An event with an unusual name and a heart of gold was one of the highlights of the 2nd Rotorua Bike Festival in New Zealand.
Yeah Boi Sick Race was 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 were Jo Price and Budgie Woods, close friends of James.
“The term yeah boi, sick is a complete Dodzyism,” Jo explained. “He used to say ‘sick’ a lot.” Yeah Boi Sick is a 2-lap, 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 and Old Exit Trails. 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.
“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 loved being part of this.” The field included world class Gravity Enduro riders, Jamie Nicoll and Justin Leov and downhill racers, Sam Blenkinsop, Matt Walker and the Hamilton brothers, Connor and Louis. It wasn’t just downhillers. Former Kiwi cross-country representative, Mark Leishman was there on a Cyclocross bike, alongside current New Zealand XCO racer, Carl Jones. Plus there was a big turn-out of weekend warriors – and Super Man – celebrating a very good man, gone too soon.
Also on the start line were two close friends and business partners of Dodzy. With Rob Metz, Dodds designed and built the Zerode race and trail bikes. And with Jeff Carter, he built mountain bike trails all over the world. Rotorua’s Sam Shaw raced the National Championships Cross-Country at the New Zealand National Mountain Bike Championships on the first weekend of the Festival and was 5th in Elite and 3rd in under 23. He then rocked up at the National Downhill Championships, the next day, and was 5th on the fearsome Taniwha – on a trail bike. The talented all-rounder will defend his Giant 2W Gravity Enduro title this weekend. However at Yeah Boi Sick race he was on a different bike all together. He completed two laps, on a 12-inch! Gabby Molloy is a top downhill racer, who podiumed in Elite Women at the National Champs. She rode Yeah Boi Sick and knows James would approve of the event. “What is there to say? He’d freakin’ love it and I can guarantee he was here with us, ripping it up, yelling and grinning, mixing it up as only Dodzy can,” she said.
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. Tour de France veteran, 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 moved into the Rotorua Bike Festival and was run on the evening of Tuesday, February 18, on another glorious evening in Rotorua.