New winter sport makes its debut

CLAY WILSON
Last updated 11:23 19/07/2012
Mondo Kopua
EMMA ALLEN
Mondo Kopua has organised the first ever Cyclocross event in Blenheim to be held this Sunday at the Wither Hills mountain biking park. Cyclocross mixes road cycling and mountain biking together to for a unique event.

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A major European winter sport and the fastest growing two-wheeled sport in the United States makes its debut in Marlborough on Sunday when the opening event of the inaugural Cyclocross Marlborough series is held at the Wither Hills Mountainbike Park.

Widely known as CX, the sport is relatively new to New Zealand. However, it is growing quickly and eight regions around the country, including Marlborough, will host events this winter.

In basic terms, CX is a hybrid sport somewhere between road cycling and mountainbiking. The aim of the sport is to complete as many laps of a 2-3km course in a time period of between 30-60 minutes.

While the courses are largely flat, weaving and meandering around a spectator-friendly loop, it is not quite that simple. A number of obstacles such as hurdles, slopes and stairs to carry your bike up, short sharp pinch-climbs, off-camber slopes, grassy paddocks and often muddy conditions are all designed to test the skills and resolve of the participants. Bikes are similar in shape to a roadbike and have drop bars but wider tyres.

Marlborough mountainbiker and orienteer Mondo Kopua is the instigator and organiser of the six event CX Marlborough series. He said there was definitely a competitive aspect to this first event, but emphasised it was also a lot about getting people to give it a try.

"We are trying to promote this new sport to the Marlborough region and want to give everyone the opportunity to experience the fun, thrills and laughs, riders and spectators alike . . . spectators are certainly welcome, the rowdier the better."

In order to boost his vast knowledge on CX, Kopua and his two sons, Angus and Fletcher, travelled to Napier this month to compete in the National Championships. A bad cold and breathing difficulties leading up to and on race day forced Kopua to shift to the more social all-comers class but he said the trip was still a very valuable experience.

“I gained lots of insight into various aspects of good course design and spoke with several riders, many of whom are looking to come to some of the Marlborough events, as well as the national series final.”

The fifth event on the Marlborough series on Sunday, September 9, will double as the final race of the six event National CX Series.

Registration for Sunday's event is from 9.30-10am, with the kids class starting at 10am, C grade at 11am, B grade at 11.45am and A grade at 12.30pm. A grade is the only grade where drop-bars on bikes are compulsory, all other grades are for mountainbikes or any other bikes.

Entry details and forms are available from all Blenheim bike shops.

Kids aged 5-12 can ride free, for all others it is $15 today or Friday at AvantiPlus on Queen St or $20 on the day.

Riders can also sign up for the entire series for $50.

For further information can contact Mondo Kopua at nzcyclocross.co.nz or 021772792.

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- The Marlborough Express

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