Tuesday, November 3

JAWS wide open!

Two years after construction started, we are both rapt and relieved to finally announce the Official Opening of our biggest undertaking - Jaws!

The date is set for Saturday, November 7 at 12.00pm at the track entrance (allow 30-40mins if cycling from the bottom of Ziggy).

We will be offering liquid refreshments at the Ziggy carpark during the afternoon so you can rehydrate before you head up for another lap :)

This intermediate-grade, digger-benched track descends from near the top of Corkscrew, to emerge 4kms later at the Ziggy/Corkscrew hub. The Jaws extension continues on in a similar vein to the 1km 'first stage', opened in March 2014 and exiting onto Velocity, albeit as if Jaws had been fed some steroids.
If you already whoop 'n' holler on 'Jaws1', you'll be frightening the birds on what follows!
It's still suitable for intermediate-level riders but those with more advanced skills will be able to enjoy the extra gravity the descent allows.

Four kilometres is a lot of track so, like Jaws1, you'll experience a few pedally sections where we've taken you deep into steep-sided gullies clad in native bush. Not only do these give you a chance to regroup with your riding buddies and catch your breath, they reveal some of the Park's hidden treasures. Ancient rimu, majestic beech trees, towering tree ferns and verdant broadleaf understory - all providing a home for the Park's outstanding birdlife.
Much as you'll enjoy racing to the bottom, at least once you may want to pause in a couple of the gullies, especially on a hot day, and take in some of the beauty that surrounds you...

With the track's completion, I thought it timely to reflect on some of the challenges we encountered in the course of its construction.

By far the biggest obstacle was the surface granite bedrock, always disguised by a thin layer of vegetation on extremely steep slopes.

This was a feature of several gullies that have been deeply eroded over millennia.

The tell-tale scrape of metal on rock was a sound we came to dread.

Andrew Smith, of Independent Blasting and Abseil Access, first came to our aid on Jaws1. Unfortunately, the trouble with Separation Point Granite is that its often too hard to 'dig' and too soft to effectively blast, as it absorbs most of the charge rather than shattering the rock.

Still, it was necessary to dislodge some very large surface boulders that were hanging topside of the track and Andrew, harnessed up to whatever secure tree he could find, did great work in bringing them down, even if the resounding booms made some Kaiteriteri locals a little nervous!

Karl Thompson and Sam Knowles were the digger operators on Jaws, though it seemed to be mostly Sam's lot to battle in and out of the gullies.

It wasn't financially-sustainable to blast our way through every section of bedrock so we took up the offer of a portable rock-breaker from CJ Industries.

This was slow, hard work, especially over the summer months.

Often, at the end of the day, we'd only have 2-3 metres progress to show for it but I'd still go home exhausted!

On one occasion we exposed a spring which, over time, had turned the subsoil and rock to a grey, silty, unstable mess.

It seemed that the more we excavated, the more would then slump. A freshly installed culvert (and a brand-new shovel) disappeared overnight in one slump.

Each morning we'd reinstate the track and move on, only to find the following morning that we'd have to backtrack and do it all again.

Still, perseverance prevailed and occasionally we'd get the opportunity to do something creative - like install a shark tooth :)

Jaws offers some spectacular views towards both Kaiteriteri and Nelson but sometimes you've got to stop to notice them.

Then again, take your eyes off the track at the wrong time and Jaws can bite!

It's probably claimed more victims than any other Park track, 'though not through its technical difficulty. There's something about the flow it allows that can suddenly get away from people.

Still, what's a bit of granite-rash...?

As we moved onto the second stage of Jaws, switching away from the exit onto Velocity to cut back at a lower elevation, we made the mistake of thinking that the worst was over.

An initial traverse, benched from clay, had us confidently predicting an early completion - until we rounded a spur and headed back into our first major gully.

Rather than finding the going easier, we now found ourselves in deeply-eroded ravines.

This time, the Motueka DOC office came to our rescue, loaning the services of their explosives expert, Stu Houston.

Again, the booms echoed round the Kaiteriteri hills - again, small lumps of bedrock were dislodged or pulverised.

Progress was back to a crawl.

My back had told me that manhandling a rock-breaker at shoulder height wasn't sustainable, either, so this time we turned to Andrew Spittal of Ching Contracting.

Andrew, a foundation member, has been an asset to the Park since its inception and didn't hesitate to offer us Ching's digger-operated, hydraulic rock breaker.

This was the breakthrough (literally) we needed.

Suddenly I was the one standing idly by, watching the digger operator and rock-breaker do all of the work!

