Twitter Updates

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December Update

The sharp-eyed amongst you will have noticed that our rain gauge isn't working on our weather station at the moment, it seems that the spiders that live there in the summer have decided to make it a permanent abode and have killed it - oh well any excuse to upgrade! However our webcam still works, so you can test the forecast!

December was another busy month fighting back nature, particularly with the mix of hot days and wet days which means zoom zoom to nature.

Ali continues to do amazing work on his awesome hand built climbing track, we are now in the final stage of the trail development, benching the line out to riding width and tidying up the corners as we move up the hill. It looks amazing, I can't wait until we ride it. I will post up some before and after photos shortly, so you can see just how far we've come.

The Wood Pigeons are back in force, so keep an eye out for them swooping and crashing through the trees.

All the tracks have been cleared and sprayed by Mrs Haven and her trail pixies, kudos to them, we have to start again now, it's been such a growing season!

We also had out Scott Walker from T5 Contracting to build an easy climbing track so that people can avoid our steep drive to get the awesome Upper Tracks. I was initially a bit dubious as Scott's digger makes our one look big, but after a few hours it was all good. Scott was working a particularly steep and rocky gully which also had a few other surprises, plenty of old man's beard, and tangleweed, the odd pine to tunnel under, plenty of broom and a couple of old fences. The weather also came out to play, but none of this deterred Scott and his wee Yanmar. The rocks were beaten into submission by the mighty Slammer Tool and later by a nice wee hydraulic rock breaker. At the end of the week, we had a pretty tired Scott, a very happy Mr Haven, and a finished intermediate level climbing track that takes us about halfway to the top. Awesomesauce! You should try Scott out for your backyard project (normal sized or haven sized backyards!) We look forward to seeing Scott again to finish up this track and to extend our many cunning plans afoot at Haven - Canterbury's very own intermediate level mountain bike park.

After - we at the red dot, give or take half way!
We're out and about a lot at the moment, so if you want to visit and you're not a club member, please try and give us a bit of notice. One of the benefits of membership is you can ride whenever you please (except when the park is closed.)

Keep up to date with our ramblings in between our blog posts on FaceBook

Happy Trails
Mr Haven

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Update

Well I promised some photos last time so here goes!

Key news is that the tracks are all open, bar Project G, and are just waiting for you to come along and say hi!

Mrs Haven and her trail pixies have been very busy cutting back the grass, spraying and opening up the trail corridor and otherwise keeping pesky spring growth at bay. On the positive side, the natives are all going nuts and our orchard is bearing enormous loads of yummy fruit.

But on to the photos...

The Big Berm saying "Hit Me!"

The Board Walk in the Skills Area saying "don't be afraid of me..."

Fenceline being a temptress

This way or thaddaway?

More Fenceline!
Ali's Track Passo del Stelvo aka Fat Ali's Follly is going along at great guns. Ali has lovingly produced a map of his track with all 34 corners named. You can see the evidence of his loving in the following photos. We have cut all 34 corners, the rest of the track is pretty much at walking level and we are starting the process of updating the track to intermediate riding level as I type... We should would love a hand, this is the easy bit!

It's all in the detail!

The Glorious Grand Entrance


Another highlight this month was hosting 150 odd Shirley Boys High School students who were doing an Outdoor Education camp in Purau. The weather wasn't the best for them, but it sounds like they had a blast and they certainly haven't done any damage to the sweet tracks at Haven. If you've got a posse of kids, we would love to have you play here - there is no cost.

Chicken Run - our very first Track!
On the cards in December is riding and digging, and we should be getting in a new digger to build a test track for us! Plus in the New Year, more digger action to finish a couple of tracks we have on the go at the mo.

We hope to fill this up with a track next week!

Come out and give us a try.
Mr Haven

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Homegrown Hipster Juice

Hi all,
The tracks are all looking great after the hours and hours of TLC given to them over the past couple of months, so come on out for a ride.

