Okay I’ve said this before, I don’t really volunteer much (actually never) for trail building, so when I diss trail builders it’s really a bit rich. Anyway last week Jonty Richie and Rosara Joseph popped in to the office after riding Belmont Trig and informed me that Baked Beans bend was… well… it was gone. Anyone that’s ever ridden that corner would, I’m sure, agree that it was in fact the hardest corner in all of New Zealand. Queenstowners will throw their hands up and say the “Corner of Doom” is the hardest; it may have gnarlier consequences but in terms of sheer trickiness Baked Beans bend is it. I mean was.

Anyhow seeing as the track literally starts 100 metres from our office I thought I’d pop up and see for myself.

And boy was I in for a shock. After Baked Beans Bend the old track crossed a stream about six times and although close to town gave you a real sense of adventure and backcountry riding… well, from the looks of things that backcountry stream crossing feeling is also about to disappear in favour of a 1.5 metre wide digger-built trail…

To get to this bit of track is not super challenging but it’s actual narrow singletrack—I mean if you’re there you obviously like the outdoors and can handle a little cliff drop or two—so why they needed to do what they’re doing is news to me, but I’m sure the local Hutt City Council has their reasons.

It seems things like this are happening all over the country, the dumbing down of tracks. Obviously it works well for encouraging beginners but what happens when those people want a challenge and the challenges are gone? How do you measure your success as a rider if you can ride everything?

My worst fear though is that councils will start saying “well you have a mountain bike park over there, so you can’t ride here, this is for walkers”. Mountain biking is about discovery and exploration, it’s not about being hemmed in and being told where to ride. Bike parks are good, but good like a skate park is good for skateboarding; it doesn’t replace the street, just like a bike park doesn’t replace a real backcountry discovery mission. But that’s a whole other Tuesday morning rant…

At 7:38 you can see what it used to be like…

At 2:40 in this video you get a glimpse of Baked Beans Bend. And it looks as if the whole track from there on out in this video will be obliterated by the digger and its crew.

0 Responses

  1. I cracked my first helmet on that corner, when I re-discovered mountain biking back in 2008…took a swim in the creek on the same ride trying the logride…. good times. Had that similar feeling (of being inadequate) when riding trickle falls for the first time on Saturday!

  2. Dude that’s in Belmont Regional Park so the council involved is actually GWRC, they manage the HCC reserve as part of the park and are responsible for track/infrastructure management. Obviously they ‘forgot’ about public consultation. No suprises there. This was driven by those in management ‘up the ladder’ who are trying to meet multiple visitor expectations. The Ranger has to follow orders, even if the outcome is going to be less attractive to harder core mtbers.
    To influence this sort of stuff riders need to get involved with submitting on council draft annual plans for managing the regional park network. They need to engage in regular communication with the park staff (specific Rangers and Principle Rangers) to keep a finger on the pulse. BAMBA should have known about this and publicised it widely so interested riders could comment before the track maintenance. But it’s likely GW kept quiet about it. They tend to have an organisational culture (regarding park management) that rather than being ‘demand-driven’ they say this is what we offer and if it doesn’t suit you then go and do your activity elsewhere. That is partly due to limited operational budgets, so if riders want a particular style of trail on BRP then they need to get involved with BAMBA and put together a proposal including construction and maintenace funding. Chase what you need! Although there has been some hiccups, BAMBA is building new trail, with more opportunities possible in the future. It’s a big park with lots of options.
    All the same, I agree – a sad day. But predictable given the role of this link from BBB to the Korokoro Dam trail. It’s part of the BRP flagship 22km long “Puke ariki Trail” which stretches from Dry Creek to Petone, traversing the tops (Boulder Hill, Round Knob, Cannon’s Head, Belmont Trig) as it goes. At least the other ‘trail’ in the vid is still there eh!

  3. Cant see what so tricky about baked bean bend… nothing that an experienced rider could attack?? Balance,stability & skill is all you need. I guess after riding 90% of the trail (being smooth single track ) that we bumpy off camber bend would seem extreme lol

    1. when we found baked beans bend , we weren’t good riders. it took us ages to clean that corner. on our rigid steel gates with canti brakes etc. if that corner was never there, it would have taken us pioneers years longer to get to the trail prowess we have today. keep obstacles in our paths today to make us stronger and better men tomorrow!!!

  4. When I see this comment “It seems things like this are happening all over the country, the dumbing down of tracks.” I know the person doesn’t trail build. Doesn’t understand maintenance. At least u admit to that. Opinions we all have and if you don’t do any actual work on the trails- opinions is all you will ever have. Have your say by doing some work on a trail -say – twice a year. Or is that too much to ask?

    1. I don’t think a person has to be a trailbuilder to have opinions on trails. It is true that this is happening more and more and in some cases it is suitable but when it happens on trails that just need a little work by hand it is a shame. If only the funded authorities would use hand tools to fix problem sections instead of giving them the old 1.5m wide ugly wheel grabbing drainage ditch ‘solution’. We don’t need more trailbuilders who bitch riders out for not digging. Some have time and passion to build, some do not. Fair enough. Doing a couple of trail days a year isn’t going to stop the likes of DoC and Councils sticking the road builders in to make access for pram pushers

      1. i agree with Tom. i know the author of this piece spends countless hours per week, alot of it unpaid to bring the MTB community together and inform us all about what is happening around the world. He has been riding baked beans bend since he was a kid and of course he is gonna be pissed at this dumbing down. that was an epic corner that made us all better riders. I myself cant trail dig anymore due to spinal injuries…does that mean i can’t get angry anymore at dumb trail decisions? We all do our little bit to further the MTB movement, some small (by just riding) some heaps (like tonto, buiding miles and miles of trails by himself) but we cant all have time and energy to pick up a shovel and move dirt. In fact if i saw the author wasting his so valuable time digging a trail, i would slap the bitch and tell him to get back to SPOKE where he is most sorely needed.

