Internationals roll in for bike festival
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
queenstownbikefestival.com 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.