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A First Timer Goes Downhill Biking
I really enjoy a good bike ride. There’s nothing better than a weekend ride around the trails surrounding Queenstown. In the past I’ve stuck to the fantastic off-road trails that follow the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu and Moke Lake but I’m always up for a new challenge - so on Saturday 17th September I jumped on a bike to try the gondola-assisted downhill mountain biking in Queenstown Bike Park.
I arrived at the beginning of the opening day to an excited crowd of downhill bikers already queuing for their first run of the season. Being a first timer I was a little apprehensive about my bike handling ability but after I was kitted up with a full-suspension bike, a helmet and body armour I was feeling more confident.
I started out on Hammy’s track, a six kilometre green grade (easy) trail and took my time for the first run. The trail was definitely challenging for me with rolling slopes and banked curves that weave through the trees but it was also awesome fun. Hammy’s track is wide enough in places for two bikes side by side so there are plenty of places to overtake. This means you can feel comfortable taking it at your own pace.
Colin a nine year old from Oamaru, accompanied by one of the youth club volunteers, shared the track with us on our first run down. He took abit longer than his older companions to get to the bottom but he had a big grin plastered on his face when he finished.
One thing that surprised me, considering it obviously assisted by gravity, was how tiring downhill mountain biking is. I felt like I used muscles I didn’t even know I had. After only three runs down Hammy’s track I was keen to keep going but my body was done.
Downhill biking is an amazing experience, infact I think I’m addicted! I can’t wait to get back on a downhill bike and try some of the other amazing mountain bike trails in the region like 7 Mile and the Moonlight track. There are plenty of trails to choose from for a range of abilities.
Overall, confident beginners shouldn’t be intimidated by the idea of downhill mountain biking in and around Queenstown. It’s great fun for people of all ages and an amazing way to challenge yourself.
Some helpful tips from my own experience:
• There are plenty of places around Queenstown to rent bikes and gear. A full suspension mountain bike is the best for downhill biking and a helmet is mandatory.
• Wear comfortable clothing, long sleeves and good sneakers.
• Bring water and high energy snacks to keep your energy levels up.
• Ride to your own ability and remember to have fun!
Visit the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club website for more information about mountain biking in and around Queenstown during your visit.
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