Instead of allocating up to $1,500 to four recipients as planned, Trail Fund NZ was able to offer grants to five deserving recipients to help them further their trail building goals.
“With so many deserving projects on the table, we couldn’t help but offer funding to a fifth project,” says Trail Fund NZ chairperson Ben Wilde. “However, this is only possible thanks to the great support we receive from members and sponsor partners, such as MTB Skills Clinics and JustMTB, who are both ‘1% for Trails’ partners.”
This round’s recipients will be using the funding for a variety of projects – some who are building up new areas and others who are committed to maintaining existing ones.
Belmont Area Mountain Bike Association, which has been busy replacing many of the trails lost to logging in 2013, received $1,500 for tools and contractor fees to complete the park’s fourth trail, Connect 4. This two-way, dual use single track will be a Grade 2/3 and serve as a connector to the park’s other three main trails – Borderline, Bull Run and Weta.
Another $1,500 was afforded to Franklin Mountain Bike Club, which manages the trails at Puni Memorial Reserve near Pukekohe. The funds will go towards maintaining and extending existing kids and pro dirt jump lines, as well as retaining and maintaining the pump track. The club has been busy expanding its current network and is receiving support its district council to encourage cycling in the area.
The Hurunui Trails Trust also received $1,500 towards planting, spraying and tractor time required to maintain the existing 8km Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail. The stunning trail crosses hillside vineyards and offers incredible views of the Waipara Valley and the workings of the region’s vineyards. The Trust’s next milestone is to build a bridge that will extend the track significantly to create a 20km loop.
The Wellington Mountain Bike Club also received a $1,500 grant for materials required to fix the easy/intermediate trail on lower section of Maidstone track, which needs proper drainage and a bridge-type structure built in one area, as well as retaining and rebenching of an integral corner.
Mana Cycle Group, which has been going from strength to strength for the past few years, also received $1,500, in addition to a few others from Trail Fund NZ and the Community Fund over the past few years – check out what they’ve been doing with the support below:
Unearthing a mountain biking gem
With almost 500m of elevation, native and exotic forests and grasslands and panorama views of Cook Straight and the Porirua Harbour, Rangituhi-Colonial Knob has long been a mountain biking gem waiting to be unearthed – literally.
Thanks to substantial volunteer efforts from the Mana Cycling Group, and financial support from Trail Fund NZ and the Community Fund, the trails that will do justice to its potential are well underway.
“It’s been a fairly long road to get here,” says the club president Mark Harris. “We’ve been working on this since last century, but really got into it in earnest in 2010, when the management plan was updated to make mountain biking an allowable recreational activity.”
The group has been working with Porirua City Council, DOC and Ngati Toa, and the proposed Rangituhi Trail Park will include trails in Porirua Scenic Reserve, Colonial Knob Scenic Reserve, Te Rahui o Rangituhi and Spicer Botanical Garden.
“Due to the number of stakeholders, and the separate parks and reserves involved, it’s been a bit complicated,” says Mark. “But there’s no doubt it’s worth the effort! All in all, it’s almost 650 hectares and, due to geomorphology, we can build almost anywhere!”
And so they have. Mana Cycling Group has already completed six trails, including a loop of approximately 5.5km with two real Grade 2 tracks, ideal for beginner mountain bikers.
“Our goal is to make Mana a better place to mountain bike and cycle for all ages and abilities,” says Mark. “That’s why we wanted to ensure there were some appealing options for those who are new to the sport – we’re never going to increase interest if we don’t offer appropriate tracks to learn on.”
According to Mark, Mana Cycling Group’s first successful Trail Fund application, to build The Doctor, was instrumental in getting things off the ground. The two-way Grade 2 track is easy and fun to ride, which helped the group garner approval for the intermediate downhill track, Tumeke. With heaps of bermed corners and rollers, this 1.2km singletrack is almost as exciting as the name suggests!
Development has continued rapidly in the last year, with the club adding the second two-way Grade 2 trail Spicer Link, which takes riders through a huge range of vegetation and terrain as it traverses along the base of Rangituhi-Colonial Knob.
“It actually takes a lot of effort to build these types of trails,” says Mark. “Grade 2 trails are easy to ride, but they’re not so easy to build. Gradient is king and it needs to be checked constantly – even if you go a few degrees off, it can make a massive difference overall.”
But it’s not all easy riding. Those looking for a bit of a climb and some more technical descents can continue up the 4WD track at the top of The Doctor for about 2km, where they’ll find Chimney Sweep, a short but fun blast down narrow and rock laden singletrack. It comes out onto Rough Justice, a modified 4WD with a few wall climbs and structures to keep it interesting.
Last but not least, an advanced downhill option called Crash Palace will give keep you on your toes (and make you drop your heels!). With three significant drops and some steep rutted sections, it’s currently the most technical trail in the park.
But if Mana Cycling Group’s recent trail building intensity is any indication, it won’t be long before more kilometres are added to the mix, and the recent $1,500 grant, which will be used to purchase a chainsaw, safety equipment and associated tools, will support the next stage of trail scouting!
So whether your 10-year-old is craving something new, you want to defy Crash Palace’s literal challenge or you just want to scope out some of the region’s newest tracks, check out the hidden gem that Rangituhi-Colonial Knob offers.
Featured image: Riding down Chimney Sweep on Clonial Knob in Porirua. Photo by Rebecca Stewart