History of the Club and Key Events
Gregg Brown - 2009-2015
"The beginning of my time was about regaining momentum for the Club after a period when trail building was not permitted in the forest. The halt had occurred as a result of the Central North Island Forest Settlement with new landowners of the forest. The relationship with Timberlands was at a low ebb after protests over the felling of 100 year old Douglas Fir trees that form the back drop of Lake Tikitapu. Without trail building the Club struggled for purpose. Rebuilding the relationship with Timberlands and establishing a working relationship with RLC and the landowners was a very clear priority. While this was going on, it was decided to put in a pump track behind Pak N Save. It was about this time that the Club leased some land from SCION with a view to creating a jump park. Without getting into the long story, this area eventually became Dodzys Skills Park. Clear felling of the trees in the Be Rude Not To block (which destroyed the trail) became a real test of how the MTB community would react to such operations. While there were plenty of grumbles, fortunately none of them hit the media. This gave the forest managers some confidence in allowing new trails to be considered. For safety reasons, the first trail we were authorised to build was a new line in Creek Trail. This extension offered an easier option for riders, in keeping with the grade of the trail. This reopened the floodgates. During this period funding and rebuilding trails was massive part of the work load for RMTBC. Rebuilds included Be Rude Not To, Gunna Gotta, parts of A Trail, The Wash, Split Enz, Dipper, Challenge network, Corridor, K2, Exit Trail and Bunny Jugs. A trail development plan was created in consultation with the riding community and offered to Landowners for approval. The key focus of the plan was to create a network where connections and loops made sense. We were also keenly aware that we wanted to improve the network for all skill levels of the riding public, at the same time avoiding a generic trail build.
The following is a list of new trails that were funded and built by RMTBC during this time - Corners Extension, Verry Safe Trail, Tangaroamihi, Eagle vs Shark, Taura, Kung Fu Walrus, Split Enz extension, Hatupatu, Te Ruru, Road Side Challenge, Challenge Climb, Down the Guts, Te Huinga, Mokopuna Trail, Arepa Loop, Te Tihi o Tawa, Yellow Brick Extension, Te Rua, Tumeke, Rocky Horror, Dammit Janet, Riff Raff, Frankenfurter and Kataore.
- We recognised the club was doing a shed load of good work but we were not very good at communicating it. This brought about the launching of the clubs Facebook page in 2010.
The Club did a lot of advocacy work in getting Rotorua Lakes Council to understand the importance of mountain biking to Rotorua. In 2011 the club received $20,000 from Council and in 2012 made a successful submission to Rotorua District Councils Long Term Plan, receiving $20,000 per year for 3 years. This was matched by Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust. This funding was tagged for trail infrastructure and development. The Club strongly supported the developments at Waipa and the president had to get a bit grumpy to get the toilet block put in sooner than was originally planned. Kudos to the Councillors of the time – they agreed to all of our requests.
- 2013 saw the first Mountain Bikers Ball held at the Holiday Inn, with all proceeds going to the James Dodds Memorial Fund. This fund has in excess of $50,000, proceeds of which are made available for the upkeep of Dodzys Skills Park. The Ball was a complete sell out and a huge success
- 2013 also saw the Cub complete a review and upgrade of all of the trail network signage. New signs were put at each trail exit. These signs included a map location and emergency call instructions. Improving emergency response was a key project for Mike Gray (supported by RLC) with seemingly endless meeting with St Johns. Who knew there were a number of GPS codes – not us
- RMTBC earned runner-up in the 2014 Rotorua Community Award, Sports and Leisure
- In 2014 Lisa Horlor drove a Give a Little Campaign, raising $15040 for the Club to go towards the building of Eagle vs Shark
It was about this time that the committee recognised that Club was very heavily dominated by the needs of trail building and maintenance and did not operate as a typical Club. With this in mind the committee decided to set up a new entity to manage the trails and the Rotorua Trails Trust was formed. This period was a heavy burden on the committee to not only set up the new entity and decide who would drive the Trails Trust but also work out an exit strategy for the majority of the committee. We had a real drive to ensure the Club did not tip over. All of this on top of managing a huge trail network, without Rob Smail taking most of the load, it just would not have worked." - Gregg Brown
Jeff Carter - 2005-2007
"When I arrived in Rotorua the trail map was just the “core network” The Dipper, Challenge etc, there were a few random “Outback” trails like Rollercoaster and Sidewinder, that you had to be shown to find. There was one massive berm on Dipper trail that was so much fun to rail around, it provided the inspiration for the creation of thousands more. I worked at Dobbie Engineers with RMTBC President Mike Lee, he encouraged me to join the RMTBC committee and to start developing the Whakarewarewa trail network. I wrote a trail development plan and had it signed off by forest managers Timberlands, then started applying for funds. Over the next few years we raised several hundred thousand dollars and funded the construction of Lion Trail, Rollercoaster extn, Billy T, Frontal Lobotomy, Tuhoto Ariki, Chopseuy, Spring Roll, Sweet and Sour, Split Enz, Pondy New, Dragons Trail, Fools Gold, 24 Carat, Little Red Riding Huck & Corners Track. I remember one cold wet winters night out marking trails with head lamps with Mike Lee on Rollercoaster trail, trying to keep ahead of James Dodds trailcrew while also holding down our day jobs! This effort rapidly doubled the number of trails in the forest and propelled Rotorua forward as an awesome place to live and ride, as well as a national and international destination.
During the same period, we assigned rolls to all the committee members and gave people the ability to get on with it and make positive impacts. Mati Thomasevich, was running National Champs, XC events, we started the Triple Crown Enduro Event with Stefan Bennett, Dave Hamilton and Nigel Robinson were running a series of Downhill events – the Spring Fling, the mid-winter Mudbuster, a round of the North Island DH series. To enter these you had to be a club member, and so club membership swelled to over 600 members, the most the club had ever had.
