By Mick Jensen
Mountain bike enthusiasts will see more enhancements on the Ashburton River trail loop and at the popular skills park over the coming months.
A recently announced grant of $42,771 from the Lion Foundation will fund more trail work, as well as lighting, a bike wash, water fountains and landscaping with native plants at the skills park.
Mid Canterbury Mountain Bike Club president James Reid said the club was delighted with the funding, which would enable it to push on with exciting plans.
He said the Lion Foundation recognised the popularity of mountain biking here and had previously donated around $37,000 to help establish the skills park, which was proving a very popular hang-out for young riders.
More jumps would be developed and a new bike see-saw and manual practice stand installed at the skills park.
The skills park is accessed via the car park on Dobson Street West and will soon get double header street lights and a concrete slab bike wash.
Mr Reid said most of the funded work would be completed over the next four months.
He said his vision over the next couple of years was to see a top quality loop track complemented by a separate walking track, and easier access to all areas of the track for regular maintenance.
In recent years the mountain bike club has used its own funds and other generous donations to upgrade the track, install boardwalk and signage, and vastly improve drainage .
The loop track offers around 12 kilometres of safe biking, a mix of terrain and challenges, and offroad riding suitable for all abilities, between Melrose and Trevors roads.
Mid Canterbury Mountain Bike Club committee member Stu Brown said the track was also popular with out of town riders because they knew it could be ridden year round.
It was easily accessed from urban Ashburton and was a real community asset.
The track would once again host the very popular Six Hour Mountain Bike Challenge in May, which last year drew close to 350 riders, he said.