New mountain biking tracks named after this year's global pandemic have opened in Tauranga thanks to a $68,000 grant.
Mountainbike Tauranga club president Gareth Osmond said 60-odd club members took part in the members-only Stumpy's paddock Enduro Racing event at Summerhill Recreation Park on Saturday as part of a "soft opening" of the new tracks.
Planning and completion of the tracks, which stretch between Ikm to 1.5km long, took just over a year. Completion of the tracks was delayed due to several factors, including the Covid-19 lockdown, Osmond said.
"But it was well worth the wait, and we had an awesome first Stumpy's paddock enduro event to show off the fabulous tracks to the riders and supporters."
Osmond said the new tracks were aptly named Covid, Corona and The Flying Mullet and provided riders "incredible views" of Mount Maunganui and the ocean.
"We applied for a $68,000 grant from the Grass Roots Trust last year and by adding another $2000 into the pot ourselves, and with lots of volunteers help we finally completed the tracks two months ago," he said.
"It's been a very exciting development for our club and we couldn't have done it without the support of the Grass Roots Trust and our marvellous team of volunteers."
Grass Roots Trust provides funding grants in the Bay of Plenty and the Waikato regions.
Osmond, who is also an executive member of Mountain Biking New Zealand, said the popularity of mountain biking had swelled both locally and nationally and the club's membership has steadily been growing this year to just over 200.
He said club members ranged from 8 years to riders in their 60s and 70s, and at least 35 per cent were juniors, including a number in the High Performance Academy Team.
"We expect our membership to double by the end of next year," he said.
Mountainbike Tauranga also uses several tracks at Oropi Grove Mountain Bike Park.
"These three new tracks are for our more experienced riders but we also have tracks which cater for a range of skills and it only costs $40 a year to join our club," he said.
"It would cost that to drive to Rotorua and back. Why would you want to drive to Rotorua we have these fantastic mountain biking tracks right here on our own doorstep?
"We have a lot of adult members who ride e-bikes and we're keen to grow that side of our membership as well," Osmond said.
The club also launched a new initiative to encourage local businesses to come on board to sponsor different tracks to help cover maintenance costs.
"Our junior high-performance kids will do the work and the donated funds will go to help them with transport costs and entrance fees when competing in racing events," Osmond said.