosted singlespeed Worlds, the scene was set as riders took part in the biggest rolling fancy dress party of their lives. It was somewhat spiritual. The riders were trance-like, live music adding to their focus as Watson sent them away onto the world famous Rotoruan mountain bike trails.
It may be the only world championships event in the world where Muppets and superheroes alike could line up with cycling stars. At one end of the event were the racers, primed and ready to hurt themselves for the chance to be crowned world champion. But the majority, including New Zealand pro road rider Julian Dean (Garmin Transitions), were there for fun.
The Waihi-born professional roadie lives in Rotorua when not in Europe and was a late entry, talked into going off road by Dale Hollows, the legendary wrencher to several Kiwi cycling stars.
Dressed in a splendid orange tracksuit, Dean looked a cross between a 1980s sports star and Boogie Nights protagonist Dirk Diggler.
It was the perfect disguise to walk up the hills and partake in the odd beer shortcut.
"This is my track suit - I thought it might be a goody but there are some pretty good costumes here," said Dean, laughing. He admitted that he'd re-claimed the threads from his parents in time for his second world championships of October. He'd earlier competed in the UCI Road World Championships in Australia.
"Obviously there are some people here that want to win, but most of the people just want to have fun - it's good to be part of something that's so relaxed," said the New Zealand national team representative.
Like many of the 850-plus starters in Rotorua, Dean loved his first singlespeed experience with family and friends.
He said he would do it again and commented on the circling-style start which he admitted could be a great addition to the Tour de France. "That start would be good," he said.
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