Jaws!

Postby SwampThing on Wed 4/Nov/15 2:00pm

Two years after construction started, we are both rapt and relieved to finally announce the Official Opening of our biggest undertaking - Jaws!

The date is set for Saturday, November 7 at 12.00pm at the track entrance (allow 30-40mins if cycling from the bottom of Ziggy).

We will be offering liquid refreshments at the Ziggy carpark during the afternoon so you can rehydrate before you head up for another lap :)

This intermediate-grade, digger-benched track descends from near the top of Corkscrew, to emerge 4kms later at the Ziggy/Corkscrew hub. The Jaws extension continues on in a similar vein to the 1km 'first stage', opened in March 2014 and exiting onto Velocity, albeit if Jaws had been fed some steroids.
If you already whoop 'n' holler on 'Jaws1', you'll be frightening the birds on what follows!
It's still suitable for intermediate-level riders but those with more advanced skills will be able enjoy the extra gravity the descent allows.

Four kilometres is a lot of track so, like Jaws1, you'll experience a few pedally sections where we've taken you deep into steep-sided gullies clad in native bush. Not only do these give you a chance to regroup with your riding buddies and catch your breath, they reveal some of the Park's hidden treasures. Ancient rimu, majestic beech trees, towering tree ferns and verdant broadleaf understory - all providing a home for the Park's outstanding birdlife.
Much as you'll enjoy racing to the bottom, at least once you may want to pause in a couple of the gullies, especially on a hot day, and take in some of the beauty that surrounds you...

ImageWith the track's completion, I thought it timely to reflect on some of the challenges we encountered in the course of its construction.

By far the biggest obstacle was the surface granitebedrock, always disguised by a thin layer of vegetation on extremely steep slopes.

This was a feature of several gullies that have been deeply eroded over millennia.

The tell-tale scrape of metal on rock was a sound we came to dread.

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Andrew Smith, of Independent Blasting and Abseil Access, first came to our aid on Jaws1. Unfortunately, the trouble with Separation Point Granite is that its often too hard to 'dig' and too soft to effectively blast, as it absorbs most of the charge rather than shattering the rock.

Still, it was necessary to dislodge some very large surface boulders that were hanging topside of the track and Andrew, harnessed up to whatever secure tree he could find, did great work in bringing them down, even if the resounding booms made some Kaiteriteri locals a little nervous!

Karl Thompson and Sam Knowles were the digger operators on Jaws, though it seemed to bemostly Sam's lot to battle in and out of the gullies.

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It wasn't financially-sustainable to blast our way through every section of bedrock so we took up the offer of a portable rock-breaker from CJ Industries.

This was slow, hard work, especially over the summer months.

Often, at the end of the day, we'd only have 2-3 metres progress to show for it but I'd still go home exhausted!

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On one occasion we exposed a spring which, over time, had turned the subsoil and rock to a grey, silty, unstable mess.

It seemed that the more we excavated, the more would then slump. A freshly installed culvert (and a brand-new shovel) disappeared overnight in one slump.

Each morning we'd reinstate the track and move on, only to find the following morning that we'd have to backtrack and do it all again.

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Still, perseverance prevailed and occasionally we'd get the opportunity to do something creative - like install a shark tooth :)

Jaws offers some spectacular views towards both Kaiteriteri and Nelson but sometimes you've got to stop to notice them.

Then again, take your eyesoff the track at the wrong time and Jaws can bite!

It's probably claimed more victims than any other Park track, 'though not through its technical difficulty. There's something about the flow it allows that can suddenly get away from people.

Still, what's a bit of granite-rash...?

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As we moved onto the second stage of Jaws, switching away from the exit onto Velocity to cut back at a lower elevation, we made the mistake of thinking that the worst was over.

An initial traverse, benched from clay, had us confidently predicting an early completion - until we rounded a spur and headed back into our first major gully.

Rather than finding the going easier, we now found ourselves in deeply-eroded ravines.

