Saturday, December 22

2013 Park map

Here it is, our latest trail map :-)

We had to delay getting it to the printer so we could include a couple of late additions but we ended up making the deadline by at least a couple of hours.

Cruise Control is already proving popular with beginners and experienced riders alike. Somehow it now takes an extra effort of will to take the Sidewinder/Swamp Monster option but its calorific value probably equates to a slice of xmas cake.

Corkscrew takes the title of People's Favourite - mainly, I think, because you get two tracks for the price of one. I was told recently by a local we shouldn't bother with building our planned downhill line because he'll still choose to come down Corkscrew. We've included it in our 2013 build programme, anyway...

Our three ridgeline descents are still as challenging as ever but they each have their fans. Due to the stupidly steep gradients of the upper sections, these tracks are technically 'unsustainable' but, somehow, four years later, they're still there. Make a clean run of all three and you're eligible for one of our Special Edition 'Expert' Park t-shirts.

On hot days, when you need to seek shelter from the beach, it's always a relief to enter the forest. The damp gullies of Shady Lady, Glade Runner and Skullduggery offer cool havens and, if you care to stop, you may find you have some of the native birdlife for company.

If it's views you're after, the one from Corkscrew's skidsite is probably the most photographed, but take a cruise along the ridge to Flamin' Nora if you want the full monty. A personal favourite lies on Bay View between the water tank and Swish - easily missed so you need to be looking if you want that bay view.

Scoot is ably fulfilling its role as a handy bypass so we've been able to extend the One-Way section of Bay View all of the way down to Swish. Now you can hit those swooping BV corners knowing you have the track to yourself ;-)

An extension of the hand-built Skullduggery into the southern perimeter of the Park will be the focus of 2013's working bees. "The volunteers want a project!", we've been told and we're delivering. It's a densely-vegetated part of the Park so if any of you vols want to help with surveying (read: bush-bashing), we'll be keen to hear from you...

This Summer, to help newcomers orientate themselves to the network, we've added a few arrows to our marker posts.
The green will steer you along our recommended Easy route, the blue for a more challenging Moderate circuit.
You'll even find a blue on green combo for a mix of both grades - how's that for ensuring you have a stress-free holiday!

Our tear-off padmaps are in the process of being distributed around the region. The Beach Camp Office is already well-stocked, as are several Motueka outlets. A gold coin donation is always appreciated but, if you think that's too much to ask, you can print one off from the Map link on the menu bar.
Having made the effort to get to us, we want to make sure you get the most out of what's on offer.

And finally, with the increased numbers in the Park over the holidays, it's great to hear those bells jingling! Much as I look forward to meeting new people on the tracks, I'd rather it's not on a blind corner :P

Have a great holiday.

Wednesday, December 19

Easy Rider Upgrade - A Start...

Those of you who have been following the progress of the Tasman Great Taste Trail (GTT), the region's family-friendly cycleway, will be aware that its heading for Kaiteriteri.

The Mountain Bike Park's contribution to this venture was to allow one of our most popular tracks, Easy Rider, to become part of the cycleway route. This meant that GTT cyclists will be able to avoid the steep, narrow, winding road between Tapu Bay and Kaiteriteri.

As gentle as Easy Rider is, however, it is still outside of the Grade 2 parameters that apply to the GTT.
This means that we need to go over the entire length of the track widening, smoothing and, to some extent, leveling it to meet the requisite standard.
And, as the 'new' Easy Rider will extend right through to the Park entrance off Martin Farm Rd, it means Salivater will be subsumed into the cycleway route.

Digger operator Karl Thompson and I recently made a start on the project,. We decided to tackle the biggest challenge first - upgrading Salivater.

There is a sense of irony about the complete remodeling Salivater has undergone. Jonathan Kennett surveyed this track, our first, back in September 2008, using a clinometer and piece of string to good effect. In September 2012, I walked the same track with Jonathan, taking mental notes as he pointed out where  gradients were too steep and switchbacks too tight for Grade 2 trail. If only we'd known at the time  :P

So we say goodbye to Salivater (left) and welcome the first stage in the upgrade project (right).
And, yes, they are the same section of track...

But the above is minor compared to the eight(!) new switchbacks that have been sculptured by Karl and Mighty Mouse the digger (somehow its first name stuck).
They finished their artistry on Monday and, in our haste to get the track (re)opened as soon as possible, Matt McCann and I set to with rake and compactor.

