By TRACEY ROXBURGH
Queenstown Mountain Bike Club’s about to put its foot down — and it’s got some serious firepower behind it.
New Zealand tech entrepreneur and Xero co-founder Rod Drury says he decided a while ago to get back into mountain biking to ‘‘get healthy again and do something fun I could do every day’’.
On a trip to Queenstown he discovered a Skyline trail and was immediately impressed.
‘‘It was so amazing.
‘‘E-bikes came out around the same time, so I could get my body up the hill [and] it was something I could do every day.’’
The more he discovered around the Wakatipu — like 7 Mile, Rude Rock and the ‘‘world-class’’ Gorge Road jump park — the more interested he became.
‘‘These guys are doing an amazing job, and I didn’t really know that much about it.
‘‘Queenstown’s mountain biking has an international reputation — some of the best from around the world come down here in our summer, enjoy world-class views, world-class riding and then head up to Crankworx in Rotorua [to kick-start their competitive
‘‘McNearly Gnarly, it’s 54 perfect jumps — it’s like Disneyland for adults.
‘‘Then I started to discover the trails — it’s not just extreme mountain biking, there’s such a [broad] product.
‘‘So, I offered to help.’’
New president Chris Conway says he’s been in town for a couple of years, got back into mountain biking and joined the committee.
When the previous president, Fraser Gordon, stood down he asked if Conway wanted to take over.
‘‘I said, ‘let’s give it a crack’.
‘‘There have been a couple of decades where it’s built very organically from a few people digging tracks on a hillside to this really recognised brand in the biking community, worldwide.
‘‘There are eight volunteers on the committee, 1300 paid members in the club — we believe we’re the biggest sporting club in Central Otago.
‘‘But, essentially, the work is done by the volunteers.’’
Drury’s changed that.
‘‘For something that’s so important and iconic, I put some funding in place.’’
He’s stumped up money for trail development, including a revamp of 7 Mile, and three years of funding for trail maintenance and an administrator to help take the club, and its work, to the next level.
They’re also working with Destination Queenstown, Queenstown Trails Trust and others to turn the proposition into a ‘‘world-class biking brand’’.
Drury: ‘‘We just think it’s a key part of Queenstown’s value proposition.’’
Conway says mountain biking not only aligns with Queenstown’s council’s 2050 vision, it’s also sustainable, low-impact, gives people a connection to the land and encourages stewardship.
It also promotes health and social well-being.
The club’s also working more and more with City Hall, Department of Conservation and pest and wilding control groups to assist where they can, for mutual gain.
Drury’s hoping over the next three years the club will be able to demonstrate its benefit to the community and the economy and that might encourage other corporations or investors to jump on board.
Conway says Drury’s recognition of their work and potential means they can find another gear.
‘‘It’s time we turned a new leaf.
‘‘We’ve only scratched the surface of what we can do.’’