OUTSIDE SPORTS SUPER D ENDURO

Well I don't know how this happened but somehow the results from one of the best new races on the Kiwi calendar have been overlooked. The inaugural (we are still waiting to hear whether the gondola will remain open to bikes but I think it's safe to say it will be) Outside Sport Super D Enduro happened last weekend and marked the first day of the Queenstown Bike Festival.

Competitors had to lap the Skyline gondola trails for six hours. It might sound like an easy task but by the third or fourth hour the soloists have disappeared deep into their own pain dungeon of self-harm and even the team riders smiles are sagging like a fried egg hanging on a nail. The course was nearly perfect with a mix of fast roller terrain, a steep fire road climb, more roller terrain, then tight singletrack downhill followed by a singletrack switchback and finishing on more roller terrain and a slog back to the changeover station, where if you were human you would tap in a teammate and if you were a mutant you would be faced with another lap. I say nearly perfect, as personally I would like to see more singletrack being utilized as it separates the wazzooks from the wingers. The course was fun to ride each lap and that was different than other local super D events of a similar ilk which got a little same-same and had unclimbable pitches thrown in. Props to the course designers at Outside Sports. Mega props to Outside Sports donating $2000 to the QMTBC with the clear instructions that they want it going into the development of singletrack trail on Skyline.

Levin's man of steel - and skills - Kurt Lancaster took home the solo category and the fastest time of the day. He recently won the Wellington Super D and has to be the hot favourite to win the Nelson Super D in a few weeks time. He rode all day with his seat up but every lap was consistently pinned and the story goes that he had a heavy night on the beers the night before the race, which makes him the winner in so many ways. It also begs the question: how can we breed a series of Kurt Lancasters who are similarly extremely fit, have bike handling skills from the planet Unreal, and still be a super laid back and nice chap to boot? Local whippet Jim Hawkridge was fired up for the win and was lapping with lightning fast turns and sprinting climbs but was totally caught off guard by the silent Kurt train. Third place went to multi-time Brakeburner Champion Geoff Small, who looked like he was taking it easy and had time to chinwag with spectators and marshalls alike. The man is not right if he didn't feel any pain. There were plenty of entrants for the solo category, and although everyone seemed to be smiling at the end, I doubt all these people will be entering solo again next time. Don't be mistaken, just because there is a lift taking you to the top, it doesn't mean the course was easy, or simply downhill.

Former Olympian Kashi Leuchs failed to retain the team title (team categories were split into teams of two and teams of three, which was a great format) getting pushed back into the dirt by flying frenchman Clem Martin and Jimmy Carling, who both rode ridiculously inappropriate bikes, highlighting that it's all about the rider, not the bike.

In the team of three category Vertigo Bikes pitched two teams head to head to try to spice up the workshop banter. In the end the Vertigo 'Ladies' team (containing head honcho Tim Ceci, James 'huck of doom' Tilbury, and Alexandra sub-in, Jimmy 'sideways at all costs' Pollard) got smoked by not just the Vertigo B-team (consisting of Ginger 'no introductions necessary' Si, Tom 'Pocket Rocket' Hey, and Mike 'on fire' Aubrey), but also the JAFA and pommie mash-up of Mavis, Mike Skinner and myself. Vertigo B-team took the honours and stood on top of the podium but it was the crushing blow that was dealt to the Vertigo 'Ladies' team that was the top prize.

The full results can be found HERE.

The full press release by Queenstown Bike Festival is attached below. In it you will have a little less of a one sided summary of the race as well as the necessary thank yous to some of the people that helped make this event an astounding success.

Posted by Jenny McLeod on 17 April 2011

One of the flagship events in the inaugural Queenstown Bike Festival, the Outside Sports Super D Six Hour Enduro held in the Ben Lomond Forest above Queenstown on Saturday April 16, has been hailed by competitors as one of the best races of its kind in the country.

The brainchild of Southern Traverse director Geoff Hunt, the ten day festival is designed to attract people to Queenstown to ride in a series of elite and recreational events, and to showcase the resort as an international biking mecca.

“We certainly got off to a good start on Saturday with the Super D Enduro and everyone was very upbeat about the course and the atmosphere,” says Hunt. “With the response we have had the race will undoubtedly attract much wider participation next year.”

The course in the Ben Lomond Forest was designed by Nathan Greenwood from the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club with the assistance of Jim Hawkridge from Outside Sports.

“We put in a series of different links on the existing tracks in the forest to make the hill work for this specific event,” says Greenwood. “It was good to see different walks of life out there and for people to taste new flavours, so they can spread the flavour and help the event grow.”

Competitors rode the Skyline Gondola to the top of the course and the leaders clocked an average 22 minutes a lap with the leaders clocking over 8,500 metres of descending.

“There was some spectacular action, great jumps and challenging uphill,” says Hunt. “ Spectators on the course got to see some pretty skillful riding as well as a few big spills.”

In the men’s open category five competitors completed 16 laps in the allocated six hours with a tight battle for the podium.  Kurt Lancaster of Nelson pipped  Jim Hawkridge by 4.33 minutes with Reon Boe of Queenstown taking out third place just over one minute behind Hawkridge.

“For a first event of this kind in the Ben Lomond forest it was a big success,” says Hawkridge. “There was no issue with traffic and passing was okay on parts of the course. The race and the festival have attracted people from around the country which is what it's all about.”

Boe says it was awesome course. “It was perfect for the event although I wouldn’t have complained if there was less uphill!”

A former well known biking exponent, Geoff Small from Wanaka, who came out of retirement for the race was fourth and Oliver Whalley of Queenstown placed fifth.

The open women’s section was won by Hannah Thorne of Dunedin who completed 13 laps and finished 34th overall in the field. Marty MacDonald of Queenstown was men’s veteran winner in 14 laps.

The two men team’s category was a head-to-head competition drawing leading riders including former Olympian Kashi Leuchs of Dunedin and his partner Laurence Mote of Christchurch, who spent several years racing overseas.

Mote says it was “great to able to escape from Christchurch following the earthquake and get a bit of respite from it. I haven’t been doing much riding since the quake but this event is fantastic and can only get bigger.”

Leuchs considered “it was more about a gathering of likeminded people than a serious race. This is what people are looking for, they want to have fun. A lot of people have made an effort to get here because of the style of event it is.”

Rosbeef Baguette made up of Jimmy Carling of Queenstown and Frenchman Clement Martin who currently lives in Queenstown won the two men’s team section. The pair completed 16 laps heading off the Outside Sports Syndicate and Team McMillan who clocked 15 laps respectively.

The women’s team of three race was won by national mountain biking champion Kate Fluker and her Queenstown team mates Sophie Stevens and Sally Trussler. They notched 13 laps beating the second placed Kamikaze Chicks, led by Josie Cederman of Queenstown by three minutes.

Fluker raved about the event. “The course was quite technical which was great and the atmosphere was just awesome.”

The men’s team of three was won by the Vertigo A team which clocked 16 laps and was placed second overall.   Hyperformance Santa Cruz won the mixed team of two section in 15 laps and team member Anja McDonald of Dunedin was disappointed when the race finished.

“I would love to have done some more laps and I just hope they keep this format so we can do it again next year.”

Next up is the Corona Dirt Masters DH race starting with practice on Friday, qualifications on Saturday and race on Sunday. It's like a bloody World up event for hosers...