Words: @pangram / Paul Angoose Photos: @cwoodphoto / Callum ” Cmoney” Wood.
First a bit of background history, the plan was simple a few years ago, create a fun race event that will encourage people who wouldn’t normally give it a go to come along and have a bit of fun, meet new people, have a beer afterwards and generally help build a bigger and better mtb community in Queenstown. We also wanted to do something to support the local mtb club (www.queenstownmtb.co.nz) which was going to encourage people to join up. More people means more leverage to get stuff done and get funding to keep the network of trails growing, a no brainer right? Surely its the mtb circle of life?
Vertigo Bikes decided to run this event for free to all club members, yes I said free! We organise it from start to finish, provide the marshalls and the timing, local shop doing it for the local riders! We at Vertigo are all about racing, we love helping riders out, keeping them riding and talking about the lines and near misses.
The first summer of events, which have always been held in the Queenstown Bike Park, was a bit underground and there were a few near misses (literally) with cop cars as people went flying through the streets trying to find clues and make it to the bar first!
So last year we had to tidy things up a bit and make sure we were all legal and had safety plans in place in case there ever was an incident on the hill. So we got to it, did what we needed to do, sussed out a timing system and a format and we haven’t looked back since.
This year we got in partnership with the awesome Lonestar Bar in Queenstown, who have always got behind riding events since the get go. They have a great venue and the good buggers there put on a free drink and chips for the riders when they got there. We were also lucky enough to get a partnership with the importers of 100% in New Zealand (Crown Kiwi), who have taken on being title sponsors of our events and providing some wicked prizes for the series.
The first round of the 2015/15 summer took place on Tuesday 15th December. The format always remains the same, meet at the half way clearing in the bike park to sign on and get your number board.
The first round saw a great turn out of 90 riders, which included 25 girls. The chicks riding scene in Queenstown is set to take over the mens if it carrys on as it is. The Dirt Town Queens were out in force, look out!
To keep the race fun, we have made the summer series a team race, so people pre-register teams on the lead up. You need to have at least four in your team and a mandatory comedy name. The fastest four times in your team count towards your overall team time. After the four rounds there will be overall team winners.
But on the night we have three categories, the Dirt Town Queens (womens), Serious Huckers and Social Senders.
So people can go as hard as they want on the night or just take part for the social aspect.
It is now tradition too that there is a challenge that each rider has to do before they are allowed to set off down the track, and the clock starts at the start of the challenge. The challenge this time was sort of Christmas themed. We had them over a large blow up candy cane attached to a post. You were only allowed to go once you got one of the tubes over the candy cane. If you missed with all three then you just went regardless!
These challenges help take the seriousness away from the race and encourage banter and heckling from the other riders at the start. ( Editor: these challenges are serious stuff, ha! )
The track chosen for round one is the lung buster that is lower hammies in the bike park. This is a green trail which is fast and flowy but if your going for it, very pedally. We always try to stick to the green and blue trails to cater for all ability levels, meaning everyone can take part as being Queenstown we have all sorts of people racing from people doing it for the first time to world cup and freeride legends. Not sure what other race you would get such a diverse mix!
Results on the night were a close affair, in the serious mens category the fastest time was set by UR Polygon manager and pinner Fabian Cousine (Cous Cous). This was despite him never haven ridden hammies track before, despite being in Queenstown for three years now!
The Dirt Town Queens category was won by Harriet “Bob” Latchem, who is a local lass that is hard to beat when she is on her game.
The social category was won by Peter Robinson, who did a smoking time without a chain, he might see himself bumped up into the serious category with a time like that!
Overall a great night, lots of fun had and a great start to the series. Big thanks to all the great Vertigo Staff for helping out at the event and Lone Star for putting on a slick show after wards. The next round will be on January 26th, so stay tuned! Enjoy the pics from the talented Callum Wood Photography.