Well, how about joining the club?
Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua is an amazing place to ride, for sure, and is arguably the most popular park-like facility in New Zealand for mountain biking. It has a long back story as a mountain biking destination, and about the only constant besides the hero dirt and the trees (well, some of them) is the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club.
The forest trail system these days is ably developed and maintained by the Rotorua Trails Trust, and they do a great job. Various commercial trail building outfits share the workload with the Trust diggers, but it hasn’t always been that way. Before anybody thought of starting a trail building company, the club was organising working bees and events, and managing the burgeoning trail network. The club also built the relationships with the city and more importantly, the iwi land-owners and the forestry industry. A decent amount of the trails that form today’s monster selection were created by individuals and posses under the club’s eye.
The thing that really put Rotorua on the global map, sparking the growth that brought more support to the sport and later the facilities we all enjoy now was winning the ’06 UCI World Championships bid, and successfully holding the event. That was pretty much a club effort, handing off to an organising committee once the event was a goer.
These days the club is focussed on rider development, social events, and maybe most critically, the First Response Unit. That is a club initiative, and it operates a mobile first aid service with trained paramedics ready to come and look after people who get it wrong or suffer a medical event on the trails. They rescue literally hundreds of people a year.
Unlike some other mountain biking destinations in New Zealand, Whakarewarewa Forest is free to enter. The First Response Unit is a free service. You can show your appreciation for these things by making a donation, but you can also join the club. It costs less than fifty bucks. If you are a mountain biker, you can afford it, case closed.
Over the years, when I have suggested to somebody that they should join the club, I often get “why should I? What do I get?” I am not going to list all the things you get, even though there are plenty. I am going to reverse the question: “Why SHOULDN’T you?”. Takes no time, costs virtually nothing in the grand scheme of bikes, racks, kit, gas, and having a post-ride feed with a couple of brews. And membership gives you the right to be proud of contributing to a thing that is practically beyond value. As in priceless.
And a club with more members is a powerful thing, which can advocate for making the whole experience better and better. It’s a no-brainer really. Join.