Photo: Wallace and Grommit and Animal (Roger Whitefield, Red Star Images).

A celebratory ride to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Singlespeed World Championships in Rotorua in Aotearoa, New Zealand has resulted in a pre-Christmas windfall for two very good local causes. The ride, hosted by the Rotorua Singlespeed Society, started with coffee at the Pataka Kai of one of the city’s iconic tourist attractions, Te Puia.

Rotorua Lakes Council Deputy Mayor, Dave Donaldson who has raced in all the Society’s events since 2008, spoke about how Covid 19 had impacted on many of the city’s tourist attractions like Te Puia and how important mountain biking has been to the ongoing economic recovery.

The following group ride was on some of the very best trails in the Whakarewarewa Forest. This included the notorious stream crossing on Rosebank/Twin Peak, a favourite spectator spot in 2010.

Garth Weinberg sprints across the stream crossing to an eventual win in 2010, hotly pursued by Rad Ross Schnell, the 2009 world champ in Durango. Followed by a spectacular fail by Dave Joy from the Croucher Brewing beer can team (Video: Gregg Brown).

The Rotorua Trails Trust manages these trails, and the Society has contributed $6000 since 2015 to their upkeep. “There was no competition on the ride,” said Society President Gary Sullivan. “The really quick guys including 2010 world champ, Garth Weinberg, all stopped at points round the demanding 22-kilometre course, so no one was left behind.” The finish line was at Secret Spot Hot Tubs at the Waipa MTB car park with a sausage sizzle and a beer from Good George Brewing.

That evening, the finale was at the Pig and Whistle Historic Pub, partners with the Society since 2008. “There was a terrific and very funny prizegiving hosted by our long-term MC, Rawiri Bhana,” said the Society’s Dave Joy. “There was very generous swag from Jeffson Bikes, Dancing Moose, Whakarewarewa Pest Free, ZORB, Velocity Valley, Secret Spot, Mourea Coffee and Kartline at Off Road New Zealand. “One of our original committee members, Carolyn Scherger, donated t-shirts from most of our events over the last dozen years with a couple of gaps filled in by other folk. These were auctioned off to add to the pot of cash.”

The $1400 raised will be split between Tipu Wai, a trust devoted to planting native flora around Rotorua and preserving and improving the local waterways and an initiative to subsidise mental healthcare for those most in need. This fund was initially established by the local Mountain Biker’s Ball with the Singlespeed Society donating to it after the success of the second Singlespeed World Championships the club hosted in 2017.

This programme is the brainchild of local psychologist, mountain biker and Rotorua Mountain Bike Club committee member, Erin Eggleston. Gregg Brown from both Society partner, the Pig and Whistle and Tipu Wai summed this work up best. “What Erin does is invaluable.”

The money added to over $60,000 raised by the Society’s events since 2008 and donated to Canteen, Cancer Society New Zealand, Kidney Health New Zealand, Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand, RSA Welfare Fund, Lifeline Aotearoa and the Brain Injury Trust. “Our events are always a bit silly, lots of fun, noisy and extravagant,” said Paul Laing from the Society. “They’re always well supported by our community, so it’s brilliant to be able to give something back.”

While the event was intended as a one-off, all the riders were enthusiastic about making it an annual event. “We’ll be back,” Laing concluded.

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