Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby Melissa_Theuriau on Wed 1/Apr/09 8:28am

A lot of sweat and metal has gone into the Manawatu Gorge track over recent months, with plenty more to come. But some mountain bikers are tearing up the track as Department of Conservation staff labour to upgrade it.

In total, four hundred and sixty cubic metres of metal will be carted and spread along the popular 10 kilometre walking track before spring, in a bid to upgrade it to a more accessible, user friendly “walking” standard. “We are trying to make the track more appealing for city people, so it is easier for them to get a taste of the bush” says DOC ranger Lyall Goggin. “But a few mountain bikes have done a considerable amount of damage, so that we have to spend a lot of time repairing parts of the track we have already upgraded”.

The metal is flown in to dump-sites spaced along the track. It takes one day to fly in seventy cubic metres, which is then carted along the track in a power barrow and wheelbarrows, spread and compacted. Geo-textile mat is laid underneath the metal to provide a barrier between the metal and the dirt. This allows water passage, but prevents the metal from sinking into the dirt. Mr Goggin arrived at the track near Upper Gorge Bridge to continue spreading metal, and was frustrated to find significant damage caused by skidding mountain bikes. “I could see tyre tracks and patches of bare cloth as I walked up the track,” says Mr Goggin. Cyclists are skidding around corners of the track, throwing metal off the track and exposing the geo-textile cloth underneath. “Instead of carrying on with work further up the track, the holes had to be refilled and compacted again,” explains Mr Goggin.

Metal is yet to be spread on four and a half of the ten kilometres of track. The project is scheduled to be finished by June, but progress is slowed because staff have to spend their time repairing the damage caused by mountain bikes. It is not yet known if there is similar damage in other parts of the track. “I’m not looking forward to seeing the rest of the track” says Mr Goggin.

The track upgrade is part of a ten year project to protect and enhance the biodiversity and recreation opportunities in the Manawatu Gorge. The track is used by an average of 1200 people each month. Being only 15 kilometres away from Palmerston North, it is a great opportunity for people to explore the tranquillity and beauty of unique landscape and native bush. Mountain bikes are not permitted on the Manawatu Gorge track for two reasons; they cause extensive damage to the track and they pose a significant risk to other track users. Signs to this effect will be posted at the track entrances.

Department of Conservation area manager Jason Roxburgh urges track users to give mountain bikers a friendly reminder that the Manawatu Gorge track is a walking track only. “We want people to get out there and enjoy our natural heritage and the recreation opportunities” says Mr Roxburgh. He encourages people to use the places designed and managed for mountain biking. “Takapari Road on the western side of the Ruahine Ranges takes you up to the tussock tops, and Palmerston North City Council maintain excellent biking tracks up the Kahutarawa Valley”.
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Re: Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby Trail on Wed 1/Apr/09 8:41am

Mountain bikes are not permitted on the Manawatu Gorge track for two reasons; they cause extensive damage to the track and they pose a significant risk to other track users. Signs to this effect will be posted at the track entrances

They need to learn how to build a track. If a track is built properly then mountain bikes will not cause significant damage to the track

As for posing significant risk to other track users... that is an attitude that many older non-mountain biking people have. In reality bikers and people can share tracks. Just look at Queen Charlotte.

Sounds to me like someone decided to exclude bikers from somewhere that would have made an ideal piece of track for both walking and biking...
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Re: Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby ThingOne on Wed 1/Apr/09 9:17am

Yeah, my thoughts too, doesnt sound like a particually durable surface they are creating.

However, if an area has been deemed off limits by the powers that be, then it should be off limits.
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Re: Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby sifter on Wed 1/Apr/09 9:20am

ThingOne wrote:Yeah, my thoughts too, doesnt sound like a particually durable surface they are creating.

However, if an area has been deemed off limits by the powers that be, then it should be off limits.


My thoughts exactly. If it's a walking track, the design parameters *are* different.
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Re: Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby Tama on Wed 1/Apr/09 9:36am

From my understanding the damage highlighted in the release is happening because the riding is happening during a track upgrade - before the aggregate has a chance to pack down and harden.

I think it's a shame that they couldn't take the opportunity when planning the track upgrade to address mountain bike access.
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Re: Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby Trail on Wed 1/Apr/09 9:45am

Yeh, I know a walking track is built differently, I was more bemoaning the fact that it is probably a very good place to make a track that would suit both walkers and bikers but I am sure that the bikers never even got a chance to put their hand up and say "please could we use that track you are building for the public enjoyment too?".

I dont condone poaching tracks that have been designated as walking tracks as it creates even more resentment and friction.

I lived in Palmy for 4 years and used the Manawatu gorge track as a nice place to go for a training run. There were not very many places to find some nice single track to mountain bike back then (late 90's) and it does not sound like they have expanded the trail network greatly.

