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Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Last Diggerage of 2012

Making the most of more fine weather and ideal digger conditions, we got a digger again this weekend.

Pleasantly surprised to get a brand new digger in all it's scratch free and freshly painted glory. - 27 hours on the clock, we usually get a digger with around 3-5,000 hours.

I decided to extend the Long Cut which we started at the beginning of the month.

I was feeling a bit better about the approach to the entry so gave it a go, it ended up pretty good, although it was a bit of work breaking through the old bench of the 4WD Track which had a fair amount of rock, from here it was a gentle climb and traverse along and around the contour - plenty of tangle-weed and old Elderberry trees to knock down.

I was going to cut in a corner but then remembered it was the Long Cut - from my vantage points I couldn't really see where the track was and how big the basin was. I ended up climbing on top of the digger and saw that there was still another reasonable sized gully to cross before we reached the envisaged boundary, so on I went.

The beers were earned that night.

Sunday and back into it, pushing the traverse along, and finally got into a narrow rocky section, this was going well and I was through but then got myself stuck that required the expert skills of Shane. Yay. The weather had turned a bit too, with quite a bit of rain.

The Track is in there somewhere!

Still plenty more track in there but can't see it from here.
After this I spent the rest of the day raking the track then clearing the 4WD track of the rank grasses, fresh broom and many loose rocks. I also filled in the wheel sized holes that were there. The good news is that the track is ready for bikes again. A very fast and loose downhill and pretty impossible uphill - it is extremely steep - have fun!

It was dark by the time I got to the bottom of the track, so I was glad to get back onto the road and pack up.

It's been a great year for trail building at Haven MTB Park - you should come out and see what's going on.

The Digger has many signs of battle now and just under 50 hours on the clock now!

Happy New Year
Mr Haven

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day Spin

You may have heard I publicly put my name up to host a challenging and testing hill ride round the Peninsula for the Longest Day Ride on Saturday 22 December. Long story short, I survived.
Short story Long go here -->

Traditionally I go for a hoon on Christmas. Until I met Lisa it would be a longer ride as I don't really celebrate Christmas, but with Lisa being the Christmas Fairy incarnate, I  now have other commitments. Yay, yes really...

Anyhow, I still manage to squeeze in a ride, this time it was a bit of an effort, as I was feeling the effects of the Longest Day Ride and indeed, the short and very easy recovery ride I had done the day before. So I dragged myself and Colin out for a spin, the draw card being the first ride on some of our new tracks.

So we warm up on Chicken Run and ScollyWood, hand-built singletrack that has been in place for over 4 years and is mostly downhill (kinda.) I was good and there were no real aches and pains, just fun and concentrating on the terrain. The canopy (now native) is growing over the track in a number of places, which is so cool. We head back to the house in reverse, hooting and hollering.

We ride up TearDrop mark 2, which is now an easier climb, it is seasoning extremely well and no issues going up. We then have the first run down. The corners are very different than before so I have to re-learn them, it was quite strange for me, having run down these probably a hundred times, however they all rode well and I can't wait to session them so I have them dialled in. A few of the tops of the berms higher up are still a bit soft, but a bit more rain and sun will fix that. Col came down with smiles too, so it can't be too bad!

We then hoon down to Project G and ride around the whole track, looking and feeling great, the tight corner is definitely way too tight, so we will have to hit this with grubbers and shovels old skool style next dig day. Other than that, it's great, the climbing traverses which I was worried would be too steep are easy! Yippee.

Then off to Fred, and again the bit I thought was too steep was fine, the lines are a bit messy at the moment, with the edges being soft, but this should harden up pretty quickly. The new berms and corners are riding really well, the chute is a blast - but be warned there is a waratah on the track, that we haven't gotten out yet. Two corners haven't been worked on, but you can still negotiate around. It going to be another sweet track when it seasons and beds in. w00t!

We then hit the "road" and speed down to the Lower Tracks for a spin and suss out on the new stuff there. The old loop is riding so well and it's a good roadmap to how the new tracks are going to season - in a few years you will hardly notice a digger had been through and the track surface is solid and smooth! The natives growing well. The Skills Area is looking sweet and Col has been doing some research on PinkBike and YouTube for our features. Can't wait to get back and finish Stage One. This will be an lovely oasis in summer when temperatures soar, offering plenty of shade, chairs, many picnic spots, table and BBQ.

We had a nosey at the new stuff, but it is still pretty soft to try and ride it, although I did ride the new downhill corner and berm that Lisa just made under the cavern (don't tell Lisa!) It's awesome!

Then we hit the road and back to the house - I felt great now, nothing like a spin to ease out the legs.

We hope you have a great holiday season and we like to invite you to come and ride out at Haven if you are in the neighbourhood.

