Another Ground Effect Slush Fund work party weekend is successfully done and dusted. Having spent some time toiling on the Craigieburn Trails’ network, and last year in the Nelson Lakes area, we migrated our efforts to the Wharfedale Track in North Canterbury.
The Oxford Forest lies a couple of hours north of Christchurch in the foothills of the Southern Alps. Ripe with beech forest singletrack, it has outrageously good mountain biking in a stunning location. The Wharfedale Track is an oldie but a goodie and requires some love, specifically to repair drainage close to the saddle. For the history buffs amongst you, work began on the track back in 1879 to provide access to Lees Valley. In seven years £4,537 (about $500,000 equivalent today) had been spent before it was abandoned as a possible road, and in the 1890's was used as a stock route. Fast forward to the 1980s and the Wharfedale was one of the original Mtb destinations.
A great bunch of Ground Effect customers volunteered their good selves for a weekend of trail maintenance. We had a blast and really enjoyed their company - a big massive thank you for all your effort - it's hard physical work digging drains. Ground Effect kept the crew fed n' watered, and provided lodging on Saturday night. We did get dirty, and the weather came to the party this time round. Plenty of riding was had too - the work site was an honest hours pedal up, with some sweet flowing beech forest single track included.
In May 2015 Scott Walker of T5 Contracting and Jim Henderson from DOC spent a fortnight working on the Wharfedale. Two sections were undertaken, from the Townshend road end to the Wharfedale Hut, and a re-route between the hut and Dobson Stream.
The moolah for the work by T5 Contracting has come from a Rata Foundation grant secured by the North Canterbury Cycle Club, and a grant to the North Canterbury Cycle Club by Trail Fund NZ and the Canterbury Community Trust. In late 2014 backcountry projects across New Zealand received almost $100,000 for volunteer-led work via the Department of Conservation’s Community Conservation Partnership Fund. The grant is being managed by the NZ Outdoor Recreation Consortium, which is comprised of three not-for-profit organisations including Trail Fund NZ. The North Canterbury Cycling Club was one of the successful applicants for the mtbing slice of the pie.
Work on fixing up the Wharfdale began back in 2010 when the North Canterbury Mountain Bike Club met up with their local DOC Ranger, Ren, responsible for looking after DOC assets in the local foothills. DOC have been keen to get the MTB community more involved in the long term managing of appropriate DOC tracks, and to get things going they are planned a series of working bees on the Wharfedale Track. The first one focused on the removal/replacement of the wooden drains to more rider friendly drainage 'features' on the section from the View Hill car-park to the saddle. The Ground Effect Kombi made the trip up loaded with tools and beer, the Slush Fund also provided some trail building books to the club.