New Zealand Singlespeed Championships return to Rotorua

Eventuall winner Garth Weinberg runs across a stream.

Eventuall winner Garth Weinberg runs across a stream. (Image credit: Mike Vincent)

In a little less than one year, the 2013 New Zealand Singlespeed Championships will return to where it all started, in Rotorua. Race day will be Saturday April 27, 2013.

The first championship for one-geared mountain bikes in New Zealand was raced in the Whakarewarewa Forest mountain bike network on the city's southern border in 2008. The event was also in Rotorua in 2009, with around 500 entries over the two years.

Then in 2010, the city hosted the Singlespeed World Championships with 1000 entries from 30 countries competing for bragging rights, with the men's and women's champions receiving the winner's tattoos.

"That was a fantastic week," said Rotorua Singlespeed Society President Gaz Sullivan. "Town was packed with bikers, the race was on a perfect spring day, the costumes were wild and colourful and to cap off a truly memorable event Rotorua singlespeed hero, Garth Weinberg won the tatt."

The New Zealand singlespeed championships were held in Queenstown in 2010, Hawkes Bay in 2011 and in Nelson in 2012.

"It seemed right to bring it back to the North Island and 'home' for 2013," said Sullivan, "We're pretty good at this sort of thing and just about everyone involved was part of the team who ran the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials Worlds."

Singlespeed events are a lot more informal than the one the UCI runs, with costumes and beer short cuts.

"Riding a one-geared mountain bikes is bloody hard and the riders also enjoy a good bit of socialising at the after-match function," said Gregg Brown from the Pig & Whistle, who will be sponsoring the championships. "We've been involved in the previous two New Zealand championships and the Singlespeed Worlds in Rotorua and it's a perfect fit for us. We're mountain bikers, too and proud to back a fun event like this one."

Since the 2010 Singlespeed Worlds, there's been a dramatic rise in Australian mountain bikers taking advantage of Air New Zealand's direct flights from Sydney to ride the Whakarewarewa trails.

"It'd be great to get a big crew of Aussies here for the Singlespeed champs," said Paul Laing from the RSSS. "The event has always been run on the week of Anzac Day when the Aussie and Kiwi soldiers are commemorated and celebrated, so it'll be good to share a beer with a few of them."

There will be the usual unexpected twists and turns that singlespeeding specializes in - and also some old classics.

"A great race and challenging course, a beer or two after - and maybe during - the race, and the Big Kiwi Breakfast on the Sunday morning," says Sullivan, with a laugh.

"We also have to fit in the usual negotiations on where the race will be run in 2014," said Laing, "It'll be good to have it back in Rotorua, but also great to see it continue to move around."

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