Over 150 riders from throughout the South Island will tackle the inaugural That Dam Race on Saturday that includes three hydro-dams and a portion of the Alps to Ocean cycleway in the Mackenzie Basin in South Canterbury.
Riders are split over a 108 kilometre road ride and 30 kilometre mountain bike event with Event Director Chris Thomas of Special Events Aoraki very pleased with the numbers lining up for the first event.
Thomas, whose company is also behind the successful Pass to Pub cycle race, said he was looking to use the Alps to Ocean concept to create an iconic event around Omarama.
“It’s just such a special place to ride a bike,” he said. “We’ve had great community support and there is really good potential to build it over time into a real destination event to come and ride and race your bike in an area that’s pretty unique.”
That Dam Race incudes a 108 kilometre loop from Omarama's Country Time Hotel to the Lake Benmore, Lake Aviemore and Waitaki River dams for the road race while the 26 kilometre mountain bike event includes local trails and farmland for those wanting more of a recreational ride.
The event has attracted some strong riders from Christchurch, Dunedin and Timaru in particular with three members of the Christchurch based Modus Construct Cycling Team, Marc Prutton, Cody McMaster, and Martin Smallman, being joined by fellow Christchurch riders Simon Earl, Neil Sutherland, Greg Thompson and New Zealand masters over 50 representative Graeme Nuttridge, 1991 Tour of Southland winner Stu Lowe and Timaru’s Glenn Gould.
Prutton, who is also a cycle coach with racing experience overseas, said he was keen to bring a small team to the event to race somewhere new. “We want to finish off a successful year with a great ride and I think it’s important to support new events so we can see some growth for the sport,” he said.
Female entries are led by Emma Sutherland who rides for the Dunedin’s Cycle World Fairweathers team. They also include Alexandra’s Liz Williamson, the mother of former elite men’s national champion James Williamson and his sister, former professional and multiple national champion on the road and track, Sophie. Williamson is a strong master’s cyclist in her own right.
The road race has 1100 metres of climbing with Thomas saying it offers great opportunities to ‘attack the course and race’ or just ride and appreciate the areas natural beauty.
The event will also raise funds for Omarama School which Thomas says has ‘a special treat lined up’ for riders as they pass through the half way mark.
Race headquarters at the Country Time Hotel will feature a festive cycling village with family fun activities, product displays, live music and food and refreshments.
“We are working hard to provide a great day out for cyclists, their supporters and the local community,” Thomas said.