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It's a whole new sport

 

green Lake Trail

 

Mountain biking is full of new stuff. Even after thirty years it is amazing how each year brings fresh developments.


Right now the thing that strikes us as new is the sport itself.


On the weekend the Rotorua Trails Trust opened a new trail.


Named Te Kotukutuku after the native fuchsia flowering on the small peninsula near the exit, it is a Grade 2 trail that drops riders from the heights above Lake Rotokakahi, which marks the southern end of the Whakarewarewa Forest, right down to the lake’s edge on flowing, easy singletrack.
The new trail will be part of a big loop right around the outside of the trail system, planned for completion this summer, and made for everybody.


A loop that can be accessed piecemeal in a variety of ways, and also tackled as an all day adventure, it reflects what has happened to mountain biking lately.


It’s a big, complicated project to execute, and it’s aimed at everybody, not just “mountain bikers”.
Our lap of the woods on Sunday included the new trail, and what we found would have been hard to imagine just a few years ago.


Not long ago, if you were in the woods on a bike you were a “mountain biker”, and a recognisable member of a tribe. That group has gradually become much bigger, looser and more diverse, but they are still identifiable.


The only common factor among riders we found on Te Kotukutuku was the number of wheels on their machines - two each.


There were little kids on bikes with no pedals. Middle sized kids on BMXs. Grown-ups on brand new e-bikes. An older couple on commuter bikes with mudguards and carriers.


It was great.


Some of these people will grow out of their bikes, and not get around to replacing them. Some will park their bikes after a while, and the tyres and batteries will go flat.


But some will wake up in a few years with a variety of bikes crammed into the garage, piles of related bits and pieces, and enough accumulated experience and scars to call themselves mountain bikers.


And that simple trail was their first step.