        1. And on that note….RIP Big Weta. But the current Lone Ranger helped dig that one, among others (cheers guys). Hope people enjoyed ridin’ it while it was there. RIP danzig and all the rest too. Huge ups to the 5.1 crew that put lots of dig time into the dirt jumps…..Belmonts best kept secret. Sad to see that trashed by the logging as well. But other opportunities are coming and in 10 years there will be lots more options up there. Think – Port Hills styles on the open stuff. Plus in the regen areas too. Bring on better management and less political buck-passing, and an organisational will to listen to public demand. But riders need to make their voices heard relative to the other user groups, otherwise mtb access will be marginalised. Don’t let it happen!

  5. Oh that’s a shame. Some of my earliest mountain biking was in there. Good memories. I could get around, down and across the creek without a dab, but only sometimes.
    It worries me that trails like this get continually “dumbed down”. Assuming it will stay open to bikes it introduces the next potential conflict issue of bikes going too fast. I would really hate to see silliness like speed limits imposed. It happens on US trails and the rangers are happy to hide around blind corners with radar guns and write you instant fines.

  6. The GW team turned up to the WTA Diggers Summit on Friday and we talked about this. The senior ranger for the area acknowledged the lack of communication on this one. Not much that can be done now about it but it might be a good chance to improve the way things work going forward. It’s also worth remembering that mountain bikers are not the only user group and there are always multiple demands on an area. We as a community do a lot but we can’t always get it our own way.

    Worth noting too that we all make mistakes – there’s been a big to-do a little ways from baked beans corner where a volunteer-built MTB trail strayed off into a conservation block. Now that’s having to be sorted out retrospectively.

    So mistakes happen on both sides and what we need to do is engage with land managers, trail building groups, talk to each other and work out plans that meet a variety of needs.

    And if folks feel that trails are being ‘dumbed down’ across the country then you need to get more involved and have your say (beyond the interwebs). That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to pick up a grubber (although i can assure you your voice will be heard above the noise more easily if you do) but you can make sure you join a Club that supports trail building, Here in Wellington that could be BAMBA, Wellington Mountain Bike Club, Makara Peak Supporters, Revolve or PNP all of whom do their bit in a big way. Or perhaps come to an event like our Diggers Summit which just finished, or as Caleb has done here get a discussion going with your mates.

    Remember, if you think you don’t have time to dig most of us who do also have jobs and families and like riding our bikes. If we all did a little more (only about 5% of riders dig) then we’d all have more time to get out there and do other things. That said, trail building is so rewarding that you’re selling yourself short if you don’t get out there and try it. Even just stopping and helping for 20 minutes when you come across a trail crew actually makes a huge difference. And for the record despite his protests that ‘he doesn’t dig’ the angry cripple does indeed get out there and do his bit. He just likes to maintain plausible deniability for some of his work 😉

  7. So a few points in reply- Dumbing down tracks. Maintenance is its othername and is nothing like the process described in the loss of baked
    beans. The vast majority of tracks need it- if we want people to still
    be riding them in twenty or forty years.

    Volunteer trail
    building doesn’t need to be a bloke with a pick axe and piles of rock.
    Tree planting, tree releasing, walking along Makara’s 40 k’s of trail
    with a hand saw cutting back the small vegetation. These are easier jobs
    that can be family focused as well – Dad at the front or back listening out for the Hope hub.

    Lastly someone stated that
    we don’t need another trail builder complaining about people not
    digging. You will NEVER see me giving the guilt as you ride past us
    digging. Where else are we to state our opinion. While it may look like a
    whinge it is really the response to a lost opportunity. Wellington is
    pretty lucky with trails but the people who build them realise just how
    better it could be. As Ben said- people are selling themselves short.
    Greater numbers to go with the hard work being done to strengthen our
    voice may stop future bake beans “improvements” from happening.
    Live local. Dig locally. Ride everywhere. Cheers

  8. Staggered that someone would actually have a crack at Caleb expressing an opinion about a track without being a builder. Its like saying your opinion of a road as a driver isn’t valid unless you helped build the road; errant nonsense! Secondly, there can’t be many people who’ve done more to help create the vibrant beastie that is the Wellington MTB community than Caleb over the last few years – so get the hell off his case.

  9. So there is the ‘dumbing down trails discussion’ and then there is nuking them like this example…
    When the recent WTA trail talks were announced, I mentioned it a few times to guys I occasionaly ride with. Not a blip of interest. However they sure do notice when something happens to a trail that they do not agree with. What do you take from that? Maybe they are not a local and don’t see the benefit of a particular trail or network to the greater community. Maybe they would prefer that tech section of illegal trail was left alone, at the sacrifice of approval on some new trail. Maybe they’re just into the ride and the ride alone…

    You don’t have to go digging to actually get involved, as Ben mentions, this forum is one way to get a message across. However at some point there needs to be some involvement otherwise those opinions are not going to have much effect.

  10. Another reason for the current works is that the stream section got totally reamed in a flood a couple of years back. It needed to be re-instated, but it’s on private property, so the council preferred to re-route on their side of the fenceline.
    The section from the Trig down to Baked Beans Bend got a similar overhaul over a decade ago. Here’s what it looked like in the 80s:

  11. Just an update for you. It was Greater Wellington Regional Council that aborted the best bit of walking and cycling track we all loved. Can I suggest you contact them asap and complain bitterly as alot of locals have.

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