The Pioneer MTB Stage Race – Entries Now Open

Entries are now open for the Pioneer Mountain Bike Stage Race. The new course for 2018 will see riders race 450km with 15,500m climbing over six days from November 25 to 30 2018, linking the best back country riding in the South Island on a course that starts and finishes in Queenstown.

Riders in the November 2018 race will start their six days of riding with a 22km prologue at iconic Coronet Peak, with five longer stages to follow, taking riders as far south-east as Alexandra and the Clutha River, before returning to the finish line back in Queenstown, completing 450km of riding with 15,500m of climbing.

The Pioneer Overview Map 2018

Race Director Bec Williams says much thought and planning has gone into the new course, to ensure the long-term sustainability of an event that quickly established its reputation as a world leading event in its first two editions.

“Riders can look forward to a course that will boast plenty of single track and will deliver a grand tour of the most stunning backdrops you could ask for. Riders will be sent deep into remote back country New Zealand, where they will really discover what it means to be a Pioneer.”

Many of the trails cross private land and can only be ridden while racing The Pioneer, so it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to gain access to best riding in New Zealand. Riders should expect big scenery and big climbs as they ascend tussock covered hills, traverse mountain ranges, explore secluded valleys and revive the spirit of the original pioneers.

Williams said the decision to reduce the duration of the event by one day and start and finish in Queenstown will generate further appeal to riders and supporters.

“Having the one start and finish location obviously makes the event easier from a logistics point of view for organisers and riders alike. Travel can now be booked in and out of Queenstown, supporters can base themselves there throughout The Pioneer, and it will be easier for our suppliers and contractors to support the race.”

“But it was vital that any of those decisions did not compromise the quality of the riding or the Pioneer experience, and we have done that with a course that will again challenge every rider, provide breathtaking views along the way and see us hosted in some amazing Central Otago towns.”

Those towns to host Pioneer riders in 2018 are: Queenstown (start and finish), Alexandra (two nights) and Bannockburn (two nights) before the event finishes at Arrowtown.

Terrain will vary each day, but includes a mix of local trails, farm track, NZ Cycle Trails and single track – so riders should be prepared to really see what they (and their bikes) are really made of. Overall, the course is non-technical, so a good set of lungs will be the most important asset.

The course will be clearly marked, and full course maps will be provided over the course of the next few months as more detail is revealed, but navigation skills are not required, each stage will have several check points and aid stations to keep riders on-track and well looked after.

Each day’s racing finishes in a host town with local hospitality on offer at the event village, ensuring each stage is unique and enjoyable. To cap it all off riders will finish back in Queenstown, an amazing place to celebrate an incredible achievement.

Riders will again have the chance to secure entry to the unofficial world championship of mountain bike stage racing in South Africa, with five age group winners (5), five age group runners up (5) and five lottery winners securing a place at the Absa Cape Epic for 2019.

Entries are now open at www.thepioneer.co.nz

For some riders that will mean finding a team mate. The event website allows the uploading of profiles to find a Pioneer team mate, and organisers also host a ‘find a teammate’ Facebook group, details again can also be found at www.thepioneer.co.nz

New this year is the option of an entry fee payment plan for athletes. This option will be available for a limited period, opening 24 November 2017 and closing 25 March 2018 and allows entry fees to be spread out across four payments. 

Stage information

Prologue Coronet Peak Own Accommodation 22km 1500m
Stage 1 Queenstown – Queenstown Alexandra 66km 2878m
Stage 2 Alexandra – Alexandra Alexandra 114km 2750m
Stage 3 Alexandra – Bannockburn Bannockburn 75km 2600m
Stage 4 Bannockburn – Bannockburn Bannockburn 83km 3100m
Stage 5 Bannockburn – Arrowtown Own Accommodation 67km 2800m

Estimates of the type of riding throughout the Pioneer

36% – 4WD/Farm Track
35% – Cycle Trails / Single Track
15% – Gravel Road
14% – Sealed Road

For more detail on each stage, CLICK HERE

Additional information can be found at www.thepioneer.co.nz

George Brannigan: Queenstown Destruction

Queenstown has become a staple pre-season training camp for many World Cup racers.

George Brannigan recently spent some time riding some of the finest trails on offer, both in and out of the bike park. Judging by his speed and insane line choices, he’s definitely one to watch this season!

