2017 Singlespeed World Champs – Rotorua – Locals Take the Tattoos

499 entries (preferable to 500 in the world of singlespeeding) entertaining over 2000 spectators spread around a twin loop course featuring mainly well-established, old-school trails in the Whakarewarewa Forest network. There were over 100,000 video views and tens of thousands of photo views on the event Facebook and Instagram (@sswc2017) pages within 48 hours of the race finish.

World Champions, Janine Kavanagh and Sam Shaw. Photo: Mead Norton

It was another raucous, colourful event with extravagant costumes lighting up a cool, windy and overcast day.

No tattoo, no title, but both Sam and Janine had no doubt about that when asked the question by one of the MC’s, Craig Pattle, immediately after crossing the finish line. Janine wasn’t sure exactly where she’d be inked. Sam had no hesitation, much to his mother, Sarah’s horror.

“Yeah, definitely, I’ve been planning to get one on my butt for ages.”

“Which cheek?”

“Ah, left…”

It was that kind of a race day.

The World Champions’ tats Photo: Mead Norton

As the last riders straggled in, the competition to decide the venue for the 2018 championships began – Bend, Oregon in the USA versus Prince Edward Island in Canada.

The Americans had come to win at any cost, while Canadian, Bruce McPherson was much more laidback. He’d combined a trip to the world championships with his honeymoon.

Part one of the challenge was four members of each team riding a 16” bike point to point, head to head for 10 metres, drinking a beverage, then spinning around with head to a broomstick in a traffic cone, then trying to ride the bike back.

After dispute and discussion and a captain’s run-off. Canada prevailed.

Part two involved being doused in mud, then sliding as far as possible down a plastic sheet, with the volunteers from the Lake Okareka fire brigade hosing down the plastic. The geothermal mud was supplied by the team from the Rotorua Mudtopia Festival debuting from December 1-3. There was only centimetres in this, but USA clawed one back.

So, it was all to play for at prizegiving at the Pig and Whistle Historic Pub that evening. Again, all four team members fronted up to eat fresh fronds of Pikopiko (New Zealand fern), Kina roe and Hapuka eyes. There was a lot of gagging – not all from the competitors. The Bend crew took this one in decisive fashion and SSWC2018 returns to the USA for the first time since Anchorage, Alaska in 2014.

Natalie Jane and Gaz Sullivan, Dolly and Kenny. Photo: Michael J Breen

For the volunteers from the Rotorua Singlespeed Society it was another succcessful event, a second world championship (the first was in 2010) to go alongside three New Zealand Championships and an Anzac Championship.

“We have such a brilliant team,” said Society president, Gary Sullivan, adding with a laugh: “Volunteers, sure, but at the same time, highly fine tuned event professionals.”

His mountain clothing company, Nzo, was the main partner of the event and did all the design work.

“We are just one of a long line up of local businesses, charitable trusts and the Rotorua Lakes Council who all contribute to make our events as special as they are.”

Best-dressed winners, Jamie and Nicola. Photo: Michael J Breen

The event benefits Lifeline Aotearoa, New Zealand’s mental health helpline.

2017 Singlespeed World Champs – Rotorua

“Have some fun, maybe help a mate.” That’s the theme of the 2017 Singlespeed Mountain Bike World Championships on November 18 in Rotorua.

“Our events, including New Zealand, Anzac and the World Championships in 2010, are loud and colourful with extravagant costumes and this year will be no different,” says Gary Sullivan, president of the host club, the Rotorua Singlespeed Society, and the event’s main partner, Nzoactive.com. “At the same time, we’ve always tried to use them to make a positive contribution.”

The Society has made significant donations to CanTeen, 88Bikes, Cancer Society, Kidney Health New Zealand, the Returned Servicemen’s Association Welfare Fund and the Rotorua Trail Trust. In 2017, the beneficiary will be suicide prevention awareness. “It’s a growing issue in New Zealand,” Sullivan continues. “We want to try and help.”

Entry for the event includes a one-off T-shirt (designed by Sullivan), the race, beverages and a party, breakfast and the Filmed by Bike Festival from Portland in Oregon all at the event HQ, the Pig and Whistle. “Filmed by Bike gave us the rights to screen the festival at a very low community rate because of our record with donations and promoting mountain biking in Rotorua and New Zealand,” Sullivan. “And there’s a reason it’s called ‘the world’s best bike movies’. It’s a brilliant, one-hour programme of bike film shorts.”

The event is well supported by a solid blend of local government, businesses and charitable trusts. “We have two beautiful bike frames to give away, steel by Jeffson Bikes and bamboo by Freddy Salgado at Bikeys,” adds Sullivan. “And Helibike Rotorua have 5 seats on a flight to the Moerangi Trail in the ancient Whirinaki Forest south of the city.” Rotorua Lakes Council, First Sovereign Trust, Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust and the New Zealand Community Trust are also backing the event.

The championships’ prize swag bag is literally that. “Dancing Moose are locals producing quality bike packing gear,” says Sullivan. “A full Rotorua Experience from Off-Road New Zealand, QE Health Wellness and Spa, Agroventures and Rotorua Canopy Tours will be in one of their bags and Holiday Inn are also in the mix.”

Enter at www.rotoruasinglespeed.com 

Singlespeed World Mountain Bike Championships return to Rotorua. Dates announced.

Race day will be Saturday, November 18 2017.

“We want to make a week of it leading up to the race,” said Graeme Simpson from the host club, the Rotorua Singlespeed Society. “We’ll run a variety of events including a film night.”

The Society expects to announce their naming sponsor before Christmas.

“I think people will be really pleased when we do, they are great supporters of Rotorua and New Zealand mountain biking,” Simpson continued. ‘The official event HQ will be the Pig and Whistle Historic Pub, who’ve backed us since we set up the Society in late 2007.”

For Gregg Brown from the Pig and Whistle it was an easy decision. “We are well-stoked to be involved in such an awesome event, again,” he said. Brown is chair of the Rotorua Trails Trust, which will be the primary beneficiary of the championships. “They do great work, in their own time, for all recreational users of the Whakarewarewa Forest,” said Simpson. The Society has donated $30,000 to a variety of causes since 2007, including the local trails.

When the Society hosted the Championships in 2010 it attracted 1000 entries with Canada, Italy, Australian, South Africa and Ireland bidding for the 2011 championships. The finale of that was horizontal bungee, which Ireland won by the width of a beer can.

“It was great that South Africa went on to host in 2012,” said Society president, Gary Sullivan from Nzo dirtwear. “Since then it’s been in Italy, Japan, Alaska and Australia. Great venues, but lots of people still mention Rotorua as the best ever in twenty years of Singlespeed World Champs history. We have a bit to live up to.”

Enthusiasm is already high around the world. “People started booking accommodation minutes after we announced the dates on our Facebook page,” Sullivan added. “Apparently, we are really popular in South America. Who knew?”

Entries will open in the new year.

“We’ll definitely be offering entry to riders from the 2010 champs, first,” said Sullivan. “It’d be rude not to.”