The first edition of the Lyttelton Urban Downhill has exceeded all expectations of race organiser and event director Andrea Murray, with reported spectator numbers of over 3,000. This new event is now the most popular downhill mountain biking event on the calendar. "We kinda knew that it was time for something different… we are well ahead in terms of the level of spectator and media interest planned for the event, giving us a huge opportunity for growth and even greater exposure for our sponsors and riders in 2013".
Course designer Nick Sutcliffe also reports good feedback from the competitors: "The guys felt that the sheer number of spectators on course was awesome, and the structures and jumps made for challenging riding. We were really lucky to have the pedigree of riders enter that could handle everything we could throw at them."
Fastest rider on the day, New Zealand National Champion and top seed Justin Leov, had this to say to TV3: "They're happening at the moment in Chile and Portugal, and other places overseas, but to be able to bring it back to New Zealand, we've really got a venue here that's world class." Leov's time was 1:36, averaging 45kph over the 1.2km course.
Both Nick and Andrea were quick to point out that the event couldn't have been held without the support of the local community, in particular the owners of the private property that the course traversed, and the London Street businesses, some of whom are working out of shipping containers. Many volunteer hours went into building the course, and Nick was blown away by the amount of support he received from the biking community, taking time out from work and staying late into the evenings. Event sponsors Placemakers Riccarton came to the party supplying timber and plywood for ramps and jumps, as well as tradesmen on the day.
Course marshals were keep busy as large crowds gathered around some of the more dangerous and exciting course features—the start line road gap, garage drop, truck gap-to-flat and the finish line berm. Gravity Canterbury provided the timing, with a state of the art laser timing system recording riders times down to 1/1000 of a second.
A date for 2013 is yet to be confirmed, but the Lyttelton Urban Downhill crew has already started planning some exciting new additions to the race course.