The sun shone, the Covid-19 stayed away . . . just, and the stars aligned for another successful Papakaio 8-Hour Mountain Bike Challenge last Saturday.
Two hundred riders, social and competitive, took part in the day, which entailed teams or individuals completing as many loops of a 9km track as possible in an eight-hour timeframe.
The Plunket Electrical-sponsored event was held at Ian and Gloria Hurst’s Willow Park, and was the second year the Papakaio Home and School fundraiser had been run.
The 2020 event was cancelled due to Covid-19.
Organising committee spokeswoman Becca Finlay said they could not have hoped for a better day and having 200 riders had been a sort of “pipe dream”.
The loop as a whole could be open only one day a year, because it crossed different farm lands.
“So that was really cool, that we could have 200 people enjoying it, because we’re really proud of the track and we wanted as many people as possible to enjoy the experience on it when it’s open,” Finlay said.
The fine weather was “the cherry on top”.
World champion endurance mountain biker Ronel Cook won the women’s solo section, completing 14 laps in the allocated time. Local farmer Steven Smit won the men’s section with his first solo effort, also completing 14 laps.
The men’s team event was won by Team Taz n Sully with an impressive 19 laps, while the woman’s winning team was Team Squirrel, with 12. Team Skid Marks won the mixed team event with 15 laps.
The feedback from the day was overwhelmingly positive, especially regarding the quality of the track, Findlay said.
“I think that maybe it was a bit of a surprise to a few people that it was really technical – enjoyable, but a challenge.”
The smooth running of the day also garnered praise and that was the icing on the cake.
“We’re really proud of that as a committee,” she said.
Another successful part of the day was the family loop, a 1.9km track more suited for children, which attracted 75 registrations in its own right.
“We think it’s fantastic there can be such a range of people there enjoying the event. So we’ve got elite athletes, we’ve got local farmers who are getting on a bike, and we’ve got young kids and young families coming down for the day.”
A goal for the event, which was “absolutely” achieved, was to attract participants from outside the immediate community, she said.
“That we weren’t just sort of passing around money from one family to another family. We were genuinely raising money for the kids.”
The committee also breathed a sigh of relief as the news of a move to Alert Level 2 was announced on Sunday.
The exact amount raised was yet to be finalised, but Finlay said the day would not have been possible without all the sponsors, vendors, farm owners and competitors.
Next year’s event would be held on February 12, and the track building team was already back into planning.
“I think they just love what they do, and seeing people enjoying it is just everything to them. So I think they felt really proud and just happy that everybody enjoyed it.”
Results from the Papakaio 8-Hour Mountain Bike Challenge:
Male team: 1. Taz n Sully, 19 laps; 2. Trans-Taz-Man, 18 laps; 3. Sam the Eagle and Toey, 18 laps.
Female team: 1. Team Squirrel, 12 laps; 2. We tried, 11 laps; 3. Hot Coffee Mummas, 11 laps.
Mixed team: 1. Skid marks, 15 laps; 2. Crombie & Price, 15 laps; 3. Moo-vers, 15 laps.
Solo Male: 1. Steven Smit, 14 laps; 2. Brent Cunningham, 14 laps; 3. Ben Blair, 14 laps.
Solo Female: 1. Ronel Cook, 14 laps; 2. Josephine King, 9 laps; 3. Adair Craik, 3 laps.
Social Team: 1. Cycle Ventures, 14 laps; 2. Hamish Slater Building, 13 laps; 3. Are we there yet, 11 laps.