We live in Rotorua. We have been here since the little network of trails that sprung up in the nearby forest looked likely to make Rotorua a bike town.
To be honest, we had been heading down to Rotorua for bike rides long before there were any trails. The forest in those days had seen very little logging in decades and the forestry roads were often so overgrown and little used they were more or less single track.
Not long after we made the move, I undertook a ride that strung every bit of trail I knew about in the most efficient way I could figure out, and I got 32kms according to my on-the-bike computer, during one of its brief periods of functionality before its wire got torn off, which is what usually happened to those little devices.
Over the years the trail menu expanded, until it spread to the far corners of the forest. Whakarewarewa Forest is not that big, only about ten kilometres north to south and maybe six across at its widest, but there re something like 180 kilometres of built trail and a surprising amount of roads criss-cross the area. And that isn't counting the various lines scratched into the dirt by privateers, under cover of trees, without permission. Who knows how many of those there are, not me for a start.
Some way along in this story of a growing trail network, I became part of a group trying to help visitors make sense of it all, and part of that was creating a website called riderotorua.com. Another bit was drawing a map to go in it. I did that for the first time about fifteen years ago, and have been updating it ever since.
I did the latest version of it most recently in March this year.
One of my other activities involves a bike shop I work with, and we have a copy of the riderotorua map stuck up on the wall. I made a new version at wall size, and sent it off to the printer.
Then I had an unplanned but very important break away from normal life that lasted several months. On my return I found something had gone wrong with the artwork I sent, and it hadn’t been printed. Which is just as well, because in the few months I wasn’t looking, another four trails had gone in.
Four new trails in a couple of months? And not just rough cut lines, these are all built by professionals. That struck me as amazing.
That made me ponder, how much is too much? Will there ever be a time when people say the trail system is finished? I can’t imagine that, ever.
You know what I am talking about. Your local patch has some real bangers, a couple of trails that totally suit your requirements. And a heap that you ride, but not that often. And a couple that suck, and you probably avoid them if you can.
But ask somebody else, and their favourite might be the suckiest one. There is no accounting for taste. To make it worse, they hate the one you really rate.
It’s the same around here. In that 180 kilometres of crafted dirt, maybe a quarter of that will be on my regular rotation, maybe not even that much. They will be the default places I go, to get whatever it is I go there for. Same goes goes for everybody else, to the extent that as mentioned above, some people look at what is on offer and say yeah, nah, and go and scratch out their own line.
Every new trail contains a chance that what is created will ring your particular bells. And mine.
Bring ‘em on.