Bike festival building into a biggie
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.