What do fart jokes and Vegas have in common? Quite a lot if you’re talking about RotoVegas.
Rotorua’s main street pulses with nightclubs, casinos, tourists, entertainment, motels and neons. NOT! There are motels and neons, but aside from the odd pokie machine and a couple of late night fast food joints it’s nothing like Vegas at all. Somewhere along the line someone decided stinky old Rotorua resembled the famous Las Vegas strip, townsfolk started naming their businesses after it, someone printed t-shirts and the name stuck. Unfortunately the Vegas part isn’t really justified, the fart jokes however, certainly are.
Yes, Rotorua smells like farts. Stinky, sulphuric, rotten egg farts and so it should, it’s the most geothermally active part of the country. All that gas has to go somewhere and it does, often choosing to envelop the city like a giant dutch oven. Luckily we picked a weekend with a bit of wind and we hardly noticed the smell, but that didn’t stop Neil from busting out a few fart jokes.
N: What’s the best thing about Rotorua? G: …. N: You can fart all you like and no-one suspects a thing!
N: Why do farts stink? G: …. N: So that deaf people can enjoy them as well!
We’d traveled to Rotorua so Neil and some of our friends could compete in the Flyer; a 100km cycle race from Rotorua to Taupo. Whilst he was pedaling his heart out I’d be driving the pick-up vehicle to Taupo, so they didn’t have to cycle 200km to get home. On Saturday morning we woke to rain and a distinctly Autumn chill in the air. Eeeek, good thing I packed my new boots and an extra jumper. The riders set off for their 9:30 start and I packed the car ready for the drive to Taupo.
Driving someone else’s car is stressful enough without wet weather and 2,000 cyclists added to the mix. In retrospect I should have taken SH1 to avoid a section of the race where the riders and traffic share the road but the photographer inside of me wanted to catch some pictures of Neil mid cycle so I opted for SH30 instead. Mega fail on my part as a) there wasn’t really anywhere to pull over to take photos and b) by the time I’d left Rotorua Neil had already completed that section of the race. So I endured 30 mins of painfully slow, cyclist verses car traffic for nothing really.
By the time I’d found the events centre and a car park it was coming up 3 hours (Neil’s estimated arrival time) so I made my way to the finish line. After mucking around with the settings on my camera and taking a few practice shots I was ready to capture Neil flying across the finish time. What I hadn’t anticipated was Neil’s friend Hank coming across the line before him and in my eagerness to snap Hank I missed Neil. Doh! They were so close to together I focused on one and not the other.
Exhausted and with a busted chain, Neil finished the race in just under 3 hours – 2:58:54 to be exact. An excellent effort considering he’d only done 4 training rides in the last 12 months. Back in Rotorua the rain continued to hamper our sightseeing efforts so we opted for a few beers and a BBQ to finish the day.