While the ‘Peak’ is better known for skiing in the winter it has a network of mountain bike trails which are just perfect for enduro races. With a great singletrack climb up the XC track, racers are able to access the recently revamped DH track. This was stage one for the enduro.
Competitors faced four stages of mainly downhill racing and were timed for just these sections. In between the riders had to pedal to the next stage, and with four stages during the day this involved a lot of climbing.
Jimmy Pollard (Queenstown) the pre-race favourite took a narrow lead of five seconds on this stage from eventual third placegetter Edward Masters (Queenstown)
The second stage begins on the edge of the ski area and follows the Rude Rock trail and then into the Skippers Pack Track. This is one of the longest enduro stages in the country: 5.75km long with 760 metres of descending. It takes the fastest racers almost 12 minutes of hard racing, while those at the back of the field almost 17 minutes.
The race moved onto the third stage, the Greengages Trees. This stage had been used last year but it was a surprise for many of the racers. It initially follows a water race then old horse trails cut by the gold miners. Lower down in the forest the track is covered in deep pine needle loam which was tossed up into great berms on the corners. Although only short it was a firm favourite and riders were left wanting more.
Following this stage the riders face a long climb out of Skippers, helped with a strong nor'wester that had been blowing all day.
The final stage was the ‘grass track’ and the overall winner Jimmy Pollard commented later “The last stage the Grass Track / Deer Lane has to be the best enduro trail I have ever ridden. It is so physical and so fast. You really had to stay on the track or otherwise there was no stopping in the long grass. It is a great test of bike and person. It’s so gnarly.”
Pollard was delighted with his win and said the secret was “ to keep it tidy and have lots of fun”. By doing this he won every stage, in a time of 22 minutes, 38 secs, but with only a 44 second time gap back to Conor Macfarlane (23:57), in second place and Edward Masters (24:37) a further 40 seconds back in third.
After a full day of racing on these world class trails Natalie Jacobs (Queenstown) won in a time of 27:30, narrowly beating Bob Latchem (Queenstown), 27:49, with Georgia Petrie (Christchurch) taking third in 31:09.
Tim O’leary (Queenstown) won the Masters men in 29:40 to complete a clean sweep of places for Queenstown racers. He was delighted with his day and happy to also win the major spot prize of a 4-bike rack, supplied by Torpedo 7.
Open Men 1 Jimmy Pollard 0:22:38 2 Conor McFarlane 0:23:57 3 Edwards Masters 0:24:37
Open Women 1 Natalie Jakobs 0:27:30 2 Bob Latchem 0:27:49 3 Georgia Petrie 0:31:09
Master 40+ Men 1 Tim O'leary 0:29:40 2 Franck Bocamy 0:30:28