Ang Edridge and Lorene Wallace riding in Silvan Forest overlooking Tasman Bay. Photo: Grant Stirling

Nelson mountainbiking is gold

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It’s official. Nelson has some of the best mountainbiking in the world with the US-based International Mountain Bicycling Association this week giving the region’s network of tracks a Gold Ride Centre rating.

Chairperson of the Mountain bike Trails Trust Chris Mildon, IMBA Trails Specialist Jason Wells and Trustee Gary Donaldson prepare to ride the trails near Branford Park
Chairperson of the Mountain bike Trails Trust Chris Mildon, IMBA Trails Specialist Jason Wells and Trustee Gary Donaldson prepare to ride the trails near Branford Park. PHOTO: Jacob Chandler

IMBA trails specialist Jason Wells assessed Nelson’s tracks last month after Nelson’s Mountainbike Trails Trust applied to have the region recognised as a IMBA Ride Centre. On Thursday, the internationally recognised organisation announced that it rated Nelson as one of the world’s few Gold level Ride Centre mountainbiking destinations.

IMBA says “the range of trail types is amazing, from gentle, family-oriented trail riding to full-on downhill runs, backcountry adventures and everything in between. Even better is that most of those trails are easily accessible, by bike, from the city centre.
“Riding Nelson’s trails is a year-round adventure, with sunny days with bluebird skies the norm throughout the year. The riding options include several bike parks, as well as more natural trail in both plantation forest and native bush settings.”

Mountainbike Trails Trust chairman Chris Mildon says the Gold rating is great news for the whole region because it will “give us a real international presence as an attractive mountainbike destination.”

“IMBA have world-wide exposure with everything they promote,” Chris says. “We all know how good the riding is around here but this will give us an important international presence – an increasing global market is looking to IMBA for recommendations on high quality riding destinations, and IMBA’s Gold Ride Centres are the highest standard there is.”

Chris says the MTB Trails Trust paid for Jason’s visit and the $12,300 assessment and although “it’s quite an investment, we’ve been focussed on the positive regional benefits right through this process.”

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The Nelson City Council, Tasman District Council, Nelson Tasman Tourism and the Economic Development Agency and forestry companies AFM and Hancocks fully supported the project.

Jason says thousands of mountainbikers around the world use the IMBA website to find the best destinations for riding and a gold rating could result in an influx of international tourists to Nelson.

Taupo, which has a Silver rating, has been until now the only other IMBA Ride Centre in New Zealand.

And as part of IMBA’s 2015 intake of new Ride Centre locations around the world, Rotorua has also gained a Gold Ride Centre status, making Nelson and Rotorua the only locations outside of the US to have gained this level of accreditation.