It was the passion of the community for mountain biking and the quality of the trails that convinced Crankworx general manager Darren Kinnaird to bring his beloved festival to Rotorua, New Zealand.
“I love this. There is a big crowd out there and they are really enthusiastic,” says Darren Kinnaird with a big grin as he surveys the panorama of activity on the lower slopes of Mt Ngongotaha beneath the Skyline Rotorua gondola.
I heard that Rotorua had its first major traffic jam since 2000 last night, so I am ecstatic!Darren Kinnaird, general manager Crankworx Share
Darren should be ecstatic. Crankworx has become the biggest mountain bike, music and ride culture festival on the planet. But it’s more than a financial investment for him. It’s personal. He invests as much in preserving the essence of the sport as he does in capturing the festival spirit. Everyone is here for a good time.
“People are so into it here and we knew that coming here – the passion for mountain biking in this community is second to none.”
Darren hails from a town called Squamish in British Columbia, Canada. It’s half an hour south of Whistler where Crankworx first sparked to life. This is the first time the festival has headed into the Southern Hemisphere and the look in Darren’s eye suggests he’s landed on his feet.
“The funniest quote of the week I heard was, ‘wow, this place looks like Jurassic Park’." He laughs as he casts his mind to the region’s native bush trails. In fact, it was on a far slope of Whakarewarewa Forest, Darren fell in love.
“I had the chance to scope out some of the Enduro trails in the forest and I had the chance to ride what may be my favourite trail in the whole world: Corners. That trail is insane – I love it,” he says, beaming like a kid who's discovered a new toy.
“We’re fortunate enough to be sticking around for a few days after the event is wrapped up and I’m eyeing up a couple more rides up there.”
Above us the gondola rattles across the jockey wheels and riders finish practice runs across an over-sized tabletop. Music fills the air and everywhere small children, teenagers, couples, riders and families are beaming with excitement. Darren takes it all in and smiles.