Craig Pattle is a Rotorua rider who raced mountain bikes and BMX all over the world for more than 10 years.

The 34-year-old started riding in the Whakarewarewa Forest more than 20 years ago and mountain biking is his passion.

The change from chasing the dream to the real world was hard.

"I got a 'real job', a manager surfing a desk, which wasn't for me," he says.

Advertisement

"That's when I started with Velosolutions NZ. Going track building felt like the right move as it doesn't feel like a job…I love what I do, I get to travel around to different locations, meet some awesome people and build awesome tracks - this switch was easy, that 'real job' was super hard."

Velosolutions NZ came about through a partnership with a Swiss friend of Craig's, Claudio Caluori.

"We used to race MTB World Cups together and stayed good friends," Craig continues.

"After racing Claudio started Velosolutions in Switzerland and now it's a worldwide company with partners building bike parks and asphalt pump tracks."

Craig and the Velosolutions NZ's latest project is the new Rotorua BMX track.

"It's massive for us, and it's one which is close to our hearts," he says.

"My main worker, Nigel Robinson, and I turned the first piece of dirt at the old BMX track down Te Ngae Rd many years ago, so to be a part of building the new track is awesome. I like to think the BMX Club chose us because of that connection and our experience working on many other tracks around the country.

"Big shout out to my crew, Nigel, Tuhoto-Ariki Pene and Dan White - these guys are working the machines. It's going great, looks like a BMX track, now, and, if all the stars align, I'm sure the track will be up and running before winter."

Craig plans to have a crack at the new track "playing, maybe not riding like a pro…and perhaps, keeping my wheels on the ground..."

He may not have a lot of time spare to do so. Some possible asphalt pump track projects are under discussion and he's involved with the New Zealand qualifier for the Red Bull Pump Track World Championships in Wellington in April.

He's also part of the Rotorua-based MTB Performance Hub as a downhill coach with trips to the Oceania Championships in Australia in April, then Europe for UCI World Cups and the Mountain Bike World Champs in Canada in late August.

He has some great advice for young riders.

"Don't try too hard and experience all kinds of riding - road, BMX, track, cross country or Enduro, even get out on working bees in the forest. Rotorua is such an amazing place for bikes with all these options available. And keep it fun."

Like a lot of riders, deciding on a favourite trail in the forest is a tough one.

"I'd have to say Hot X Buns, such a fun track, built and maintained to perfection, it gets rougher and rougher with age and more tree roots get exposed with great flow and plenty of line options if you're willing to push it. It's an all-time classic. Shot, Graeme Murray for all the work on that one."

For Craig the passion continues.

"To be able to make a living out of track building and my coaching work is awesome. I have a few racing highlights which I look back on and think were pretty cool and I'm really happy with what I'm up to now.

It's been a pretty good ride so far."