An event with an unusual name and a heart of gold will be one of the highlights of the 2nd Rotorua Bike Festival in New Zealand in February. Yeah Boi Sick Race will be a celebration of one of New Zealand’s top mountain bikers, James ‘Dodzy’ Dodds who died tragically in 2012.
He was a New Zealand representative in downhill and well known in international race circles, a trail and bike designer and builder and he also taught mountain bike skills.
The organizers of the race are Jo Price and Budgie Woods, close friends of Dodds. “The term yeah boi, sick is a complete Dodzyism,” Jo explained. “He used to say ‘sick’ a lot.”
Yeah Boi Sick is a short course sprint up the tar seal of Nursery Hill, the northern entry to the Whakarewarewa mountain bike network and then back down the steep, technical Exit Trail. While it’s a test of fitness and skill, it’s mainly about having fun. And there’s a serious spin: to raise as much money as possible for the James Dodds Memorial Fund.
Dodds’ long time partner, Gabby Molly, and the Rotorua-based Geyser Community Foundation created the fund in his name. To start with the income will be used to maintain a mountain bike skills park the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club is building in his memory.
The first Yeah Boi Sick Race was held the week before Christmas in 2012. It was a beautiful, warm summer’s evening in Rotorua with the giant Redwoods on Long Mile Road lit up by the late afternoon sun.
There was a wide range of riders and bikes – from big downhill bikes to lightweight cross-country bikes. Julian Dean borrowed a mountain bike and helmet and did a lap with his young son Tanner on his BMX.
Dean then signed one of his race shirts and donated it to the auction that followed the race. The big winner on the night was the Memorial Fund with over $9000 raised.
In 2014 the race moves into the Rotorua Bike Festival and will be run on the evening of Tuesday, February 18.
The National Mountain Bike Championships are on the first weekend of the festival. Most of the country’s top riders will stay in Rotorua to participate in other events through the week, including Yeah Boi Sick Race.
“Dodzy was a real legend of our sport and a lot of the younger riders looked up to him as a role model and a mate,” said Jo Price. “They’ll love to be able to be part of this.”
Gabby Molloy will be at the race and knows James would approve. “What is there to say? He’d freakin’ love it and I can guarantee he’ll be here with us, ripping it up, yelling and grinning, mixing it up as only Dodzy can,” she said.
The race is part of 10 days of cycling events from Friday February 14 to Sunday February 23. With around 30 events the Festival covers all cycling disciplines with road, BMX and mountain bike races.
“The idea is to have something for everyone, no matter their age, gender or skill level,” said Graeme Simpson from the Bike Festival team. “We want to get people on their bikes and enjoy some riding in the summer sun.” For Simpson an event like Yeah Boi Sick sums up the spirit of the festival.
“Anyone can enter, it’s light hearted and a chance for people to dress up and have a laugh and it’s only ten bucks to enter,” he added. “But it’ll also have a competitive edge as well, believe me. And all the money from entries and another auction will go to a great cause.”
Overall rider numbers are already well up on the first Festival. “Two mountain bike events – the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro and Skyline Sprint Warrior – sold out with over a month to go,” said Simpson. Rotorua is a well known mountain bike venue, hosting the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships and 2010 Singlespeed Worlds.
However, entries for the feature road events, Ibis Bike the Lake and the Telecom Inner City Street Criterium, are also well ahead of expectations. “At this time last year it was a bit hard to judge how the first Festival would go and it ended up being a real success,” continued Simpson. “This year we are sure it’ll be bigger, better and brighter and a really solid platform for the future.”