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.
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...
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!