MTB Hall of Fame

Paul, Simon and Jonathan are happy to announce we’re going to be inducted into the Marin MTB Hall of Fame on 23rd September 2018 along with Steve Peat, Ken Chlouber and Josh Bender.

We’d like to thank the Hall of Fame selection committee and Jim Hasenauer for nominating us, plus all those who voted for us. And all our friends and family who have supported us in our various cycling ventures over the years.

Simon and Paul first visited the Hall of Fame way back in 1989 when it was still in Crested Butte. We were on a cycling and racing pilgrimage to pay homage to the pioneering people and events that gave birth to the sport of mountain biking. It is an honour to be acknowledged within the same MTB museum that pays tribute to our heroes.

Rather than ramble on about ourselves we encourage you to pop over to the MTB Hall of Fame website and read up about all the amazing inductees that are featured there.

An internship on the mountain

20171025_120809 (Large)The three musketeers: Dean, Alex, and I (Orion)

The first grubber swing was through entrenched and seemingly hostile gorse, not the smoothest of introductions but an accurate one. “Orion’s Belt” is the new track on Makara peak to connect the main body of the park to its more advanced southern extension. At roughly one kilometre in length it cuts into the steep hillside shooting through Manuka groves, sun sheltered glens and more than a comfortable share of rocky sections.

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Alex focusing on not sliding off the track instead of the view

That initial swing through the gorse was my first introduction to trail building. While hard work, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my time here in New Zealand. My friend Alex and I are from America, and as part of our study abroad program we had the good fortune to land an internship with the Kennett Brothers. We have classes on Mondays and Fridays leaving Tuesday through Thursday for our internships. So while our classmates toiled away in an office or on a beach cleaning up trash we were out in the bush sculpting clay, rock and roots into a track to be enjoyed for years to come.

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Alex racing through the shaded glen

IMG_5019 (Large) IMG_5032 (Large) Test riding after a couple hours work was the best way to understand the shape of the trail and what should be done the next day to improve it.

Growing up in Colorado with the Rocky Mountains as my backyard, mountain biking has been a part of my life since before I can remember. My dad taught my brother and I, and I can still remember the day he picked us up from kindergarten with a face covered in blood from the crash he’d had on the way down the mountain to pick us up. He told the other parents that his wheel locked up but I think he was just trying to save what was left of his face (he was actually fine it was just a surprising amount of blood for a 8 year old).

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I quickly test out the first perfected section

I’m getting off track, but the reason I bring it up is because although I’ve been biking most of my life I’ve never given back and created a track for others to enjoy. That is why this internship has been so enjoyable; building trails for others to enjoy is something all mountain bikers should experience because it roots us to the sport we love deeper than the action of bicycling itself.

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Pilot tracks are exciting tracks

I will remember for years to come the exhaustion felt throughout my body and mind during the third week of track building. I remember my coworker Tor warning me the first day we started, “Don’t go to hard, you’ll burn yourself out,” but there was so much to do and it didn’t feel too backbreaking in the moment… but that moment passed and then came another and another and another, hour after hour, day after day. Then the weekend arrived, and by Tuesday when we started again on the third week I was starting to feel strong and ready to break rocks and dig up barberry stumps all day. That Tuesday, the 6th of November, Alex, Dean and I pushed through 150 metres of track, the most we’d ever done by far. The next day we were quite tired but still managed to cut through 120 metres of bush with the pilot track. I arrived home that Wednesday and fell face first onto my bed and stayed there half an hour without moving. I eventually stumbled into the shower and afterwards wolfed down an entire bag of pasta and a number of sausages.The next morning I woke stiffly but managed to eat four eggs and some toast before gracelessly running down to catch the train.

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Jothanan in awe of the pure skill I possess

That day was hard. Luckily Jonathan and Dean could see we were nearing the edge and we spent the morning in the office and got some new work pants (my jeans had a number of fresh rips, one specifically was not in a flattering place, although on the hot days the draft was appreciated).  When we got up to the trail Alex and I worked like zombies, but we still managed to shape about 70 metres of track. Those three days we created 340 metres of track, about a third of the entire distance, but our bodies had been left along the way. Lessons in restraint and of physical ability have to be learned this way, otherwise they don’t stick and the same mistakes are made again. Therefore, memories like this aren’t negative ones. I always enjoyed the work and the people I was working with, learning hard but important lessons along the way. What more could I ask for!

