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Wild country riding along the main ridge at the top of the Remarkables will be the new grand finale of the eagerly awaited Queenstown Bike Festival and a first for Australasia, organisers say.
The Remarkables Mega Avalanche was yesterday confirmed for the third annual festival, being held in late March, by director Geoff Hunt, of Queenstown, after four months of negotiations with the Department of Conservation (Doc).
The Mega Avalanche will challenge up to 100 daredevil riders in four waves from the starting line 1980m high on the main ridge line, which is visible from Queenstown.
Riders will descend the main ridge for 2km, dropping 440m, on track, rocky drops and tussock.
About 4km of road will lead to more downhill single track and on to the National Series downhill course before reaching the valley floor - a drop of 1650mMr Hunt said Doc Wakatipu granted permission for a one-year trial using the main ridge line of the Remarkables.
''The upper part of the course is entirely within the Rastus Burn recreation reserve, which is managed by the department,'' Mr Hunt said.
''Owing to potential environmental concerns, the event is being run on a trial basis and the field has been limited to 100 competitors.
''Part of the route through the reserve does not have a formed track and Doc requests that competitors do not use the race route in the reserve before the practice day.
''The route will be carefully marked just before the practice day to ensure environmental impacts can be minimised.
''In the meantime we ask that all riders respect the mountain bikers' environmental care code and stay on one of the many formed mountain bike tracks already available in the Wakatipu.
''Damage to the race route before the course is professionally marked may result in parts of the route to be closed and could stop the event from being held again.''
NZSki contractors were working on the Shadow Basin access way as access to the Shadow Basin was restricted because of a blasting programme, Mr Hunt said. The Remarkables Mega Avalanche was inspired by the French event Megavalanche, which attracted a field of 1900 riders, Mr Hunt said.
''The idea of the festival is to have a diverse range of events and this fills one of the gaps.
''The Remarkables Mega Avalanche will provide another challenge for elite downhill mountain bike riders in a race on the iconic Remarkables ridge line.''
Registration would be on a first-come, first-entered basis, registrations opening on January 10. The registration cost was yet to be determined.
Between 25 and 30 riders were expected in the elite group and riders from Rotorua had already expressed interest, Mr Hunt said.
For more details visit the Queenstown Bike Festival website.
2013 Bike Festival
Saturday, March 23: Speight's Summit Super-D, Queenstown Bike Park.
Tuesday, March 26: DirtMasters Downhill practice, Queenstown Bike Park.
Wednesday, March 27: DirtMasters Downhill, Queenstown Bike Park.
Thursday, March 28: Teva Slopestyle, Ballarat St car park.
Saturday, March 30: New World Tour de Wakatipu, Millbrook Resort to Chard Farm.
Sunday, March 31: The Remarkables Mega Avalanche, the Remarkables.