Trail Stories: Thames’ Trails, Coromandel Forest Park

The Thames Mountain Bike Club was awarded $1000 by Trail Fund NZ in 2013 to support their work on the Thames Mountain Bike trails. You can find our more information about the Club on their Facebook Page.

From gold mining to golden riding – Thames’ Trails reinvented:

Built in the 1860s to help miners delve into the hillside’s golden treasure trove, the Thames Mountain Bike trails have come a long way since its tracks were mainly sled trails, used to carry gold down to the gold stamper batteries.

mike_and_peter_thamesMore recently used by motorbike riders and some jump/downhill riders, the Thames Mountain Bike Club Inc. was formed in 2011 and aims to make it a popular track for locals and tourists alike.

“One of the our goals was to have a track within 10 minutes’ ride from town and longer distance tracks further out,” says  TMBC president Mike Cook .”The area fit the 10-minute zone and looked like it would be a quick option to get a track up and running for a new club. While it’s designed for cross-country riders, it covers a broad range of rider abilities.”

The main loop track is Grade 3 and, while it’s rather short at 1.8km, it has Grade 4 and 5 bypasses which are generally over 100m in length – with one sweet 500m DH section. To get a longer ride with a bit of variety, the club suggests riding circuits; first the Grade 3 loop, then the loop with the Grade 4 bypasses and finally one taking the Grade 5 bypasses. The first half of the track has long flowing straights, while the second half has a variety of berms and is more technical.

“Two track building books, kindly donated by Ground Effect, proved invaluable and all trail helpers were given a 10-page summary showing key track design features, focusing on sustainable trails,” says Mike. “Building wise, the hardest part was trying to keep four steep sections to near Grade 3 or 4.”

Mike says a number of generous parties helped make the tracks a reality.

“DoC funded a small excavator, which proved to be an enormous help for improving existing tracks, installing drainage and developing new track – particularly for moving dirt for benches and berms quickly,” he says.

The club also received great support from a small band of local contractors and suppliers, who provided machinery, driving time and trail materials, as well as being the successful recipient of grants from the local council and charitable organisations – including Trail Fund NZ.

“It’s great to have a national organisation like Trail Fund supporting projects throughout the country, and available to clubs as small as ours,” says Mike. “When the financial support is there, there’s no limit to what you can achieve with committed volunteers who are passionate about mountain biking.”

The plan is to complete this trail and then start on some great additions, such as an area for a pump track and jump track at the start of our trails. The club also plans to build or improve more tracks in the local area – there is even the vision of being able to ride from Kopu Hikuai Road to the top of Tapu Coroglen Road, staying overnight at Crosbies hut.

This article appeared originally in New Zealand Mountain Biker Magazine. Thanks to Carl and the team for the continued support of Trail Fund NZ.