“Held regardless of conditions – it is mid winter after all!”
Despite this rather dire warning the 12th Okoroire Mid Winter Fun ride was held at the end of July in bright cold winter weather, yet again. As a recent injury relegated me to helper rather than rider this year I was able to witness in others the enjoyment that I experienced on the 10 and 11th mid winter fun rides.
It was neat to be on the registration desk meeting people returning for yet another go, great to see many cyclists preparing for their first official ride. Manning a corner later I saw a lady well past middle age, who had admitted earlier she was a bit nervous, flying along with a big smile on her face.
That’s what makes this ride a bit different. The emphasis is on fun and friendly. The “boy racers” can gather together in the first peloton and blitz the 70 km circuit. The casual riders can tootle along 40 kms enjoying the Waitako countryside while using just enough energy to offset the cold. Though riders are numbered and times are recorded there are no transponders or serious stuff. This is not a race.
City addictions for a flat white or a latte before riding are taken care of by the coffee cart. The (free) cups of tea and sausage rolls in the hall afterwards speak volumes for the hospitality of the organizers, Cliff and Sandra Kingston of Fun Cycling.
This year over 750 happy people took part in the fun ride, arriving from the main catchment areas of Tauranga (where someone reported the streets were remarkably free of bikes that morning), Hamilton and Rotorua, with a large number getting down from Auckland in time for the 10 am start.
The ride is mainly sealed country roads through green rolling farmland, with a quick foray along state highway one to link the routes. The 70 kms is simply a challenging enough extension loop from the 40km. All corners are manned and there is plenty of signage. You can’t go wrong.
This was the last year that the Mid Winter Fun Ride left from the old Okoroire Hall which is disappearing to make way for a truck stop. But Cliff assures us the ride will continue. Next year’s will be held on Sunday July 31 leaving from the Okoroire Hotel a bit further up the road. The prize giving will still give participants oodles of chances to win a spot prize. And you’ll be able to get a beer at the end at well!