MTB Trails & Clubs Conference Wrap-Up

After a busy but very enjoyable weekend of activities in Wellington it’s time to say thanks to everyone who made it along to take part in the events and to let everyone else who couldn’t make it know what they missed! But first a special thanks to everyone who came in from out of town from as far away as Southland and Thames and of course a very big thank you to all the helpers without whom we couldn’t have pulled it off. It wasn’t all fun and games with our hard working friends at Floyd’s Cafe up extra early (4.30am on the Sunday!) to create fresh baked goods for our attendees for breakfast each day.

The weekend’s activities kicked off on Friday morning with a small team of MTB representatives from both the South and North Islands heading into the head office of the Department of Conservation. The aim was to get around the table with DoC staff for a very constructive discussion about what has worked well in the past, and what hasn’t, as well as talking about ways we could work together better in the future. It’s fair to say that the climate at the Department is certainly one that is much more open to supporting recreation and there is a recognition that mountain biking is a key sport going forward for keeping people active and engaged in the outdoors. Not a bad way to start a weekend of trails discussions, meeting with the land manager responsible for 33% of the total land mass of our country.

Photo: Bike Wellington

Riders at the top of the Wainuiomata Hill before riding SuperPlus / Seaview DH. Photo: Bike Wellington

Friday afternoon saw the crew head to Wainuiomata for the first of the three afternoons of riding which should be an integral of any mountain bike conference. With few of the out-of-towners having ridden in Wainui before they were in for something special because the area boasts some of the best riding in the Wellington Region. The backbone of the area is the Waiau Trail Park, an extensive network of tight and twisty single track developed and maintained over a number of years by the Wainuiomata Trail Project and originally conceived and led by local rider, surfer and Welsh-transplant Tryfan Ephiram. Beyond the park riders can venture along Rata Ridge to experience a more technical beech forest ride or take in the biggest (legal) vertical descent in the area provided by the new “SuperPlus” trail which snakes down the Western side of the Wainui Hill.

With so much trail on offer the services of Ashley from Bike Wellington were called on to ensure that everyone could make the most of the afternoon. Shuttles to the top of the Wainui Hill for multiple runs down SuperPlus and lifts back up were followed by pedaling to the top of either 491 / Spoonhill or Freewheel, or for those feeling the effects of so much fun, dropping straight into Beeline or Snail Trail. Just the right mix of shuttles and pedaling to keep the whole crew happy.

Saturday morning saw the attendees assemble at 8.30am in Lyall Bay for a series of indoor sessions on trails and general MTB topics. A chance to meet others and chat, get an update on Trail Fund NZ and to hear from speakers around the country including Canterbury, Nelson, Wellington and Thames / Coromandel. It also provided a chance for attendees to quiz Department of Conservation and local government reps, hear from MTBNZ executive members and even have a few laughs before heading off for another trail ride mid-afternoon. Some chose to explore Mt Victoria with Senior WCC Park Ranger Steven Peters, at the same time local “volunteer tour guides” Dave and Brett took another group over to enjoy the Aro Valley trails. The rest headed to Miramar to ride what are undoubtably some of the best trails in New Zealand (note: that statement may contain traces of bias).

Bikes parked temporarily during indoor sessions

Bikes parked temporarily during indoor sessions

Saturday evening at 6pm it was back to another pub (a common theme with any Trail Fund NZ event) for our inaugural Annual General Meeting. Once the formalities were done auctioneers Jeff Carter and his very capable assistant made the correct call to delay the start of the Dodzy Skills Park auction until 3 beers past 8. As a result a good time was had by all and most importantly a solid $2000 was raised that enable the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club to build some cool dirt jumps in the Dodzy Skills Park. A huge thank you to all the sponsors who made that auction possible: Wide Open Distributors /FSA GravityBlack Seal Imports / Yeti NZCactus EquipmentExtreme Gear / CamelBak NZHurunui JacksRevolution Bikes , Schwalbe Tires, EnduraRevolution Products / Chromag and Working Style. Trail Fund NZ committee member Ric Balfour also kindly donated a collectors edition “Stumpjumper: 25 Years of Mountain Biking” book to the pool and Trail Fund NZ threw in a few shirts to help keep things moving.

Sunday morning saw the location switch to Miramar for two streams of activities, one group led by Ashley Burgess and Scarlett Hagen focused on skills and development topics while local trail builder Russ Garlick got three teams working on three different trail building ‘challenges’ around the area. Not a bad way to get a bit of top quality work done on your local trails. Once the sessions were complete the pizza and the sun arrived to be followed predictably by more riding on the Miramar trails. Plenty of laps and even a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to dethrone the KoM on Jail Brake made for a fun way to spend the final afternoon of the weekend.

Team #2 building a new trail filter for Solitary in Miramar

Team #2 building a new trail filter for Solitary in Miramar. Photo Russ Garlick

While an event like this is a huge amount of work the smiles on everyone’s faces and the comments afterwards make it all worthwhile. From the whole team at Trail Fund NZ we’d like to say thanks again to everyone who made it along, helped out, provided something for the auction or some cash to help cover the costs (thanks Wellington City Council!).

All in all the weekend seemed to have just about the right balance between formal sessions, socializing and riding, not to mention the weather largely playing ball. We hope to do it all again and hope to see even more folks along. Roll on next year.

A few of the happy but tired crew

A few of the happy but tired crew. Photo Bike Wellington