If you fancy some Queenstown Destruction of your own, have a look at our recent trip across the ditch: http://flowmountainbike.com/features/queenstown-and-wanaka-top-of-the-pile/

Knee Pads & Roses – A Singletrack Valentine

Mountain bike couple Macky Franklin (@mackyfranklin ) and Syd Schulz ( @sydridesbikes ) have never been that into Valentine’s day.

And why waste time on candlelit dinners when you could be spending the afternoon ripping down pristine New Zealand singletrack on the Pivot Mach 6 Carbon? This video is their ideal date — a little romance and a lot of shred, kneepads and roses. Video by Sean Leader ( @seanleader )

New Zealand’s Cardrona Bike Park Reopens For Easter

AS FUN AS SNOW ONLY DIRTIER… Cardrona Bike Park will re-open at Easter (April 4th –19th) with a range of chairlift accessed mountain biking terrain suited to all abilities.

Cardrona has committed to developing several new trails as part of providing a park that suits everyone from the absolute beginner to the most advanced riders. Apartments will be open for those wishing to experience a unique on-mountain accommodation experience whilst visiting the bike park. The Handle Bar café and bar (aka Noodle Bar) will also be open over the entire period. The autumn season will finish in style on the 19th of April with the running of a new Mega Avalanche race in conjunction with the “Race to the Sky” motorsport event being held in the Cardrona Valley that weekend. Campervan sites and on-mountain apartments will also be available for “Race to the Sky” spectators.  http://www.cardrona.com/mountain-bike…

Queenstown and Wanaka: Top of the Pile


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This place is almost too easy to fall in love with; the setting is breathtaking, the town has a buzzing, outdoorsy vibe, it’s big enough to have all the facilities, small enough to get around without a car… And it has an absolute tonne of world class mountain biking right on its doorstep.

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We spent four days getting just a sniff of what this place has to offer. It’d be overstating things to claim we even scratched the surface of all the riding, but we did get enough of taste to make us wonder why the hell we, and other Australian mountain bikers, aren’t making this trip an annual journey.

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A gondola-lifted bike park, heli-biking galore, superb shuttled riding, endless backcountry epics, the best dirt jumps going, and it’s all just three hours flight from the east coast. So enjoy the vid, soak up the images, and begin making some plans to get your family, your mates, your crew across to Queenstown.


 

Skyline MTB Park is literally on top of town - the gondola runs from just 100m from the main street.
Skyline MTB Park is literally on top of town – the gondola runs from just 100m from the main street.
Another perfect corner. Get used to them!
Another perfect corner. Get used to them!

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There's a real variety of trails in the Skyline MTB Park, from the buff and groomed, to the steep and loose.
There’s a real variety of trails in the Skyline MTB Park, from the buff and groomed, to the steep and loose.

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Rude Rock is one of many killer shuttle-able trails that run from Coronet Peak, about 20-mins outside of Queenstown.
Rude Rock is one of many killer shuttle-able trails that run from Coronet Peak, about 20-mins outside of Queenstown.
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Oh god.
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Scenic much? Rude Rock is an incredible trail.

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Wanaka, about an hour from Queenstown, might be the prettiest town in existence.
Wanaka, about an hour from Queenstown, might be the prettiest town in existence.
The Millennium Track is a 30km out-and-back along the shores of Lake Wanaka, with views like this the entire time.
The Millennium Track is a 30km out-and-back along the shores of Lake Wanaka, with views like this the entire time.
More Millennium magic.
More Millennium magic.
No trip to Queenstown would be complete without flashing (and riding) the Shotover Jet maniac canyon boats.
No trip to Queenstown would be complete without flashing (and riding) the Shotover Jet maniac canyon boats.
Dropping in! The Shotover Canyon Swing is classic fun. Terrifyingly classic fun.
Dropping in! The Shotover Canyon Swing is classic fun. Terrifyingly classic fun.

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Flow Mountain Bike - Queenstown and Wanaka 95

Queenstown is also home to one the most famed dirt jump parks on the planet, the Gorge Rd Jump Park.
Queenstown is also home to one the most famed dirt jump parks on the planet, the Gorge Rd Jump Park.

