There's a playful little breeze filtering through the trees at Kaiteriteri these days.
Its infectious qualities have been felt by all of those who turn up for our weekly working bees. Gone is the mantra of "more metres! more metres!" - in its place is the far more rewarding motivator of "more fun! more fun!".
To be fair, last winter's project of hand-benching Skullduggery didn't offer much scope for playfulness. The steepness of the gully-ridden terrain restricted the options for creativity and, as progress at times slowed to a crawl, counting off the metres at least maintained a sense of momentum.
At times it felt as though simply completing this section of singletrack was enough of a goal, without trying to add bells & whistles.
And there's no denying it was a terrific achievement by our small (but perfectly-formed) volunteer workforce to finish it in time for Spring.
So you could suggest that the new spirit of playfulness that accompanies our current hand-benching efforts on the Skullduggery extension is merely due to the slightly easier terrain we've had to work in. But that would be missing something.
More at work here is the awareness that we're no longer just turning up to build track, we want to make fun track!
Everyone seems to have been caught up in this new enthusiasm to be creative. There's a whole new buzz around the working bees and not turning up means you miss out on the opportunity to have input.
And there's no denying that having a good idea adopted by the crew adds to that sense of shared 'ownership' of a track, making it that bit more special each time you ride it.
Coming from the opposite direction, we're about 2/3rds along the way towards joining up last year's section of Skullduggery, which terminated at the junction with Flamin' Nora.
So there's still plenty of time to get involved! People who haven't attended our working bees can't appreciate the sense of camaraderie and accomplishment we share. But, believe me, like playfulness, it can be quite infectious...
Fortunately, this mysterious breeze permeates all parts of the forest, including where Karl Thompson & I are working with the digger.
Last week we made our long-awaited start on Skyline, the track that will provide bikeable access to the top ridge from within the Park boundaries.
But before we go up, we have to go down. Getting to the base of the 'climbing' spur involves descending from the junction of Ziggy & Big Airs and crossing a stream. This gave us an opportunity to create some long traverses through some of the gentlest terrain we've encountered so far - definitely too good to waste!
So, again, rather than just look to see how quickly we could bench a route down to the stream crossing, we've also sought to add in some fun factor. As with the w/bees, it makes for far more interesting work and we know it's going to make it way more enjoyable for you to ride.
Unfortunately, the photo will have to serve as a teaser until the track is finished and opened to bike traffic. If you want to get an idea of what's taking shape, you're welcome to stroll down (or up, depending on where we've got to). Just please respect the signage and leave your bike at the taped entrance. Even if you see treadmarks already there, don't go adding to them as the more bike traffic the track gets before it's ready, the more grooming will be later required, delaying its eventual opening.
And you don't want to find out what a digger can do to a bike!
And, finally, on this playful theme, few things are as likely to bring a smile to your face while out riding as quickly as seeing someone on a muni.
There's a growing group of these mountain unicyclists in the region and their skills are not to be laughed at. Actually, I think laughing at them is quite acceptable as chances are they'll be laughing even harder. Talk about blokes old enough to know better having fun!
Marty Richards & Julian Daly gave Sidewinder and the rest of the Park the big thumbs up when they ventured over. I suspect it won't be long until they're demanding their own race category...