South Otago Mountain Bike Club is ploughing through its goals at Balclutha Mountain Bike Park as supporters steadily tick administrative boxes and engineers position safety bollards.
Nathan Baldwin, a man with 30 years’ experience mountain biking and track building, has been swinging a shovel with up to 21 other volunteers on Thursday ‘‘dig nights’’ since December last year.
‘‘It started with Connor Bond and Jak Buckingham scoping out possible areas, and joining forces with the council to choose this site early in November .
‘‘Around four degrees is a good gradient. We’ve got the experience to eye the ground and walk out tracks, and we milk as much ride time out of the 40 to 45m of elevation as we can,’’ Mr Baldwin said.
Mountain biker Chris Till of Balclutha Lions has been co› ordinating the project, covering everything from minutes at monthly meetings to on›site health and safety inductions.
‘‘This has gone so smoothly, it attracts positive co›operation so easily. We proved volunteers would come, that the tracks work and people will use it.
‘‘We’ve been working through admin, finances and formalities, but here at the park we’ve already finished two tracks and have started a third,’’ he said.
Up to five downhill tracks were planned with colour ratings like ski trails, as well as practice space for novices and a track with jumps for advanced bikers mastering big aerials.
‘‘Kids from every neighbourhood can get here under their own steam to exercise and socialise.
‘‘There’s plans and funding for native planting by the kindergarten kids because as well as building an active new park for Balclutha, we’re reclaiming and regenerating land to remain a public reserve in perpetuity,’’ Mr Till said.
Clutha District Council community development adviser Jean Proctor said the Balclutha initiative was inspiring groups in other areas.
‘‘People are clamouring to come on board, so stand by for more announcements as sponsorship and partnerships move forward.
‘‘There is also a competition to design the logo for the new South Otago Mountain Bike Club, which you can find out about on their social media page,’’ she said.
Logging contractor Kevin Henderson was on site with heavy machinery, while Lions Club and Rotary were both supporting the work.
Veteran Rotarian Brian Archbold was one of the track building volunteers who was keen to keep helping on ‘‘dig days’’ which start at 11am on Sundays. ‘‘I was never much of a cyclist myself,’’ he said. ‘‘But this is the best Rotary project I’ve been involved in.’’