ENDURO—the mountain bike phenomenon that had already spread through Europe was now to feature on the calendar in New Zealand. This has to be the most exciting event the sport of mountain-biking has ever witnessed.
Giant Bicycles NZ recognised Neil’s vision and the potential for this new mtbing phenomenon to flourish and in February 2013 Neil Gellatly and Dare2Sweat Events launched the first Giant 2W Gravity Enduro race. It was held in Rotorua’s extensive trail network within the Whakarewarewa Forest. If you weren’t sure the ‘2W’ stands for ‘two wheels’.
CRUISE UP – RACE DOWN became the catch phrase with the purpose of promoting the event as a social, fun, exciting, challenging, relaxed, friendly kind of a race. Ride with your mates, get a coffee while you wait for a shuttle but at the top of the climb at the beginning of the race stage ‘Game On—see you at the bottom buddy’.
The event uses orienteering style timing technology which allows for the participants to do runs in any order, clock in at the top of the run, out at the bottom and their race times are immediately printed when they clock in at the finish so that they can see results for individual stages and their accumulated overall time. This adds to the comradeship and rivalry as participants chill out with a beer at the race venue comparing times and sharing a good yarn.
The first event attracted approximately 280 competitors with a strong Australian contingent. In fact the first entry received was from Townsville. As predicted the event went off with a bang with hot temperatures and perfect dry trails. Brew Craft Beer Pub and Coffee Roastery in ‘Eat Streat’ hosted the event start/finish and prize giving and an enormous bounty of performance and spot prizes were given away. Sam Shaw took out the overall men’s winner in a time of 38:55 with Jamie Nicoll in second (39:11) and Byron Scott 3rd (39:42). In the women’s category Rosara Joseph took the win in a time of 43:19 with Sasha Smith second (45:34) and Jenna Makgill 3rd (46:22).
The second Giant 2W Gravity Enduro race, which was hosted in Rotorua on October 5th delivered on everything it promised to be—fun, fast, competitive and social. The events popularity was evident with numbers growing to over 330 entrants making the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro easily the largest Enduro event in New Zealand—a testimony to the growing demand for this new mtb format.
With the trails running fast and furious the race consisted of five race stages (one more than the February event), with a combined total distance of 15.8km and over 1150m of vertical descending.
Matt Walker used his success from his European race season to help him take out the overall Men’s category in an impressive 31:56 on a borrowed Giant demo bike. Jon Odams from Australia was less than 20 seconds behind Matt in second place and Hayden Lee finished in third overall. Mike Metz put in an impressive performance placing 4th overall and 1st in the over 40 class. Raewyn Morrison came back from a serious injury earlier in the year to win the overall Woman’s title in 37:19, just ahead of Jenna Makgill who clocked in at 37:28 and moved up a place from the last event and Meg Bichard rounded off the woman’s podium.
All participants accumulate NZ Enduro Crown points for their age group with the event having a silver classification.
Overall there were a huge diversity of riders of varying ages and abilities in fact there was a couple out tackling the course on a tandem bike. As one of the riders said, “It is a five hour race where you are in the red mist for about 35-45 minutes. The event also attracted a Giant AMC (all mountain cartel) team over from Australia.
Event Organiser, Neil Gellatly, had this to say about the event, “I think this October event was the best event I’ve run yet. The venue, scene and atmosphere were perfect. Everything went well, we had great numbers and most importantly the event sponsors and riders really enjoyed themselves. Roll on February’s event”.
The Giant 2W Gravity Enduro team are super excited about the upcoming February event which features within the Rotorua Bike Festival. The event will run on the 22nd February on the last weekend of the festival. It will take advantage of everything that a long hot summer in Rotorua has to offer in terms of trails, venue and atmosphere. This February event is at this point in time the only NZ Enduro Crown event to have a gold classification and so plenty of points are up for grabs. With numbers capped at 400 entrants — get a group of mates together and enter now.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better—it actually has. Neils gone nuts over Enduro racing and has spent a fair chunk of time seeking out the perfect venue for what you could say is a ‘European style’ Enduro. The Dare2Sweat Events team would like to introduce an ‘Extreme’ Giant 2W Gravity Enduro on the mountain slopes of Cardrona (between Queenstown and Wanaka in the South Island, NZ). Here’s what we can tell you so far.
Giant Bicycles recently delivered great news that they wished to support this new Cardrona event. This has enabled us to continue the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro brand to three events per season with the Cardrona event scheduled for autumn on Sunday 13th April 2014.
Based from the iconic and historic Cardrona Hotel, the new Cardrona event will be epic in size and nature. With the potential to have 4600 metres of vertical descent in four special race stages from range summit & mountain top down to the valley floor over a variety of alpine, subalpine and high country terrain, this Enduro echoes the World Series Events in Europe.
There will be two entry options — the cheaper ‘Self-shuttle’ (i.e., organise your own driver to shuttle you and your mates) or more expensive ‘Shuttles provided’ (places will be limited). Some liaison riding will be required to/from the shuttle pick-up/ drop-off points and special race stages starts/finishes.
For past full event results, photos and video, check the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro website.
Words: Katrine Gellatly | Photo: www.meadnorton.com