For mountain bikers, most of the trails coming out of the New Zealand cycleway project aren't that inspiring. MTB riders with young families might be interested, but to most of us the thought of riding along an old railway route on a track suitable for four people to ride side by side doesn't exactly conjure up singletrack wet dreams.
Enter Hoz Barclay and the Central North Island Rail Trail Cycleway. This 60km length of track is essentially the joining of two old logging tramways in the Pureora Forest. In the northern end you have the Waione Tram Track and in the southern end you have the Ongarue Tram Track. Way back in issue 15 of Spoke we did a story on Hoz's vision to have a singletrack trail that linked these together. A few years have passed since then and the powers that be weren't that into Hoz's vision. Enter John Key and the Cycleway Project and anything with tram or rail in the title is hot property.
Now Hoz's original aim was for the trail to be singletrack but beggars can't be choosers and when offered the chance to make your vision a reality, well you have to jump at it. The great thing for us is that Hoz is a mountain biker. Actually a bloody good one, who dare I say it, has been riding MTBs longer than some of Spoke's readers have been alive. The Cycleways have strict guidelines pertaining to width and gradient and Hoz has stuck to this (the minimums) and is producing a track that should entice all Spoke readers. And you have to remember that this wasn't a railway, it was a logging tramway; these things were never highways.
I recently had a chance to check out the first 6km of trail and while it's not singletrack in the purest sense of the word it's pretty damn close. There are no straight lines, so you never get that monotonous rail trail feeling. On the ups they don't hinder the climb and going down they serve to control your speed, and in turn, the life (and liveliness) of the track, which, once people get a good look at it will be important cause this trail is going to be popular. Put it like this, I'm aching to ride this trail point to point. Usually I like my trails pretty technical but after my small sample of the trail, I can't wait to ride the whole thing. And the best bit? I'll be able to take my eight-year-old son along as well.
Hoz will be giving us the run down in issue 39's Selector, but for now all you have is the one photo in this post and my word that this multi day MTB/Rail Trail is going to be awesome. For once, the politicians have got it right.