Railroad trail a track for training

Hundreds of enthusiastic cyclists helped officially open the 4-kilometre Riverlands Rail Trail from Blenheim yesterday morning.

The ride began at Horton Park and continued through to Sheffield St at the Riverland industrial site, and finished at Riverlands School.

Marlborough District Council's Bike Walk Marlborough group was joined by More FM and AvantiPlus Blenheim to make the day happen.

About 250 people joined in the ride and were treated to bacon-filled croissants put on by Raupo Riverside Cafe and Restaurant.

Children and the occasional adult man lined up to have a go on the Ride On Marlborough skills trailer, organised by AvantiPlus Blenheim.

AvantiPlus cycle instructor Lynne Haines said the Rail Trail was ideal for family riding as it kept everyone off the road.

"It makes the area more accessible and it's also great for tourists," she said.

About 800 school students had been through the Ride on Marlborough programme taught in a six-week cycle safety course through Sports Tasman in schools around the region.

The course taught students skills, such as how to do circles, stop, indicate, and ride with both hands on the handlebars.

The reward for completing the course was a ride on the skills trailer.

While the number of children riding bikes had increased, Mrs Haines would love to see still more taking it up.

"It's such a good way to get active, and it's also really cheap transport," she said.

Englishwoman Michelle James was delighted when she discovered the Rail Trail after she and her family moved to Blenheim from London in October last year.

"I was going to campaign to the council for a safe road to school," she said.

"I didn't want to take my car to school for the next eight years."

The trail was perfect for her children, aged 7 and 5 years old, who attended Riverlands School.

"It's brilliant, it's just perfect for us."

The sealed trail had been in the works for two years and is estimated to have cost about $200,000.

The Marlborough Express