No doubt you will have seen in every cafe and coffee shop the delectable flavours of Elderberry, well here is your chance to be a hipster for free!

It is also the time of year for the Elder trees to flower, so if you or someone you know has a sudden desire to make elderflower cordial, elderflower champagne or any of the other host of elderflower ideas, why not come out over the weekend to pick some flowers. There are many right on the edges of the tracks so the picking is easy. They should be flowering for the next couple of weeks.

Easy Elderflower Ideas:

Elderflower Fizz
Buy a bottle of Schweppes Classic Dry Lemonade, swig 200ml, then push fresh elderflowers into the bottle and screw the cap back on. Pop in the fridge for a day, turning occasionally. Instant Elderflower Fizz!

Elderflower Champagne 
(Makes about 6 litres)
4 litres hot water
700g sugar
Juice and zest of four lemons
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
About 15 elderflower heads, in full bloom
A pinch of dried yeast (you may not need this)
1. Put the hot water and sugar into a large container (a spotlessly clean bucket is good) and stir until the sugar dissolves, then top up with cold water so you have 6 litres of liquid in total.
2. Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.
3. Cover with clean muslin and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days. Take a look at the brew at this point, and if it's not becoming a little foamy and obviously beginning to ferment, add a pinch of yeast.
4. Leave the mixture to ferment, again covered with muslin, for a further four days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and decant into sterilised strong glass bottles with champagne stoppers (available from home-brewing suppliers) or Grolsch-style stoppers, or sterilized screw-top plastic bottles (a good deal of pressure can build up inside as the fermenting brew produces carbon dioxide, so strong bottles and seals are essential).
5. Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for at least a week before serving, chilled. The champagne should keep in the bottles for several months. Store in a cool, dry place.

Elderflower cordial recipe
1.5 litres of boiling water
1 kilo of white granulated sugar
20 large elderflower heads (if they are small, pick more)
4 lemons
55g of citric acid

In a Pyrex bowl (or deep saucepan) pour the boiling water onto the sugar and stir. Leave to cool, stirring every now and then to dissolve the sugar.
When cool add the citric acid, the lemons (zested and sliced) and the elderflower heads.
Leave to steep for 48 hours.
Strain twice through sterilised muslin

Using a jug and funnel carefully pour into hot sterilised bottles.

Have a great long weekend Cantabrians.

Mrs Haven

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Update

Another month has zoomed by and we've been very busy getting the park ready for summer.

Spring means we have a very short window to cut and spray the bad stuff before it get's knee high, essentially a 2-3 week window for the 15 or so kms of track that needs spraying!

Spring also means that flower laden broom and other trees start to lean into the trail corridor that need a pruning as well.

So the trail pixies have been busy doing this - thanks to Mrs Haven for doing the lion's share.

Planting has been going well, but we still have a heap that need to be given a home, so come on out and have an explore and plant a tree!

In terms of trail maintenance, thankfully we have had little need, it mostly consists of raking the detritus off the tracks that have accumulated over the winter. Sweet!

We did go back and give some love to the berms on Fred and Project G. We were stymied by some heavy rain a couple of days after we first built the berm on Rotten Rock corner and a hole was blown out and a channel on the slope. This is all fixed up and we have added a mini wall ride at the start.

We had a couple of heavy bursts of rain which had me worried that we would have a repeat of the situation, but on inspection all is well, so this rain with the sun forecast will mean that she will be perfect for riding in no time.

We (ok I) may have made a corner a bit tight on Project G with the digger my cunning play to make a chicane didn't come to fruition. A crew valiantly opened up the radius a bit in the height of summer when it was hard as concrete and it was pretty tough going. A few people were still having trouble (I say mostly 29ers!) so we intended to open it up further, but in winter. Whilst Mrs Haven was having fun doing her Berm Queen stuff, I smashed out a wider corner, good times.

Please note that both these tracks will remain CLOSED at present. They look very tantalising, but they are closed for a reason. The less traffic means they will season faster and be open for all sooner. Thanks.

