Ditching her ballet shoes for a BMX as a child, Vanessa Quinn was born to have a career as a mountainbike racer. Training in the Whakarewarewa trails, she got a taste for the fast-paced nature of downhill racing going on to gain national success winning numerous national downhill and BMX racing series. Racing for Dirt magazine’s professional team in 2003 she went on to win the 2004 World championships in France solidifying her position at the pinnacle of international downhill racing. After an injury plagued 2006 season Vanessa suffered a horrific accident breaking her neck in 2007 at the New Zealand nationals. Six weeks after the neck brace was removed her perseverance and strength showed through, back racing in the second round of the world cup series. A prominent figure in the international downhill scene, Vanessa continues to promote the sport she loves regularly riding at her home trails as well as being an ambassador for Wings Of Life Foundation to fundraise for spinal cord research.
Born and raised in Rotorua, Craig Pattle became addicted to the local trails from a young age. One of the established old-guard of the New Zealand downhill scene, a highly successful national downhill and four cross champion Craig went on to follow the European pro tour placing within the top 20 in the world. After 7 seasons of racing and travelling the world Craig returned home from Europe where he continues to give back to the sport he loves, fostering the next generation of mountainbikers through the Rotorua in Gear program teaching children basic cycling and mountainbiking techniques as well coaching up and coming riders.
Red & the Boys
Genesis is the name of the first mountain bike track built by Rotorua’s Community Work Supervisor Malcolm McHale in the Whakarewarewa forest. Known as Red or ‘Whero’ in Maori by all who know him. Red’s involvement in track building and maintenance has spanned 20 years taking work parties into the forest 4 days a week, he has played an integral part in the development of the trail network. Red’s unorthodox approach of convincing local courts to allow him to take hard PD boys into the forest giving them instilled mana and pride for offenders to use their aggression in a new, more positive outlet. Red and his boys have been the unsung heroes of the mountainbike community, keeping the trails regularly maintained and constant development of fresh singletrack.
Gaz Sulivan an ex advertising executive and designer who ditched the 9-5 in the city after falling in love with Rotorua on regular trips to the trails. Gaz and his partner Glen came to Rotorua and Established NZO Active mountaibike clothing from the barn at their home, exporting innovative clothing products to riders all over the world. He is a key figure in the Rotorua mountainbike community and a keen lobbyist of forestry companies. He is a passionate critic of forestry access for mountainbikers and has a vision to guarantee that the Whakarewarewa trails are protected for future generations and to continue to foster the community surrounding both the sport and trail network.