Mountainbike track taking shape

SVEN HERSELMAN
Last updated 07:44 28/11/2012

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Work on the popular mountainbike park off Taylor Pass Rd, Blenheim has started in earnest over the past two weeks, with members of the Marlborough Mountain Bike Club turning out after work and at the weekend to put in some hard graft.

The park is extremely popular with mountainbikers of all ages and experience levels. A joint initiative between the Mountain Bike Club and the Marlborough District Council, the park has been in existence, and growing, since 2001 when the club first pushed for its creation.

"Charlie Timoko, who was the chairman of the club back then, was one of the main driving forces behind it," said current club chairman, Mondo Kopau, who was himself heavily involved at the time. The council was approached by the club and the first tracks were created.

Today it boasts many kilometres of tracks to suit skill levels from beginner to advanced downhill speed junkie. These tracks link up with the riding and walking tracks in the Wither Hills Farm Park, making for a large network of rideable tracks.

Some of the mountainbike park tracks, which are built on a hillside, suffered damage during the prolonged rainy period over the past winter and spring. The majority of the damage was as a result of the tracks being ridden on while muddy.

Signs were often put up at the park asking that the tracks not be used while wet, but by many riders ignored these. One of the tracks, aptly named Pamplona, was damaged after cows were let into the park while it was muddy.

"We would really like people not to ride on the tracks when they are wet," said MDC reserves/amenities officer and Bike Walk Marlborough co-ordinator, Robin Dunn. "When ruts are ridden into the tracks they can't just be filled, they need to be rebuilt, which is expensive and takes a lot of time."

He explained that a contractor is employed by council to maintain the Wither Hills Farm Park tracks and the approximately 70 kilometres of mountainbike tracks, but a large amount of work is also done on the mountainbike park tracks by Mountain Bike Club members.

"It is really great that they do this work in kind, and I am sure that people who ride the park are very grateful," added Robin.

Club committee member Simon Bowers has for the past four years been doing a large amount of the work, even taking off time from his job to work in the park, often by himself.

"If you want a good track to ride you have to make it yourself," said Simon, who has driven and directed much of the work since he became involved.

"There is a small group of club members who put in many hours of work for free. We get a digger up there and then we need people to clean up after it with spades and rakes to smooth the tracks over."

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Costs for the maintenance and building of new tracks are shared by council and the club, with thousands of dollars having been invested to date. Mondo is currently working on attracting Marlborough businesses to sponsor the various tracks in the park, an initiative that has worked well in other parts of the country, he says.

Simon and Mondo would also like to see riders staying off wet, muddy tracks.

"A lot of work is done by a few and enjoyed by many, so we would really just like to see riders taking care of the park too. It is there for everyone to enjoy," said Simon.

- The Marlborough Express

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