The first trails working bee I went on was in 2001.

Newly moved to Rotorua, though riding here since the early 1990s, it was an opportunity to give something back and also meet a lot those who helped create the bike park.

It was intimidating because I really knew nothing about trail building and what a team turned up that day.

They were well on the road to hall of fame status even back then – like Mike Lee, one of the founders of the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club, Dave Donaldson, club president at the time, Alden Ardern, who would go on to design and build the downhill course for the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championship and Rick Todd who would do the same for the cross country.


Photographer, Graeme Murray also rolled in that day and Wendy Ardern arrived with muffins.

What was impressive was the confident decisiveness of how the crew went about rebuilding a berm on Rock Drop.

Time passed with more bees and trail building on Hot X Buns and on the world's courses.

Gradually, I realised how much I was learning from these experienced builders - and even made a suggestion or two.

After the worlds, Rick suggested a new trail in a block between Reservoir and Hill Roads.

The team walked the block, sometimes getting lost, sometimes finding features like the stream that runs through it and possible crossing points.

Then, work began. All hand built so it took time and with major contributions from Claude Manihera, who did maintenance work on the forest for the Rotorua Council, and Red McHale and the Department of Corrections community service crews who moved a tonne of dirt and built the bridges.

At 4.5 kilometres, Old Chevy is one of the longest trails in the forest and not for the fainthearted with challenging climbs and fast and technical descents – demanding on both skills and fitness:


With the trail complete, life intervened with everyone moving on to other projects including all the Rotorua Singlespeed Society events since 2008.

Meanwhile, Tim Charleson picked up the mantle and shovel maintaining Old Chevy for the past 10 years as a trail adopter. This is a programme where volunteers choose a trail, sometimes more than one, to look after. "It's really satisfying," he says.

"You get a sense of ownership and it's very therapeutic."

Originally run by the RMTBC, the programme is now managed by the Rotorua Trails Trust and there are still trails needing adoption:

When Rick put the word out in mid-winter that it was time to do some reconstruction work on Chevy, it was impossible to say no.

Tim's spot-on about this sort of work. Digging is great for upper body strength and any time spent out in the forest is good for the soul and the mind.

There's also a strong sense of camaraderie with anyone welcome. He rau ringa e oti – many hands make light work.

That applies to the trust's monthly working bees and there's one this weekend – Sunday October 6.

Never done any maintenance before? Do not worry as these are run by some accomplished trail builders you will learn from.

Meet at the trust's offices on Long Mile Road at 9am and see the trust's Facebook page for more information.