Cyclist Wayne Miller is more excited than most with the debut of the 90km "Waikaka Special" graded road race on Saturday.
The former Southland rugby loose forward usually joins a handful of Waikaka riders for the long commute to Invercargill each weekend to participate in Cycling Southland events, but is pleased to have a race close to home for a change.
"We just put it to Cycling Southland that we wouldn't mind a race out at Waikaka," he said.
"They gave us the opportunity to get it together then they would get behind us."
"We also travel up to Central Otago most weekends, so there are also some of the Central Otago guys coming down."
Miller donned the maroon Southland rugby jersey in the 1990s and rounded out his representative career at North Otago from 1998 to 2000, before hanging up his footy boots and picking up a bike instead, and he loves it.
"It was a fitness thing, I was a bit overweight and it just carried on from there pretty much," he said.
"I started off mountain biking and then I did the Challenge Wanaka about six years ago and bought a road bike to do that."
"You get too far involved, too much money invested, you just have to carry on."
Last month Miller finished second in a tight finish in the Homer Hundred 100km race in conjunction with the Milford Mountain Classic.
"I got beaten in a sprint race to the line in the Homer Hundred," he said.
"It was an awesome race."
The Eastern Southland town's business community is getting behind this weekend's event which will see some of the southern region's best road cyclists battle it out for their share of the $1500 in prizes.
"The prizemoney makes it attractive for those top guys to come and do it," he said.
"Because it is only $10 entry fee and there is nowhere else you can race with that much money up for grabs."
"We have made it realistic for everyone from juniors right through."
Interest is high in the event with Alexandra elite cyclist Liam Aitcheson being one to confirm his entry, along with several promising under-19 riders.
"He is a semi-pro rider," Miller said.
"We are going to have good entries and it is going to be competitive."
The event features senior A, B, C and D grade races for different competitors ranging from serious to recreational riders, while there are junior divisions too.
At a glance
What: Waikaka Special graded road cycle race
Where: Main Street, Waikaka
When: Saturday, registrations from 11am, race starts at 11:30am.
Cost: $10 seniors, $5 juniors
Who: All ages and abilities catered for.
Photo and article courtesy Stuff