Bike fes­ti­val build­ing into a big­gie

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By GRANT BRYANT

The pop­u­lar­ity ex­plo­sion of bik­ing in its many guises means Queen­stown’s third an­nual Bike Fes­ti­val will be ‘‘big­ger than ever’’, the or­gan­is­ers say. The 10-day fes­ti­val, which runs from March 22 to April 1, will cel­e­brate nearly ev­ery genre of mod­ern bik­ing, from ex­treme down­hill moun­tain­bik­ing and freestyle jump­ing to road rac­ing, BMX and kids’ rid­ing, and also in­cludes bike films and par­ties. Fes­ti­val di­rec­tor Ge­off Hunt has high hopes this year’s fes­ti­val will firmly en­trench it as an an­nual fix­ture not to be missed – and yield a cash in­jec­tion of well over $2 mil­lion into the Queen­stown and Cen­tral Otago econ­omy.

‘‘We want to cre­ate a fes­ti­val that ap­peals to a wide swathe of bik­ing cul­ture, spec­ta­tors and vis­i­tors to Queen­stown,’’ Hunt said. High­lights will in­clude the sec­ond year of the Teva Slopestyle, a ‘‘big-air’’ event held in cen­tral Queen­stown, where pro rid­ers and in­vited am­a­teurs launch them­selves off a mas­sive se­ries of ramps, jumps and runs built to in­clude room for a large crowd, all un­der flood­lights. This year, the event is el­e­vated to a Freeride Moun­tain Bike World Tour Sil­ver event – putting it on a par with sim­i­lar events in Aus­tria, Swe­den and Vi­enna. New to the Fes­ti­val will be the R& R Sport Mega Avalanche – start­ing high on a ridge­line of the Re­mark­ables moun­tain range, rid­ers will plunge down a 1650-me­tre course to the fin­ish line. Be­cause of the sen­si­tive na­ture of the ter­rain, ap­proval for the race was only given just be­fore Christ­mas, and num­bers are lim­ited to 100. The event is be­ing held on a trial-only ba­sis to see whether the ter­rain can with­stand the im­pact of the race. ‘‘This test of en­durance, courage and brakes is some­thing that will surely be a fan favourite. With a mass start and mo­tor­way speeds pre­dicted, this is the sort of race where leg­ends are born.’’ Last year’s Queen­stown Bike Fes­ti­val at­tracted more than 5000 en­trants and spec­ta­tors, bring­ing in more than $2 mil­lion to the lo­cal econ­omy.

Step­ping up: An en­trant in the Dirt Masters Down­hill event in last year’s Queen­stown Bike Fes­ti­val de­scends stairs in Bre­con St be­fore fin­ish­ing in front of a large crowd.

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