Working on the Mountain Bike Tracks

May 2013 and it was yet another wonderfully sunny winter's day in the Moumoukai Valley of the Hunua Ranges as several volunteers joined Regional Parks Ranger Scott Kusabs for one of the regular MTB Working Bees promoted by the Auckland Mountain Bike Club.

As tends to be the case through the winter months numbers were low but that didn't stop a core group of energentic riders getting heaps done. Some riders even started with an early scoot of the tracks for a wonderful misty rush of adreneline which also doubled as a scope-out for spots to work on.

Paradise - Auckland city has some amazing parks with incredible native bush. The Moumoukai Valley of the Hunua Ranges is one of them.

Based on the numbers for this Working Bee it was decided that a focus on fixing some specifc problem areas was the best approach.

With it being May, the trails were yet to experience the worst of the weather and, as we know, riders like to enjoy the tracks all year round. Thanks to the trail rock that has been laid down over the years this is indeed possible and regular riders of the Moumoukai Valley network have come to realise that any puddle they see is only millimeters deep due to that rock bedding itself down into the immediate surface. Racing through a shallow puddle at speed - now that's fun! None of those deep winter mud puddles you might see on other MTB trail networks.

The crew surveys an area that regularly gets rutted in one spot as riders follow the same line. Their fix provided one of the few overtaking situations within the Moumoukai bush.

Ranger Scotty's new trailer allowed the crew to move trail rock easily from place to place using a bit of good ol' Kiwi manpower.

And so Ranger Scotty loaded the troops into his Southern Regional Parks Hi-Lux and off they went to the spot that Auckland MTB Club President and Friend of Hunua Hayden Russell had noted from his ride just hours ago as a potential problem area.

Before you could say "twenty niners, what the?" a few new lines were set through the problem area, rock laid down, compacted and it was already time for lunch!

Lunch consisted of a great high energy feed and drink thanks to the Auckland MTB Club. Enjoying the sunshine, the sturdy workers discussed all things MTB and Hunua with the usual list of great ideas for further development being discussed - these Working Bees are an ideal opportunity for Ranger Kusabs to gain valuable feedback and suggestions.

If you want to have your voice heard about your opinion of the future of MTB in the Hunua Ranges, coming along to these Working Bees is a premium way to make that happen.

Hunua volunteer (and Friends of Hunua Ranges committee member/MTB representative) Gabb was there with his awesome new track tool developed by Gareth Hargreaves.

The right tool for the job - The Regional Parks' trail machine - affectionately called Thunderbird 12 by the crew - allows for shifting of great quantities of rock in double quick time.

After lunch, the crew moved onto the all new track built earlier in the year by a group from Botany Downs Secondary College Outdoor Education. The entry to this new downhill run needed some more rock to set it up for the amount of traffic anticipated throughout winter so the likely lads got to work taking some time out to tweak some lines for better flow. As the workers toiled away, a few groups of riders came through and provided good feedback as well as pat the odd back.

As the afternoon wore on, the pile of rock was became almost depleted until it was time to pack up, have a cup of tea and head home with a fantastic feeling of achievement, a well worked body courtesy of the best cross training you can hope for and a desire to return to continue the growth of mountain biking in the Hunua Ranges.

There are some very exciting projects planned for the area so now is as good a time as any to become part of these Working Bees and enjoy your own feeling of achievement and community spirit.

So come along to one of these Working Bees - you even arrange one for your own group of mates with Ranger Scotty. You can get dates and details on the dedicated Hunua MTB page at cyclewaynewzealand.co.nz.


Ready to rumble - As the late morning sun warmed the valley floor, Ranger Scott Kusabs and his band of grinning volunteers get ready to improve, remove, regroove and remember the Skooba Doova Manoeuvre.

Tower of power - If he isn't partaking in a 300km event, club President Hayden will be helping out at Hunua.

Native Curves - The new trail that was built late 2013 by a working crew from Botany Downs Secondary College Outdoor Education who spent a night in the valley for a ride-and-build exercise. Cred to you guys!

Tracks on tracks make a track compact - Seasoned trail crews know to lay rock then bring the next load over that rock - an efficient way to compact the track Jack.

Setting the standard - it might have been mid May, but the low afternoon sun still provided a summer-like feel to the action.

V for Valley - Dropping into the new Botany Downs trail not only provides some new thrills but also a chance to take in the view down the valley, looking at the southern end of the MTB trail loop.

Tralala - One advantage of the Moumoukai Valley network is the sporadic paddocks that riders cross. An advantage in so many ways: trail maintenance is aided by the ability to access tracks from mutliple locations, riders can enjoy the winter sun and Gabb can skip through the long grass singing "tralala".

Operation Winterproof - Regular Working Bee helper James uses his height to crouch down and help the rock fall consistently onto the new trail.

Just like riding - The lads fancied themselves as work horses. But the real hero of the day was Thunderbird 13.

50th birthday - Whilst the tracts of bush the volunteers worked in looked like mature wild bush, Ranger Scott reminded the group that this valley was actually farmland in the mid 20th century but proved too tough to tame and native regeneration has taken place since.

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