The Pioneer Mountain Bike Stage Race is by its very name an event that breaks boundaries and takes riders into stunning parts of the Southern Alps that they might otherwise never ride through. It seems fitting then that the 2017 Pioneer will help officially open the amazing new Christchurch Adventure Park when riders set off on the prologue for the event on February 5, taking many on to the world class trails for the first time.
Christchurch and Canterbury have always been recognised as one of the world’s leading mountain bike regions and that reputation is set to continue with the recent opening of the world class facility.
Pioneer Race Director Bec Williams says they have been talking about the new Adventure Park ever since last year’s inaugural event.
“We have known about the Adventure Park for some time and have worked closely with them for close to two years now to include the amazing facilities as part of The Pioneer. This highlights the ongoing rebuild of Christchurch and will showcase some amazing trails to the world and encourage visitors to come down and sample the riding themselves at some time in the future. But from a purely selfish point of view we are just so excited to put our competitors on world class single track riding through the Adventure Park to being The Pioneer, we know riders are going to love it.”
The Pioneer sets off on Sunday February 5, with the prologue through the Adventure Park before riders are then transported to Geraldine for their first overnight stay in the event village that follows them across the Southern Alps to Queenstown.
While it might have been easier to start the event closer to the mountains and avoid the need for a bus ride to the first night of camping, Williams says they never considered leaving Christchurch out of the event.
“Our first day is a prologue, a gentler day and a chance for riders to ease into what is a challenging and tough week of riding. Last year we rode to and through parts of the Port Hills to ensure that riders could experience some of the great trails that Christchurch offers. It is important to us as event organisers that we can showcase Christchurch and encourage our riders and supporters to engage with the community, to help Christchurch in the ongoing rebuild and importantly to spend some tourist dollars here with the hospitality and accommodation industries.”
After just one year the event has already established a strong reputation amongst the global mountain bike community and with locals, with numbers up by 20%, with entries open for both the 7-Day-Epic and 4-Day-Traverse categories until midnight this Thursday.
And with the majority of Pioneer riders coming in from outside the Canterbury region, Williams is delighted that they will be amongst the first to ride the Adventure Park and then send word to the world of the amazing facility that the region offers riders of all abilities.
“We are honoured to have such an opportunity. For the best part of a year now we have been showing off a little that we will be the first event to be hosted by the Christchurch Adventure Park, in fact we were telling our competitors in last year’s event that this would be the case and that they should come back to experience a wonderful opening day prologue. As event organisers though if we can help promote and build the profile of the Park and the wonderful facilities on offer, then we have an obligation to do that and leave a legacy beyond the one day that we will be riding.”
Tracks not being used for The Pioneer on the morning of the 5th will be open to the public, and both The Pioneer and Adventure Park teams are encouraging the community to come out and celebrate the occasion and see first-hand what has been built for their community. What better way to see it in operation than to have riders from around New Zealand and all around the world enjoying what is a world class park with tracks and trails for people of all ages and abilities.
Entries for The Pioneer remain open until midnight this Thursday (January 19), with organisers expecting a final influx from those riders who have been training hard through the spring and summer for either the 7-Day-Epic (teams of two) or the 4-Day-Traverse (solo).