Enduro draws 150 competitors

Queenstown's Jarna MacKenzie competes in the Super D Enduro at the Queenstown Bike Park on Saturday, part of the 2014 Queenstown Bike Festival. Photo by riverleaphotography.com
Queenstown's Jarna MacKenzie competes in the Super D Enduro at the Queenstown Bike Park on Saturday, part of the 2014 Queenstown Bike Festival. Photo by riverleaphotography.com
More than 150 hardy competitors toughed it out in the Queenstown Bike Park on Saturday, at the Super D Enduro, the opening event on the 2014 Queenstown Bike Festival calendar.

Early drizzle and a chilly southerly did not dampen the spirits of the competitors, who raced for six hours down the purpose-built track.

Ethan Glover, of Nelson, and Queenstown's Mary Jowett took top honours in the men's and women's events, completing 16 and 13 laps respectively.

Lone Star Blokes, Fraser Gordon, Blair Christmas and Dave Fahey, won the official three-man team title (16 laps).

Two Goons, Mikey Northcott and Lewis Hart, also completed 16 laps to win the two-man title.

Dirt Town Queens - Indri Clendon, Harriet Latchem and Rosie Smith - completed 13 laps to win the women's team crown and the mixed team title went to Greene Eggs & Lamb (Thomas Lamb and Erin Greene).

Place-getters scored qualifying points towards the New Zealand MTB Crown.

The marathon event is New Zealand's only gondola-assisted Super D competition on a 7km trail specially designed by Queenstown rider and bike mechanic Jarna MacKenzie and event manager Jimmy Carling.

Descending from the top of Hammy's Track to the old Queenstown camping ground, with a few uphill sections, the track was variously described by competitors as ''mint'', ''demon'' and ''more jazz than rock 'n' roll''.

Carling said it was probably the best Super D track he had ever been involved with, achieving its aim to present an equal challenge for downhill and cross-country riders.

''We tried to find a balance between making the lap a good length, to spread the large field, and also making it technical enough to demand concentration, with some pedalling to test the downhill specialists.

''We had a national-level field for [the] event and everything ran smooth.

''The Super D is now established as one of the Bike Fest's core events,'' he said.

On Sunday more than 200 junior riders, aged between 3 and 12, took over the Arrowtown Reserve in the Kids Mini X event.

Three courses were set up to cater for different abilities - a short course for the youngest and a medium and long course, both of which included crossings of Bush Creek.

The short race was won by 6-year-old Katie Mathieson, Joshua Bonnar (9) won the medium race and Finn Cartman (10) took top honours in the long course.

Before the prizegiving the entrants and their families were treated to a demonstration ride by 19-year-old Mitch Barnett, invited to the festival by director Geoff Hunt after a chance encounter last year.

He pulled off a series of stunning tricks on pallets, barrels and a picnic table, specially arranged on Butler's Green, but said he was nervous about performing in front of a crowd for the first time.

''It was crazy to have people watching me but amazing to hear them cheering when I landed my tricks.

''This has already been such a great experience and one that will definitely spur me on to take things to the next level,'' he said.

Hunt said it was amazing to see so many youngsters clearly enjoying themselves on their bikes.

''We had everything from tricycles and balance bikes all the way up to some great-looking machines that made our parent volunteer guide work hard to lead the chasing pack.

''There was a great atmosphere with record entries and cheering parents who all stuck around to watch Mitch's awesome demo.

''It's sometimes easy to focus on the extreme adventure events, like the Dirtmasters Downhill and Mega Avalanche, but the festival is all about participation and we like to start them young round here.''

The 2014 Queenstown Bike Festival continues this week.

Highlights include the Slopestyle event in the Ballarat St car park on Thursday night and the Tour de Wakatipu on Saturday.