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Alex zooming along the boardwalk and retaining wall

The sculpting of this track couldn’t have been possible without the tireless efforts of our brilliant, humble and level headed track supervisor Dean Johansson, the man who is strong as a bull Tor Meulpmgracht-Nadsen, Reece Wollen who works hard and keeps us all in good spirits, John (Podge) Rosemergy who cut through all the big troublesome trees with his lovely chainsaw and built the sturdy retaining wall and boardwalk with the help of Mike Barker, and of course we can’t forget the man behind the mission who often came out to help us even though he probably had better things to do, Jonathan Kennett. A corporate group work-party from Datacom was lucky enough to punch through the last connecting section and for that I am also quite thankful.

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A strong corperate Aussie

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Start ’em young!

The Kennett Brothers have supported Bikes in Schools since day one, by designing and building the first Skills Track in 2010. Since then we’ve helped with several others, and are now over the moon to see that schools around the country are adopting the Bikes in Schools programme. There are so many benefits. Rather than list them here, we are putting up this great little video which explains what it is all about.

Carterton MTB Park and Mount Dick Lookout

The weather was great in the Wairarapa, so we nipped over the hill for one last research trip at Carterton MTB Park, and Mount Dick Lookout (both next to each other).
It’s a great park for little kids as it only has two 1-km long tracks and they are really well built. For exercise Mt Dick is perfect, and it offers stunning panoramas from the shelter on top. Chilly downhill though!

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South Island Research Trip

We’ve just got back from another massive research trip around the South Island.

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We started off checking out a fresh track in Oamuru, then we headed to Dean’s Bank.

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Next we had a brilliant day riding at Rude Rock. We came up with a cunning plan to do it while it was still frozen – there was no mud at all. It also gave Jonathan a chance to test the ECR in the snow (it’s awesome!).

Then we spent the afternoon being shown the best tracks at Rabbit Ridge, thanks to our guide Olly (who knows the area like the back of his hand). There are heaps of new tracks being built there this year.

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Coronet Peak, the top of Rude Rock.

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Parts of the track are covered in snow and it’s only June. We guess the track will be best left until summer to ride. Paul wiped out on some ice just around the corner from this shot!

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Lake Wakatipu. No idea what the mountains are. The track is Rude Rock.

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Olly guiding Paul down the Paddock Track at Rabbit Ridge.

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Paul and Olly at Donna’s Dually – the most fun Grade 2 track in the country!

The next day was another fantastic one. We’ve got to hand it to the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club – they have created some excellent trails over the last three years with very strong connectivity that helps create longer, better rides. Awesome!

We headed out to do a great new version of the Moke Lake circuit, then Paul and Olly did Seven Mile while Jonathan headed off to the Moonlight Track.

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Another day in Paradise at Moke Lake

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Gold Digger – a great track by the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club that does away with the sealed road climb up to Moke Lake.

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Olly shows us how it’s done at the Seven Mile MTB area.

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There hasn’t been any sun on this part of the Moonlight Track for a while.

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There’s some unbelievable track building on the Moonlight Track!

Man down! We only had one river crossing to go this morning, and a snow fed one at that. Otherwise it was a good ride on the Dusky Trail.
In the afternoon we were pleasantly surprised by the new track work at Lake Tekapo. There is some great flowing single track, and, of course, excellent scenery.

Well, it was an awesome research trip. Seven days of fine weather; met lots of great people and rode many kilometres of single track. Now we are on the ferry, heading home to work on the next edition of Classic NZ MTB Rides, due out 1 November.

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Paul crossing a higher than usual Twizel River. All about to go pear shaped.

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Paul is not a strong swimmer, so I was torn between taking photos and helping him out.

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The single track built through Tekapo Regional Park is a lot of fun! Does anyone know who built it? Must have been a mountain biker.

Reefton, Waiuta and Hanmer Forest

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We’ve just got back from an awesome research trip in the South Island.

Reefton rocks! Seriously, it rocks more than ever. Even with a bit of drizzle. DOC have done some amazing work. Kirwans is in great nick, and the new loop possible around Murray Creeks makes for a brilliant night ride. Konini was the icing on the cake.

