Hordes of excited racers have descended on scenic Flock Hill Station for the fourth Trans NZ, which kicks off tomorrow.
The five day stage race, which starts in Craigieburn before moving to Queenstown and Alexandra, takes in some of the best riding on offer through the South Island.
Riders spent the afternoon stretching their legs on a short loop of the local trails or simply basking in the glorious sunshine with a couple of cans of performance-enhancing lager, while the crew of dedicated volunteers were out in the hills making sure everything was pristine for the first day of riding.
The region was given an absolute soaking last week when ex-cyclone Gita blew through, but the few trees that fell have been cleared and the trails are drying nicely.
Race organiser Megan Rose said the trails would be in “prime condition” if the sun hung around for the next couple of days.
However, an uncertain forecast hovers over the race, with rain possible as early as Sunday evening – though nothing can be taken for granted with the notoriously changeable mountain weather.
It doesn’t seem to be worrying the riders, who are embracing the social vibe of the event which is more about big days in the hills with mates than posting fast time between the tape.
Rose said having the sun out on arrival day was a big thing; “I want people to come out here and actually see the mountains”.
“Its just special being able to pick them [racers] up from the city, drive an hour twenty, and then being at this location with this accommodation with beautiful grounds, looking at all the mountains around … there’s just something special about this area.”
The media crew have also been hard at work scoping out the best spots for the last few days. Spoke will be bringing you daily coverage of the race, so make sure to check in for a daily escape from to the mountains.