Not too long ago the vision for Bike Glendhu was nothing more than a wild idea casually floated between John McRae, an unconventional farmer who had a way of thinking outside of the box and John Wilson, a health and wellness expert with a love for two-wheeled adventures.
Back in 2015 when the idea was just in its infancy, no one could have predicted record area floods quickly followed by a world-stopping global pandemic but as fate would have it, the obstacles made for a fragmented and highly disrupted first season. By Queens Birthday, 2020, the team was energized by the excitement and enthusiasm shown by the bike community post lockdown and were looking forward to the future with optimism.
With the level four lockdown in our past, we were ready to go full steam ahead into our 2020 – 2021 season, eager to deliver world-class trails to the frothing New Zealand bike community. This season also provided its own unique challenges and hurdles but with our first official full year under our belt, we couldn’t be more stoked with how things turned out. The year went by quickly but our 9 month season was jam-packed with milestones and events. Let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane and relive some of the highlights from this season.
Opening Day 2020
It’s an old classic Wānaka phenomenon: you make a plan and the Mother Nature laughs in your face. Our opening day was a bit of a gamble and we ended up having to push the date back by a few weeks but we still managed to get the gates opened in early September.
Our team was working hard over the quiet season to spruce up Base 334. We wanted to have a place where anyone could hang out, enjoy a beer and soak in the spectacular mountain views while the kiddos expended some energy (safely) running around. Outdoor seating, plenty of bean bags, umbrellas and one of the best sand pits in all of Wānaka according to one enthusiastic pint-sized patron.
Velo returned with their tasty treats and amazing coffee and we even managed to get a few more local beers on tap.
Up the mountain, the trail teams were working hard to improve the existing trails and creating some new trails to make for an even more epic day out. Dirt Dynamics worked to widen and improve the berms on Kākariki and Elevate was tasked with building a link from the junction of Jairolla and Hare Time back to Jack’s Spot, making it easy to lap two of the favourite park trails. The team also put in 40 new culverts and drains to keep water off the track surface.
Toogood Trails Dual Slalom Course Opened
After a riveting digger race to complete the Dual Slalom, we were finally on track to open the Dual Slalom course with some good old fashion competition but, as you might recall, we got some late spring snow/rain and Mother Natch showed us once again who was boss. The race was postponed not once but two times and the morning of the race, the team was frantically running around trying to drain the boggy sections of the course. With some classic Kiwi ingenuity (i.e. plastic carpet covered in dirt), the course was ready and the race was a hit.
A massive thanks to everyone who helped bring the trail and event to life: Elevate Trail Building, Hire Centre, Nic Cavanagh Velo, b.effect Brewing, Mons Royale, Ride Concepts, Ed Leigh, Trans Diesel, the volunteer crew and all those behind the scenes sorting sound, tunes, safety etc with their generators, cameras, wires, trailers, and skills.
Can-Am and Van Shuttles for that uphill assist
It’s hard to remember the time before Shuttles Can-Ams but this season was the first season we were able to offer private Can-Am shuttles to Falcon’s Nest for 2 or 3-hour trips and weekend shuttles to Jack’s Spot.
Our shuttles are perfect for those who are short on time and want to make the most of their experience. The Can-Am shuttle to the top of Falcon’s Nest provides some of the best views in all of Wānaka. We like to think of it as the bike version of Roy’s Peak. Can-Ams were booked out by all kinds of people from all walks of life: birthday parties, stag dos, end of year celebrations and they all came to the same conclusion: Can-Am shuttles are freakin’ awesome.
Our van shuttles were also a huge hit, especially with riders who were lacking in the long leg department. We were stoked to see families and riders of all ages hitch a ride to Jack’s Spot and even had plenty of toddlers on Kids Ride Shotgun Seats. Our vision was always to share this epic piece of land with mountain bikers of all kind so we were stoked to see how van shuttles enable such a variety of riders to enjoy the trails.
Rocky Borrow Show Open for Business
Elevate designed and built our new Tech Blue, the Rocky Borrow Show. This banger of a trail heads off from the bottom of the already epic-to-ride Monsoon Hoon.
This line opened up exciting new country and provides another option home from Stags Point.
Before RBS, you need to either head to Falcons (the summit), or take black trail Methane Train, so this new route is great for those not ready for Methane Train but want the joy of riding Monsoon Hoon and looping back to Jacks.
The trail is complete with 1.4km of rock drops, technical berms, sections of flow and a small climb up the middle just to keep you honest.
Bike Glendhu Turned One
As any parent will tell you, making it to the one year mark is no easy feat and whether you raising a kid or starting a bike park, the first 365 days is something to celebrate. Our first birthday actually falls right in the middle of school holiday chaos so we opted to postpone the celebration until Waitangi Day in early Feb. The sun was out, the beers were flowing and the party shirts were on point. Live music filled the air and a ride train from the summit of Falcon’s Nest kicked off the festivities in style.
Our first year couldn’t have been possible without all of you who make up the vibrant and rowdy mountain bike community we’ve all come to know and love so a big thanks for coming out to support what was once a wild dream and now an epic reality.
Inaugural Whyte Glenduro
What’s a bike park without an Enduro Race?! We couldn’t wait to launch our first ever Enduro Race, appropriately dubbed the Whyte Glenduro. The race was a SOLD OUT multi-stage enduro race with a 3 and 5 stage option.
The race brought out riders from all over and the weather gods blessed us with an overcast morning and bright blue skies for the post-race party. The race itself nail-biting finish with fractions of a second between the women’s podium and just half a minute for the men’s open podium.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the race was hearing from so many first time racers who had often been intimidated to enter the Enduro scene. We were stoked to pull off an event that was exciting for the pros and rookies alike and we’re already counting down the days until next year’s race.
Glendhu Supreme: The Imperial Battle for King and Queen of Glendhu
One comment after the Whyte Glenduro was a wish for a cross-country style race so before the warmth disappeared for the season, we thought “why not!?” and organized one final race for the season: The Glendhu Supreme. This event came to fruition in conjunction with our pals at Bike Wānaka and the Wānaka Super Series.
The concept was simple: one route from the bottom to the top and all the way back down again. Riders could opt to compete for the full Super Loop or just the downhill making it an ideal race for enduro heads and xc racers alike.
King Jeremy Gardner swept the race claiming the fastest times for up, down and overall Super Loop finishing in a whopping 52:30 for the loop.
Queen Maeve Kennedy followed suit with the fastest climb, downhill and overall with a time of 1:01:51.
They’ll own their titles for now but the event will return next year when the crowns will be up for grabs once again!
Closing Weekend 2021
This weekend is scheduled to be our final weekend of riding for this season, however, the weather is once again threatening with an ominous forecast. We’ll do everything we can to make sure we can all get out for one final lap and a cold beer (or mulled wine, perhaps) to finish off the season.
We had some low key events planned for the final weekend but stay tuned as we monitor the weather updates. We plan to be open on Thursday and Friday so if you’re keen for a final lap, best make it out on Friday just to be safe!
Our goal at Bike Glendhu is simple, to share this little slice of paradise for all lovers of pedal-powered fun. We’re grateful to be the stewards of the trials and we get so stoked when we hear stories from first-time visitors who had the time of their lives. The park exists purely because of the continual bike stoke from our community so from the bottom of our hearts, thank you to each and every one of you who came out for a visit this past year. We couldn’t have done it without you and we’re incredibly grateful.
We’ll be closing up shop for three months as we recover, prepare and plan for an even bigger and better season next year. Until then, enjoy those skis and we’ll see you again soon when the days start getting a bit longer.