Mondays aren’t known by most as a favourite day of the week – but for the 20-odd Dunedin riders working hard to build a network of trails in the Whare Flat area, it’s by far their most productive!
“We’ve been working Monday nights for almost two years, and the last year has been spent building a new two-way, easy-grade track called Fir Trader, so that riders can access the trails without having to ride up a really nasty gravel road. It will also open up another face of the hill for trails,” says Mountainbiking Otago member and committed track builder Gareth Hargreaves, who has been buildings trails in the area for 11 years.
The Whare Flat trail network has been growing steadily over the past decade, and now boasts a variety of tracks. This includes Snakes & Ladders 1 & 2, The Third Place and The Green Mile, which, combined, offer about 5km of trail with a variety of skill testing stunts. Three Little Pigs, Rock ‘N Roller and Sticky Bottom offer some fun intermediate/advanced level riding on handmade single track. Most recently, the Monday Diggers have almost completed a hand-built uphill track called Fir Trader.
“Fir Trader is very much a transit trail, but a pretty nice one to ride,” says Gareth. “We’ve tried to strictly apply to a max of 4 degrees and a minimum 900mm wide, and building it by hand has ensured that there are still plenty on interesting features and obstacles to manoeuvre.”
“It connects Laings Road to the Bullpen and goes through Douglas Fir forest, with few pockets of native bush for interest. It’ll be a safe and scenic alternative to the gravel road.”
After working on Fir Trader for the past year, the committed contingent of diggers are looking forward to getting stuck into building their next project – a new down track, with berms and features, called Bermageddon-The End of Straights. The club was thrilled to receive $1,500 from Trail Fund NZ’s SRAM Winter Funding Round as seed money for the trail.
“Everyone is stoked to complete Fir Trader and get started on this track, which we’ve been discussing at work parties for months now,” says Gareth. “It was so great to have Trail Fund and SRAM come to the table with some funding to get it started and maintain the high standard of trail we’ve developed as a team.”
“The plan is to make Bermageddon a progressive Grade 4 downline littered with berms, rolling jumps and other features. The concept is to see whether we can build a trail with no straights and roll down the hill at about 5 degrees, finishing somewhere near the start of Snakes and Ladders.”
Gareth, who also designs trail building tools including the popular Weapon of Mass Creation, is looking forward to figuring out how to make the concept work. He and the team have drawn inspiration from a variety of other trails ridden around the world, and he foresees building taking up to a year.
“We have a route pencilled in but, thanks to the funding, we might also look at hiring a drone helicopter to get a better idea of the best path to take,” says Gareth.
“As a team, we’re champing at the bit to get started. We’re all confident that this is the beginning of something great.”