Ali has been working hard on his track and we now only have one corner of his 34 corners to start. I would say it will be over a kilometre long and will be a absolute gem. You just can't articulate the scope of his efforts. Over the last weekend's session, we had a solid rock ridge with next to no bench ending with a steep climb close to a mature mahoe which had us all scratching our heads. I pop down to say hi after some guiding and he has demolished the rock ridge, cut a notch in the bottom slope of the rock to place other rocks and then filled it in, cut out a massive root of the mahoe (sorry mahoe!) and then moved a heap more soil down to lessen the steepness. Pretty much a three layer rock wall and a tonne of soil! Not bad for a 72 year old and this is just one of his magical sections!

Digger action has been a bit slow this year, but will have a couple of cunning plans that should come to fruition shortly, which we are excited about. More later...

Col is working on his fiendish plans for the teeter-totter for the skills area, so stay tuned, but the rest of it is riding well and it's a fun bit of boardwalk. The massive berm is still bringing the kid out in all of us!

The rest of the park is ready for action and is as fun as always. The bottom loop has been remarked with the arrow signs and there is a lot of other tracks to explore as well. Enough to tire everyone out and plenty of places to rest up and listen to the birds and sounds of the countryside that don't have anything to do with modern life.

We are pleased to say we are getting a lot of interest, please keep it up, we are really keen to share and show off the park, it's here for you, the intermediate rider and everyone who wants to have a lot of fun! Fit people can just go faster and test your skills and flow and hurt!

Try before you buy, it's $15 for a year's worth of riding, $20 for a household. 1/2 price for the rest of the season. A bargain!

It's been a while since we've had some photos, so I will shoot some for the next blog entry.

Roll on Summer.
Mr Haven

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September Update

Whoops, time has gotten away from us again, so here's a quick update on what's being happening at Haven MTB Park, Christchurch's own boutique intermediate level mountain bike park nestled on Banks Peninsula. Right that should keep Google happy, on with the gos.

So as you will no doubt now, spring has sprung and so we have sprung into action to get on top of spring growth, our worst enemy. So it's been spray spray spray of the tracks and maintaining the verdant native growth into the trail corridor as well as mowing all the "roads." The great news is that it's working and you can certainly tell where we are up to with the spraying.

We have managed to survive all that nature has thrown at us to date (touch wood,) with next to no track damage over the wild weather. We did have a couple of pines let go, but they are now buzzed up and are currently getting lighter so we can store them so that they keep us warm over future winters.

Spring means that our biggest hazard Onga Onga (New Zealand Stinging Nettle) is going for it as well, we ask that you be careful on the trail edges and extremely careful if you decide to go for an explore off track. We will be spraying this as well.

Mrs Haven has been leading a number of  tree planting sessions to make sure our natives stay in front of the grass, broom and other nasties. It's all looking great.

Spring also means Digger fun, and we hope to finish a couple of existing tracks shortly and try out some new toys that could mean some exciting times as well.

We've also been hammering away each week on Alister's track. I must say it's looking awesome. Of the 35 corners, we only have about 4 that haven't been started and most are over 75% completed. It's a magical trail in a very special gully. Feel free to come out and walk it, we won't say no if you come on out to give a hand either! The digging has being surprisingly easy for a hand built track.

The Skills and Picnic Area is looking sweet and ready for you to laze about, eat some food or pit your skills against your friends.

In the not too distant future, we expect to hit the big 20, yep that's right, 20 kilometres of riding at Haven. I'm personally gobsmacked, I would have never envisaged we would have so much fun riding in the 6 and a 1/2 years we have been building. Thanks to everyone who has helped to make his happen.

We are looking forward to another long summer and seeing you out here again soon.
Mr Haven

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Introducing Passo Del Stelvio aka Fat Ali's Folly

Well it's been a long time coming, but here we go the official walk-through video of Ali's track.

