QUEENSTOWN, New Zealand (April 18, 2014) – A long Good Friday at Queenstown Bike Festival saw nearly one hundred hardcore mountain bikers take on a five stage, 13.75 kilometre timed race starting at Coronet Peak base lodge and ending on the valley floor around five hours later.
Start and finish points only told half the story as the course—a closely guarded secret until the start—took in some sharp climbs and technical descents on a day of low cloud and, by the end, high spirits.
The final results showed just how close and exciting enduro racing can be. Only 61 seconds separated the top three men with 62 seconds between the top three women.
Joe Nation (Christchurch) took out the men’s comp in 31.16 followed by a tie—a tie!—for second between Tom Skillicorn (Queenstown) and James Hampton (Christchurch ) who both came home in 32.17. The women’s race was equally competitive with Meg Bichard from Nelson winning in 36.32 followed by Harriet Harper (Christchurch) in 37.00 and Rosara Joseph (Wellington) in 37.34.
Joe Nation said the weather made the course fun. “You don’t often get a chance to race on these tracks in these conditions but it helped to spread the field. I came down for the festival and will be riding in the Mega Avalanche on Sunday. With a few pros away for the World Cup [in Cairns] it was great to take the win today,” he said.
Women’s winner, Meg Bichard added: “I really loved Rude Rock, sliding around and getting loose. It was just a great course all round and everyone seemed to be having great fun despite the weather.”
The field included not one but two Reons (Bowe and Carroll), Ethan Glover who won the men’s open Super D Enduro last Saturday, Erin Greene—part of the winning mixed team at the same event—the ubiquitous Tony ‘T-Man’ Moore and even Conor Macfarlane, up bright and early despite celebrating his win at last night’s Slopestyle comp.
From Coronet Peak base lodge, riders rode untimed to the summit from where stage one took them down the XC Track. They then travelled with the timer off to the start of stage two, and each subsequent stage, collecting to catch their breath, take on some nutrition and reapply their race face before dropping into the mysterious gloom beyond.
Stage two was Rude Rock into Skippers Canyon followed by Greengates Trees, Zoot and Deer Lane, the final stage along a private track giving everyone the chance to try something new. All other trails were in great shape, maintained year round by Queenstown Mountain Bike Club.
Event manager, Megan Rose who designed and built the course with her crew said it was all smiles at the finish. “Everyone was pumped especially about stages three and five. If it was sunny and bluebird it might have looked perfect but today was one of those days that will live long in the memory. Conditions were variable to say the least but everyone was in it together and enjoyed sharing their experiences afterwards in the bar.”
Finishers gathered at Cavells Café and Bar by Shotover River for prizegiving and a post-race sausage sizzle muddy and tired but glowing with contentment at a job well done.
Queenstown Bike Festival continues tomorrow (Saturday) when riders of all ages abilities bike the annual New World Tour de Wakatipu along an exclusive course from Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown to Chard Farm along the Kawarau River. The 2014 festival closes on Sunday with the awesome R&R Sport Mega Avalanche that tracks the Remarkables ridgeline right down to the valley floor followed by the Finale Party at Winnies on The Mall.