WE all have favorites: a favorite burger joint, a favorite microbrew, a favorite pair of shoes, even a favorite pickup line (kudos to you if that’s ever worked). While I’ve yet to come up with that last bit (I admittedly do not have a single one in my “playbook”), there are other pursuits that tickle my fancy—becoming my favorite pastime, if you will. Like exploring a ribbon of trail on my mountain bike.
As a long-time mountain biker, I’ve ridden my fair share of trails, both here and abroad. If there’s one location that’s my all-time favorite, it has to be Rotorua in New Zealand. The trails in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa (say that three times, fast) Forest has something for every rider of every skill level, from orld-class downhill runs that require balls of steel (and a capable bike to match), to flowing routes that have you darting through giant ferns and redwoods like an Imperial Biker Scout in Return of the Jedi. There are even technical features like wooden bridges and ramps that you can session on to hone your skills.
While riding in “The Redwoods” is a highlight in itself, it’s the other goings-on that also make “Rotovegas” my favorite riding destination: how different sectors of the community work together for the sport, whether it’s for events, land access and management, or trail design. The locals are a warm, friendly, and fun-loving bunch. Plus, there’s nothing like a post-ride meal consisting of a lamb burger and a pint of Swine Lager from the Pig & Whistle Pub, with a Mountain Bike Hall of Fame inductee for company.
Rotorua remains my favorite for another reason: It shows the potential of the sport—or, in fact, of other activities—here in our country, provided we all work together. Call me idealistic, but we can get there, one trail at a time.
In previous lives, Agu Paiso was editor of several magazines—not the least of which are Men’s Health Philippines and Mountain Bike Philippines. He spends as much time as he can on a bike, and has ridden as far afield as New Zealand and Wisconsin.