Mountain bikers in action at Rivenrock. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED
What started as a fatherly gesture from Daryl Hind to his son Henry is fast becoming one of the best mountain bike parks in the country.
The family theme runs through Rivenrock Mountain Bike Park, near Mt Holdsworth, with tracks graded to suit different levels of ability to attract young and old.
“We get parents, children coming out,” Hind said. “Playing as a family, laughing as a family and getting on with life.
“Our original motivation was our son. He does get crook.”
Henry suffers from severe cyclic vertiginous migraines, which can leave him debilitated with vision loss for up to three months at a time.
“When he is well, his escape was a pushbike and, when he was housebound, he was looking at YouTube bike park trails, so all the ideas and the concept and everything has basically come from that.
“We purchased the farm next door around about eight years ago and we made a few tracks for my son and his cousin.
“They invited a few people out and they thought it was quite good – had a bit of a ride around.
“We thought long and hard and the end result was we purchased the adjoining farm and we have been here for the last three years.
“We cut the boundary fence and got in and started building a proper mountain bike park.”
Hind said dozens of locals have pitched in to help develop the park.
He continued to farm the land around the tracks and all returns from the bike hire and shuttle service went into continual development.
“We didn’t appreciate just how much growth there was in this hobby/sport/industry for want of a better word. So once word got out what we were aiming to achieve, there was a lot of pressure at the gate.
“We knew we opened too soon but we thought let’s get the people on here, let’s measure what the rumour was.”
The early opening helped foster the community effort.
“People spoke out about what they liked, what they wanted to see and what they didn’t like.
“For us, that then made it a whole lot easier – it’s no use having this idea and concept of building this thing and have only three per cent of the people use it.”
Other mountain bike parks have also lent expertise, helping expand New Zealand’s reputation as a centre for mountain bikers from all over the world.
The 21km of tracks was expected to double in two to three years.
“The feeling is that it’s a good thing to do, it’s the right time to do it, Hind said.
“We are here for the long haul. I hope everyone enjoys our ride.”
Hind said the project had a genuine community focus, not just in the way businesses have supported its construction but in the way it is giving back.
“We have people coming from Wellington and Palmerston North and Hastings . . . and they need food, and accommodation and petrol, so everyone is getting something out of it.”
He said visits by schools groups had taken off – “and they’re staying at the DoC [Department of Conservation] campsite down the road – so they’re getting that experience as well”.
Hind said Rivenrock “needs to pay its way a little bit” but “we are people-driven”.
And that extends to the community.
“The more people we have, the more we can help everyone else’s patronage.” — NZME