For Kelly McGarry, the chance to design the southern hemisphere’s first mountain bike slopestyle course in Queenstown is pure gold.
The 29-year-old is New Zealand’s best free-ride mountain biker and ranked 16th in the world.
McGarry usually travels halfway around the planet to Europe and North America to compete in slopestyle comps – where riders are judged on trick technique and air.
But for the Queenstown Bike Festival, he’s been charged with bringing the discipline downtown – to Ballarat Street car park – and into the spotlight with the Teva Slopestyle next Thursday night.
McGarry says: “There has never really been anything like this in New Zealand before – it’s a first.
“It’s really cool to be a part of it and put a course together in my home country.
“It will be downtown so people will be able to just stroll in off the street and come and check out the action.
“We’ve drawn up some plans; just sketching a course using a pencil and paper, and figured out what we think will be cool.”
Dozens of riders are expected to wow a twilight crowd with tricks such as flatspins, can-cans, flips and supermans off wooden and mud features.
They will be competing for a share of $10,000 in prize money provided by shoe-maker sponsor Teva.
McGarry is designing the course with Queenstown Mountain Bike Club president Tom Hey – who has had a hand in designing slopestyle courses around the world including Canadian resort Whistler’s famous Crankworxs.
“Tom’s my flatmate so we get on well and we’ve both helped design other courses around the world.
“Overseas they’re usually at the bottom of ski fields, which come right down into the villages.
“So there is more elevation to work with.
“We’re adapting this to a downtown scenario so it’s not quite as big as it would usually be, but when you’re putting it downtown you have to compromise,” McGarry says.
“It’s going to have a seven-metre starting tower drop off into a jump, then a jump in and out of a ‘fruit bowl’.
Then the course will come down into the bottom of the car park and a large jump to finish right in front of the crowd.”
“Hopefully we’ll get some good numbers down,” McGarry says.
“It’s hard to say how many competitors we’ll have down but we’re going to try and get a couple of Australian riders over.”
Originally from Nelson, McGarry now divides his time between touring and living here in Queenstown – where he has recorded several high-profile videos recently including heli-biking for an episode of the popular Diaries Down Under programme.
“I’m based in Queenstown now for the summers. I come back to New Zealand and live here.
“The festival is full of cool events definitely and hopefully I’ll get some time off to go and check out a few of them.”
After that, McGarry will rejoin the FMB (freeride mountain bike) World Cup circuit where he is hoping to improve on his overall placing and win individual events.
TOMORROW, MARCH 30
Opening Night and Bike Building Design Awards
What: An opening night function featuring comedian Joseph Harper and his Bikes I’ve owned versus girls I’ve fallen in love with show. There will also be the judging of the ‘Bikes Built in New Zealand with Love’ competition
Where: Crowne Plaza
Cost: $85, includes entertainment, food and awards. Tickets available at Crowne Plaza or phone 03 441 8215
Speights Summit Super D Enduro
What: This six-hour gut buster on mountain bikes – both downhill and uphill – is not for the faint-hearted
Where: Ben Lomond Forest, Queenstown Bike Park
Cost: $110 individual, $80 per team member
Best viewing: Follow the spectator signs down Single Track Sandwich. Riders will cut from here back onto Vertigo – great action further along here too
Super D Enduro Bike Party
What: Racers and spectators are invited to the prize-giving and party. Kick on after the race and watch the thrills and spills from the event on the big screen at Dux de Lux
Where: Dux de Lux
When: 7pm till late, band from 9pm
SUNDAY, APRIL 1
Road or mountain bike ride
What: Social bike ride. Climb to the top of the Crown Range from Arrowtown and then swoop back down into the valley
Where: Corner of Arrowtown Road/Speargrass Flat Road/ Hogan Gully
When: 8.30am departure, prompt
Kids’ Mini X
What: Just for fun. Kids bring your bike and race or ride through the Arrowtown river flats, open grassland and the track in the trees
Where: Arrowtown Reserve (beside the Chinese settlement)
Cost: $10, each child receives a safety flash light and a reflective arm wrist
League of Gentlemen Meagre Avalanche
What: A mass-start event, Le Mans style with self-timing. Be prepared for anything.
