Latest news from Southern Traverse in New Zealand

“Welcome to the heat of Summer….” say Southern Traverse as we buckle down to the freezing cold front that has hit us here is Europe – so cold that they had to cancel the 6 Nations France/Ireland Rugby match in Paris last night. Early in the evening they were registering temperatures of -5 C but by 9 p.m. and kick-off, the temperature had a wind-chill factor of a mind-numbing (let alone finger-numbing) -11 C. There is a hue and cry about the cancellation but for goodness sake, the injuries that could be sustained at that temperature beggars belief, let alone the frozen accessories of 80,000 spectators!

The Stade de France, built for the 1998 football World Cup, has no under-soil heating. Perhaps the point in question here was the time the game was scheduled to begin… and why. Something to do with television programming perhaps? and a clash with a football game? Hmmm…

“Last week the field was already very hard against Italy, but this time there really were blocks (of ice), areas where it was impossible (to play),” French winger Vincent Clerc said. “I think it’s a wise decision.” I do to. A courageous decision by English referee Dave Pearson which was received with outraged jeers. “The pitch was unsafe for the players and the protocol is the referee has to make a decision,” Ireland coach Declan Kidney told the BBC. “In fairness to him he’s made the right one.” Under Six Nations rules the match will be rescheduled, but there is no indication yet when that might be. Next weekend and 2 March are both possibilities. A decision will be announced on Monday. It is just the second Six Nations match to be postponed since 1952.

But let’s go beach to the searing heat of Summer!

Geoff Hunt of Southern Traverse is advising any and all mountain bike riders interested in taking part in the Speights Summit Mountain Bike Super D Enduro set in the Ben Lomond Forest high above Queenstown, New Zealand,with Skyline Gondola access, to register now. “Be warned, – don’t wait or you will miss out,” he says. The event is scheduled to take place on the 31st March. This is the second time the event has been held and if last year is anything to go by, it is going to be an event you won’t want to miss out on. There is a limit to the number of riders who can get on the track for this 6-hour non stop tag team or individual race at any one time – it will be over-subscribed before the end of February.

Speights Summit Super D Enduro at Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown Bike Festival

The other big event coming up is the DirtMasters Downhill. Festival co-ordinator Geoff Hunt predicts the Dirtmasters will grow into a major event. Again, this is its second running. “This was the inaugural event in the inaugural festival and the huge interest it has created amongst both spectators and riders bodes well for the future. Judging by the numbers of people on the hill, lining the street and gathering on nearby balconies, it’s the sort of action people love,”  said festival coordinator Geoff Hunt. He predicts DirtMasters will grow into a major event.

DirtMasters Downhill, Queenstown, New Zealand

DirtMaster's Downhill, Queenstown, New Zealand

“We set a reasonably mellow course to allow ‘have a go’ downhillers to enter but as the event gets sharper the hill will become more geared to it and focus around higher end riders,” said Tony Moore, local Queenstown mountain bike enthusiast. This year’s course has already been marked out and it will be a little harder than last years event. It uses some of the well known trails in the Queenstown Bike Park and some not so well known. The exact details of the route will not be announced till the day before the race. While local riders have a chance to ride the hill regularly, they will not have an undue advantage. The course will be almost as long as last year,  but will leave the hill in a different place to ride through the camp ground and down Mann Street before dropping the stairs for the ceremonial finish.

“This was an awesome race and it such a good thing for Queenstown,” says Reon Boe, winner of last year’s event. “I am sure we can get lots more people to come here in summer and hopefully one day we can hold a World Cup downhill.” 

The DirtMaster’s Downhill is a  two day mountain bike downhill event. The course covers 3kms down steep downhill tracks, finishing with the steep stairs dropping into the finish line outside the Lone Star, Brecon Street, Queenstown. Practice day is Saturday, 7th April. Main event – 8th April. Book your place now.


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