Progress was still slow but we now had the confidence that nothing would prevent us from eventually attaining our goal.

Most of the past two winters were spent in gullies like these, where we'd see the sun for a few hours a day.

Biking up Velocity and into the work-site swathed in several layers of clothes was always a good warm-up.

Hard as it is to remove the rock, the crushed granite packs down to make a smooth surface, allowing speed to be carried even on slight uphills.

As we extended the track further and further from its Velocity entrance, our quad bike became indispensable, regularly ferrying fuel and chainsaws to site.

It was probably most valuable when we had breakdowns, both to Mouse and the hydraulic rock breaker. It's hard to imagine any harder work to which these items of machinery could be subjected.

At one point, Mouse suffered an engine seizure, requiring a complete replacement. Nathan Johns, of N S Rogers, ably assisted by Sam, did a fantastic job of removing and then reinstalling an engine on-site.
Our track budget had already haemorrhaged and these necessary repairs put further pressure on our available funds - but that's what they're there for!

An attempt to bench a temporary connection to Corkscrew was abandoned when more bedrock was struck entering yet another large gully. A second switchback sent us back on another lower traverse, one on which we knew we'd encounter the same seams as above.

More of the same followed: another winter spent in freezing ravines, more repairs - yet getting closer all of the time.

Motivating us throughout these times was the awareness that we were creating something special for the Park - perhaps its 'signature' track.
Sometimes the steepness of the terrain or the subterranean rock dictated the nature of the track. At other times, we had opportunity to build in some fun & flow - those were good days!

For Karl Thompson and myself, the opening of Jaws will mark a closure to our partnership of track building. We have worked together to build Swish, Ziggy, Corkscrew, Cruise Control and the upgrade of Easy Rider, not to mention remedial works to other tracks. Karl also built our Pump Track and subsequently enhanced it. He now takes his consummate skills back to Golden Bay where the local MTB Club are waiting for him to start work on the Kill Devil upgrade.

And, after 7 years of what's felt at times like total immersion, I'm stepping down as the Park's project manager. I can do this assured in the knowledge we have a fantastic committee, some of whom responded to my first appeal for "interested locals" and helped set up Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park Inc. in December 2008. We all shared a vision for the Park and it's been wonderful to see that realised over the years. And, as you'd expect, there's more to come!

See you at the Opening...
Guy Trainor

Tuesday, April 14

Friday, March 13

Kaiteriteri Weekender!

The Kaiteri 6Hr just got a whole lot bigger!

Firstly, responding to feedback, we've moved it to Saturday, April 11, the mid-weekend of the school holidays.

This means you can bring the family (or your mates) and camp at our new event hub, the Kaiteriteri Beach Motor Camp.
And it means that, while you're blasting your way round our new course, your family will be able to hang out at the beach, mini-golf, playground or cafe.

Plus, on the Sunday morning, the Nelson Orienteering Club are running a 2hr MTB Rogaine.
This involves your team navigating its way through the Park's trail network, visiting checkpoints to accumulate a maximum score within a 2hr time period.
This is a new event for the Park, with a dedicated map and trail marker system, and one we're sure is going to be pretty popular.

Then, on the Sunday afternoon, Steve Newport of HeliBike Nelson is going to be running shuttles to the top ridge so all of those with tired legs can have runs down Corkscrew, Jaws, Velocity, Flamin' Nora or Rockface.

Pretty cool, eh..?!

This year we also welcome PORT NELSON as the Bike Relay event sponsor. They already sponsor our Glade Runner track so this extra support is especially appreciated.
The format for the Bike Relay will be the same as in previous '6Hrs', when held mid-winter (which the Nelson MTB Club will continue to run at Rabbit Island).
However, the new date, event hub and course, together with an emphasis on making this a weekend extravaganza of fun, marks a fresh beginning for the region's most popular MTB event.

Some things we hope will remain the same, especially the way so many people have entered into the spirit of 'dress-up'!

The inventiveness of some individuals and teams never fails to surprise, although you'll have to be extra creative to snatch the Best Fancy Dress prize away from two-time winner, Brian Grant.

In 2013 he went extra-terrestrial with his guitar-toting Major Tom, while his team of biking vikings took out the award in 2014.

But the event isn't just about prizes. Bragging rights between mates, workplace colleagues, schools or even that team on the adjacent tent site seem to provide ample motivation for most people.

Add in the challenge of 'stepping outside of yourself', be it in participating in a multi-lap race or wearing something outrageous and you're bound to end the day with a huge smile on your face.

