The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) has accredited Nelson as a Gold Level Ride Centre, joining a select group of locations around the world deemed to be of the highest riding standard. IMBA Trails Specialist Jason Wells completed the trails assessment last week, and left Nelson to return to the US with a lasting impression of the very high standard of riding, as well as the ease of accessibility.
The Gold Ride Centre status covers all of the mountainbike trails within a defined radius of a city centre, so encapsulates the full network of trails between the Hira Forest in the Maitai Valley, right through the front country between Nelson and Richmond, to Rabbit Island and the Kaiteriteri Mountainbike Park. Wells was particularly complimentary in his assessment on the very wide variety of riding experience on offer in this region together with the ease of accessibility - something that is unique in his experience with IMBA'S Ride Centre program. Wells also recognised those trails that have clearly been constructed with IMBA's sustainable design/build approach in mind, commenting favourably on how these trails tick all of IMBA's boxes.
MTB Trails Trust Chair Chris Mildon is excited with the result, and the potential of an important international marketing presence for the region: "Gaining Gold Ride Centre status at such short notice is a real reflection of the capability of the Trails Trust team - with minimal preparation time before the assessment, the solid and energetic team approach from our Trustees made all the difference. The result for the region shouldn't be under estimated, with a global market looking to IMBA for its recommendations of where to ride. While our mountainbike trail system is first and foremost a community asset, the regional benefits of drawing mountainbike visitors to ride and holiday here can only be a good thing. Many small towns in Europe and the US, such as Oakridge in Oregon, have recognised the importance of mountainbiking to growing their economies and are actively promoting the development of high quality trail networks, providing facilities such as toilets and bike washes at trailheads to support this.
The Trust is also thankful to the stakeholders who got in behind this Ride Centre Accreditation, and we are pretty happy that our region's trails, and the dedication of the many people and organisations over the last 20 odd years involved with trail development has culminated in this Gold level recognition"
IMBA have until this year only ever accredited one Gold Ride Centre, Park City in Utah. A high level of interest in 2015 in the Ride Centre program has seen five other Gold Ride Centres added, three of those in the US and two in New Zealand - Nelson and Rotorua. Nelson and Rotorua now hold an enviable place as the only two locations outside of the US accredited at this level, and join Taupo which has held a Silver Ride Centre level for the last three years.