Kaiteriteri Mtb Track Build Update: Explosives Edition

Postby SwampThing on Sat 4/Jan/14 1:00am

For those of you curious to know how progress on our latest digger-bench project is going, the answer is SLOW!
We expected the steepness of the terrain to make for some tough going, with batters frequently exceeding 2m.
The number of exceptionally-large, prone pines was new. Obviously felled well before the former forest was converted into a mountain bike park, these fallen monsters have proven a challenge in places - especially on the steep slopes.

Still, at the end of each day, we were able to look back on several more metres of newly-formed track.
Then we encountered a wall of granite. Scratching away with the digger bucket was achieving little other than wearing down teeth. The only option was to blast it.

Enter Andrew Smith of Independent Blasting & Abseil Access.

This first exercise in blasting may have alarmed a few Kaiteriteri residents but it did succeed in clearing a sufficient path for Mouse to move forward.

ImageA few metres on, we encountered a boulder.

These are rare on the surface of the MTB Park slopes and, when discovered, we try to make a feature of them or, at the least, to leave them trackside for riders to marvel at.

That wasn't really an option, here. It was massive and the way it hung over the intended line meant it wasn't safe to try to sneak under it. It had to go.

What we could see was big enough but how much of the boulder was buried underground was impossible to tell.

Also, it was formed of much harder, white granite, rather than the softer, yellow rock more typical of 'Separation Point Granite'.
This called for a more powerful drill. Despite being on holiday, Mark Townsend, Motueka DOC Conservation Services Manager, came to our rescue by lending us theirs.

ImageIt wasn't easy work.

First, Andrew used a pneumatic rock hammer, generously loaned by Ching Contracting, to create a starting hole for the drill bit.

Then he had to rig up a harness for himself while Karl used the digger bucket to take some of the weight of the heavy drill.

Add in temps in the high 20s and the sweat was flowing freely!

The holes had to be drilled to a depth of approx. 1.2m before the charges could be inserted. Then, we retreated to a safe distance, wound up the warning siren before, 60secs later... KABOOM!!!

I'm not sure how accurate the reports were that some locals thought that a local water taxi company's fuel depot had exploded but the boom did echo around the hills for a few seconds.

A significant chunk of the boulder still remained, however, so Andrew's work wasn't finished yet...

It's hard yakka manhandling the drill, especially on a steep slope, and made me appreciate the efforts of those currently constructing the Old Ghost Road mountain bike trail.

Even more so, the achievements of those mining pioneers carving their pack tracks into the hinterlands of rugged mountain ranges.
Picks, shovels and dynamite forged a network of benched trails that are now helping to turn NZ into a MTB Mecca.

Meanwhile, back at the rockface, enough rock had been removed for Karl to manoeuvre Mouse a few more metres along the track.

More boulders... but of a size able to be nudged over the edge, crashing their way into the gully below.

But this 20m stretch of hillside wasn't done with us yet.

Stripping the vegetative cover and thin topsoil away uncovered a bank of wet, grey, silty sub-soil.

The more we excavated, the more slumped down to re-cover the track. Somewhere in there, a spring had been 'uncorked'...

Water seeped freely from the bank, quickly turning previously dry soil to a porridge-like consistency.
It seemed as quickly as we cleared it, more slipped down, leaving the matted surface vegetation - held together by suplejack roots - increasingly undercut.

Eventually, we succeeded in creating enough of a sump to install a drain and got back on to the business of benching track.

Walking back out that afternoon, we discovered another major slump, this time bringing down, along with a jungle of vines and tree fern, another massive boulder!

Re-enter, Andrew...

ImageMore blasting, more excavating... and we're wondering how much more time this section is going to consume.

Work recommences on Monday and an inspection this weekend will most likely reveal that more of the hillside has slumped over the track.

Still, like the pioneers of old, we'll get there and, chances are, when you eventually get to ride this bit of track, you'll whizz by oblivious to the efforts that went into building it.

Although, if you stop to pause and reflect by the small pool we've created at a stream crossing just beyond it, you may be lucky enough to spot a koura.

The native freshwater crayfish pictured was found living in the damp soil underneath one of the boulders we removed.
Unfortunately, its tail was missing but it did manage to crawl away when we relocated it to the pool.

How many generations of this species it took for this individual to make it quite so far up Kaiteriteri's slopes is anybody's guess.

Unless, s/he came via the underground spring system, of course, in which case they may be on their way down...

Alongside the regular Summer visitors from Christchurch, there's been a great mix of others using the trails this season- some of whom have appeared on our Facebook page.
More people from the North Island have heard about the MTB Park and, when combined with the other natural attractions of the region, have found it well worth the ferry crossing.
The local bike hire operators have also enabled many overseas visitors to get out and explore the tracks, all finding something to suit their level of skill and fitness.

ImageSome, like Erica Hartwick, enjoy returning to ride their favourite tracks.

She took special delight in installing her own unique contribution to The Corkscrew Tree over xmas.

Next time you wander into a second-hand shop for a bit of time-filling browsing, why not see if there's an interesting corkscrew that could become your own 'signature' at this well-photographed landmark.

We are always grateful to those of you that leave something in the donation box following your visit.
Not only do we accept it as your way of saying "Thanks!" - it makes a very real contribution to Park development.
As the track network has expanded, so, too, have maintenance requirements and the tools necessary to carry it out, so every dollar is well invested.

Occasionally, appreciative Park users want to contribute more significantly to our work. Several people have made substantial donations directly to us and these we acknowledge with a letter, tax invoice and, new this year, a 'Thank You" poster. We also mention them under our Supporters link in the menu bar.
Amounts over the years have varied from $50 to $1000 but all are received with the same awareness that you get a lot of enjoyment from the Park and we get a lot of pleasure from knowing that. Alongside our many track sponsors, you're helping to create a Park of which we can all be proud.

And finally, despite all those kgs you've put on over xmas, remember you can always shed weight by buying carbon components...


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Original Published: 12:27pm Friday, 3rd January 2014 - NZST
Member for: 8 years 11 months

Re: No Title

Postby Henry Dorset Case on Sat 4/Jan/14 9:44am

This is awesome but needs a better title: something like "Kaiteriteri MTB track build update" or "What I did at Xmas: blew shit up!" that second one will get the punters frothing.

Next time I am up there I am totally bringing a bike!
Henry Dorset Case
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Member for: 18 years 1 month

Re: No Title

Postby Bigfoot on Sat 4/Jan/14 10:25am

Henry Dorset Case wrote:This is awesome but needs a better title: something like "Kaiteriteri MTB track build update" or "What I did at Xmas: blew shit up!" that second one will get the punters frothing.

Next time I am up there I am totally bringing a bike!

Agreed :)
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"We are the Village Green Preservation Society"
Member for: 16 years 10 months

Re: Kaiteriteri Mtb Track Build Update: Explosives Edition

Postby kaiteri on Sun 5/Jan/14 10:04am

For some reason the blog title from the Park website wasn't copied to Vorb. Whoever 'updated' it, nailed it, tho' :)
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Member for: 10 years 5 months

Re: Kaiteriteri Mtb Track Build Update: Explosives Edition

Postby ChumlyPogward on Sun 5/Jan/14 10:44am

I just spent 10 days in Kaiteriteri, unfortunately I only took the Surly Disc Trucker - but that was enough to manage the easy MTB track back into town on the way back from a road ride.. was nice to have the option for a technical challenge :)
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Member for: 9 years 1 month

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