The Crankworx Summer Series festival, described as the ultimate biking road trip, wrapped up a weekend of epic riding on the Matangi Station MTB park trails on Sunday, before moving on from Alexandra to the next events in Queenstown and Wanaka.
Top international riders went head-to-head with some of the best local riders, with the Crankworx team saying even before racing started, that “this place is epic and it’s not going to be unexpected to have a local take out the Super DH challenge”.
Racers got to experience rare wet conditions on Saturday’s practice day, but Sunday turned it on with sunshine and summer temperatures creating excellent riding conditions. Local riders shone against a field of top athletes from New Zealand and the world. Alexandra’s Bradley Harris took out top spot in the Men’s Pro category after some tight racing ahead of Dan Booker (Australia) and Sam Blenkinsop (Christchurch).
Another local stand out was Eddie Adams in the Youth 15-16 category. Eddie was part of the Matangi Station team and absolutely crushed it on all three stages.
Not only did he finish number one in his age group, Eddie also had the sixth fastest time out of all the men racing.
His name is one to watch for the future. The local girls also had a great day with Hayley Harris (sister of Bradley) taking out first place in the 13-16 female race and Robin Pieper coming in fifth in the Pro-Female category.
Second place Pro Female Casey Brown, spent time growing up in Central Otago before moving to Canada where she took up the sport.
Central Otago District Council Chief Executive (and avid cyclist) Sanchia Jacobs said, “the secret of Alexandra’s supreme mountain biking tracks is out, and our town stepped up to the plate.
We had to adapt for COVID but that didn’t stop the world class riding from going ahead. The footage from the Crankworx racing is now being beamed globally, placing the incredible tracks of Alexandra and Matangi Station MTB park firmly on the mountain biking map.”
Events of the calibre and global reach of Crankworx strategically choose locations that best resonate with their audience for their events. The distinctly different Central Otago landscape and style of mountain biking, is something that has left riders with not just an elevated heart rate and bragging rights, but also a reason to come back and ride again in the not too distant future.
All going to plan, the event will return to Alexandra in 2022 with the hope that the limitations imposed by COVID can be avoided and spectator audiences can be welcomed to watch the action in real life.
A welcome programme organised by the team at Tourism Central Otago, saw riders meeting and riding with the locals, doing school visits and participating in activities with the Journeys programme, which was set up to empower young women through adventure, and the Alexandra BMX Club.
The Crankworx crew set up their event hub at the Linger and Die reserve, with registration, media centre and admin just around the corner at the Alexandra Community Centre, ensuring that the town of Alexandra was rightly at the heart of the action when riders weren’t out on Matangi’s trails.
The proactive collaboration of Queenstown Lakes and the Central Otago district councils, the Southern Lakes Regional Events Fund, Central Otago, Queenstown and Lake Wanaka regional tourism organisations and commercial bike parks and facilities, provided the impetus for the Crankworx event team and riders to commit to holding their first ever New Zealand summer series festival in these locations. The whole region is in for an epic four weeks of events and activities with imagery, footage and media reaching far and wide.
“We always knew bringing Crankworx to Central Otago was going to be pretty special, and it certainly proved to be just that,” Tourism Central Otago General Manager, Dylan Rushbrook said.
“We knew this community would embrace the event team and riders in a completely different way to what they have seen before, and the way the Sanders family from Matangi Station and our community pulled together to bring this event to Alexandra was just incredible.
“In return, world class athletes took precious time out of their training schedules to share their journeys with some tips and tricks for making it to the top.
The buzz from the kids participating was truly remarkable and something that has left a legacy for the next generation of riders.
“To top it off, seeing local riders dominate the podium, beating Olympians and world champions truly was special. Alexandra has seriously announced its arrival onto the world mountain bike scene. With the hope that Crankworx Summer Series will return in 2022, this weekend has set the groundwork for what should be a really positive future for the sport in this part of the world.”