Best known as Australia's winter wonderland, the Snowy Mountains region has set its post-COVID sights on becoming the nation's premier cycling and biking destination.
While Thredbo's chairlift-accessed gravity trails are already a runaway favourite among Australia's estimated 340,000 mountain bike enthusiasts during summer, road cycling is becoming a major local attraction too.
In June, tourism officials announced the national Snowy Classic on the back of successful similar events in regional NSW at Mudgee and Bowral, Noosa on the Sunshine Coast and in South Australia's Clare Valley.
Launching in March 2022, it's expected to generate $4.16 million in regional income across five years.
Not to be outdone, the owners of cycling event L'Etape Australia by Tour de France, will also stage the multi-ride Drops and Hoods series throughout the high country over four days each December.
The program supersedes the single L'Etape event which previously attracted more than a thousand two-wheel enthusiasts to the mountains annually and has been shifted to the NSW south coast.
It will feature Australia's highest, most challenging competitive ride over 271km and 5025m height, but for the less ambitious, a number of shorter, low-impact courses focus on fun and safety.
Night-time hospitality and community activities are thrown in as part of an integrated tour taking in Jindabyne, Berridale, Dalgety and the ski resorts of Thredbo, Lake Crackenback, Perisher and Charlotte Pass.
Organisers expect 1335 unique riders to each take part in events from December 2-5 and bring an extra 930 visitors with them.
Christie Hampton, who works as a marketing officer for Tourism Snowy Mountains, said hopes are high that after a COVID-ravaged ski season there should be something for everyone.
"The idea is that people visit with their families, enjoy the event and while here, stay on and explore the wider region," she told AAP.
"They'll sample our restaurants, take walks, try the activities on Lake Jindabyne and hopefully build on the tradition we've started as a summer destination.
"Mountain biking, in particular, was huge for us last year.
"Thredbo offers the only chairlift-access facility but there are lots more cross-country and enduro trails throughout the mountains that are constantly being upgraded and extended."
The resort's bike park consists of more than 34km of trails and opens after snow season closes, in November.
While its Gravity Series for serious riders runs from mid-December till May, the real stars turn out for February's Cannonball MTB Festival which attracts daredevil types from across the globe competing for $100,000 prizemoney.
Australian Associated Press
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