Queenstown Bike Festival

It’s the annual MTB fesitval in Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown is one of the liveliest towns in the universe and committed to outdoor activities. I know New Zealand has a reputation for extreme sports, but they seem to live for all things outdoors which is a welcome relief to the increasingly indoor culture of some places further west of them… or east :)

So, this time, it’s the annual mountain biking festival – the  10-day Queenstown Bike Festival (22 March – 1 April 2013). More than 25 events will be featured at the event ranging from recreational rides, social events and the Tour de Wakatipu to the extreme downhill races and freestyle events that have attracted the sport’s big names to the lake and alpine resort. Here’s some of the action from last year:

Queenstown Bike Festival 2012

Of course it is the extreme downhill races, the freestyle and perhaps the Tour de Wakatipu that interest us most.

Just to prove how “on the map” Queenstown now is, the Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour Silver Event, the spectacular downtown Slopestyle (28 March), has attracted some of the best riders in the world:

  • Cam McCaul (US) – Described as a living legend, 3rd place at Red Bull Joyride 2012
  • Kurt Sorge (Canada) – Made his place in mountain bike history this year by winning Red Bull Rampage 2012
  • Sam Pilgrim (Great Britain) – Five 1st place results in the 2012 season
  • Sam Dueck (Canada) – Hyper extended tricks and a crowd favourite from last year’s event
  • Benny Phillips (Australia) – Winner of last year’s event and on the comeback from injury
  • Chad Kagy (US) – 2nd place finish at the 2011 Dew Tour first stop and bronze medallist at X Games in Big Air
  • Daiki Takahashi (Japan) – 1st Place Freeride Jam Japan
  • Conor MacFarlane (NZ) – 2nd Place Teva Slopestyle 2012
  • Kelly McGarry (NZ) – 5th Place Teva Slopestyle 2012

A new event called the Mega Avalanche (31 March),  based on the famous ‘Megavalanche’ in the French Alps, has also attracted international entries including French Commencal team riders Remy Absalon and Nicolas Quere, and World Cup downhiller and current female Canadian National Champion Casey Brown.  The race is expected to test even the world’s best downhillers as they hurtle down a course on Queenstown’s iconic Remarkables mountain range.

The Dirtmasters Downhill is back and will be held on 27 March. This is not for the fainthearted. Riders will have to contend with speed, drops, air and technical challenges but will be rewarded with panoramic lake and mountain views along the way…. though I’m not sure they’ll have time to take in the scenary! But the spectators will certainly have time to enjoy their spelendid surroundings.

The first day, yesterday, was excellent and has set the standard for the rest of the event. You can read more or follow the day to day challenges at the Queenstown Bike Festival website…

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