By Jack Biddle
Over 40 cyclists lined up at Ferry Landing last Saturday morning under sunny skies to take part in the annual Bike Mercury Bay Coro Classic. The ride has always attracted interest from outside the greater Mercury Bay region and this year was no exception with both visitors and local’s alike keen to take on the unique demands and picturesque scenery that this part of the world offers.
There were several different options for the road riders to choose from depending on fitness and ability levels ranging from a gruelling 140-kilometre return ride to Whangamata, a slightly less demanding return ride to Tairua and a much more sedate 30-kilometre effort taking in the beauty of the Cooks Beach and Purangi area. All rides finished back at Whitianga.
One of the most talked about rides was the Mountain Bike mystery tour which took in never cycled before private farmland around Purangi and Coroglen. The route was the brainchild of well-known local and retired farmer Bob Duncan, now a keen mountain biker, who worked closely with landowners to gain access to what was a challenging but enjoyable ride for over a dozen cyclists including e-bikers and those relying on leg power only.
Ride organiser Grant McDonald was thrilled with the large turnout and participation especially from such a diverse range of cycling disciplines. “The Coro Classic has always been about offering different options and providing an opportunity for all those involved in Bike Mercury Bay to come together, enjoy a day out and to socialise and tell stories afterwards,” says Grant. “The only rules are riders start and finish with a smile, look out for each other and not take their efforts too seriously. Due to the closure of SH25A, we had to come up with an alternative route this year that fitted the same criteria as previous Coro Classic rides and judging by the big turnout and comments made afterwards, that was definitely achieved.
“The mystery mountain bike ride was a fantastic idea driven by a bunch of very passionate cyclists who love hauling their machines through anything except the hard seal. The weather definitely played its part this year, but the Coro Classic has always been about dealing with the conditions on the day regardless. Bike Mercury Bay runs a number of unique signature rides during the year which always draw a big turnout of locals and visitors looking for a personal challenge and who enjoy the camaraderie of fellow pedal pushers. It’s also testament to the people within the group and to the wonderful landscape the Coromandel region offers”.
Local Whitianga road cyclist, Jan Harrison, was presented with a trophy for completing her personal 77-kilometre Coro Classic challenge and for her mental and physical strength after bouncing back from a heavy crash earlier in the year.