I dont know how much they are spending on the upgrade of this track. I wonder if they have considered the growing number of bikers in New Zealand and the amount of use a well built mountain bike track in a suitable location would get. The DOC guy at the end of the article
We want people to get out there and enjoy our natural heritage and the recreation opportunities”
sounds like he would be open to some decent bike tracks being built??
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Re: Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby DogsBollocks on Wed 1/Apr/09 10:23am

Jeezarse. The cunzors who have been riding on this track built for walkers need a clucking good slap ! Who cares if it might have made a good MTB track and they should have "considered the growing numbers of bikers in New Zealand". No different to a pit bike on one of our purpose built tracks, we'd be going apeshit !!!
Sometimes us MTBers/cyclists are that far up our own arses we fail to see the the bigger picture and show respect for anyone else out there using "Our Place". If this sounds like a rant it is. Sometimes we can be very arrogant/ignorant about what we do and why we do it, mostly to our detriment as this negative press shows. Advocacy is fine but we ain't leading a revolution or going to war. We are just cyclists who should accept what we are given with good grace and hope that leads to bigger and better things.
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Re: Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby Absolut on Wed 1/Apr/09 10:36am

Tama - was this a press release you received from DOC? If so the MMBC will be contacting DOC to start a dialog and see if we can get into their planning process earlier and secure some shared track access. Personally, I wouldn't want to ride the gorge track as there are heaps of steps at either end to lug a bike up, before you get to anywhere rideable. I agree that it should be walking only at this point.

I am involved with building trails at Kahuterawa and we have greatly expanded the trails in that area. To correct original post, the MMBC have created the trails with support, but no physical assistance from the Palmy Norf council. Three years ago there was only a 6km loop that was a 4km slog uphill and a 2km downhill that was over before you realised, there is now an additional 6km of single track created over the past 3 years, with a further 6km planned over the next year or so. It is best ridden during the summer as the clay gets pretty treacherous when wet. For winter riding the MMBC have permitted access to a forestry block at Santoft, where there is 12km of sweet single track, which rides really well during the winter.

We are currently working with the council regarding building 3km of single track at the old Landfill site and also hope to have access to another forestry block to make a dedicated DH course later this year. So more trails are opening up around Palmy :), but riding trails marked as walking only helps no-one.
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Re: Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby Tama on Wed 1/Apr/09 10:38am

Absolut wrote:Tama - was this a press release you received from DOC?

I've recently started (last week) contacting DoC about getting press releases from them. However this release is off their website: http://www.doc.govt.nz/about-doc/news/m ... the-track/

There's contact information on the page :)
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Re: Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby Trail on Wed 1/Apr/09 11:32am

DogsBollocks wrote:Rantrantrant - Advocacy is fine but we ain't leading a revolution or going to war. We are just cyclists who should accept what we are given with good grace and hope that leads to bigger and better things.


Bollocks

You might be happy accepting the left overs, but there are vast tracts of NZ which have very suitable terrain where they exclude bikers as a blanket policy due to outdated laws (for example the Heaphy track). If we were to just accept what we were given then places like the Heaphy will be lost forever to bikers.

Bikers love getting out into nature as much as the walkers do, but I believe that many people in the higher management of organizations like DOC still see bikers as wanting 4wd tracks (go and have a look at almost all of the recent DOC opened mountain bike trails) and they see single track as walkers only, or too hard, or not suitable for bikers (which some tracks are, and the Manawatu Gorge is probably one of these tracks that is not suitable).

Basically if we can wake many of the DOC people up to how successful mountain bike tracks can be for a community (Use Whirinaki as an example) we might be able to get them to see that biking is something that needs more consideration.

You are right, the bikers should know better and should be staying off the walking track (especially if it is sign posted, in construction or generally know as a walking track) but the fact that they are trying to ride there suggests to me that there are not many opportunities for bikers in the area, and perhaps DOC should be looking at providing some good mountain bike single track so that the biking public of NZ can enjoy their natural heritage.

Why is it that walkers get multi-million dollar government funded projects providing them with walkways when in most places bikers have to put their own time and effort into building trails?? There are probably as many people who enjoy recreational biking as there are who enjoy recreational walking!
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Re: Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby Trail on Wed 1/Apr/09 11:36am

Absolut wrote: there is now an additional 6km of single track created over the past 3 years, with a further 6km planned over the next year or so. It is best ridden during the summer as the clay gets pretty treacherous when wet. For winter riding the MMBC have permitted access to a forestry block at Santoft, where there is 12km of sweet single track, which rides really well during the winter.

We are currently working with the council regarding building 3km of single track at the old Landfill site and also hope to have access to another forestry block to make a dedicated DH course later this year. So more trails are opening up around Palmy :), but riding trails marked as walking only helps no-one.


Good work Absolut/MMBC! There was a severe lack of single track around Palmy when I was a student there in the late 90's!!
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Re: Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby DogsBollocks on Wed 1/Apr/09 11:49am

@ Trail,
Right you are :blush: :blush: :blush: . As I climb down from my very high horse I realise what I probably meant to say was we shouldn't use situations like this to highlight our issues as we just end up looking stupid coz we shat in our own nest. Until we are squeaky clean we might just have to accept what we are given and continue to educate our own on what is and is not appropriate when it comes to other "users". Ignorant dickheads, as these guys obviously are shit me to tears and until we rid them from our sport any advocacy efforts good people like yourself are doing on all our behalf might be a bit stalled because of negative press and that makes me fu$%^&*kin wild.

Sorry if you got the worng end of the stick ;)
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Re: Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby Trail on Wed 1/Apr/09 12:09pm

Sweet as.

In life it really doesn't matter what group of people you associate with, it is always a few dickheads who wreck it for the rest of the people, and we just have to hope the powers that be recognise this fact and dont base their future decisions on the actions of a few idiot mtbikers.

You are right, we should not use situations like this to high light issues, as we are starting off on the wrong foot!!
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Re: Mountain Bikers Damaging Manawatu Gorge Track Upgrade

Postby mikek on Wed 1/Apr/09 1:02pm

The MMBC Committee are onto this and have already spoken to Jason Roxburgh - things are in hand :)
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