Spoke Magazine

NIGHT DIGGING, WE'RE NIGHT DIGGING

Posted by Caleb Smith on Wednesday July 29 2009

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I just got this great e-mail from David Gordon in Hawkes Bay, where they have been night digging on a new trail inspired by Corners in Rotorua. It’s called Cannonball Lector and judging by the photos it looks like a lot of fun.

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In a hope to inspire some action around the country we took some pics of the most talked about activity in the Eskdale Forest bike park—night digging.  Seems there aren’t enough hours in the weekend these days and it was getting harder and harder to rally a group of troops up to do work on our brain child—Cannonball Lector. So night digging was born. Tuesday nights every week we hand dig and/or dingo dig our track, usually a bunch of four or five volunteers and a dingo for two or three hours. Working in the dark is surprisingly similar to day digging but with the bonus of cooler temperatures, moist dirt and good times.  Just make sure you plan the track out with markers before it gets pitch black otherwise you could find yourself in the wrong gully!  And buy your lollies in bulk, you’ll need them.  Jet Planes were the best after careful trial and error.

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The idea for the track itself was after a session at RotoVegas. Inspired by the track Corners, we set out over a beer and a Breakers meal to design a track that would be flowing and technical, the longest track in the park, plus be kick-ass.  Guns blazing, we set out to ask for permission to build the proposed track.  After the necessary spark tests on our machines to prevent fires, we rendezvoused with Pan Pac head staff at the proposed site and 37 days later we were bureaucratically ready to rumble and into our first dig.  Three solid Sundays later it was disappointingly and surprisingly slow going; even with a team of sometimes ten people and a dingo it was not going how we pictured it. We got to our first milestone though, confident we had pulled off an epic achievement of pure man-made ecstasy of at least 2kms of track—only to find a measly 800m on the bike speedo. Fast forward to today. After yesterday’s night dig and an absurd 500hours of combined labour hours and 50hours of machine time, we are close to linking 3kms of singletrack. Two more night digs and it’ll be done.

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Thanks to the HBMTB club and Pan Pac for trusting us between the young seedling pine trees.  Thanks to all the volunteers that have helped put their mark on the track with a spade.  But thanks especially to Rotorua, where the original four guys, Chris Brownlie, Tom Clark, Kirk Smith and myself were inspired by the country’s best singletrack.  Keep up the good work and it’s harder than it looks to build tracks!