News - The Tale of Two Johns| Bike Glendhu
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The tale of two Johns, one talented community and a stunning slice of Wānaka

It takes one glance from the top of Glendhu Hill to understand why Bike Glendhu was formed. A dramatic mountainscape rolling into pristine water that demands to be relished, shared and protected by all who are willing to earn it. A playground of natural drops and curves that make you wonder if Mother Nature was a mountain biker herself.

This stunning outlook has been our inspiration, our pick-me-up, our reminder of what’s important. It’s converted non-believers, created the foundation of our brand, the direction of our future and now provides the setting of our story.

It was here four years ago where our two Johns met and Bike Glendhu began. John McRae, an out-of-the-box farmer who was always hunting for ideas to utilise the land in ways that respected and preserved the natural environment. John Wilson, a corporate come health and wellness expert with a love of mountain biking.

John Wilson and John McRae

After scoping out the wild terrain for his weekly ride, Wilson knocked on McRae’s door to ask for access to his land. The two blokes discovered a shared passion for the outdoors, all things sustainable and a vision to create Wānāka’s first custom-built mountain bike park. 

McRae had always wanted to offer his land to such a project, Wilson had the passion and drive to bring it to life and the deal was sealed with a southern handshake. 

Consent was the first hurdle and what a hurdle it was. Three years of research, concepting, environmental considerations and a trail of emails that would line the length of New Zealand were made survivable by the wonderful people of Wānāka, from our district council staff, ecologists and planners, through to mountain bike experts, community leaders and all who were willing to lend an ear. 

When Wilson wasn’t picking the brains of our knowledgeable town, he was out at Glendhu exploring every hill and valley, being inspired by the scenery and reminded of what brought him here in the first place, with only the soaring falcons and playful fantails as company. 

In May 2018, the consent finally came through and Wilson sighed with relief believing all the hard work was done. With signed paper in hand, he quickly realised that was the easy part and went about gathering a team of like-minded investors, directors and suppliers with a connection to the Wānāka area, a passion for mountain biking and a strong interest in preserving the stunning place that is Glendhu.

But there are no trails without a trail designer and Wilson had one man in mind for the job. Tom Hey of Elevate had created outstanding networks the world over, but it took one visit to the top of Glendhu Hill to get him on board. Together they assessed the natural environment and planned a series of trails that blended in and built on the epic landscape. A network of tracks that considered flora and fauna, rock and river, and the broad range of skill sets that would ride them. 

To tackle the project, Tom extended his team to encompass Wānāka-based Dirt Dynamics; a crew of passionate and skilled workers who are out there day-in, day-out, rain, hail or shine bringing Bike Glendhu to life.

When it came to designing our hub, community and sustainability were key. We wanted to create a place where mountain bikers of all levels could come to share tips, quips and a cold brew after an epic day. An off-the-grid building that blended with and borrowed from the majestic surrounding environment, with solar panels and recycled materials used where possible. 

All we needed now was a brand that encompassed our vision and reflected the outstanding landscape that inspired the dream. Turns out, Wānāka’s pool of talent offers designers, writers and website builders too, who captured our ethos and vision quite nicely. 

Though ‘Bike Glendhu’ was a working title, when it came to telling our tale to the world it just made sense. It’s an invitation, a challenge and a succinct way of explaining exactly what we offer. Our logo was also designed to reflect the local environment, from the colours inspired by golden tussock and sunset hues to the lines representing the rolling hills meeting the placid lake. The result was a brand that is quite simply what it says on the box. 

What began with two Johns and one outstanding slice of nature is now on its way to becoming Wānāka’s mountain bike park, shaped by one of the most talented, knowledgeable and supportive communities in the world – if we say so ourselves. A land born to be ridden by two-wheeled explorers from near and far and protected by an ethos to celebrate, nurture and share it for generations to come. 

We look forward to you joining us at the top of Glendhu Hill where it all began. 

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