Bike Culture isn't even open yet and it's already hit the headlines, Graeme Simpson had this to say in todays Rotorua's Daily Post;
I’m not sure when I first met Rob and Annika Smail.
But I know it was out in the Forest or maybe at Zippy Central before or after a ride. They were doing what we’d done for years before moving to Rotorua. Hit the road out of Auckland on Friday evening or Saturday morning with a car packed full of bikes and head south at almost every opportunity.
Rob has been mountain biking for a long time, Annika not so long. She’s now represented New Zealand at World Cups and last year’s World Champs in cross-country so I’m sure she won’t mind me telling this story. When we first went riding with her she stopped to let us pass on Be Rude Not To. It didn’t take long till she was leaving us in the dust up and down hills.
Actually, that’s not quite true. Like other people we ride with in Rotorua – Gaz from N-Zo, photographer Graeme Murray, Morgan from Zippy’s – Rob and Annika always stop and shoot the breeze so we can catch up.
A few years ago we rode the 42 Traverse with Gaz, GM, Rob and Annika. It was a bitterly cold autumn day with icy windblown sleet on the first section into the trailhead. On one of the long climbs one of the crew (let’s call her, Carolyn) developed a temporary, bike-fatigue form of Tourette’s Syndrome. Graeme M just dropped back to ride with her and keep her going.
Rob and Annika didn’t just ride here. They also joined the local Club (and in Annika’s case rode for it at national level) and got involved in trail building. They were part of the Good Friday team who trail blazed the first part of Hot Cross Buns.
Eventually they couldn’t stand the travel any longer and moved to Rotorua.
Rob rides a Santa Cruz and was looking after our Blurs even before he arrived in town. It was good to have him closer to home at Bike Vegas.
When we first got into mountain biking back in the mid-90s our first bikes were far simpler than the Blurs – hard tails, v-brakes, front forks with 80 mill of travel.
They still needed a bit of maintaining and the place to go in Auckland was definitely Cyco on Ponsonby Road. It was also a time when a weekend didn’t seem complete without a visit to a bike shop to drool over the bling, so we got to know the Cyco guys well enough to say hello to.
Mike Metz was one of them.
We’d still see Mike after we moved to Rotorua. He was friends of new friends down here like Gaz and Glen from N-Zo and was often seen in the forest just riding along or down from Auckland to race in national series rounds or Nduro races.
2007 and if anyone needed any more evidence that Rotorua is the capital city of MTB in NZ, here it is: like so many others, Mike has also moved to town.
And he’s gone into business with Rob. 40 combined years of bike skills and wrenching wisdom can now be found at Bike Culture in Pukuatua Street.
In a town with a fine tradition of top bike mechanics (like New Zealand team spanner men, Dale and Ryan Hollows, and bike builders like Jeff Anderson and Graeme Pearson, for example) that’s surely a good sign of a healthy bike environment.