Happy Riding from Mr & Mrs Haven

Sunday, December 16, 2012

digger Digger DIGGER

With last weekend being too wet for any digger action, I had a hankering for more digger work, so with the balmy temperatures and nice firm soil conditions we were off again! w00t!

After all the recent work on Project G and Fred meaning that no more Digger Action was required it was back to the older stuff that was getting over their wet winter.

First up, I had a go on the culvert on Project G - my cunning idea to recycle material for the culvert didn't last long as the first bump with the digger bucket crumpled it up somewhat beyond repair, so it wouldn't have dealt with the volume of soil - oh well, may have to stump for a real culvert pipe.

Secondly, I was keen to start extending the River Track again and I made good progress, it was awesome being this close to the River and see and hear the uniqueness. Unfortunately I came across a reasonably solid rock ridge and as I didn't want to cross the creek I made a nice corner and traversed back, I had a couple of goes at making another corner but it wasn't working out. However third time was the charm with another nice corner made but then shortly afterwards I was stumped by another section of rock - which may or may not be breakable. In consulting the Digger Oracle, he gave me a couple of options to ponder over. It was frustrating, but I am confident we will get a good outcome.

After this, I decided to tidy up the exit from the rock ridge on our unnamed river track section that needed blowing up and made a fun wide corner that takes you right up and under a rock face cavern type thing which if I say so myself is pretty cool. I was also fortunate to be able to keep going and managed to connect the two tracks up after all, no explosives required, which is kind of good, kind of bad! A slightly steeper climb or descent, but nothing too long or difficult.

Then, since I seemed to be on a roll, I decided to tidy up another extension that we were coming back to, the 'rocky' switchbacks that will join the River Track to Frank'n'Furter, it didn't take too much to sculpt it out and plant some dirt and rock ready for some Berm Queen action.

I thought I would finish on a high, so just did a bit of house keeping tidying up a couple of river crossings and the overflow from the lake and then parked up the Digger after a good days' work.

Alister came out and is valiantly extending his line on his singletrack - the man is a legend. Oh yeah, that reminds me, Alister asked me to start the track at the bottom to help take some of the steepness out. It was actually quite difficult to be delicate with the bucket, I decided to do too little than go too far. I can always come back and do a bit more under direction from the master.

Ali Track on the Left
Sunday, we had a pleasant sleep-in and a lazy breakfast and then it was off to the AYUNC track, I was a bit anxious to say the least, as this is the track of my latest downfalls and is at the cusp of my experience and skills. But as with most things, the reality didn't quite match my imagination, the climb being quite uneventful and the corner with the slip was a doddle to clear, the narrow rock face has hardened magnificently and I was soon diggering and traversing away happily. It was slow steady work but considering the terrain it was good, I got stuck on another rock edge, making a silly mistake of not regularly resetting and thankfully Shane got me out easily again - I understand the principle of getting out but I haven't got the nerve to be happy with the soft edge and seeing all the dirt go downhill with me on a funny angle.

Angry Rock on the Right
I kicked myself for getting stuck again and promptly took my anger and frustration out on the rock that was in the way and I bashed it into submission and then suddenly it was easy and fast digging. Crazy really. I got to an area that should be the beginning of a near perfect corner in amongst some old Mahoe and ancient and old rock formations. Three quarters of the way round and this large rock that I thought was a surface floater turned out to be an iceberg. After much digging down and a small attack on the Mahoe, I have discovered that both the Mahoe and the rock have a symbiotic relationship and were tied up together. I was about to give up and cut a corner in front of them, I decided to give it another go and finally made the rock start to move. Another 20 minutes of bashing and digging and general swearing, I managed to make it wiggle. At this time I was getting dark, so I gave up. Hopefully a combination of time, an axe and a grubber will help get to those 'hard to reach places' that the digger bucket couldn't get into it. Or something else will come to mind.

Another potential frustration, but when I look back over the weekend, we have cut quite a bit of trail, opened up two gaps in the trail network which will help with the riding loop no end, these new additions should be in riding condition just after Christmas, which is fantastic news. Then when you consider this time last year, I was freaking out getting the Digger off the trailer and wasn't doing any track work at all, I should be pretty stoked, which under all the expectations I am ;o)

Another uneventful descent, yay! Another digger weekend over and a lot of work done, soon it will be time to test them under my wheels, I can't wait.

Lisa, the club and I would like to extend to you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I am happy to show you around and we would love to see you out and about on the trails at Haven MTB Park - there is nothing quite like it.

Digger action will resume on the 28th December - weather permitting.
The first official Dig Day of 2013 will be Saturday 12th January from 10am.

