There's a whole new generation of mountain bikers hitting the trails. And not just to ride.

"'Yeow', is the word that comes out of every mountain biker's mouth on a ride, just normal lingo," says one of them, 18-year-old Mitch Armstrong.

"I'm in love with riding my bike and currently working at Cyclezone, a local bike shop in Rotorua. Riding for me gives a sense of freedom and exploration while allowing me to connect with new people and friends".

He realises the Whakarewarewa Forest has been around for many years, long before his time.


"Fortunately, I'm one of the Rotorua locals who has had the opportunity to shape my life around the Redwoods which is right on our doorstep," he continues.

"Sometimes I'll head out for a training mountain bike ride to push myself, others just to have fun with mates. The local community of riders is huge and while out riding you'll always come across someone you know. We really are one big family."

His commitment to the MTB scene extends past riding.

"My passion for helping the local community started while I was at high school and riding my bike after school, like I did every day. The 'dream' adults call it," he adds.

"Cruising down New Exit as I always did, having fun, I was abruptly stopped by a guy, Allan Coker, digging up the trail with a pick axe. Curious, I asked what he was doing. It turned out to be 'trail building'. Fast forward 18 months, this 'trail building thing' turned into Whaka Digs with Allan, Mike Croucher and a trail crew who ran maintenance nights on New Exit."

He's also a part of the big community of locals who work as volunteers in the rich variety of clubs in town.

"There are quite a few, like Revolve, Single Speed Society, Descend and Mud Maidens," he says.

"All have their individual purposes and benefits, but one that I've come to be involved with is the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club which stands for all riders, offering multiple benefits and events for all capabilities, as well as Rider Development skills sessions and the First Response Unit. For the past two years, I've been committed to the Club so that all other riders can have a better riding experience."


Club secretary, Barbara Jenks is full of praise for him.

"Mitch is an outstanding young man and we are fortunate to have him on the committee as the social media person," she says.

"He is full of good ideas which he doesn't just talk about but acts on. He has a wise head on young shoulders."

The club has been around for more than 25 years with a long line-up of volunteers involved from when it first started.

Mitch and the current committee are an excellent example of how it continues to reinvent itself bringing new people into the mix with fresh, innovative ideas and enthusiasm.

Alongside Mitch and Barbara, Mat Hunt is the current president and Stephen Graham is Treasurer. The committee is Jo Hastings, Erin Eggleston, Clair Scott, Kate Bone, Simon Honour, Paul McDowell, Kirsty Walker, Cati Pearson, Tuhua Mutu and Mike Robertson. Helmets off to them for all the hard mahi. MTB has a very high profile these days – but the work never gets easier.

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