Belmont Area Mountain Bike Association (BAMBA)
Mountain biking in New Zealand arose during the mid 1980â€™s as CrossÂ Country riding on existing off-road trails and tracks.Â It has subsequently evolved into a mainstreamÂ sport, which now includes additional sub-disciplines such as Down Hill, HillÂ Climbing, Free Riding and Jumping.Â The rapidly growing mountain bike (MTB) community is continually seeking new opportunities to enjoy these various expressions.
Mountain Bikers also want to ensure existing access to tracks is maintained, minimise impacts on the environment, and ensure existing assets and public resources are managed in a sustainable manner.Â To be successful, this activity must be integrated with other legitimate user groups such as walkers, trampers, runners, guided tours, dog walkers, horse riders and outdoor nature lovers.
Belmont Regional Park (BRP) is situated to the north of Wellington City, and includes the skyline between Lower Hutt and PoriruaÂ Cities. It contains 3,700 hectares of land and stretches from the Haywardâ€™s highway at its northern end to PetoneÂ in the south.Â BRPÂ is managed by Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) to safeguard its natural resources and historic features, and to provide for the enjoyment of visitors.Â This park has close proximity to the large population base present in the greater Wellington area and is a very significant asset to the MTB community.
Historically the MTB community has been involved in BRP in a number of ways.
Local clubs have engaged with Parksâ€™ staff and have run competitive Cross Country racing and Orienteering events at various locations throughout the park.
Clubs and individuals have also gained permission to develop MTB specific trails within the Stratton Street Belmont pine forest.Â This has resulted in a network of widely promoted and frequently used MTB trails, including the â€œDanzigâ€ track which was built by the Hutt Valley MTB Club over a decade ago.
The MTB community maintains these assets, and volunteer days are periodically held to re-bench and resurface the trails and keep foliage trimmed back.
These efforts have been assisted by the provision of external funding for trail building tools and materials. This generous support has been obtained from cycling and community group advocates such as Ground Effect Clothing and the Port Nicholson Poneke Cycling Club of Wellington.
The Belmont Area Mountain Bike Association (BAMBA) has recently been set up to represent MTB interests to GWRCÂ and local authorities in relation to BRP and adjacent city reserves.
Messrs Matt Clarke and Marco Renall are the foundation members.
BAMBAÂ will consolidate the efforts and ideas of the different clubs and individuals, and be the point of contact between GWRC and the MTB community.
2.0 Vision Statement
The following vision statement has been developed by BAMBA to express the future requirements and desires of the MTB community.
To maintain, enhance and develop BRPÂ assets and resources within BRP and the surrounding Western hills, by providing a premier destination for Mountain Biking as a recreational and competitive
activity, and to successfully integrate this activity with those of other user groups while minimising impacts on the environment.
3.0 Key objectives
The foundation members of BAMBA have identified the following objectives to help achieve this vision.
- Form a BAMBA Committee.
- Develop regular formal dialogue with the GWRC Parks Department.
- Maintain effective and regular dialogue with all MTB community stakeholders via a range of media (including email lists, internet forums and club networks).
- Develop a Constitution as an operational framework for the association.
- Strongly represent MTB community interests within the impending BRP Management Plan review process.
- Maintain existing MTB trails in BRPÂ with regular volunteer working bees, and assist GWRC staff with maintenance of these trails throughout the park.
- Contribute to other annual BRP Community Partnership activities by regularly supplying volunteers for planting projects and pest control activities.
- Encourage responsible riding on all trails, especially those that are designated â€œSharedâ€ by applying the â€œMTB Code of Conductâ€ rules of safe riding.
- Consider trail options throughout BRP and surrounds as a whole, and seek to increase/improve these trail networks to better meet the diverse needs of the MTB community and other user groups. Focus on easy to moderate multi-use trails.
- Develop more family-friendlyÂ trails and the complimentary support infrastructure in BRP to provide improved riding opportunities for this rapidly increasing segment.
- Become an Incorporated Society to assist with procurement of external funding from organizations such as SPARC and Gaming Trusts.
- Work with Mountain Bike NZ and GWRCÂ to establish and install appropriate MTB-specific signage (trail names, hazard signs and trail grades) throughout BRP to assist MTB visitors.Â There is a
current standard MTBNZÂ grading system being used nationwide.Â Ensure this complies with the GWRC Parks signage protocols.
- Promote the use of the NZ MTB Code on park maps, brochures and signage to help manage MTB rider behaviour.
- Establish a formal agreement with GWRC (Memorandum of Understanding â€“ MOU) regarding planning/development of future trail opportunities and provision of external funding in a Community Partnership arrangement.
- Promote BRP as a premier MTB destination via a range of media including magazine articles, newspapers, high-profile events and MTB websites.
- Develop a detailed BRPÂ Track Guide for MTB opportunities and provide this on the internet from a link on the GWRC website, www.vorb.org.nz and www.tracks.org.nz in a printable format.
- Assist MTB event organisers with marshals, event signage and route-marking to promote BRP as a top class event venue.