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The next day we were off to Waiuta. It was a tough day. So much water on the Big River and Waiuta Tracks, and several tree falls. Fantastic scenery though, and the work DOC have done on Waiuta was much appreciated. Then went and checked out the new track (under construction) near Craigieburn. Can’t believe Murray took his shoes off to ride across the stream barefoot. Whimpy!

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Barefoot cycling – not recommended, but he did keep his shoes dry.

Fat is fun! We tried fat bikes in Hanmer Forest and had a ball. Don’t laugh until you’ve tried them. They stick to the tracks like superglue and yet getting air is incredibly easy. You can hire them from Mark at Mumbles Cafe. He’s a fat bike ambassador, and the food it great too.

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West Coast Wilderness Trail – Update From a Rider’s Perspective

Last week Jonathan rode the West Coast Wilderness Trail with Bronwen Wall and Martin and Marie Langley. We rode the whole trail from Ross to Greymouth (yes, that is backwards) and had a great time.
If you are planning on doing it soon, you need to be aware that much of it is not well signposted, and there are some bits worth riding that you may think are closed, as well as bits that are closed that you might think are open.
So here is a quick update. If you have any questions, let us know.

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3 km out of Ross you will have to cross the Totara River. We walked across the river (30 cm high), but if you are careful you can go on the bridge. The railway line north of here has just been cleared of gorse and is an easy ride (last week we had to bash through 2 km of the prickly stuff).

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Make sure you drop in to the Tree Tops Walkway and then do the Mananui Tramline (aka Mahinapua Walkway). It is all good to ride.

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2.5 km north of the tramline, on the highway, you will reach a bridge at Mahinapua Creek and see the end of Golf Links Road 20 metres away. Squeeze through a wire fence and then ride down Golf Links Road. It is very quiet and takes you to the Hoki River Bridge, with a clip on taking you to the town.

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You have to ride on the road most of the way to Kaniere and then along Lake Kaniere Road, BUT make sure you turn left at this sign (Hurunui Jacks). It leads to several kilometres of new track that is a lot of fun. About 1 km from this sign is an unmarked track fork. Turn left to stay on the new trail. It leads to Wards Road, where you have to turn left again, and then after 700 metres turn right onto the Kaniere Water Race. Lots of fun.

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There is now brand new accommodation at Cowboy Paradise – right where you need it. There is also a saloon where you can buy drinks and meals.

This is a great place to stay, with LOADS of character. You’ll love it. Book ahead, as it is likely to be popular. The new phone number is 03 280 9559.

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The track from Cowboy Paradise all the way to Kumara is finsished and everyone loves it.

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An icon of how cycle trails can rejuvinate a small town. This is a great place to visit, but if it is booked out they will be able to help you find somewhere else to stay in Kumara. Several houses are being restored for cycists accommodation.
http://www.theatreroyalhotel.co.nz/

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Now, from Kumara there is only 2.6 km of riding to do on the highway. Then turn off down Parsmore Road, and 5 metres down the road you will see the brand new section of cycle trail on your left. It leads all the way to the Highway near the Taramakau River Bridge.
If you are travelling from the north then make sure you turn down the Tram Road. This new section is really worth hunting out.

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And here is the new section on the historic Kumara Tram Line. Last Friday there was only 200 metres left to build – easy enough to walk, and it might be finished by now.

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From the Taramakau River Bridge, hang a sharp left and follow the off road trail all the way to Greymouth. It is obviously getting a lot of use from locals at this end. The path is worn smooth already.

 

Welcome Rock Trail

Have you ever thought what it might be like to ride miles and miles and miles of water race track through high-country Otago?

Welcome Rock Trail is on the way! It’s being built by a Southland farmer with a vision, and should be opened by the end of the year. Kath Kelly and Jonathan took a sneak preview and loved it.

More details will follow when the opening date is set – there is still lots of work to be done. Volunteers are welcome. Check out the Welcome Rock website: http://www.welcomerock.co.nz/

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The trail had a gentle gradient, but is narrow and twisty in places, making it great for interesting biking.

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Tom O’Brien – a man with a vision of mountain biking heaven.

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Connor on the left here has been working on the track full time since last Winter. On the right is a fit young German WWOOFer. They each build 30 to 70 metres a day in this terrain.

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Kath Kelly on Welcome Rock, the highest point for miles around.