Ali came to me late last year after a bit of a hiatus following some heart surgery and told me he wants to continue to help out, but he didn't want to help out with the Digger stuff, he wanted to build some hand built stuff. He reckons using the digger is cheating! So I told him about my idea for a climbing friendly track between the two valleys. So off he went in indomitable Ali style. Frustrated with being forced to retire from his job, he likes to fill up his days so since November last year, he's been coming out every Saturday for 5 hours of track-building.

Ali spent a fair bit of time walking through the bush, determined to find a good flat line and flat spot for the corners, as he wanted to build a track that would be a challenge but not to be only for the fit few. I helped out in a couple of places and we challenged each other over what to do and what could be accomplished.

After we had roughed out the "line," Ali sensibly started working on the corners and see if the could be built. Pleasingly we haven't had to change our minds too many times and we've managed to extend our track in the lower sections substantially.

In order to facilitate getting the slaves in to help and to easily get to the corners Ali was working on, I started to quick bench a walking track on the traverses. This is working great as the track is seasoning really well from the foot traffic and general weathering. When the time comes to widen for intermediate level riding, it's going to be super duper!

Ali is doing amazing work on the corners. It's really hard to describe both the level of detail and level of effort that is going into them without actually witnessing it. The video itself doesn't show it off terribly well either.
So Cornering 101 - take a hillside you've already made fresh from the oven, find the flattest bit you can, clear all the bush, vine and trees, dig up the tree roots, map out in your mind the radius, then start clearing, dig a trench and fill with rocks, depending on how steep the corner depends on how many rocks you need, start digging out the top, move all the soil to the bottom, continue until there is enough space to get round and evening up the top and bottom sections of the corner. Voila! Sounds easy doesn't it!

Progress is moving much faster than I ever imagined. The digging is much easier than we expected, the soil s fantastic to work in, with just the right amount of rock to help us out. As it's a gully, the natives have been regenerating quite nicely, which means less bush and scrub to navigate around.

Many of the hand built tracks have been either made by Ali or features made by Ali, especially the rock features. These have been created by tenacity and determination with a chisel and a hammer! Old school. Ali has been coming out for close to six years since he was a whippersnapper of 65, holder of 3 heart by-passess and many interesting bike designs and setups! Thanks Ali - what a legend!

2006 - Ready for Action - One of the First Dig Days!
2009 - Tools of the trade and magical singletrack action
2012 - Ali on Ali Track
2013 - Getting a well deserved Community Service Award

LOL - I just noticed he's wearing the same shorts in all the action photos! Typical boy!

Not too shabby for a 71 year old. What's  your excuse? Give up a few hours of your time once a month to the many trail building opportunities that are out there. It's a great feeling to build track and help put back into a sport that we all enjoy.

Thanks Ali from all of us here at Haven MTB Park
Mr Haven

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July Dig Day

The weather still isn't playing ball - mostly wet and grotty without too many dry periods to recover. The Top tracks are all good being the oldest and up the top so they drain fast and well. The Bottom tracks are still a bit wet and greasy and the car park is pretty slippery so we've close the lower part of the park.

You are most welcome to visit the top tracks, we suggest you park at the letterboxes and bike in, to save on wear and tear on the road and give you more of a workout!

But hey, that's winter, there are still plenty of awesome tracks and gravel roads out there to explore. Makes the summer of singletrack all the better for it. Of course, you could go the other extreme and get into the fun of cyclocross, check it out for some good old fashioned dirty fun

It was a family affair for our July Dig Day - Ali was off helping with my school cycling, but being Ali, he can't go a week without working on his track, so he had been out there on Friday!

Our neighbour and club member Dave and his son Jack came out to give us a hand and we soon got stuck into opening up and shifting rock and soil on a couple of corners and then traversing a connecting section. Lisa continued to do some more technical work on the corners after us slaves did all the heavy lifting.

