As expected, the Park's been pretty busy over the past month.
You don't often notice it on the tracks but stand in one place for any length of time and you'll be passed by a constant stream of riders.
Sometimes this means that an otherwise quick bit of maintenance can take 2-3 times as long, as grateful bikers stop to express their appreciation and share news of developments in their own regions. Whether it's summer holiday returnees reveling in the new tracks or newcomers exploring the network for the first time, I always get a buzz out of seeing the smiles on their faces.
Jane Pikethley (pink) from Gisborne and Tracy Harwood (blue) from Wellington were certainly enjoying themselves!
Staying at Tracy's family bach at Little Kaiteriteri meant they could be on the tracks within a couple of minutes of pedaling.
Tracy's husband, Phil Hartwick, also introduced his grown-up daughters to mountain biking during their visit, creating some more fans of the Park's 'family-friendly' tracks.
No doubt, they'll soon be joining the throngs of 'returnees'...
One of the tasks I've had on my To Do list for a while is to plant a 'Corkscrew Tree' on the Corkscrew skidsite.
Earlier attempts to get one going on a nearby post were frustrated by the corkscrews going missing within a matter of days. A strange choice for a souvenir, you'd think, especially in these days of screwtops, but there's no accounting for taste.
I decided I wouldn't be deterred... yet.
While planting my post, a relieved Mal McGrath from Christchurch topped out at the skid.
He was happy to give me an idea of how its positioning would work while giving me an update on the riding in his home town.
No sooner had Mal left than James Smith, also of ChCh, arrived, grateful to have made his first ascent!
It was a fairly humid day, and that last pitch had been tough, but James recovered quickly enough to ceremonially insert the inaugural corkscrew into the Tree.
I managed to get another 3-4 in before my mobile went. A rider had broken her wrist on Skullduggery and an ambulance was required.
Fortunately, as well as having a phone (and paracetamol!), she had a map. She assured me she could walk okay so I was able to direct her to a track hub where I could meet her and take her to the ambulance rendezvous point.
She also had a spare inner tube and remembered an earlier Park blog where we showed how a tube could be fashioned into a makeshift sling. This proved an ideal way to support her arm on the long walk out. So, all in all, pretty well prepared for that moment when her bike turned into a bucking steed.
Maybe they'll even inspire you to scour your cutlery drawers for that now-obsolete corkscrew. I've left a few holes empty just in case...
While on Corkscrew... last month we trialled our first Corkscrew Sunday event.
Ten riders turned up for the timed ascents and descents of the track for a combined total. The idea is to log times over the course of a monthly series and chart performance improvement (or not).
It was a popular format, especially as it gave a rare opportunity to bomb down the track without fear of meeting someone coming up.
We'll be holding the January one soon so check in on our Facebook page for notification.
Before I packed up for the day - to take my wife back to the hospital for a CT scan on that wrist, Scott Cameron turned up.
Scott is a Kaiteriteri local who probably walks the tracks more than he bikes. He asked if I'd mind if he invested in a slasher to trim the trackside overgrowth of bracken and fern fronds during his walks.
We bikers love it when the Park's many walkers take it upon themselves to keep the tracks debris-free and those pesky fronds from face-slapping us as we whizz along.
It's a great way for them to show their thanks to the volunteers who have given so much of their time in creating the network.
It's a sort of "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" trade.
Just don't use one of those corkscrews to do it ;-)