Happy Trails
Mr Haven

Sunday, December 09, 2012

December Dig Day

We were all geared up for the last Dig Day of the year and another great year for us, the tracks and trees at Haven MTB Park - Christchurch's very own boutique mountain bike park, nestled in Banks Peninsula.

The BBQ was fired up and the Digger was booked but then the forecast showers on Friday turning to a fine weekend turned into a 40mm rain-fest on Friday - so no digger, which was a shame, but that's life. The rain put a dampener on attendance too, but that's ok.

But at least the rest of the forecast was accurate with fine weather on Saturday. Alister came bright and early  and got stuck into his sekret singletrack - this time from the top. Alister has a great eye and we went for an investigation at close of play and it's looking very exciting.

Without the digger but with some more new helpers, we got stuck into Fred, working on the corners, berms and general tidying up after the mud-fest on the last digger action. It's looking great and we only have two corners and a bit more tidying up to go.

TearDrop is about a week away from being able to be ridden downhill, I can't wait to try out the new berms, Project G is seasoning extremely well and should be ready for riding in a couple of weeks.

With all this rain and sun, sun and rain, things are growing rampantly - the good, the bad and the grassy. So the rest of the day, we spent on pruning back the trail corridor, spraying the tracks, mowing the roads and scrub cutting the top slope.

All the upper tracks and lower tracks have been tickled up, only Eagles Nest and Miners Track are left to cut and spray. We shall be heading up that way to berm up the corners and extend the trail network at the top as well.

Next weekend, we should be getting the Digger out and extending the River Track and other bits of tidying up.

No photos this week as it's much better to come along and experience it yourself! The riding is super, particularly in the early evening, the light, the bird-life and squeals of fun and clicking of bikes is magic.

Come out for a ride soon.

Happy Trails
Mr Haven

Monday, November 26, 2012

Summer is Coming

Another busy weekend at Haven MTB Park - Christchurch's very own boutique mountain bike park with purpose built intermediate trails nestled in regenerating native bush on Banks Peninsula.

A concerted effort at the end of a shovel and rake means that Project G is pretty much finished, we just need to build the culvert for the Chute of Doom with the Digger next time. There are two separate trails in the wee loop - a feeder from the Upper Tracks to the River Track and a fun traversing loop in-between. It's looking great and after a test ride should be fun and fast. At the moment, it's CLOSED to bikes while the corners and berms season.

One of the starting points for Project G
Excitement in the middle of Project G
Choices on Project G
The new work on TearDrop is progressing really well and the "foot test" on the berms shows that they are pretty close to being ready. The forecast rain later this week and a bit more sun should mean they will be open pretty sharply. The track rides well uphill and is OPEN to uphill traffic only, but we ask that you stay off the berms please.

We've been busy spraying the tracks and clearing the trail corridor so that the tracks are in perfect condition. All the Lower Tracks are done, a few of the Upper Tracks still need to be done, but they can still be ridden. Recent native plantings are loving the weather patterns of late, even if it means we have to mow weekly, which is less cool! All of our fruit trees in the various orchards scattered around the Park are laden with fruit as well! The native birds seem pretty happy as well, with wood pigeons living in one of our Tree Lucerne and a Broom Tree just metres from our house - magical!

Alister one of our stalwart trail builders and supporters is working hard on his sekret hand built singletrack. The line he is cutting is looking exciting. We can't wait to see and then ride this exciting new trail!

With the longer evenings, it's a perfect time to pop out after work and soak up the great riding and surroundings, you should take advantage and come on out for a visit and ride. Mr Haven is more than happy to show new people around.

The rock fall danger on AYUNC has now abated, with everything settling down. This track is now OPEN and we will be taking the Digger along to extend this track very soon.

The Long Cut is also looking and riding great, still a wee bit soft, but considering it's only two weeks old, it's super news. This track is OPEN.

More shovel and rake work on Fred and the lower track is looking good. Still need some rake and shovel work on the upper track and some Berm Queen action on the corners before we have a riding line. We aren't sure if we will need to bring the Digger in again to tidy up, but we will make an assessment after we have a riding line and then things generally become pretty clear as to what is needed. At the moment, this track is CLOSED.

Joining the Top and Low tracks on Fred with some fun corners!

Looking for Fred!
So as you can read and see, there is heaps going on at our wee patch as well as a pile of fun tracks to ride right now. We also have a tonne more trails planned and lots of trees to plant and protect to turn this into a magnificent place to be.

Of course none of this would be here without the help and support of our awesome club members, friends, family and supporters. Thank you all very much.

Contact us to come and try us out, help spread the word, we are open and keen to show off what we have been working at just for you!

May your wheels remain forever true.
Mr Haven

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Moar Digger Action

After not being able to get a Digger for last weekend's Dig Day, we were able to secure one for the long weekend - the weather forecast had gone back and forth with ok and not so ok weather.

