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Chairman’s Blog

Spring has sprung! With daylight hours quickly increasing now and the ‘fun ride’ season coming up, it’s time to oil your chain and get some more miles in to improve your fitness. It might not be time though, to ditch the arm and leg warmers, nor the raincoat, as we can expect the nasty weather to drag on a bit longer that we’d like.

Many of our younger members are already fighting fit though, and are busily preparing for the NZ Secondary Schools Championships which are run on an annual basis in the Horowhenua and Manawatu. Held at the end of Sept (in the first weekend of the School holidays), this is one of the biggest annual events in the local sporting calendar, and indeed the biggest annual cycling event in NZ. There are also plenty of parents and older riders who will be involved in the organisation of the event; volunteers who without we would not be able to provide top notch home ground competition for our children.

The success of our young cyclists over the last few years is testament to the work that the parents and volunteers put into the sport, particularly those involved in Manawatu Schools Cycling. We have regional, national, oceania, and world champions to show as a result! One area in which local cycling does not do so well however, is in retaining these youngsters as they transition from school to work or tertiary education. Indeed, Bike Manawatu has very very few senior/open riders, male or female and this is an issue we need to address if we are to be a strong cycling club. One way to address this is to ensure that we have enough racing opportunities for Senior riders. This means that we need to persist with organising club road racing events on a weekly basis for local riders, and provide other opportunities for the non-locals to visit and race.

In this context, I am to announce that Bike Manawatu is organising a new event on January the 17th which will attract elite riders from all over NZ and the oceania region. Called the ‘Gravel and Tar Classic’ it will have a prize pool of at least $15K, around half of which will be awarded to team-based results. The latter is to encourage the professional, semi-professional, and amateur teams which will be competing in the NZ Cycle Classic (now based in Masterton) to come to Palmerston North just prior. If you want to compete in this, you don’t have to be part of a team, but you can’t be involved in the team-based prizes if you’re not. You’ll need to be an U19, Open, or Masters rider to compete, and you’ll need a racing licence. We are toying with the idea of a cash prize or trophy for the fastest local rider and/or team. Stay tuned for more info.

At the same time, we don’t want to forget that the vast majority of BM riders are not racers, so we are also organising the ‘Gravel and Tar Gran Fondo’ at the same time. The course will involve riding on some gravel roads, but well within the capability of a normal road bike (and its rider), albeit with some good 25-28 mm tyres. We aim to have some very very good spot prizes (and more) for this fun event, so put the date in your diary and start practicing on a bit of gravel!

Lastly, it was saddening to hear of the recent passing of Averil Sheehan. Averil was a very friendly and active BM member who was always looking for another cycling challenge. She will be sorely missed in the Manawatu peloton.

Yours in cycling,

Steve Stannard.