The 2021 Schools Cycling year has come to a disappointing end, however don’t forget we did see a really exciting and successful first half of the year!
SKODA New Zealand came onboard as naming partner of Cycling New Zealand Schools events. One of the perks of this partnerships for riders saw all national and island champions being awarded a limited edition Skoda/Cycling New Zealand Schools winners jersey.
2021 saw a record number of 288 schools affiliate with Cycling New Zealand Schools. Over 3300 riders from Year 7 to Year 13 were entered into the 13 events on the calendar, and while not everyone got to compete in the end, these numbers were still on par with previous years.
The schools cycling season started off in March with the SKODA South and North Island School MTB Championships book ending summer tournament week. These hugely popular events were held at Mt Hutt, hosted by the Bike Methven team and at Hunua Regional Park and 440 MTB Park hosted by Auckland MTB Club and the 440 team. Over 900 riders took part over the week, with Cross Country, Enduro and Downhill options offered at both events, and Cross Country Relay included at the North Island event.
We then looked ahead to the July school holidays, which was jam packed with 5 schools cycling events across 3 codes. The SKODA South Island Road Championships and the SKODA North Island Road Championships kicked off the school holidays with events in Christchurch and Cambridge respectively. While entry numbers were down, the atmosphere and vibe at both events was considered the best after both of these events were cancelled in 2021. The SKODA National and North Island Track Championships followed shortly after in Cambridge, with record numbers of 207 riders entered from across the country.
Rounding out the July school holidays were the first ever Cyclo-cross events on the Schools Cycling calendar; the SKODA South Island Cyclo-cross Championships hosted by Southerncross CX at Hagley Park, Christchurch and the SKODA North Island Cyclo-cross Championships hosted by Huttcross at Ngati Tama Park, Upper Hutt. Around 50 riders took part at each event, which we held as part of Southerncross and Huttcross club racing.
Unfortunately, the SKODA Southern Tour and SKODA Northern Tour were cancelled for the second year. Thank you to our event partners, Cycling Marlborough and Cycling New Zealand for their hard work on these events.
To give riders a racing opportunity in lieu of these events, Cycling New Zealand Schools created the SKODA Virtual Tour presented by Champion System. This was a 4 stage virtual tour run through Zwift, offering a Time Trial, Criterium, Hill Climb and Road Race over 4 days. Riders embraced the opportunity to connect with their peers while in lock down, with two of the three categories reaching capacity.
The Covid restrictions dragged on, forcing the cancellation of the remainder of the schools cycling calendar, the SKODA National School Road Championships, SKODA National School MTB Championships and the SKODA South Island School Track Championships. We’d like to also recognize the organisers of these event for the time and effort they put into trying to make these events happen; Marlborough MTB Club, Cycling Southland and Cycling New Zealand.
The SKODA Virtual Road Challenge was announced after these cancellations. This saw two days of racing over Zwift at the start of the October school holidays, including a Team Time Trial and Road Race with 150 riders from across the codes taking part.
A social media promotion was run in lieu of the SKODA National School MTB Championships, where riders were encouraged to show us their best wheelie, track stand, bunny hop, edit and trail dog to be in the running to win free entries for up-coming MTB events. Thanks to these event partners for providing entries to give our riders new goals to focus on; BDO Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, Macpac Motatapu, Phoenix Enduro, MTBNZ and Cycling New Zealand.
We would like to take this opportunity to say thank all of our riders, parents, teachers, event organisers, commissaires, volunteers and sponsors for their contribution and input to Schools Cycling in 2021.
Now the Schools Cycling season is done for the year, it is time for riders to refocus on other goals, whether that be school exams, or other events over the summer. We wish you all good luck and look forward to seeing you all next year! And a special goodbye to all our school leavers and all the best for your futures ahead.