The Queenstown Mountain Bike Club (QMTBC) was founded in 2003 with the express purpose of facilitating the development of mountain bike trails and biking areas within the Queenstown area in a coordinated, safe and legal manner. Over the last decade and a half the club has built or adopted the maintenance of over 40 trails in the Wakatipu Basin. The QMTBC trail network has become internationally renowned, featuring regularly in magazines, videos, photo journals and websites. It is not uncommon to have overseas visitors turn up to volunteer on our Wednesday Night Digs having got off the plane that morning. This is all despite the relatively small network of trails we have.
This popularity increases the need for more trials. While QMTBC designs and constructs our trails with a focus on sustainability and erosion reduction, heavy, concentrated use leads to an increased maintenance requirement. A more diverse and wide spread network reduces the intensity of wear and tear and hence ongoing maintenance costs. Concentrated use can also negatively impact the rider experience as a feeling of remoteness can be lost.
We also have a lack of certain types of trail in our network. In particular we could use more cross country style loops, where the rest of the ride is an attraction in itself and not solely in service of riding down the descent. Riding new trails is also fun! Constant trail development keeps things fresh for locals and brings out of town riders back for repeat visits.
In terms of mountain bike grades the Queenstown Trail is entirely grade 1. The QMTBC’s trail network covers grades 2 to 6. The millions of dollars spent on the Queenstown Trail has been money well spent as this is an important piece of infrastructure, but these trails do not overlap with QMTBCs network and serve a very different purpose.
QMTBC is in the process of conducting an economic impact study to quantify the importance of mountain biking to the local economy. While this report will not be ready before the deadline for annual plan submissions it is clear that mountain biking is an important part of what attracts a large group of visitors to Queenstown.
Mountain biking is the primary recreational pursuit of many local people, and a large part of what makes people love living here. Anecdotal evidence shows that mountain biking even is part of what attracts foreign billionaires to buy land here. The council’s own draft Parks and Open Space Strategy states in its introduction:
“There are a variety of open space and reserve areas that play a vital role in making this area a great place to work and play. This lifestyle is part of the cultural identity for many of the people that choose to live here or to visit.”
Excellent mountain biking is a very important part of the lifestyle this document eludes to. If Queenstown is still to be the Adventure Capital of the World then it cannot neglect one of the most popular adventure sports. Mountain biking is a natural fit for Queenstown.
Perhaps because of this natural fit, we have an enthusiastic volunteer base and have achieved a lot with thousands of volunteer hours contributed to the club each year. Despite this enthusiastic base, active volunteers still make up a very small proportion of people riding our trails and the use of contractors is necessary to expand our network at an acceptable rate.
The QMTBC has plans to develop a series of climbing and linking trails to better facilitate access to our existing trails in and around Ben Lomond reserve. We also have several new descents planned for the area.
This will create enjoyable climbs from Wynyard Crescent to high points on either side of the One Mile valley and complete loops suitable for intermediate riders. This makes the excellent riding on the club’s Ben Lomond trails more accessible to a wider audience.
These trails will be able to be ridden in many different permutations allowing for different loops of varying difficulty and length. This comparatively small amount of new trail linking our existing trails would offer great value for money.
Please see the attached Central Queenstown portion of QMTBC’s strategic plan for more detail on these planned trails.
The Queenstown Mountain Bike Club would like to apply to the council for $100,000 towards this trail building programme on QLDC land on Ben Lomond.
We believe this is a modest level of support, given recent examples of other district and city councils funding their local mountain bike clubs, for example:
The Timaru District Council is supporting the South Canterbury Mountain Bike Club by $100,000 per year for 20 years. http://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/news/68926175/cycling-clubs-seek-council-funds
Nelson Mountain Bike club was allocated a total of $178,000 in Nelson City Council’s last Annual Plan. http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/79924792/Mountainbikers-and-gondola-big-winners-in-Nelson-City-Councils-annual-plan-changes
The Queenstown Mountain Bike Club covers its operational and maintenance costs from members dues and other fundraising. QMTBC will be responsible for the maintenance of these new trails, as they are for the existing network, therefore construction of these trails will not create a burden for the council.
When the mountain bike club uses contractors we work closely with them to get very good value for money. It typically costs us $10 to $15 a metre to build either machine or hand built singletrack trails.
We trust you will look favourably on our submission as investment in mountain bike trails offers excellent value for money, both in terms of economic returns and the well being of the community.