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Flow Mountain Bike - Queenstown and Wanaka 125

No trip to Queenstown would be complete without some heli-biking. Greg from Fat Tyre Adventures guided us for a run down Crown Peak. Mammoth stuff!
No trip to Queenstown would be complete without some heli-biking. Greg from Fat Tyre Adventures guided us for a run down Crown Peak. Mammoth stuff!
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Greg’s done approximately 500,445,499 heli-biking trips, he’s your man.
This is the kind of elevation you get with a chopper. Save your energy for the descent.
This is the kind of elevation you get with a chopper. Save your energy for the descent.
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The lower reaches of the Crown Peak heli-drop take in some 100+ year old mining trails that cling to the canyon walls.

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Flow Mountain Bike - Queenstown and Wanaka 28

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Cheers, Queenstown! It’s been special, let’s do it again soon.

Keen to do this trip yourself? We recommend:

Air New Zealand for direct flights and staff who’ll look after your bike like they own it.

Skyline MTB Park for some kick-arse trails.

Vertigo Bikes for quality bike hire and excellent guiding.

Fat Tyre Adventures for a variety of incredible heli-biking trips.

Queenstown Bike Taxis for all your shuttle services.

Pinewood Lodge for the great bike-friendly rooms, right next to the Skyline gondola.

Edgewater Resort for the great rooms in Wanaka.

Shotover Jet, Shotover Canyon Swing and the Skyline Luge for a break from the bikes.

 

 

 

 

Must-Ride: Wanaka, New Zealand

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Flow Mountain Bike - Queenstown and Wanaka 33
The surface of the lake is 300 metres above sea level, but the bottom is actually lower than sea level by a few metres. Visibility is incredible; the only thing blocking your view in the water is all the trout!

Wanaka makes an incredible first impression. The road into town presents you with an uninterrupted shoreline, offering you a view across the glass-topped surface of the lake to snow-capped peaks in the distance. It’s breathtaking, and this outlook sets the tone for much of the riding in Wanaka; your eyes are on the views, as much as they are on the trail.

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The Millennium Track is 15km each way. It’s quite a hilly ride, but one of the most spectacular you’ll ever find.

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Compared to the very gravity-oriented vibe of Queenstown, Wanaka has more appeal for the cross country or trail rider – the kind of person interested in an epic, scenic ride. The Millennium Track exemplifies this. Wrapping around the western shore of Lake Wanaka, this dual-purpose track is mesmerising in its beauty. Carving around bluffs that allow you to look straight down into crystal clear sapphire waters below, or dipping down to sandy beaches, this 15km point-to-point mightn’t be most technical trail going, but it’s a ride you’d be a fool to miss.

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There’s a tonne of dedicated mountain bike trail too, with both Sticky Forest and Deans Bank networks only a few minutes from the centre of town. Or if you’re looking for something more epic, the Pisa Range with its high-alpine descents and overnight huts awaits. Wanaka is increasingly expanding its appeal for gravity riders too, with more and more downhill tracks opening up in the Cardrona Valley, and the Cardrona ski area opening its chairlifts for riders this summer from 27 December – 11 January.

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Flow Mountain Bike - Queenstown and Wanaka 139
Dean’s Bank is a fast loop, crammed with great berms like this.

While it’s easy to get fixated on Queenstown and its glut of trails, you’d be mad not to spend some time in Wanaka too while you’re in the region. This sporty, genuine little town really struck a chord with us, and we’ll be back, you can bet your possum-fur undies on it.


 Where to stay:

Best Budget Option – The Wanaka Hotel. Located in the centre of town, a stone’s throw to the lakefront and close to the bars & cafes. Secure bike storage. www.wanakahotel.co.nz

Best Mid-Range Option – Edgewater. Located on the absolute lakefront – just roll your bike across the lawn and you’re away! Great coffee & check out the baked-to-order scones. Secure bike storage. www.edgewater.co.nz

Best Premium Option – Riverrun. A boutique lodge set on a working farm with direct access to the Clutha River walking & biking tracks. Secure bike storage. www.riverrun.co.nz

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Where to eat:

Breakfast – Federal Diner. One of Wanaka’s best kept secrets. Don’t miss the world famous (in Wanaka) cheese scones! Complete with bike racks. www.federaldiner.co.nz

Lunch – Kai Whakapai Cafe. Wanaka’s iconic lakefront café (corner of Ardmore & Helwick St). Kai Whakapai means “food made good”. Rehydrate with a local Wanaka Beerworks “Brewski”… Bike racks onsite…

Dinner – Francesca’s Italian Kitchen. Authentic pizza & pasta with a twist of Masterchef at great prices. DO NOT miss the polenta fries… www.fransitalian.co.nz

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We’d drive to Wanaka for the polenta fries alone. Francesca’s is a must.
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A Wanaka Beerworks ‘Brewski’ goes down a treat.

