The South Island is a haven for mountain bikers and there’s a growing events sector to cater for them. On April 18, 2015 the Contact Epic mountain bike race will test the endurance of athletes and adventurers as they circumnavigate the shores of Lake Hawea in Wanaka. The Contact Epic ethos is one of individual can-do. There are no official bike checks, there is no compulsory gear list. Young and old competitors alike have taken part on their own terms.
This challenge takes riders through the best of South Island high country landscapes, for 125 km. Seen as the ultimate Kiwi mountain biking challenge, the Epic is the country’s longest circumnavigation of a lake and is the mountain bike equivalent of the Lake Taupo road biking challenge. There is also the 95 km Classic option on the same course and a shorter 35 km Traverse race.
The landowners of the Hunter Valley and Dingle Burn farm stations have given special permission to riders; this is territory not normally open to the public. The course is varied with stream and river crossings, climbs and falls – 2.4km in fact of ascents and descents. Rocky, narrow undulating in parts, there are also open sections of 4×4 track that you will be able to whiz through.
You can fly into Queenstown, pick up your Queenstown Airport car rental, and Wanaka is only an hour from there. You will need to make it in time for registration on Friday evening – there is no registering on the morning of the event. On race day you will need to be at the start line at 6:45 am for a pre race briefing. Epic and Traverse competitors must be parked behind the Lake Hawea Motor Inn; Classic riders parked at Kidds Bush. Sunday April 19 is the reserve day, with all timings remaining the same.
There are cash prizes for the top riders – first prize for men and women is $1200 each. Spectators are welcome but should stay clear of public roads. If you are visiting for the Contact Epic, Williams hotel and Oakridge Resort are offering 15 percent off discounts for those taking part. There is also camping available at the Lake Hawea holiday camp.