In­ter­na­tion­als roll in for bike fes­ti­val

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By JOHN EDENS

Queen­stown is rapidly gain­ing recog­ni­tion for its moun­tain bik­ing ter­rain and this year’s an­nual bike fes­ti­val is at­tract­ing a size­able in­ter­na­tional con­tin­gent.

The 10-day fes­ti­val of all-abil­ity rid­ing, ev­ery­thing from cy­cle tour­ing around the Wakatipu to kids’ bik­ing and down­hill en­duro epics, gears up on March 14. The fi­nal events pro­gramme is al­most set and of­fers amix of fam­ily, so­cial, recre­ational and ex­treme events to sat­isfy rid­ers of all ranges.

Down­hill, en­duro and slopestyle are the sig­na­ture events, kick­ing off with the six­hour in­di­vid­ual or team moun­tain bike "Su­per D" en­duro at the gon­dola-ac­cessed bike park on Ben Lomond. Last year, 1500 rid­ers en­tered fes­ti­val events.

Fes­ti­val direc­tor Ge­off Hunt said many in­ter­na­tional rid­ers were head­ing to New Zealand for the an­nual event and Crankworx Ro­torua five-day fes­ti­val, which runs from March 25 to 29. He ex­pected fewer Kiwi rid­ers to head south for the Queen­stown event but the up­side was more in­ter­na­tional rid­ers this year. A con­tin­gent of French rid­ers spon­sored by Poly­gon have in­quired about com­pet­ing in Queen­stown, he said.

"Ba­si­cally it’s tried and tested events start­ing out with the Su­per D, it’s not quite filled yet. So that’s lap­ping it out on the Sky­line hill us­ing the gon­dola for ac­cess. They go down and up and even­tu­ally down to the old camp­ground and do it for six hours. The camp­ing ground at the bot­tom is very so­cial with a cafe and mu­sic and ev­ery rider when they’re lap­ping has to go past.

"We shifted the fes­ti­val ear­lier be­cause of Crankworx. It’s ex­actly

queen­stown­bike­fes­ti­ the same type of com­pe­ti­tion so I think our num­bers might be slightly lower on the Kiwi side of things. There’s only so many dol­lars you can spend. If you’re com­ing from Europe you might as well take ad­van­tage of more than one event."

Hunt said high­lights in­cluded the popular film-mak­ing show­case, Through the Lens, the slopestyle and the Tour de Wakatipu, held af­ter the main pro­gramme on Easter Satur­day.

A pre­vi­ously popular event, the Mega Avalanche from a ridge­line on The Re­mark­ables down 1400 ver­ti­cal me­tres to the val­ley floor , is not in the pro­gramme. How­ever, Hunt said it would be back next year.

A grav­ity-de­fy­ing slopestyle event in the Bal­larat St car park is on a Satur­day night and, for the first time, a gold coin do­na­tion is a con­di­tion of en­try.

Hunt said the fes­ti­val needed vol­un­teers and urged any­one with some spare time to get in touch.

Some Queen­stown Bike Fes­ti­val events for all the fam­ily Ve­o­lia Kids MiniX: A race es­pe­cially for kids with lots of prizes, in­clud­ing a brand new moun­tain bike for one lucky young biker. Bouncy cas­tle, sausage siz­zle also avail­able. Be at But­lers Green in Ar­row­town on Sun­day – rac­ing starts at 11am and en­tries cost $10. Queen­stown slopestyle: Some of the best moun­tain­bike rid­ers are judged for the style and dif­fi­culty of their best tricks. See the flat­spins, can-cans, flips and Su­per­mans at Bal­larat St car park on March 21 be­tween 3pm and 6pm. $2 en­try fee. Mer­rell Tour De Wakatipu: Hun­dreds of rid­ers tour the basin on ei­ther a 36km fun ride or 45km race start­ing at Mill­brook and fin­ish­ing at Chard Farm. Plenty of mu­sic, food and wine at the fin­ish line. Rac­ing starts at 8am on April 4 and costs: $75 adult, $45 ju­nior, $200 fam­ily pass. No 1: Last year’s open men’s win­ner Sam Blenk­in­sop, of Whanganui.

In­clined: The slopestyle is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity as ama­jor event dur­ing the Queen­stown Bike Fes­ti­val.

Air­time: A rider fly­ing in the Coro­net Peak en­duro event last year.

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