New Zealand's XC Stage Race Mt Somers to Tekapo.
Mountain Bike stage race, 4 days, 5 stages, 259kms, 5250m of climbing.
Stage 1: Mt Somers to Inverary - 40km, 600m ascent.
Fast and furious, your lungs will burn as the pace will be red hot from the gun. After shuffling for position you will hit undulating 4wd tracks through historic farmland and stands of native beech. Rocky creek crossings and the odd glimpse deep into the Arrowsmith ranges as the course enters Inverary Station and traverses some classic tussock downs to the finish line and campsite high above the Hakatere Conservation Area.
Stage 2: Inverary to the Rangitata River - 35km, 600m ascent.
Another fast short stage, but featuring some steep and rough climbs and a fast descent of an overgrown track to the Rangitata River. A final bash through matagouri and chest deep snowgrass to the finish will keep you honest.
Stage 3: Rangitata River to Rangitata Gorge - 18km, 100m ascent.
Dust off your skin suit and aero it up. The end of day 2 will be a team time trial to the finish line near the Rangitata Gorge. A couple of steep climbs to begin with and the opportunity to stomp a big gear and pretend you are Jan Ulrich. However you'll need your knobblies on for the final descent which is super slippery when wet.
Stage 4: Rangitata Gorge to Sherwood Hall - 94km, 2300m ascent
Now that your legs have been softened you're off into the big mountains. A massive climb to start the day with a steep descent to the halfway point for the stage. Fill your drink bottles at the checkpoint and head off into the remote Phantom River region. Climb gradually for 25km before some undulations and fast descents to the end of the longest day in the race. The riding will be unforgiving and rough, rewarding technical prowess and endurance. You'll need to work as a team to make sure there are no issues with dehydration or bonking as this could lead to massive time gaps.
Stage 5: Sherwood to Tekapo - 72km, 1650m ascent
The end is in sight but there is a major hurdle in the form of the Two Thumb range to negotiate. A short and fast ride as you approach the hills before climbing steadily to the highest car park in New Zealand. Soak up the serenity before a rough climb to the crest of the ridge overlooking the Mackenzie Basin and Lake Tekapo. In the distance the icy spire of Mt Tasman and intimidating bulk of Aoraki Mt Cook crown the horizon. The incredible 1200m descent is rough at first but speeds up as you drop, finishing over tussock rollers and smooth tracks to the Lilybank road.
Roll into Tekapo to the finish of the 2011 Alpine Epic.
Rough, uncompromising and spectacular. This is not the place for groomed berms and kickers, but regardless of your ability on the bike this will be challenging and test your skills as a complete rider. The course features very little road, probably about 20km during the whole event, the rest will be a mixture of mustering trails and 4wd track, riverbed and fence lines. Mountain biking as it was in the beginning.