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What doesn't kill you...



We are halfway through the Rotorua Bike Festival, a quiet achiever in terms of getting the community around here engaged with bicycles in all their glory.

While it may not have the international profile of Crankworx Rotorua, coming up at the end of March, the Festival has at least 30 events, participants numbered in the thousands, and provides guaranteed entertainment.

Tuesday night was the unauthorised World 16” Dual Championship, held on the magnificent beginnings of the Dodzy Skills Park. Dodzy would have been all over this event: head to head racing down a bermed raceway by big kids on little bikes. I was lucky enough to be showing the winners of our town’s Gunna Gotta Go competition our patch: two riders form Sydney flew in for week of deluxe mountain biking. We thought we would do a lap of the woods then drop in on the 16” title bout.

We had a great outing, lots of trails, lots of flow, perfect temperature and plenty of smiles all around. On a trail I have ridden so many times I thought I could ride it blindfolded, I made a rash decision to go to the left of a tree rather than the right. No reason for this, it isn't any faster, just one of those spur of the moment things. Turns out  there is a low hanging branch, which can snag your helmet, pull it off your head, and inflict a series of bruises and grazes as it rasps your now exposed cheek, eyesocket, and cranium. As your head rotates back and to the side to accommodate the branch, your visor will be torn off and flung into the scrub, and your neck will also be damaged by the helmet strap, by now at full stretch. Well, it will if you do it the way I did it. Still, no serious damage, so a quick wash in the creek and onwards to the World Champs.

Where every second person wants to know what happened to make the face look like it now does, and every fifth takes a photo of it. Kind of wish I had a better story than the sorry truth, snagged a low-hanging branch.

The Festival will culminate, more or less, in an Enduro event that has drawn a stacked field. The organiser has been issuing veiled warnings about how gnarly this event is going to be, how we better wear extra padding, and get our game on. Whatever that means.

For me it meant signing up for a refresher with MTB Skills Clinics. As a certifiable old dog, to learn some new tricks is a rare event. I learned enough things to be safer in the long run, and have more fun on steep trails. I heartily recommend a skills session to everybody. One the downside, a moment’s inattention on an easy bit, not doing what I had just learned, required stitches in the side of my face undamaged by the previous adventure.

What doesn't kill you may make you stronger, but it won’t make you any better looking.





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