We decided that the day after the race we’d give the legs a break with a little downhill action and uphill assist from the Queenstown Gondola. The price of the lift ticket is pretty steep, but the views from the mountain are pretty stunning.
In addition to the Gondola for hikers and mountain bikers, they have a luge and bungee jump. There are lots of ways to skin your knees and crack your bones all in one place. We found right away that we’d “brought a knife to a gunfight” by bringing our XC bikes and kit to a downhill park. We were rolling around on our 29ers with short travel front shocks. The rest of the crew there was riding 26 inch bikes with low seats and long travel front shocks. Virtually everyone was also sporting full-faced helmets and some body armor.
The first run, I rolled over a four foot drop-off and did a superman over the handlebars onto the rocks, dirt and tree roots below. I broke my GoPro mount and skinned and bruised my left thigh pretty badly. That took the wind out of my sails for the rest of the day.
We felt like we were getting a bit better with each run, but we were pretty much under equipped and out of our leagues. We met an Australian guy on one of the gondola rides and after I showed him my injury he said that “if the bone isn’t showing through, it isn’t a real injury” and the proceeded to give us a 10 minute lecture on how downhill riding actually works.
If we ever go again, we’ll rent downhill bikes and helmets, but I think this is sport for younger men that heal more quickly than we do. You can see the ride in the video below.
You can find out more about the Queenstown Bike Park here.