Sponsors add spark to Bay's bike culture

By Roger Moroney

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Hawke's Bay Mountain Bike Club chairman Scott Richardson (left) and Spark Business HB manager Simon Fletcher shake on a sponsorship deal for the developing trails. Photo / Supplied
Hawke's Bay Mountain Bike Club chairman Scott Richardson (left) and Spark Business HB manager Simon Fletcher shake on a sponsorship deal for the developing trails. Photo / Supplied

Losing about 70km of hand-built mountain bike trails in a large block of Pan Pac forest north of Napier has not deterred members of the Hawke's Bay Mountain Bike Club who have begun "fast-tracking" the development of 50km of new trails.

One of them has already gone global after a professionally produced video of it and posted on-line has had about 5000 views.

The spin-off for the Bay had already begun to emerge, club chairman Scott Richardson said.

"We've had people come here from Wellington and other areas who have seen it and wanted to come and try it - so it is bringing people to Hawke's Bay."

He said cycle tourism had grown "significantly" and the club's off-road trails, while not connected with the 200km of Hawke's Bay Trails, complemented them.

About 20km of trails had already been completed as part of the $500,000 project at the Pan Pac Eskdale Mountain Bike Park with the club initiating a funding drive to help develop them - with Spark Business HB (formerly Telecom) one of the first track sponsors to saddle up.

Spark HB manager Simon Fletcher, who is a keen mountain bike rider, said he was keen to provide some financial "spark" to the developing bike trails at the park.

"Unfortunately some of the existing track network is set to be closed soon due to the milling of the trees," Mr Fletcher said, adding however that there was an upside to that.

"It has given the club the opportunity to develop some new world-class tracks."

That had already taken place with the completion of a track dubbed 'Mint'.

It was a trail initiated by one of the club members who is a keen track creator and which was later added to and completed by the specialist professional trail building company Southstar Trails of Rotorua.

"The result is stunning," Mr Fletcher said.

Southstar also became involved in creating a second equally acclaimed trail called 'Grand Traverse'.

The club's five year plan is to build 50km of trails which involve all riding elements, and the 'Mint' and 'Grand Traverse' trails were part of the first 20km completed.

Mr Richardson said the club was family friendly and had devised trails accordingly, but also blended in more challenging sections for adventurous riders.

He paid tribute to Pan Pac for creating an "amazing" relationship with the club by opening their forests, as well as supporters like Spark HB.

"We're reliant on volunteers building tracks and we're also fortunate to have the likes of Spark providing financial support to commission professional track building contractors," Mr Richardson said.

The Bay's trails were as good as the nationally acclaimed tracks in Rotorua and Wellington, he said.

"Our tracks are right up there - we're upping the ante."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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