More info:

The Pisa Range is a mix of Dept of Conservation and Snow Farm, with a $10 honesty box for access. For more information:

http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/otago/wanaka-makarora/pisa-conservation-area-tramping-tracks/

 http://www.snowfarmnz.com/summer/mountain_biking

 

For more information about Wanaka, head to www.lakewanaka.co.nz  

Must-Ride: Skyline MTB Park, Queenstown NZ

Now get this: it’s real, and it’s only a few hours from the east coast of Australia. We’re talking about Queenstown, a true mountain biking paradise.

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Like a postcard. Just prettier, and with better jumps.

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The mountain bike gems of Queenstown are no secret – this place has always been a mountain bike hot spot – but in recent years things have gone from a quiet simmer to totally boiling over. The riding options in and around Queenstown are now so plentiful that you couldn’t dream of covering them off in just one trip: epic cross country loops, heli-biking, mammoth shuttle runs, the best dirt jumps you’ll ever see. And sitting, literally on top of the town, is the major mountain bike drawcard, the Skyline MTB Park.

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Flow Mountain Bike - Queenstown and Wanaka 65

Serviced by a gondola that’ll get you to the top in just six minutes, the Skyline MTB Park is an ever growing beast. Local stalwart Tim Ceci of Vertigo Bikes explains: “Often new trails will get built on the sly, illegally, by locals. Then the next year, they’ll be incorporated into the park.” Already there are a huge number of runs, many of which are criss-crossed by other trails, allowing you to keep it fresh by stringing together dozens of different combos. Even if you came to Queenstown solely to ride the gondola accessed trails, you could easily fill a week with riding, hammering out runs until your hands can’t take it any more.

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From buff, machine-built flow trails…..
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….to steep, rooty, raw chutes.
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Drowning in a sea of green, beneath the beech.

With so many people fixated on ski resort riding in North America, we found ourselves asking time and agin:”Why fly to Canada to ride?” Sure, somewhere like Whistler may have more runs, but when you look at the complete package of Queenstown, it’s an unbelievably good option: it takes three hours to get there from Sydney or Melbourne, the town itself is pumping, the airfares are affordable, there’s bugger all time-zone difference and, most importantly, the riding is insanely good.

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New Zealand is already on the bucket list for many Australian mountain bikers, and we can’t stress this enough, Queenstown MUST be on your itinerary if you’re heading across the ditch.

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Where to stay: There are more accommodation options in Queenstown than you can point and bacon butty at, but we stayed at Pinewood Lodge, which is fantastic value. You can stay in dorm-esque backpacker rooms, or rent the new self-contained cabin like we did. (We’re too old to party with backpackers!). Pinewood Lodge is supremely well located, and it’s less than 100m ride to the gondola! They even have downhill bikes you can rent.

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Bike hire: There are plenty of places to hire a bike in Queenstown, but when our video man Sean ‘The Prawn’ Anderson needed a bike, we went to a true Queenstown original – Vertigo Bikes, located right in the middle of town. They have a massive fleet of downhill, all-mountain and trail bikes to choose from, as well as a range of other services from guiding to skills clinics and transport. Check them out here.

Where to eat: We’re going to offer the same advice we were given: Go to Fergburger. This ridiculously popular burger joint always has a queue (and we mean always!), it shuts for just a few hours a day, has a golden reputation the world over for serving some of the tastiest burgers out there. So good, we went there twice.

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Where to drink: Atlas Bar, on the waterfront, is the mountain biker’s watering hole of choice. Serving a great variety of craft beers, this little joint puts back into the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club with generous donations. They do excellent, great value meals too. Lock it in for a pint or four.

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Video: Shredding New Trail at Skyline, Queenstown

The Queenstown Bike Park has got a brand new flow trail for 2014. Top New Zealand slopestyle rider Conor Macfarlane and Hutchinson UR team wrench Jamie Tilbury headed up to get their shred on in the fresh dirt.

Funded by Skyline Queenstown and built by the expert hands of Extra Mile Trail Building and Empire of Dirt.