Shane, one of our neighbours and local Digger expert, was coming back to give me lessons and nail the tricky corners on Fred for me.

Thursday night I decided to start an old new track - the Long Cut. We had started this track about 3 years ago, but it had slipped out with some big weather. The plan with the Long Cut is to connect Scollywood to Eagles Nest by avoiding the 4WD track in all it's sharp steep glory.

I started, as you do, at the end, not being brave enough to try and start a new track on a 90 degree angle across a super steep bench. It was a nerve wracking ascent up the 4WD track especially as it is getting overgrown again, but I made it up. Nice views from the top, I decide to do a bit of tidying and then start the track. I get about 30m in before I call it quits and walk home over the tops, very pleasant.

Friday, I'm up bright and early and continue the fun that will become the Long Cut.  A couple of hairy moments and rock, but overall a good time and effort traversing across the contour. I almost got trapped by a waterfall / gully / rock face but I sneak on by. But then I do get stuck, with a large rock ridge, I start to build the platform for the corner, start the long job of raking and then head back cleaning up and then raking again!

A lot easier to drive down, but with the long grass it wouldn't have been pleasant in the wet. I had a bit of a play destroying errant broom in front of Fred and then parked up for the night, feeling chuffed.

Saturday is the day Shane was coming round to help, I started by doing a bit of work on the last section on Project G, climbing up under Grand-Dad Pine and working on the corner. Then back off to Fred for Shane to get stuck in. It started to rain but we didn't seem to be too affected under the canopy, in fact I didn't realise it was raining until I heard the rain hitting the leaves of the Poplars. But the sun pokes out again, and Shane is bursting to get going. Needless to say, I am very happy that I don't have to drive down the 4WD track in the wet.

Alister also came out to continue cutting a line on his secret singletrack - it's going well and looking great so far.
Lisa also did some great work scrub cutting the upper slope on Chicken Run.

Shane starts by cleaning up the first of the corners on the fun that is planned to get down to the traverse track that snakes beside the river we built last time. The second corner is the steepest and Shane creates a pretty impressive gravity berm - it should be a hoot to go down, quite a challenge to climb. We will see how it seasons before deciding to open and flatten the corner. From here Shane sneaks back down and up to the next traverse and does some digger showing off to get up to the traverse and starts climbing and weaving along close to the boundary taking up as much land as we can.

We then go back and doze down to the next planned traverse and then the heavens open, this time it's pretty heavy. Shane does a great job of weaving in and out, up and over obstacles and creating a pretty exciting track which was quite narrow and a drop down to the creek. I ended up going away as I was getting pretty anxious watching the work, but Shane had it all under control.

We almost had the bottom traverse in line with the top line, albeit with a pretty big height difference when we got the call for dinner. Shane expertly drives back into the Pines and parks up and we enjoy a hearty meal after a long days' work. Such is the addiction of diggering, Shane is super keen to finish the corner, particularly as it was way way beyond my skill level to construct. So we make a time to play again on Sunday.

Unfortunately it pretty much rained all night, quite heavy at times. On inspection on Sunday morning, the tracks were pretty damn greasy and I wasn't looking forward to getting the Digger out. I while away a bit of time working on the traverse, corner and traverse that will connect up the two tracks that Shane had already built. I was just raking it out when Shane popped over and finished up the corner before more Digger acrobatics to get back up to the high line and then start the job of digging down to the low line. It was pretty impressive to watch, after a pretty hairy negotiation across the greasy track, Shane starting throwing dirt over the side, both raising the low line and lowering the top line. Again it was an impressive sight to watch. A nice platform for the corner and we are done. Fred is now connected up and the final track design is done - all that is required now is for some time for the new track to dry and then the hand finishing.

It was touch and go getting the digger out, extremely greasy and the rubber tracks were sliding all over the place. I certainly couldn't get it out. Watching Shane was impressive. We had just over 20mms of rain over Saturday/Sunday so not the best digging weather.

We tag team out, with me back on the controls, things become more sedate. I kill gorse and broom along the road and then cut the track above Grand-Dad Pine connecting up the corner. Initially I was daunted and dubious by this short-cut suggestion that Shane offered, but it ended up going without any hassles. I am pretty chuffed too, this means that Project G is also done in terms of track design. One of the features still needs to be made and then hand finishing to complete it. Exciting times.

Both of these tracks are going to be signature tracks I feel, both different, both making up the most of what is available, both should be pretty fast when they settle in.

The trail network is increasing quickly at the moment, not long now before they will be ready for riding and we move onto new areas to play.

We hope to see you out soon.

Help spread the word
Mr Haven