One of the awesome things about living in a town with a dynamic mountain biking culture is that we are constantly spoiled with new tracks. Whether they be reinstatements (and upgrades) of existing tracks after forestry harvesting, or brand spanking new ones like those I rode today.
There is a massive amount of hard work behind the scenes that goes largely unnoticed by the riding populace. The work by the local club and a handful of incredibly hard working committee members and volunteers ensures that we riders are well catered for with a variety of trail options.
The first new trail we rode today is only partly complete – it’s a grade 3 with two short sections traversing the hill to join before continuing further. One start point is from the South Star Shuttle dropoff point, the other is from half way up Frontal Lobotomy trail. After they join they will run down to Windy Road to bring people close to The Feeder track and Lake Tikitapu.
Although Casey from South Star is in the early stages of the build they’ve allowed the initial section from the shuttle drop point to be opened up for riders to check it out, before pushing back up to the start. It’s brand new, so very soft, but already has great flow with lots of smooth rolling jumps and berms gently finessed out of the existing banks of the traverse across the hillside. It bodes well for the flow of the full trail and fits with the style of some of our other best-loved trails.
The second trail I hit up with my mates today was Kung Fu Walrus. A different style of trail entirely -completely hand built with volunteer labour, grade 4, retaining much of the natural technical and off-camber nature of the terrain. It’s also very raw and soft, but 98% rideable for me today. Just a couple of tree roots being the 2% that defeated me on my maiden run down it. Next time I’ll clean it, I’m sure.
The weather and bike traffic will shape and change it, which is a great thing for a grade 4 style trail. And for us locals it’s going to be a constantly changing challenge in it’s early incarnation.
The photo above does not show the trail accurately at all. We were having so much fun riding it I didn’t have the self-discipline to stop and get a photo. This shot is from the absolute end, where I thought I better at least grab some kind of photo. So imagine the trail is narrow singletrack, rooty, off camber – the exact opposite of this photo, and you’ll have the right impression.
Another feature of this trail that I think is fantastic is that it starts from the top of a high point in the forest, and delivers riders to a relatively remote area on the lesser ridden southern side of Moerangi hill. There are a few options to get there, ride the trail, then get back again. I already know my favourite though: Tuhoto Ariki, maybe with Hatu Patu mixed in, then up Moerangi road, Kung Fu Walrus, then along Tikitapu and over to Lookout Road and No Brains before heading back into String road and Pondy Downhill.
So why do I think that is fantastic? Simple – it will encourage me to ride a couple of technical trails (Tuhoto and No Brains) and do some reasonable climbing in order to get to enjoy Kung Fu Walrus. I always like riding No Brains, but it is a little isolated so often seems like a drag to do gravel roads to get out there. The new trail will deliver me that much closer to it, there will be no excuse not to head over and do No Brains in the same ride. It’s a win/win for sure.
Rob Smail, the club Trail Manager who instigated the build of Kung Fu Walrus is keen to have riders check out the trail now. It will help it bed in and develop natural riding lines. So if you like technical trails – get out there, you won’t be disappointed. (And you’ll get a head start on your mates who don’t do it because you’ll be starting to learn the flow of the trail before it hardens up and gets really fast in Summer.)