Bike Fest plans new downhill race

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AN urban downhill bike race could join a spectacular mountain descent at next year’s Queenstown Bike Festival. 

About 80 riders competed in last Sunday’s Mega Avalanche – a 1680m thrash down the iconic Remarkables range on skifields, the ski road and National Series downhill track. 

World Cup pro rider Wyn Masters took the inaugural title, descending to the valley floor in just over 18 minutes.
Festival organiser Geoff Hunt says it capped a hugely-successful 10 days, with about 1450 riders and several thousand spectators enjoying events. 

And Hunt hints an urban downhiller through the heart of Queenstown is in his sights for 2014: “There’s an event in Lyttelton which is mountain biking-orientated that we’re looking at, that’s all I’m saying. I’ve done some research but want to get it cemented before we start talking about it.” 

The Lyttelton Urban Downhill, held last month, sees riders plunge down a 1.5km course of steps, plywood banked corners and other obstacles in the Christchurch suburb. Christchurch World Cup rider Cam Cole, who took out last week’s DirtMasters DH in Queenstown, won that event. 

It’d complement the Slopestyle, the jump and tricks competition which drew 4500 spectators to Queenstown’s Ballarat Street carpark last Thursday and will return next year, Hunt says. 

Queenstown rider Reon Boe, who competed in almost every bike festival event this year, was seventh in the DirtMasters. Boe added a fourth in the Mega Avalanche, based on the French Alps Megavalanche which he has also raced. 

“Awesome week,” Boe says. 

“The Mega track was perfect and just like the French one. Hopefully DoC [Department of Con­servation] is happy with it too. Bring on next year.” 

DoC has the final say on whether the event can double in size. 

Hunt estimates the festival, now in its third year, brought more than $2.5 million into the local economy. About 60 per cent of the riders are from out of town and on average are accompanied by two friends and stay two-and-a-third nights. 

Queenstown’s 400-hectare Rabbit Range Bike Resort, announced on Tuesday by Gibbston Valley Winery and local bike tour operator Around The Basin, is also likely to feature in the 2014 festival.