Here, Matt puts the finishing touches on the swooping new intersection that connects with the short section of  original track remaining to link you to the rest of the Park's network.

In fact, Matt  - who part-times at Stewarts Cycles in Nelson - pushed and pulled the compactor over the whole length of track in some of the hottest days we've had so far - so buy him an ice-cream if you see him on the beach this summer.

The berms are still a bit soft so go easy until they've had a chance to settle...

Then it was down to the bottom to take down the tape and open the track for business!

Arriving on the scene were Marushka and Pete Lucas, over from Golden Bay.
They were the perfect couple to 'test ride' the entry switches and gracious enough to let me snap a pic in the process.

I've no idea whether or not they intend to ride the rest of the Great Taste Trail but they can certainly lay claim to be the first to ride part of it from Kaiteriteri :-)

We're taking a break over the busy Summer period but are looking forward to carrying on with the rest of Easy Rider's upgrade in the new year. It's scheduled for completion by July 2013 but don't be surprised if we beat that deadline - we've got too many other other projects in mind to let it take that long.

Coming up... our new Park map!

Tuesday, December 4

Building a track

We had the unique experience recently of completing a new track in just two Sunday morning working bees.
To be fair, all it involved was clearing regrowth from an old road that belonged to the time when the Reserve was a forestry block. We've come across a few of these on our track surveying missions - bush-bashing our way through thickets of broadleaf, tree ferns & kanuka to suddenly find ourselves on a wide bench - but never have they suited our purposes as well as our latest discovery.
In fact, it was along the exact route where we had discussed the need for a track!

We wanted an easier option to link Tank with Swish, bypassing the steep, rutted climb to the water tank that gives Tank its name.
We also wanted to provide a safe way for people to get from Swish to Tank, rather than climbing the steep, blind corner with the ever-present risk of meeting someone bombing down from the water tank at 30-40 kph.
And here it was, just waiting to be rediscovered...

During these working bees, I reflected on the different roles that individuals adopt in building a track.

Out front, you've got the pioneers.

They're keen to see what's coming up, what challenges or surprises they may find, what the lie of the land is.

They don't mind getting scratched or pricked - even the possibility of wasp nests doesn't hold them back.

Michael Moss, Steve Fry & Mike Nelson led the charge on this w/bee, hacking and sawing their way through undergrowth and fallen kanuka so that a route emerged for others to follow...

In their wake came 'the grubbers' - guys like Bill Hollick (and many others out of shot) who hack out the bench with mattocks/grubbers and give the track its riding line.

Sometimes you can get whole lines of these tireless workers, swinging their grubbers in a kind of graceful harmony.
You might expect that to be accompanied by some mournful, chain-gang, chant but they're too busy chatting and catching-up with each other's news for that.

Few things make a more satisfying sight for a track-builder than seeing rideable trail emerge before your eyes.

And no more satisfying feeling than counting off the completed metres at the end of the morning. At least, until you get to ride it..

Bringing up the rear are 'the finishers' - those happiest with a spade or rake.
We dub them our Ministry of Fun. Their task is to identify potential features in advance and make sure that they are left for them to craft into rollers, steps, jumps or tabletops.

We generally leave a few tools by the track for the first week or two because these are the ones most likely to return after a few test rides to make sure it's jumping, pumping and flowing as it should.

Here Jay Nelson, Tom Filmer and Thomas Williams finish some final grooming on a tabletop, watched on by Bill and Quinne Weber.

So, all integral elements of a good track-building crew, complementing and complimenting each other's efforts in bringing a new track to life :-)

And, as is so often the case at Kaiteriteri, no sooner have we put the finishing touches on a track than the first rider comes exploring...

Jill Clendon had read about the w/bee on our facebook page and thought she'd check out our progress.

Her timing couldn't have been more perfect!
We were all standing round admiring our handiwork when Jill came swooping round the corner, grinning from ear to ear.

There's nothing volunteers love more than hearing appreciation for our efforts and Jill was generous with hers. Being a good sport, she even agreed to 'test-ride' the tabletop for us.
I'm sure next time you're back, Jill, you'll be getting air off it !

And what are we calling this short and sweet addition to the Park network..?


In other news...
Some of you may have noticed that we've begun the upgrade to Salivater to bring it within grade for the cycleway to Kaiteriteri. This involves a complete remodelling of this track so it will be closed for the duration of the work. Please refrain from riding it while the tape is up.
In the meantime, use Half-Pipe to connect with the main network and be aware of those coming up if you're going down.