One of the great things to come out of Wairarapa’s Huri Huri Bike Festival is the celebration of all things biking and that includes personal achievements both past and present.
Brian Lambert is a cycling legend in Wairarapa. He retains a claim on the record for the fastest non-stop cycle ride from Auckland to Wellington, a journey he undertook in 1984 on his beloved aluminium-framed Vitrus bike, in just 19 hours, 59 minutes and 27 seconds.
He is a stalwart of the sport having cycled for 60+ years, was also the owner of Masterton’s Lambert Cycles until it became Avanti-Plus a few years ago. The veteran rider can frequently be spotted as part of the support team assisting national cycle promoter Jorge Sandoval with his international road cycling events.
Now into his golden years, Lambert still likes to tackle the region’s toughest hill climb, Admiral Hill in Gladstone. What’s really remarkable about his determination to take on the 18km climb, is the fact that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease more than 15 years ago.
“At this stage of my Parkinson’s, I’m having trouble balancing,” explained Lambert. “But on the bike I don’t need to worry about anything.
“With Parkinson’s, exercise is better than taking a bottle of pills,” he said.
Next summer, Huri Huri will be into its third year and the festival has been a wrap-around event for both Sandoval’s Women’s Tour of New Zealand and the New Zealand Cycle Classic. Local cyclists warmed up the roads for these top international events as part of the cycling festivities, and nominated Parkinson’s Wairarapa as their charity of choice in honour of Lambert’s achievements and continuing contribution.
For the last two years cyclists have converged on the Gladstone Vineyard prior to Stage Four of the professional race, to ‘Pedal for Parkinson’s’: a fun ride that includes 18km, 45km and 72km options, culminating in the infamous Admiral Hill climb.
Naturally, the fiercely-independent Lambert once again took to his 30-year old Vitrus bike to take up the challenge.
Pedal for Parkinson's looks to return in 2017. Keep an eye out on our facebook page: Facebook/HuriHuriBikeFestival.
Huri Huri News
28 January 2016
Wairarapra’s hosting of the New Zealand Cycle Classic and Huri Huri: Bike Festival received a great endorsement from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and from several riders who took part.
Peter Tomlinson, from Australia, was the UCI representative appointed to officiate the five-stage event which attracted a field of 90 riders representing four countries including England, France, Australia and New Zealand. The event, a UCI 2.2 accredited tour, made its return to the Wairarapa after a four year hiatus when it was staged in Manawatu and was won by 20-year-old Ben O’Connor, an Australian racing for Avanti IsoWhey Sports.
Mr Tomlinson said it has been a “fantastic” event with no issues and the highlight for him coming on the fifth stage.
“I obviously am representing the UCI to officiate the race and with the help of the New Zealand Commissaries we’re here to make sure there is good, competitive race and it’s certainly been that. This is the third time I’ve been to NZ Classic and today for me, the last stage, was amongst the best races I’ve ever seen here so it was a good way to finish.”
He was also impressed with the organisation of the event lead by race director Jorge Sandoval.
“Jorge has assembled a competitive field, the Police and volunteers around the course ensured it was a safe race. Also the Wairarapa surrounds were lovely and the Police and volunteers outstanding.”
His comments were echoed by John Herety, a former English road cyclist who represented Great Britain in the Olympic Games and is now the manager of English based JLT-Condor cycling team which finished third overall on the teams classification points table. Herety was pleased to see a significant Police presence in the Wairarapa and said their approach was clear and precise while their positive attitude was greatly appreciated by all teams. Mr Herety said rider safety was the most important thing and this race delivered on that. He said he would return home to England with nothing but positive things to say about the event and the way in which it was conducted.
Mr Sandoval, who has been running the event for 29 years, said the logistics of staging an event like the Cycle Classic were complex and extensive.
He thanked the New Zealand Police who helped make the event safe for riders and the public; Mr Tomlinson; Destination Wairarapa, the regional tourism organisation; Trust House, NZ Community Trust; community sponsors including Fagan Motors, Mitre 10 Mega, The Sign Factory as well as all volunteers and marshalls who helped out during the week.
“As the organiser of the event, I want the tour to be better each year, this time was not exemption. The race officials play a very important role and they did a magnificent job, having the police to control the race ensure the safety of riders and members of the public. Also, a huge thanks to our sponsors who without their support would be impossible to stage such international event. The support from Destination Wairarapa permits me to concentrate on other areas organizing and running the tour while they take care of other very critical areas of running an international event.”
Mr Sandoval looks forward to staging the event again in 2017 and is confident he can share his passion with the wider community.
“I strongly believe Wairarapa is the best place to stage international cycling, we just need to encourage the Wairarapa people to get behind and come out and support the event and or other events around the tour.”
Being held simultaneously with the NZ Cycle Classic was Huri Huri: Wairarapa’s Bike Festival. ‘Huri Huri’ comes from the Maori word Huri meaning to turn over, to revolve and to spin.
The festival celebrated the Wairarapa’s bike-friendly roads, tracks and trails; the people that ride on them and the bikes they ride. A diverse programme held throughout the region catered to all levels of involvement in biking and for all ages. Festival director Catherine Rossiter-Stead was thrilled how many people were involved.
“It’s been a very successful event from the dozens of kids who enjoyed Sunday’s mini criterium to the seasoned mountain bikers who tackled the Atiwhakatu TrailBlazer. We’ve had people travel to the Wairarapa from all over the Lower North Island and many of them have also taken the opportunity to follow the New Zealand Cycle Classic during their visit. The festival has only been made possible due to the assistance of all our wonderful volunteers, many of our local business and organisations such as the Wairarapa Trails Trust, Masterton Cycling and Wairarapa Multisports Clubs.”
Mrs Rossiter-Stead said she spoke with several out-of-towers who took part in different events. She said Peter Schrafft and Richard Ainsworth from Hawera in Taranaki came especially to watch the NZ Cycle Classic but upon learning about the Pedal for Parkinsons road cycle signed up to participate in the 72km race.
“We always follow the New Zealand Cycle Classic and this year we thought we’d join in and take up the opportunity to cycle the infamous Admiral Hill,” said Ainsworth.
Wellington’s Gary Jarvis, who won the individual men’s Town to Tide multisport event in 4 hrs17 mins, had nothing but praise for the event.
“It was a very challenging and hot run. The course was great and the event had a real community feel. Town to Tide is a best kept secret."
Destination Wairarapa general manager David Hancock was pleased both events not only helped put the Wairarapa on the international cycling map, but it also showcased the whole region.
“This double-header week of cycling events is such a good showcase for the Wairarapa region. Images of our rural scenery were beamed all around the world and the riders have indicated they will return home with nothing but positive comments on the region.
“This year’s event attracted new visitors to the region and contributed to the whole economy – in terms of accommodation, spend at local cafes and retail outlets, it also proves we can host an event of this international level.
Mr Hancock said that "word of mouth" would build the event over the next two years.
"We really want to get the public behind this event because it will grow."