Following in the footsteps of the early gold mining prospectors who carved and constructed many of the trails in the hills, The Prospector is an epic XC mountain bike challenge that takes place across three days in three stages in Central Otago. Cycleways riders Bridget, Jennifer and Christine, and Bridget's friend and support person Jackie, share their stories and experiences from the March 2023 event.
"It was my curiosity that made me enter this event. 3 days, 3 stages of epic riding in beautiful Central Otago around the foothills of Alexandra... sounded impressive to me.
Here is what I discovered about The Prospector 2023:
- Every day served up a spicy dish of riding; a different looking terrain, a different outlook to gaze your eyes over, a different style of riding needed.
- You didn’t need to be a hard-core rider! You just needed some hill climbing legs, mental stickability, a degree of technical ability and knowledge on how to pack a good snack box.
- You even have time to hang out at some cool cafes in either Clyde or Alexandra and take a dip in the lake if the weather's hot (or clean your bike ready for the next day’s adventure).
So, get curious and find a teammate or do it solo. This is one epic event that will leave you feeling in awe of yourself and every other competitor that crosses the finish line."
"This was my second time racing after doing it solo last year. It was such a good event that I just had to come back and experience it again! This year I was lucky enough to have a fantastic teammate, Leah Stewart, and got to experience the full team aspect of it.
This event does so well at combining both epic views and fun trails. For anyone wondering whether they’re capable of doing it: you are! Just make sure you get lots of hills in your training. I would really recommend The Prospector to anyone who enjoys riding their mountain bike and wants to go to a really well organised event with a great, supportive atmosphere."
"I’ve been lucky enough to do The Prospector twice. I had to sit out this year, but I will definitely be back for more next year! While I was gutted not to take part, it was great to be there and support my fellow Cycleways Gals – Bridget and Jennifer.
This event is one of my absolute favourites. The scenery is stunning, and the course has the perfect balance of open terrain, challenging climbs and fun single track. It's so well organised and the logistics are super easy with each stage starting and finishing in the same place. For me, one of the main things that sets this event apart is the camaraderie among riders. Everyone is there to have a good time, from those racing at the pointy end of the field right all the way through to the tail-enders.
I’ve done the event both as a team and as an individual and often get asked “Which is better?”. It’s a difficult question to answer - I loved both, but I’ll go with the Team option.
In my first year, I teamed up with my good friend Kim Johnston. It was our third stage race together so we already knew we worked well together and had common goals – which for us was to push ourselves as hard as we could, support each other and above all – have fun! There was a hell of a lot of laughter out on course, most of which was at our own pain, suffering and at times inability to navigate. Despite (or perhaps because of) the laughter, we came away with the win in the women’s team category and scored $1500 prize money!
There were only a handful of women’s teams again this year – so come on ladies! I’m in for 2024 – Who’s with me?"
"I had a fantastic long weekend in Alexandra soaking in the buzz on the sidelines at The Prospector as Bridget’s support person. The spectacular landscape is awe inspiring. There are lots of great vantage points where spectators can catch a glimpse of the racing, while feeling immersed in the beauty of Central Otago. The three days of racing are epic; enough to leave you in awe of the riders crossing the finish line at the end of day three.
The organisation for the event is spot on; a group of super chilled and friendly people who put on an incredibly intimate and relaxed event that just works! They opened their arms when I asked if I could lend a hand, so there I was handing out beers at the finish line!
This was an awesome experience that I felt privileged to have been a part of and all I can say is “Wow Bridge, you are a legend for completing The Prospector 2023!”."