What would make a sensible young woman strip to her knickers on a frosty Rotorua morning, and ride down a frozen jumps trail for the camera? Long story:
Rolling around in the vast network of trails that snake through the forest on the south side of Rotorua is a privilege available to anybody who turns up.
You can pedal out of a busy trailhead that on any Sunday (and practically any other day) resembles a small village, and within minutes lose yourselves, and see nobody much for as long as it takes. You can find trails for complete beginners, slots through the jungle that seem a very unlikely place to take a push bike, and trails of every grade in between.
We are often asked how we got lucky enough to have this park provided to us, and all the amazing trails within..
The truth, as usual, is stranger than fiction. Whakarewarewa Forest is not a park.
It is land owned by iwi of Te Arawa, and they generously allow access and will consider allowing trails to be created. The forestry company managing the tree crops growing on the land are likewise helpful in the way they do so, they work around us as much as they can.
The trails themselves have many ways of coming into being. There are ancient lines created by willing workers from the Corrections Dept, trails made by club working bees, personal projects made by community minded individuals in their spare time, and major projects fundraised by the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club and built by contractors.
Everything (except the Corrections projects!) is voluntary. The planning, consultation, marking, fundraising, signage and maintenance and arrangement of sponsorships is done by members of the club.
These days getting the green light for a new trail takes a fair bit of effort, so when one gets the nod it is exciting. This year there have been three major trails approved, one has been created by volunteers, one is still on the drawing board, and one is underway.
With a working title of ’Eagle vs Shark’ it is actually two trails, which will merge and drop riders out towards Lake Tikitapu, and will make a whole pile of new routes a lot more fun. Designed to be a flowing Grade 3 ride, it is being funded by donations from anybody out there, with financial support from Southstar Shuttles.
And that brings us back to the initial question: why was Lisa Horlor semi-naked in the woods? She threw out a challenge for herself and her mates: fund the trail, and she would lose most of her apparel for a run down Challenge Roadside. Her effort raised two thousand dollars from an adoring public!
We are not going to subject ourselves (or any spectators) to anything like that, but we are going to throw a few bucks into the trail. If everybody who opens this email put in a few dollars, the trail could be ready the next time you visit!