The inaugural Through the Loop Enduro took place over the Easter weekend and was a great success. Stoke levels were high among racers, volunteers and organisers and we’re pleased to hear this race will be a regular addition to the Queenstown mountain biking race calendar.
Here’s the race report from the race organisers –
THROUGH THE LOOP ENDURO presented by TORPEDO7
By the people, for the people
Hatched over a couple of Stoke Pilsners after a busy day on the go up at Crankworx Rotorua, the idea for a gravity-orientated enduro was driven by the apparent lack of organization around the Queenstown Bike Festival for 2016.
With only two weeks to make it happen, a plan was quickly pulled together and the ACC sponsored volunteer crew sprung to work.
First of all we knew that this had to be a fun event where good people could get together and experience some of the epic terrain that Queenstown has to offer. With an abundance of EWS standard trails appearing in the Ben Lomond/Fernhill basin we knew we could deliver something special!
A significant motivator for the event, the recent passing of the legendary Kelly McGarry was fresh on everyone’s mind. Aside from doing huge hucks down at Dream and Wynyard, Kelly loved the Fernhill Loop trails and the epic descent from Ben Lomond so we thought this a great occasion to do something special in his memory and raise funds for a new trust created in his name.
Starting off the day with a lift up thanks to Skyline Queenstown, the ensuing course had three major climbs in it. After an epic 500m punch up to around 1300m, Stage One began its descent down The Missing Link followed immediately by Stage Two which sent riders backwards down one of Fernhill’s success trails Beached As.
Following Stage Two was the next major liaison that sent riders through the Queenstown Bike Park to the start of the second large climb up the famous O.G Fernhill roots section to the top of the Loop and the world’s most famous (and photographed) waratah.
Stage Three dropped off the top of Fernhill Loop and into the new and well-publicized QMTBC trail, Salmon Run. The trail is an epic descent through alpine loam with sections of pine often hanging off sizeable exposed cliffs before dropping into one of New Zealand’s finest native bush sections where the riding got extremely slippery and too tech to handle for some riders!
Stage Three was followed by a small break for snacks and beats in the Wynyard Freestyle Arena where the riders hung out and swapped stories of the gut busting ascents and epic lines they’d descended already that day. After a refuel and a refresh of the legs, riders then headed back out for the final ascent up the Fernhill Loop zig-zags to the top of Stage Four.
After a threats from a number of people to de-friend most of the organisers on Facebook, riders reached the epic, sunny summit of Fernhill to start the mega finale descent back down the Fernhill root section they’d only recently climbed.
Flowing through the Ben Lomond basin and dropping into a fast, slippery descent through the famous Fernhill roots, riders continued down to the midway clearing in the Bike Park where the finish timer caught their final race time. Heaving after the days longest stage, a near 9 minute hammer session from the top, riders then slowly made their way down the final liaison stage back to the Wynyard Freestyle Arena to punch in their final tally and compare print outs of their individual stage times.
Prize giving commenced with a massive shout out to our volunteers and sponsors without whom the event would have never been possible before moving on to podium places for the day.
Fastest time of the day going to a new addition in the Old Mens category “Whiskey Mike” (Mike Cowlin) with a race time of 27.05 (with two socks this time were glad to see). We were stoked to be able to have enough rad prizes from our Sponsors that everyone on the day managed to leave with something.
After seeing the excitement on everyone’s faces after such a massive days riding, it goes without saying that we’ll definitely be back for 2017 (and hopefully with more than 2 weeks preparation and advertising time!). We look forward to welcoming back all of the stoked racers from this year and some of you mad stoked readers for next year!
1st – Mops – 42:36
2nd – Katie Keane – 54:11
1st – Ben Friel – 27:53
2nd – Fletcher Sharman – 29:43
3rd – Max Hides – 30:17
1st – Mike Cowlin (fastest overall) – 27:05
2nd – Tim Ceci – 29:27
3rd – Dan Hellyer – 29:56
1st – Emil de Vries – 27:18
2nd – Flo de Vries – 27:31
3rd – Jon Stout – 24:45
Thanks to Torpedo7, Skyline Queenstown, WTB, SRAM and The World Bar Queenstown for all their support!