BMX club looks to rise again in the east

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2013

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Christchurch's eastern suburbs will soon boast the South Island's premier international-standard BMX track.

Last week the North Avon Christchurch BMX club invited Pukekohe's Tony Takurua, who helped design the Auckland track for the world championships in July, to inspect their new site at the Bexley Reserve.

Takurua scrutinised the vacant 15,000 square metre plot, liked what he saw and declared he has some grand ideas.

"It's just about shaping it. Ultimately this track will be the best in the South Island - it will be of international standard," Takurua said.

"When kids have a track to ride on it keeps them out of trouble. They only need a bike and their parents can come and relax while they watch. And this is a big site. It should be ideal."

The BMX club has waited about 32 months to hear Takurua say that.

They have appreciated the Christchurch City Council's assistance in making the land available, mindful the Kaiapoi club has not been so lucky.

Kaiapoi's hopes of relocating to a new venue struck a serious setback when the Waimakariri District Council community and recreation committee declined to support a move to the Mandeville Sports Ground.

The North Avon Christchurch club's original track at the reserve, a sharp pedal burst from the new venue, was affected by the earthquakes.

A lack of access to power and water ruined their hopes of hosting last year's nationals and meant their long-term future on that site was grim. Membership dipped to 30 after February 2011 but has since rebounded to about 100.

Now resource consents have been approved for the new location the club needs to attract funding from charitable trusts.

"Until we got the consent we couldn't do anything," club president Nigel Mahan said. "Once we get the new track up and running it will be one of the first new sports facilities to be in the eastern suburbs."

The track will be open to the public - not just club members.

There are also plans to have a childrens' road track and a mountainbike circuit around the exterior of the BMX track, which will measure 100m by 70m.

Mahan and Takurua estimate it could cost up to $400,000 to develop the BMX track because of the steep cost of hiring machinery and labour and buying soil which will have to be transported in. Developers are not allowed to dig into the ground for dirt because it was once an old rubbish tip.

"When we made the track for the worlds in Auckland we needed about 70 trucks and trailers of dirt. I think this could need four times that amount," said Takurua, who for the last two years has been contracted by the world cycling's governing body to help design tracks here and overseas.

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Christchurch last hosted the nationals in 2008. Once construction of the new track is completed the city should be well placed to make another bid.

"We want to have the track ready for use by September 1 - hopefully sooner," an optimistic Mahan said.

- Fairfax Media

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