Where: Tracks revealed on the day – with surprise being part of the package
Cost: $2 plus your own timing device
The World Bar 16inch Pub World Championship
What: Driven by the desire for fun, this wacky event sees riders race around a pub course on a child’s bike
Where: World Bar, Shotover Street
When: 6pm until late
Cost: $2 entry fee, limited spaces
Go By Bike Day – The Right Way of Travel
What: Ride to work or go biking with the kids during the holiday – the festival is encouraging as many people as possible to use a bike for transport or fun
Where: Queenstown, Arrowtown, Glenorchy, and the whole southern lakes area
When: All day
Nzone Skydive Bike Movies
What: A selection of great road bike movies which will inspire and delight
Where: Reading Cinemas, The Mall
Girls Only Coffee Ride
What: Women-only social outing, escorted by the Queenstown Pedallers (register with email@example.com before 8am on the day of the ride)
Where: Rendezvous at Frankton Beach
When: 10am start
Vertigo Bikes Special
What: Join the Vertigo crew for a Skippers Canyon adventure on the Pack Track. Get in quick by phoning 442 8378 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Where: Skippers Canyon, via shuttle service
When: All day
Cost: $50 includes a Vertigo Bikes t-shirt worth $39 alone
R&R Sports Nightlights Mountain Bike Ride
What: Up for a little night mission? Join the locals in three separate groups – slow, medium and fast. These guys know the trails but make sure your bike light is well-charged.
Where: Start at the R&R Shop, corner of Athol and Shotover Streets
Teva Slope Style
What: The Southern Hemisphere’s first ever mountain bike slope-style contest
Where: Ballarat Street car park
Cost: Free, contact email@example.com to register. Free for spectators
Hilton Coffee Ride
What: A social ride from the Hilton to Jack’s Point and back for riders 14 years and over. Queenstown Pedallers on escort duty. Confirm attendance at firstname.lastname@example.org
Where: Meet at the jetty at the Hilton
When: 10am start
The Vital Signs Tour de Lakes
What: The four-day Tour de Lakes begins in Cromwell and winds through Fiordland and Glenorchy to Moke Lake
Where: Cromwell to Moke Lake
When: Various start times for the six stages. See website for details
Cost: Entry fee $145, which includes a ticket to the $65 dinner presentation. Entries close March 24 or $50 late fee
Nzone Skydive Movie Night
What: Showcasing new movie Trail Notes. Made by Yeti Tribe NZ, it was shot in North Island forests and captures the passion of Southern Hemisphere mountain bikers
Where: Dux de Lux
New World Tour de Wakatipu
What: A scenic tour of the Wakatipu Basin using tracks and gravel roads – with only a kilometre of tarmac during the journey. A 36kms course for recreational riders or 45kms for elite and sport racers. Music, food and wine at the finish
Where: Exclusive course from Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown to Chard Farm along the Kawarau River
Cost: $75 adult, $45 junior, $200 family pass
Dirtmasters Downhill Qualifications
What: Practice and qualification for Easter Sunday’s main event – New Zealand’s only gondola-assisted downhill race
Where: Queenstown Bike Park, Bob’s Peak
Cost: Spectators free, competitors $135
Bike Night @ Lone Star
What: Kick back with a beer and watch the bike action from the day on the big screens. The top 100 qualifiers for the Dirtmasters will be announced
Where: Lone Star, Brecon Street
What: World-class downhillers will race down a technically-demanding 3km course on Bob’s Peak directly into the heart of the town
Where: Queenstown Bike Park
Cost: $135, Skyline season pass holders and Queenstown Mountain Bike Club members $100
Spectator tip: The gondola will provide access on to the mountain (normal fares apply) with an information pamphlet available from the bike kiosk at the bottom. This will have full viewing information and show access points to see the best action
Brecon Street Downhill Finish Party
What: Prime viewing as daring DirtMasters riders pitch themselves down the Brecon Street stairs to commentary and DJs pumping sounds
Where: Brecon Street
Prize Giving Party DirtMasters
What: Prizes are dished out to the DirtMasters dominators
Where: Lone Star, Brecon Street
Dux de Lux Wind Up Festival Party
What: Get rowdy with staff and volunteers on the final festival night
Where: Dux de Lux, Camp Street
AN EXTRA SLOG
Triple Peaks Challenge
What: Tackle three of Queenstown’s uphill slogs – Bob’s Peak, Coronet Peak and the Remarkables –all at once or separately, all self-timed, any time during the festival
Where: Bob’s Peak, Coronet Peak, the Remarkables