NZ Olympic cyclist Hayden Roulston to line up at Mototapu – Bike Magazine Australia – Australian Mountain Bike | The home for Australian Mountain Bikes – Mountain Biking

Olympic cycling medalist Hayden ‘Roly’ Roulston is crossing to the ‘dark side’ as the former track and road star contemplates getting a little dirty and out of his comfort zone when he clips into a mountain bike for the Macpac Motatapu in early March.

36-year-old Roulston retired from top level cycling at the end of 2016 after a stellar career that included silver and bronze medals on the track at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and a silver medal on the road amongst his Commonwealth Games haul, but he hasn’t taken long to find the next challenge as he prepares to ride in the Mountain Bike event at the 2017 Macpac Motatapu.

After more than 20 years of training and racing, Roulston is on the record as saying he would ‘never hurt himself on a bike again’, but admits he didn’t need much convincing to make the Motatapu one of his first events post-retirement.

“The Motatapu is an iconic event to be honest. I have heard a lot about it but for obvious reasons haven’t been able to do it, so for me it is a chance to do something totally different.

“I’m not sure how I will go though, I can go uphill on the mountain bike okay but going down presents a few challenges. Add to that the fact I have only ever ridden a mountain bike in road pedals and road shoes and I have no idea where the course goes or what it is like – well you start to get the picture of a rookie about to ride his first event!”

It is something of an unusual move for a road rider to take on a mountain bike event, with Roulston admitting with a grin that there is a little bit of ‘them and us’ when it comes to the two different cycling communities, certainly at the elite level.

“I think you are one or the other, Sam Gaze is an example of someone who can cross over pretty good, but for me it has always been one or the other. You have to be exceptional at bike handling skills to go one to the other, especially to make the transition to the mountain bike. (Peter) Sagan* and Gaze are in that group for sure. So for me it is a bit of a look at the ‘dark side’ I guess, but at the same time I am looking forward to it.”

Roulston is already enjoying a different pace of life as a former pro cyclist, getting the chance to spend more time with his family and build his new ‘Roulston Coaching’ business (

“For me to go around the country and do a few events like this is great and as I said about the Motatapu, this is iconic. It is not something I could ever do in the past, so to do this now and see an amazing part of the country and take my fiancée with me is cool.”

Roulston is fiercely competitive and has an insatiable appetite for success – his career is littered with stories that underline these traits. But he was again keen to play down his involvement here, preferring to focus on the social side of things and the chance to experience what thousands of others have over the 13 years of the Macpac Motatapu, riding on trails and parts of the country that are only accessible on this one day a year.

“I really have no clue as to how I will go. I am working on an 8-week training camp towards ‘le Race’ for 29 people and riding with them, so I will be fitter than I have been for the past few months but I have no experience on a mountain bike apart from going uphill. I will play it by ear but chances are a cruisy ride getting through without crashing and a nice weekend away is what this will be all about for me, I can’t wait.”

But for those wondering whether Roulston is making a complete commitment to the mountain bike fraternity, the answer to that might be no….

“I will be in lycra, definitely I will be riding in lycra. I was at the new Christchurch Adventure Park here the other day, I was getting a few sniggers – but I cannot fathom riding a bike in anything other than lycra, this is 20 years of history for me so to wear baggies – no, I’m sorry, I might fail my membership to the mountain bike club on that one!”

Roulston will be one of thousands lining up in the iconic event on March 4 this year, with the Macpac Motatapu also hosting a variety of triathlon and running events on the day, including the new Skoda Team Mountain Bike Race that sees riders pairing up over the same 47km distance as the solo race, with multiple Olympic and World Champion rower Mahe Drysdale amongst the entries in that category.

WTF is the Macpac Mototapu?

The Mototapu event is a multisport festival, with events running between Wanaka and Queenstown, on 4th March. There’s something for mountain bikers, trails runners and even XTERRA athetes.


  • SKODA Mountain Bike – 47km – solo and teams
  • Miners Trail – 15km
  • Off Road Marathon – 42.2km
  • UDC Finance XTERRA Triathlon – 2km swim, 47km mountain bike, 15km run
  • Ultra-Run – 51km

Need more details? Head to the event website.

Australian Mountain Bike