Brass Monkey cold comfort

Snow to low levels, massive bonfire ready, hundreds of black leather-clad motorcyclists on the way to Oturehua - yes, it must be Brass Monkey time.

A series of hard frosts this week put smiles on the faces of the participants in the 36th annual Brass Monkey motorcycle rally.

Dozens of them camped at the rally site next to the Idaburn dam last night and the event officially gets under way today.

"There's snow on the side of the road and it's expected to be freezing overnight and again on Sunday as everyone's heading away, but that sort of weather is what bikers come here for - the colder the better,'' organising committee member John Willems said yesterday.

About 500 people registered early for the rally but organisers were expecting 1000 or more to turn up, he said.

"You don't really know numbers until they start rolling in the gate.''

The event, run by a subcommittee of the Otago Motorcycle Club, attracted 1300 people last year.

Rising compliance costs threatened to put the brakes permanently on the rally but after consulting with bikers and residents of the host district - Ida Valley- it was decided to continue on with the event, Mr Willems said.

A "huge'' bonfire will keep the rally-goers warm tonight and smaller piles of firewood were dotted around the rally site.

"The forecast is for a good frost and they love it when the temperature dips below zero,'' he said.

A vast array of bikes will be on display and motorcyclists from all walks of life are regulars at the rally.

The Oturehua Winter Sports Club raises funds for community projects by doing the catering.

lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz

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