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This time, the Motueka DOC office came to our rescue, loaning the services of their explosives expert, Stu Houston.

Again, the booms echoed round the Kaiteriteri hills - again, small lumps of bedrock were dislodged or pulverised.

Progress was back to a crawl.

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My back had told me that manhandling a rock-breaker at shoulder height wasn't sustainable, either, so this time we turned to Andrew Spittal of Ching Contracting.

Andrew, a foundation member, has been an asset to the Park since its inception and didn't hesitate to offer us Ching's digger-operated, hydraulic rock breaker.

This was the breakthrough (literally) we needed.

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Suddenly I was the one standing idly by, watching the digger operator and rock-breaker do all of the work!

Progress was still slow but we now had the confidence that nothing would prevent us from eventually attaining our goal.

Most of the past two winters were spent in gullies like these, where we'd see the sun for a few hours a day.

Biking up Velocity and into the work-site swathed in several layers of clothes was always a good warm-up.

Hard as it is to remove the rock, the crushed granite packs down to make a smooth surface, allowing speed to be carried even on slight uphills.

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As we extended the track further and further from its Velocity entrance, our quad bike became indispensable, regularly ferrying fuel and chainsaws to site.

It was probably most valuable when we had breakdowns, both to Mouse and the hydraulic rock breaker. It's hard to imagine any harder work to which these items of machinery could be subjected.

At one point, Mouse suffered an engine seizure, requiring a complete replacement. Nathan Johns, of N S Rogers, ably assisted by Sam, did a fantastic job of removing and then reinstalling an engine on-site.
Our track budget had already haemorrhaged and these necessary repairs put further pressure on our available funds - but that's what they're there for!

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An attempt to bench a temporary connection to Corkscrew was abandoned when more bedrock was struck entering yet another large gully. A second switchback sent us back on another lower traverse, one on which we knew we'd encounter the same seams as above.

More of the same followed: another winter spent in freezing ravines, more repairs - yet getting closer all of the time.

Motivating us throughout these times was the awareness that we were creating something special for the Park - perhaps its 'signature' track.
Sometimes the steepness of the terrain or the subterranean rock dictated the nature of the track. At other times, we had opportunity to build in some fun & flow - those were good days!

For Karl Thompson and myself, the opening of Jaws will mark a closure to our partnership of track building. We have worked together to build Swish, Ziggy, Corkscrew, Cruise Control and the upgrade of Easy Rider, not to mention remedial works to other tracks. Karl also built our Pump Track and subsequently enhanced it. He now takes his consummate skills back to Golden Bay where the local MTB Club are waiting for him to start work on the Kill Devil upgrade.

And, after 7 years of what's felt at times like total immersion, I'm stepping down as the Park's project manager. I can do this assured in the knowledge we have a fantastic committee, some of whom responded to my first appeal for "interested locals" and helped set up Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park Inc. in December 2008. We all shared a vision for the Park and it's been wonderful to see that realised over the years. And, as you'd expect, there's more to come!

See you at the Opening...
Guy Trainor

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Original Published: 1:25pm Wednesday, 4th November 2015 - NZST
SwampThing
Member for: 6 years 5 months

Re: Jaws!

Postby Sims on Wed 4/Nov/15 3:02pm

Wowsers! What a build - Great stuff!
Sims
Member for: 15 years 3 months

Re: Jaws!

Postby Trail on Wed 4/Nov/15 5:19pm

Holy cow. Good work!
Trail
User avatar
"Concentrating on technique"
Member for: 9 years 3 months

Re: Jaws!

Postby RHR_Rob on Fri 13/Nov/15 9:57pm

I have been 'told' we are going to Kiterri - whats its name at christmas - so all is not lost :-)
RHR_Rob
Member for: 13 years 10 months

Cycling | Kaiteriteri MTB Park | Mountain Biking | Nelson Region | New Zealand | Regions | Trail Building | Upper South Island - Latest Posts

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