FRANKLY THURSDAY - TIM LAWTON

"He's the man with the plan." What kind of plan you may ask? A downhill park plan.

Tim Lawton has been a key figure in the formation of the Bay Of Plenty based operation dubbed the 'Cycle Obsession Bike Park', a new MTB park with downhill and XC tracks at the ready as well as a well thought out base area that serves as a hub for all the events run at the venue.

Ladies and gents, get to know Tim Lawton......

How old are you? I work hard in keeping fit and looking as young as possible , mixing with like-minded people to keep the mind and heart as young as possible....47.

Where do you live? Tauranga, Bay of Plenty. What do you like best about living where you do? After shifting to Tauranga from Auckland four years ago, you really do find some outstanding qualities living in the Bay:

  • Awesome weather which creates a very relaxed aurora within the area
  • A very tidy, organised city
  • A great place to do business
  • A great place to raise children/teenagers
  • Loads of opportunities
  • Great people

What do you dislike about living where you do?

You could slip into a bit of a cruisie lifestyle here if you let it happen.

What's your involvement with the Cycle Obsession MTB Park? Well, I initially organised the creation and the beginnings of the park with all the huge help and support from our Tauranga Downhill team. Now I constantly dream up of new ways in making our low elevation hill even more exciting for the riders. All of us within the Tauranga DH team have put a lot of effort into redeveloping the track during the winter, adding two brand new track sections, rebuiling the middle jump section into a major feature and constantly re-developing the finish jump arena. Along with our tireless support from Kris Snow from Cycle Obsession (formerly Bike and Pack) we are also currently working on some pretty exciting new track features including a brand new cross-country track that will link up with the Summerhill Farms tracks for our up and coming three-day downhill and XC National event on the 7,8,9th January 2011. Including for the first time in the world of New Zealand National Mountain Bike Racing, we are incorporating a Big Screen complete with a CCTV cameras set up to capture and display all the weekend's racing excitement to the crowds within the village finish arena. Our main focus is to really work hard on bringing spectators to our park and creating an environment that everyone enjoys in coming along and checking out.

How did you first get involved in the MTB scene? A very good friend of mine: Roy Chalton is the man to blame. I came from the world of motorsport, so being involved with my two sons within a competitive racing environment without engines is very refreshing to say the least! MTB downhill racing is such a great form of teaching life skills to our youth; a sport where there are no excuses, it’s tough, requires hard work, huge determination, develops great mindset skills and big confidence.

What’s your 'day' job? My passion is property. Lawton Developments Ltd. And also my new business where we specialise in all property concrete services and retaining walls. www.premierpropertyworks.co.nz

What’s motivated you to get the park up and running? The team of Tauranga Downhill riders. I have only been involved in MTB downhill racing for three and a half years now, and in this time it quickly became apparent that the team dream was to create a downhill track of their own, so they could hold their own downhill race events in Tauranga. In my mind, after the dust has settled, it’s all about creating a whole heap of fun for our great network of riders nationwide.

Best thing about overseeing the project? The riders thanking you for a great weekend of racing and the sick track! They might not think it seems much, but this is the core of what motivates me!

Worst thing about overseeing the project? Litigation and legalities. I can’t believe how many people’s minds have been brainwashed and destroyed with regulation fear. This is the “cold hard culprit” of what stops a lot of good things happening in this country! End rant.

What are your plans for the New Zealand season? What events are coming up at the park? We are all currently focused on creating and making the first round of the 2011, three-day National MTB event in Tauranga a memorable one for all the riders, supporter teams and spectators involved. The future focus is to make this an annual Tauranga International MTB festival event. After this event, a group of our local riders are flying down to Christchurch to compete in the last two National events in February 2011. Kris Snow's and my focus on the future of the Cycle Obsession MTB Park is to organise more medium to large events incorporating both MTB disciplines along with Karl and the Summerhill trails and dirt jumps.

Who do you think was the most legendary MTB rider in the world in the last 15 years and why? In my short involvement within the sport, I hold a lot of respect for all the current group of MTB downhill riders competing overseas, especially Wyn Masters, Brook MacDonald and George Brannigan. The road is tough, but they are managing to punch through the barriers in their own way. Awesome effort! But to answer your question; Sam Blenkinsop. I personally don’t  know the guy, but every time I see him riding, I swear he is always smiling within his helmet! A great demonstration of an athlete who doesn’t let himself “get rattled” under pressure. A full on crowd pleasing character who, at the end of the day, is just getting out there and having a whole lotta fun!

What’s wrong with mountain biking? More marketing, more marketing, more marketing for our sport to grow the sport in New Zealand. What’s right with mountain biking? The country we live in so that we can all enjoy our sport.

What websites do you hit daily? Facebook like you wouldn’t believe, that’s why I have disconnected my online presence button! Such a great marketing tool for my business page and the MTB Park. Also Property Talk
 and Metservice.

Who do you look up to? My business, life mentor, Denis McLachlan.

What are your vices? Chips, chocolate, Coke (the drink) and getting real spewie when things don’t go right.

Okay, a bit of word association: Dirt jump – An awesome but insane skill that requires no rider protection Cross-Country – insanely tough on your fitness level Downhill – Brutal skill Juniors – Great fun Rotorua – Redwoods are second to none within Australasia Cycle Obsession MTB Park – The best smallest downhill track in the world

A Big thanks to the following: This Park would have not happened without the support of the following people. Cycle Obsession MTB Park Land Owners: Neil and Judy Cooper.

Summerhill  Trails: David and Chloe Blackley, Karl Young.

Cycle Obsession: Kris Snow.

Chris Emmens : Holmes Group for the supply of diesel for Shuttles and Bobcat.

The Main Track Developing Team: Scott McGregor, Hayden Lee, Asher Ellery, Dan Heads, Anthony Gunter, Dan Lawton, Giulio Laura, Hayden McGregor, Kirk Fisher, Kieran DeGrey, Paul Sykes, Jamie Rosier and Sam Austin, Matt Lawton, Mitchell and Stefan McNabb, Jacob Emmens.

Kris Snow and Ash Hough for designing, planning and making the new cross-country track become a reality.

Pete Roden for all his coaching support.

Thomas Falconer for all his media help in promoting the park.

And finally to the team at NZ Ride and Spoke magazine for also helping us all promote our new MTB Park.