Lisa and Ali have a great eye for detail on corners and berms and way better than me, so I am better utilised for bashing out track. It was good fun. Dave it seems is a closet Stone Mason and went mad collecting and storing rocks. Lou popped out later on to reward us with Chocolate Cake - nom nom nom.

On the Sunday, we found out that we have a big ass pine tree down across three traverses on the River Track. Way too big for my little saw, so River Track is closed until we can get it buzzed up.

We will leave you with some more teaser photos from AliTrack...

We hope you are having a good winter, come out and see us soon/
Mr Haven

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Park Update

Well as they say, time flies when you're having fun.
Whilst it's been quiet on the interweb of late, it doesn't mean a lot hasn't been happening!
We've been having a blast working and playing on the land as well as IRL intruding at times.

Here's a wee recap.

You may recall we got stuck on extending the River Track (From the Other End) by a rather inconvenient rock ridge. Well thanks to our awesome neighbour and club member Andrew, that annoying rock ridge went Boom!

New Map
We've made a new and glorious map, all updated and easier to follow. Also new instructions and guides around where and what to ride. Available for all club members!

Open for Business
We are now actively marketing the park, we have enough tracks and things to do to keep everyone occupied, so come on out! We've had a heap of groups and visitors over summer and we thank everone who came out and had fun. Help spread the word, you will notice some posters around and we appreciate people telling your friends about us.

We don't turn anyone away (if we are open,) but we do ask that you contact us first to arrange a time to visit, if you aren't a club member.

To know if we are OPEN or CLOSED, scroll up to the top of our website, follow us on FaceBook or Twitter.

Groups & Families
We love having groups and families use the Park - that's why we built it. We have plenty of spaces to rest, talk and take in the scenery. The skills/picnic area is a great place for people to while away the time whilst others burn off their extra energy.

The Skills Area
Speaking of the Skills Area, the gigantic Berm is riding awesomely and first Stage of the Skills Area has been  finished. We've had plenty of people test their mettle already. Here is a wee video of Col building it up the finishing touches.

The Top Tracks
The Top Tracks have had the jungle beaten back, the chest high grass mown and sprayed, so over winter you can check out the awesome snow capped Southern Alps. You can also see the bottom of the valley shivering under the frosts, but you will be toasty warm having climbed to the top. It's a great feeling! You then get to double your fun by screaming back downhill.

School Visits
Another couple of super successful school visits have occurred as well. They are so much fun, it's great to see  kids out enjoying themselves. If your school or community group wants to come on out, we'd love to host you. There is never a charge.

Ali Track
The thing that's been keeping us all rather busy for months has been helping Ali with his big new hand built track. It's had a number of names, Ali has kind of settled on a name, but we will keep it secret until we've finished. So for now, it's Ali Track. At the moment, it at least 800m long with about 38 corners. This is amongst some great native regeneration and exciting terrain. Ali is pretty proud of what he's achieved and to be frank it looks fantastic! I can't wait for the chance to ride it. Here is a teaser video of the track in it's early stages. We have done a heap since then and expanded the track quite a bit as well. Expect a new video out soon! We'd love a hand to complete it before Christmas, Ali kindly comes out every week to put 5hrs into the project - impressive huh! What's an hour or so every month compared to that!

Rain & Snow
With winter in it's throes, Christchurch has had a fair dumping of rain and snow. Sadly but gladly, we had no snow and not a deluge of rain at Haven MTB Park. We have had little or no track damage, nothing that can't be fixed pretty quickly by hand. We have had a couple of pines commit suicide on the Lower Tracks, so we will need to buzz them up before reopening the Park. But that won't be too far away. Once this recent rain settles down, we will reopen the Top Tracks.

What's Next?
So what's next, we have a great number of cunning plans what with extending open trail work, a couple of new digger tracks and another hand built traversing singletrack. We have plenty of trees that need a home and soon it will be spring when we will start to fight back nature and enjoy the trails over Summer.

We hope to see you soon.

May you wheels remain forever true
Mr Haven