Rotorua Mountain Bike Festival set for February

The 2013 New Zealand Mountain Bike Championships will be held in Rotorua in conjunction with the first annual Rotorua Bike Festival on February 8-17. The festival will culminate with the New Zealand MTB Nationals on February 16-17 and will be a celebration of all things cycling - a mix of fun and frivolity and serious competition.

"There will be brand new events designed specifically for the festival, some established events that will move within the festival and a bike film festival," said festival coordinator Neil Gellatly of Dare2Sweat Events, who will be running the 2W Gravity Enduro and Bike Expo during the festival, as well.

"The final weekend of the festival is a big one with the serious business of the national champs when the country's top riders will compete for the 2013 titles and the 2W Gravity Enduro on Sunday. This is when the weekend warriors can mix it up and have some fun to finish the week on the fast, flowing trails that the Whakarewarewa trail network is world famous for."

Behind the scenes a lot of work has been going on to ensure the Festival is a success. More information about what's on and when over the next month or two will roll out in the next month. There is a Facebook page online and a comprehensive website is under construction.

"It's been a long time coming and now it's happening, it's very exciting," said Martin Croft from Event and Venues, Rotorua, who will be supporting the inaugural event.

"Over the past 10 years, Rotorua has hosted two world mountain bike championships, Oceania mountain bike champs, numerous national events and annual races that have shone the spotlight on what a great cycling destination this city really is and the festival will just underline and reinforce that reputation."

The Bike Festival will open with the 6, 12 and 24-hour Cateye Moon Ride, starting on Friday February 8. It's the iconic event in the Rotorua mountain bike calendar and the longest running.  "The Moon Ride has traditionally been an early winter event," said Croft. "Having it move to summer will give it a very different feel - and is the perfect way to kick the festival week into gear."

The Festival will bring together a group of people who've been involved in events and the promotion of mountain biking and cycling in Rotorua for many years, like District Councillor, Dave Donaldson. He's worn a lot of different hats over the last 10 years, including chairman of the organizing committee for the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships.

"Having a festival as a focus of the sport and what is a hugely popular recreational activity in Rotorua really is a big plus," said Donaldson. "We've all talked about bringing mountain biking out of the forest and 'into town' and the events around the 2006 Worlds and the 2010 Singlespeed World Champs hinted at how that can work. It will be an exhilarating and entertaining week."

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