Rotorua (/ˌroʊtəˈruːə/, from Māori: Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe.
Roto means lake and rua two – Rotorua thus meaning Second Lake. It was the second biggest lake that Maori chief Ihenga discovered. Also referred to as the heart of the North Island, it's known for its geothermal activity, with bubbling geysers, thermal springs and hot mud pools spread throughout the town, earning the nickname Sulfur City. These hydrogen sulphide emissions are what give Rotorua that permanent “rotten egg” smell. Charming, right? Well, you do get used to it. Rotorua is also referred to as Rotovegas. Besides all the bubbling & boiling under the earth, Rotorua is a mountain biker’s Mecca. Mention the Whakarewarewa forest to anyone who rides bikes and it will bring a massive smile to their faces and a sparkle to their eyes.
We are all fortunate to explore this forest and all its magical trails this week, as it’s the first stop on the EWS calendar for this year. Pretty exciting that it’s all happening in New Zealand – not quite in my backyard, or island for that matter, but it’s still amazing to not have to leave New Zealand and travel to the other side of the world for a bike race. It’s also pretty amazing to share this beautiful part of the world with our friends from all over the world. With over 100km of singletrack, criss-crossing through the dense, panga-clad jungle, there is plenty of riding and exploring to be had, more than we can cover in a short few days of riding anyways. It’s pretty hard to have an easy day out here; you just want to keep going and the flow of the trails leaves you yearning for more. Just another shuttle run, or two, or three is what usually happens. It’s hard to rein it in and start resting up for the first big race of the season when it’s just so darn fun out there in the forest.
Photos below courtesy of Sven Martin.
And resting up is what we’re going to have to do to make it through race day. It’s looking like one monster of a day, with seven stages and an estimated seven hours out on the bike from start to finish. The weather is also not looking too stable, as Fall is in the air, rain is in the forecast, and the trails are covered in roots, which means that our work will be cut out for us come race day. What will be will be. Not much you can do when it comes to Mother Nature and what she has to offer. I’m looking forward to a few days off the bike, catching up with my team mates Kelli & Sarah, soaking it up in the hot springs and of course a visit to see the new born Kiwi bird babies! With all the action happening at the Skyline Gondola area, we were lucky enough to go next door to the Rainbow Bird Sanctuary to meet the newborn Kiwi baby bird aptly called "Cranky" - definitely a highlight of the trip up here for me. Rotorua also has a huge variety of fabulous restaurants and coffee shops to choose from, so we'll head to town for a flat white and maybe a little spin in the forest…resting schmesting – life’s far too short to be serious!
Best of luck to everyone this week!