Couple take up festival initiative

Olympic team pursuit bronze medallist Aaron Gate is bringing his girlfriend as his ‘plus one' to the Benchmark Homes Festival of Cycling in Canterbury after an initiative by Christchurch City Council.

Gate spent six months overseas this year as part of his preparation for the London Olympic Games, which meant he was away from Kirstie Pooley, his partner of five years. The two-for-one offer gives the Auckland couple the chance to spend more time together as they explore Canterbury for a weekend.

"We are both looking forward to enjoying some new scenery on our bikes in the Canterbury region," said Gate.

Gate will compete in the 90km road race in the Waipara Valley on December 1 while Pooley will tackle the 20km mountain bike course through the North Canterbury vineyards.

Pooley who has recently taken to mountain biking, is embracing a rare opportunity to accompany Gate.

"I've just started mountain biking this year and I enjoy it so much that it now occupies every weekend, so I can't wait to compete in Canterbury," she said.

On December 2 Gate will line up next to his Olympic team-mates for the criterium around the Canterbury University campus.

The two-for-one limited offer from the council allows riders to bring a friend from out of town to ride free when they enter the 90km Waipara challenge.