This was an exciting time to be part of in the Rotorua riding community, and I’m stoked to still be a part of the growing culture, one of many small business owners that have found a way to make a living from providing services to mountain biking." - Jeff Carter
Jeff now operates Southstar Shuttles – providing uplift services, Southstar Trails – designing and building trails around NZ, and Trailmapps Rotorua – the app to show you where you are in the Rotorua trail network. Southstar continues to support Club activities as well as contributing to new trails with the Rotorua Trails Trust.
Mike Lee - 2004-2005
"We started the Club as we know it in 1992 when Shane Collet and myself initiated what could be described as a takeover. Shane was the manager of Rotorua Cycles at the time and left shortly after to manage a bike shop in Wellington. We kept things going until the first official AGM, where Denley Tarpett was voted in as our first elected president.
Over the intial life of the Club I purposely stayed away from the president's role, instead undertaking a stint at most of the elected positions but eventually taking on the role in 2004.
The early days of the Club were all about 'Club activities' and getting riders out of the forest to experience the great wilderness rides located nearby. The most notable was the annual trip to the 42 crossing. We hired busses and took up to 70 riders out. The other was the Whirinaki Valley ride. We negotiated with DOC for an annual Club ride of the Whrinaki Track, from Plateau Road down to the River Rd end point at Minginui. It became so popular, even with DOC, that in the end they took over organising it as a pre-lude to developing MTB Trails in the Whirinaki themselves, including the super expensive one over Moerangi for the 25 year anniversary of the Whirinaki State Forest where David Bellamy attended.
Back in the day the Club earned the reputation for running high quality XC & DH races, to the point the NZMBA were always looking towards to the Club to host a round of the nationals and/or the finals. At the time there was a real focus on DH and XC racing and we would attract the biggest fields of any of the races in NZ. This lead to a pivotal point in the Club’s history. As a Club we had moved away from 'Club activities' and did little else other than host races. This burnt out the core committee members and at the 2005 AGM essentially the whole committee declined re-election. This forced a complete new committee to stand, which was what the Club needed. Getting new members on board which was like a breath of fresh air, moving it forward into the Club we know today.
It’s been a hell of a ride. Considering the early days pre-Club you knew all the people who were riding MTB’s, there were no trails. Just roads and connecting skid tracks, along with poaching the occasional walking track. Try and think of a block that doesn’t at least have one trail within it. I feel privileged to have worked with so many great people and look forward to the future and the legacy we all have left." - Mike Lee
Dave Donaldson - 1995-2003
"The Club reformed from an out of the back of a bike shop (PIN’s Cycles) operation at a somewhat rowdy meeting in the Longmile Visitor Centre in mid 1993. I was a cop and just getting into the sport and the first Club President was a Police Dog Handler named Denley Tarplett. Denley is still around and just getting back into it on an e-bike. My wife Shreeve was on the first committee and another Police Dog Handler, Mark Mitchell (now a National MP) was secretary. When Mark left mid way through the year I was co-opted by Shreeve to replace him. Being competitive, my main interest was events, and in 1995 I was the local organiser for the NZMBA Nationals Finals here. The XC (in those days a 3-hr winning time was optimal - Jon Hume won in 2h 59m) was based at the Hill Rd gate carpark and the Downhill was on the ‘Dead Dog Downhill Course’ up behind the Waiotapu Tavern where speeds of over 85kph were clocked on a farm track. The National Series prizegiving function after the DH was memorable for the biggest food fight in NZMBA history, plus an unfortunate incident with a busload of Chinese Tourists and resulted in a couple of riders disqualified from competition in 1996 plus me eating much humble pie with the Hotel Management.
Trouble-shooting that lot qualified me for the role of Club President at the 1995 AGM when Denley stood down. As I alluded, my keen interest was racing and events and in 1996, securing 3rd place in the NZMBA winter series XC Masters saw me get on the team to the 1996 Worlds in Cairns as a masters XC competitor. That experience convinced me of the value of major events in showcasing your place and culture and energising your community around what was then a very niche sport in NZ. In 2000 I competed in all 6 rounds of the NZMBA Master 50+ XC and one round of the DH. Winning 4 out of 6 XC rounds including the finals in Rotorua (for which I was the local organiser) saw me take the series title and after a discussion with UCI International Commissaire Dave Judson on the XC finish line in Hokitika, the Club embarked on a journey with City Hall to bid for the UCI MTB + Trials Worlds.
We lodged our first bid in 2001 for the 2004 Worlds and I went to the 2001 Vail Worlds as NZ Team Manager and to meet with the UCI. We were there when Bin Laden’s followers took down the twin towers and it was a bit shambolic, but the Worlds progressed and the French snuck a bid in ahead of us to snare the 04 Worlds for Les Gets. Our resubmitted bid for 05 was trumped by Livigno in Italy, and in 2003 we decided to have one more crack. At the 2003 AGM the Club agreed I deserved a break from the President’s job and sent Shreeve and I off with dual life memberships and a koha for a rental car to the Worlds in Lugano where I rode in the Inaugural UCI MTB Marathon Worlds and we lobbied the UCI hard. With awesome Club support for the technical delegate visit before we could even get back home, a month later I woke to an email saying we had the 2006 UCI Worlds secured for Rotorua. In our spare time we’d hosted a round of the Nationals, either XC or DH or both, every year since 1995 bar perhaps one and the Oceania’s in 2004, and 2006. I think Mati might have organised an Oceania XCO another year in there somewhere." - Dave Donaldson
Dave now spends his time riding his Yeti SB6c which he likes very much. You're sure to see him out in the forest!