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Who’s excited for the upcoming mountain bike season in Queenstown?

Days are getting sunnier, evenings are getting lighter, and with 6 weeks to go until the Cardrona Bike Park opens, it’s time to get prepped, dust your mountain bike off, and make it Queenstown-ready. Tick off these 5 important things before you hop on.

What to expect from Queenstown's mountain bike season

Queenstown’s mountain bike season is eagerly anticipated. As a world-class mountain biking epicentre, this New Zealand Alpine town has trails suitable for all kinds of riders, and every level of skill. From pedal-accessed beginner-friendly flow trails to gondola-accessed downhill technical ones, and tree-lined paths to open rocky mountain faces. Each guarantees a stunning backdrop.

Queenstown’s mountain bike season typically runs from September right through to May, and Cardrona Bike Park is open from December to March. Public trails can be ridden year-round if the conditions are good and you’re prepared.

Why should I prep for the season?

Preparing yourself and your bike is key for your safety and enjoyment and protects your bike from future damage.

Protective maintenance for your bike can ensure it is optimised and stops small dirt particles, rust, and wear from everyday use from damaging it in the long term.

Prepping yourself, on the other hand, gives you the best chance of progressing and enjoying the season to the max.

1. Book your mountain bike in for a service

Not everyone has the tools for bike service, and besides, bikes are complicated with heaps of tricky parts. So, for a full service, you should bring in the experts.

Book your bike into one of the local shops in Queenstown like Bikeaholic or Bro Bike, and if you're in Wānaka head to Black Peak or Racers Edge. The teams at the shops will take care of everything, from inspecting your frame and tyres to cleaning and lubricating parts, bleeding your brakes, to resetting and cleaning your suspension.

Bike season is busy, and slots can book out fast. So, if you’re set to start riding on a certain weekend, book in advance because the wait times can be longer than you think.

2. Have protective gear

If you’re looking to upskill this season, having protective gear beyond a helmet could be a game-changer, and maybe even a lifesaver!

Maybe you’re taking your mountain biking up a level, maybe you’re starting to try jump lines, or perhaps you’re trying some technical trails, or you’re simply after that extra layer of safety for a daring moment. All the above might leave you wanting knee and shin pads, elbow pads, or maybe even a chest and back protector.

If you have a half-shell helmet, you might want to upgrade to a full-face if you’re taking on the downhill trails at Cardrona Bike Park. It will give you an extra confidence boost and protect you as you reach the next level.

3. Know the trails

Each trail has its own challenges, and familiarising yourself can make your rides more enjoyable, not to mention safer.

Knowing what’s coming around the corner, after the drop, or on the other side of the table can mean you’re prepared and ready to take it on.

Ride with a group of people who have ridden the trail before – they can tell you what to look out for. If it’s a quiet day and there’s no one behind you, you might want to stop at a safe spot and assess the next section of the trail before riding it.

Or better yet, have a good look at the trail map before you head down. You can find Cardrona Bike Park's trail map here

However, it’s important to respect other bikers on the trails and give distance between yourself and the bike in front. You can read up on the Dirt Responsibility Code here

4. Clean your bike

Though your bike has had a pre-season service, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to clean it after you’ve ridden it.

Trails in Queenstown can get very muddy and dusty, and both, if left on your bike, can cause wear and tear, over time leaving you with expensive fixes. Giving your bike a hose down before reapplying lubricant to your chain will prevent rust and improve your bike's performance and your own confidence in your riding.

If you're at a bike park, sometimes there will be on-site repair services to help you out. Cardrona Bike Park has its own workshop that will help you out with any on-the-job quick fix

5. Set goals

Goals, big or small, can give you a sense of achievement, and keep you going back for more.

Beginners could try improving their speed, getting comfortable with blue trails, or improving their uphill pedalling. Sometimes, just going easy on yourself, staying positive, and being your own biggest fan is the goal you need to progress. Talk to our team of instructors at Cardrona Bike Park and see if they can give you pointers or give you a boost of confidence in your skills.

Before the season’s over you’ll have progressed heaps, and be looking forward to the following season to see what you want to take on next!

About the Author

Eleanor Stephens