Mountainbiking trails on track for a summer opening

The signs are up but the Raglan Mountainbiking Club is asking users to stay off the new trails until they are completed and open to the public.

Club treasurer Dirk De Ruysscher said some people had already been trying out the new tracks in the pine forest at Wainui Reserve, including some kids on motorbikes.

“There was some minor damage but we got them off in time and they said sorry.”

Dirk says motorbikes are not permitted in the reserve, and not just for safety reasons.

“We don’t want motorbikes in there because they will rip it up.”

Track builder Empire of Dirt has been cutting out and compacting loop tracks in the pine forest with diggers since September 1, and have about 400 metres left to go. They will then go in by hand to get out any tree roots and smooth edges.

The $56,000 cross-country circuit is a community project driven by the Raglan Mountainbiking Club.

Dirk says the trails, which have “nice ocean views and inland views”, will be open to the public.

“But if people are planning to ride them a lot then we would appreciate it if they become a member of the club or give a donation to help keep the track in good nick.”

Regular maintenance will be the club’s responsibility, and will include regular removal of pine needles off the track, to prevent them from getting slippery.

Dirk says the track is a regular cross-country loop, about 4km long, with a bit of everything.

“There’s a few fun bits: some jumps and some nice flowing corners.

“If you go around two or three times it is a good workout.”

Access to the trails is from the car park at the end of Riria Kereopa Memorial Drive. Waikato District Council has already put up a sign for the mountainbiking track on the intersection with Wainui Rd.

“People will have to walk up the hill to get to it because there is no more money for an extra track.”

Dirks says all users must be aware that it could take up to a year before the track will be how it is intended to be.

“The more that ride it the better the trails will become.

“People shouldn’t expect that from day one it will be like the quality of the Rotorua tracks.”

The trails are all grade two – easy – and something “older kids will enjoy, definitely”.

“It will be a draw card to Raglan,” says Dirk.

“If it’s a bad beach day, it is very sheltered in there – so it’s going to be a nice alternative when other activities are not possible. I expect a lot of people from out of town to come and use it.”

Dirk, who rents bikes at his shop, Cyclery Raglan, in Bankart St, says the club hopes that the new trails will be the start of a cycling network in Raglan.

The Waikato District Council has made a commitment to improve and build walking and cycling trails with its Trails Strategy 2016, which is still being drafted. A number of potential new routes have been identified in Raglan, including the west coast on the other side of the harbour.

The Raglan Mountainbiking Club currently has 45 paid members, with 15 people joining in the past two weeks.

Club member Charlie Young says they are looking for more members to join, at a cost of $20 a year.

Club members will have the job of pre-riding the track to get it ready for an open day, earmarked for Saturday, December 3.    

Inger Vos