Kelly McGarry (number 24) leads the field early on during
the R&R Sport Mega Avalanche, with eventual men's
winner Sean McCarroll (41) just behind, on Sunday, the
final day of the 2014 Queenstown Bike Festival. Photo by
Wild weather around New Zealand kept Easter weekend
numbers lower than in past years, but the organisers of the
2014 Queenstown Bike Festival are riding high after their
popular nine-day event ended at the weekend.
A total of 50 daredevil mountain bikers raced from the main
ridge on the Remarkables mountain range 1400 vertical metres
down long stretches of high alpine terrain, tussock land and
singletracks to the valley below, in the Mega Avalanche on
Many contenders helicoptered to the start, although some
dedicated riders made their own way by driving to the top of
the skifield access road then pushing their bikes up to the
Sean McCarroll, of Queenstown, took the men's title in 15min
Joe Nation, of Christchurch, who won the Coronet Enduro on
Good Friday, finished second, 5sec behind and Hayden Lee, of
Tauranga, was third, a further 10sec back.
First woman home was Meg Bichard, of Nelson, in 19:06,
doubling up her win at Friday's Enduro, followed by Anja
McDonald, just over a minute later and Leigh Halkett third,
The first, and only, tandem was piloted by Jackson Green, of
Christchurch, and powered by four-months-pregnant wife Rose,
on the back seat.
About 500 elite, sport and recreational riders competed in
the sixth annual Tour de Wakatipu in mild and dry conditions
The 45km course for elite and sport racers and the 36km
recreational track ran from Millbrook Resort, passing through
Cone Burn Station to Chard Farm in the Kawarau Gorge.
Peter Bulling, of Invercargill, won the elite open male
category in 1hr 36min 20sec, beating Mathew Lees and Johnny
Van Leeuwen, both of Dunedin, who finished in a dead heat for
second just under a minute later.
''Good course. It's got everything in it, like short wee
bursts and nice descents,'' Bulling said.
''I got away just by Lake Hayes and they couldn't catch me,
even though I missed a turn just after the old bridge.''
Kim Hurst, of Wellington, won the elite open female race in
1:45.43, with Haley Van Leeuwen second, six and a-half
minutes back, followed by Sarah Moreton in third, who
completed the race in just over two hours.
Elite junior male was Paul Wright and Nicole Shields took the
elite junior female title.
Elite veteran male was Dave Drew, elite master male was Kevin
McCarthy and Kevin Johnston was first in the elite master+
Elite veteran female was Lisa Eady, elite master female Di
Williams and elite master+ female Robina Bodle.
Almost 100 mountain bikers entered the Coronet Enduro, a five
stage, 13.75km timed race on Good Friday, starting at Coronet
Peak base lodge and ending on the valley floor around five
Only 61 seconds separated the top three men, with 62 seconds
between the top three women.
Joe Nation, of Christchurch, won the men's competition in
31min 16sec, followed by a tie for second between Tom
Skillicorn, of Queenstown, and James Hampton, of
Christchurch, who both came home in 32:17.
The women's race was equally competitive, with Meg Bichard,
of Nelson, winning in 36:32, followed by Harriet Harper, of
Christchurch, in 37:00 and Rosara Joseph, of Wellington, in
The field included not one but two Reons (Bowe and Carroll),
Ethan Glover, who won the men's open Super D Enduro the
previous Saturday, Erin Greene, part of the winning mixed
team at the same event, Tony Moore and Conor Macfarlane, up
early despite celebrating his win in the previous night's
From Coronet Peak base lodge, riders rode untimed to the
summit, from where stage one took them down the XC Track.
They travelled with the timer off to the start of stage two,
and each subsequent stage, collecting to catch their breath
and consume nutrition.
Stage two was Rude Rock into Skippers Canyon, followed by
Greengates Trees, Zoot and Deer Lane, the final stage along a
Race director Geoff Hunt, of Queenstown, said on Saturday
riders and organisers had been lucky with the weather,
compared with the rest of New Zealand.
He was called by riders in Akaroa and Timaru who had intended
to travel but were put off by the storms.
Numbers attending had been good earlier in the festival
The opening Super D Enduro had doubled its participants over
last year to 200 riders.
The flow-on effects for Queenstown had been positive as well,
''The bars have been jam-packed and we've had fantastic
exposure on TV.''