This week there's no excuse for a late Track Day Tuesday, apart from the fact I was actually out riding the track and attempting to take some photos and remember what tracks were what.
So with out further ado Track Day Tuesday (on a Wednesday again!) this week it's not just one track but a general area, the often overlooked 'Skyline Hill', Queenstown.
Attacking what's known by the locals as "Skyline" is not for the faint of heart and weak of legs. Although a Gondola accesses the hill, no bikes are allowed on it unless you are doing a guided tour with one of the Vertigo Bikes guides. The main access to the singletrack is via a long, and at times pretty darn steep gravel road. Generally the gravel road takes most people 30-40 mins to get to the top of it where the Gondola station is with a combination of riding and walking.
After a slog up the hill, stop and chill for a bit at the Heli-pad, taking in the view and if you're a visitor take some snaps on your point and shoot or the disposable number from the Day/Night in town. From here it's basically all downhill. A good start is the Vertigo track, flowy smooth singletrack and a good introduction to what the hill has to offer. Once you've taken that on if you're looking for something more tech, this is where Skyline really can deliver.
I've visited Skyline hill on a few occasions now and every time I finish a ride with a huge smile, having been both physically and technically challenged on the bike. Most trails up there are reasonably steep and vary from the swoopy berm lines on 'B line' and 'Vertigo' to gnarly steep, rocky and root infested sections down 'Ants' track. Relatively new addition 'Turd Sandwich' runs from mid way down the hill and has some really good flowy fast singletrack dispersed with some tighter steep (but reasonably short and safe) sections. (See helmet cam video below.)
The 'Fernhill loop' is a killer trail, well suited to those who like roots and rocks and lots of them, without being too technically difficult to ride. The climb goes by pretty quickly as you pick and choose your way up each section, and then finally pop out into tussock lands. After a short descent you fire (almost literally as this section is fast!) back into the forest and back onto the track you just climbed up. Awesome views and a super fun trail.
The Skyline / Fernhill area would rate up there with some of the most exhilarating, flowing singletrack I've ridden around the country. Although most of the riding is a slog up, the descents are well worth the effort.
The area would be most fun for fit, intermediate to advanced level riders (most tracks are around grade 4) on 6 inch travel or more trail bikes (ie not a full blown DH bike) and some sort of 'dropper' style seat post would help maximise your fun too!
Thanks to my buddies Blair Christmas and Paul Angus for showing me around, and Queenstown for being generally awesome!
Classic NZ Mountainbike Rides have a little info about the area HERE
To take advantage of the Gondola and get the local knowledge, maps etc. hit up the guys at Vertigo Bikes.
If you have a trail in your area you think SPOKE readers should know about, contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we'll try and get out to have a look, alternatively take some photos, write some words, give us some directions and email it all through. We'll get it up and get some people your way!