MTB trail builders on a roll
New tracks are on the hills for Gisborne mountain bikers as workers cut new paths into Whataupoko Park.
No university offers a degree in mountain bike track making, which is why two professional riders double as track makers for Southstar Trails — the company turning the hill's bumps into jumps.
“There's a saying in trail building ‘if you build it, you hit it first',” trail crew leader Scott Taylor said.
“If you build a jump you have to be the first one to go off it, even if it's gnarly, you've still got to send it.”
Which means the better the rider behind the controls of the excavator, the better the trails will be.
“Your trail building really stops at your riding ability,” agreed trail machine operator Charlie Makea.
“Generally, if you're a good rider you should know how a good trail should flow.”
Even if you have not touched a mountain bike before, Mr Taylor says all it takes is going down one of the tracks to get hooked.
“It's so cool, you just want more and more and more, this is how the addiction starts.
“I know a lot of people are envious because we've got it so sweet, like, I wouldn't really call this a job.”
Mr Taylor said one of the best parts of the job is seeing the growth of the Gisborne riders.
“When we came here two years ago, the kids we saw on the trails were doing OK.
“Then to come here last year and see them grow because of all our tracks, to see what we've done for the community, to see the progress that the kids have made and all the new faces on the tracks, dude, it's insane.”
Mr Taylor said it is not just experienced mountain bikers on the trails.
“Last year we were filming here on our last day and these two kids came up and we looked at what they were wearing, one of them was in jandals and the other one was in gumboots, and they had massive grins on their faces.
“There are kids here who might come from difficult backgrounds, or maybe they just don't have the best bikes, but they're able to come here and they have the biggest smiles on their faces.”
Although the trails are downhill mountain biking tracks, there are multiple tracks suitable for new riders.
“If you can ride on the paths and have done that for a decent amount of time, you'll be right to start small and progress,” Mr Taylor said.
“If you've conquered the pathways, it's time to hit the trails.”
“Read the signs and you'll be able to work your way around.”
The Gisborne Mountain Bike Club received funding to upskill six members into coaches to pass on basic skills to new riders.
Although the skill course will help fresh faces, the trails have been designed to be family-friendly, so a group can go down different grades of trails to finish at the same end point.
The two trail builders expect to be working in Gisborne for the next few months with plenty more work to be done.
It will be a while before the new tracks open as the ground needs to harden before riders hit the hills. See Gisborne Mountain Bike Club's Facebook page to keep updated on the trails' progress.