So how do you enter..?  Click on this link: Enter Online

And it gets better! For those keen to base themselves at Kaiteriteri for the weekend, the Beach Camp is offering a 20% discount on accommodation (cabins, tent or powered sites). Just quote "Bike Relay" when you make your booking: Kaiteriteri Accommodation

What could be better than chilling with a few well-earned beers after the Bike Relay, dining out at the Shoreline or Beached Whale in the evening, doing a few laps of the Park on the Sunday and reviewing an action-packed weekend over a post-event BBQ in the afternoon..? 

Depending upon how many people are staying over, we're even considering putting on a Saturday evening of some exceptional mtb videos...

Follow us on Facebook for updates on the event, including what sneaky variation we have planned for the race circuit!

Friday, January 30

Never standing still...

Another busy year for us in the Park, both behind and coming up.

2014 saw the completion of our 4 year, volunteer-built, singletrack project Skullduggery. Four winters of Sunday morning working bees, involving thousands of hours hand-benching over 3000m in typically-steep Kaiteriteri terrain.
Many of our volunteers have been with us from the start and now know how to sculpture fine, flowing trail. Inslopes, outslopes, grade reversals, switchback diameters, recommended gradients - all second nature to our regulars who, this year, we'll be rewarding with their own "I DIG SUNDAYS" t-shirts to go with their bonus vouchers from Coppins Cycles.

Another major development for the Park in 2014 was the expansion of our Skills Zone.
Situated next to the popular Pump Track, a series of wooden elements is being constructed to enable those relatively new to mountain biking to gain confidence by improving their balancing skills. Local sawmill, Prime Pine, donated $1000 of timber to get us started, N S Rogers donated the digger hire and a great turn-out over two Sundays from many of our supporters in the building trade saw part of the vision translated into rideable reality.

The original design, drawn up by Marty Clark and Bruce Nelson, provides for more elements to be added and that will be at the top of our agenda when our w/bees start up again.

It didn't take long for the first punters to try out the runs.

The one being ridden here is 900mm wide, with just enough elevation to challenge those unused to riding 'off the ground'.

It's popular with parents who like to shepherd their little'uns - often on balance bikes - along it, as well as with better riders wanting to practise their control.

The adjacent run is narrower and presents a bigger challenge, especially riding 'uphill'.

We ran out of time to finish our third element, involving two ramps leading onto a platform from which other ramps will extend.

A temporary solution was to install a boulder and small ramp to allow a way off the platform other than straight off the edge.

Having successfully demonstrated the latter, this rider tried the boulder route...

This option isn't recommended until you've mastered the tuck'n'roll technique of dismounting.

A significant change for 2015 is a different presentation of the Park's trail network.
This involved changing the perspective to better reflect the topography of the Park when viewed from the beach or at the mapboard.

We've also decided to move to a track numbering system, as it was getting too difficult to accurately attach names to tracks.
This now enables us to continue track identification through various junctions and will more easily accommodate future extensions to the network.
The numbers cross-reference to names and track descriptions on the back of our maps, which are available at various local outlets, including the Kaiteriteri Beach Camp office. You can also download the map from the Map link on the Menu bar.
As always, our thanks go to Steve Newport for the time he donates in producing our maps.

The most exciting development so far this year is that we are once again underway on Jaws 2!

This is the long-overdue extension to the 1km traverse of the Park's upper slopes that we opened last March.
We had hoped to have the whole 3km+ length opened for this Summer but, unsurprisingly, Jaws had other ideas...

For the past several months we have been chipping and, occasionally, blasting our way through granite bedrock in a steep-sided, rocky chasm.

We've had to cope with various mechanical breakdowns as the work took its toll on the machinery, 'though, fortunately, our determination never wavered.

We owe our thanks to many people for their practical support through this period, especially Andrew Spittal of Ching Contracting and the Motueka DoC office.

Ching Contracting's hydraulic rockbreaker is currently taking a breather at the point where we finally began to encounter softer rock and some separation in the seams. We're not sure we're done with it yet, with one gully to go before our planned, temporary, connection with Corkscrew, but spirits are high.
We're hoping to open this stage later this month and you can follow updates via our Facebook page.
Meanwhile, this 'Under Construction' track remains closed.

For 2015, we welcome three new track sponsors: Denstock Hi-Tec (Bay View & Scoot), Hop Federation (Big Airs)  and Trail Journeys (Rock'n'Roll). All sponsorship goes directly into track building so that there's always something new worth coming back for.
Over the coming year, we'll be profiling all of our track sponsors on Facebook - go there now for a taster..

Coming up... our Family Adventure Race Day on February 15!

Guy Trainor