Shssssh, we think we’ve stumbled onto something and we really don’t want the Government to clamp down on it. The best riding terrain in the world is all around us.
Have you ever noticed, as you’re driving around the country from event to event, that you travel through many regions or provinces?
You might, for instance, start off in Wellington and drive through the Manawatu, through Rangitikei, up to Taranaki, across to the Waikato and then on up to the Bay of Plenty. Bit of a journey, I’ll confess, and not one you’re likely to take in one day but, for the purposes of what I’m about to tell you, it’s worth mentioning them all.
As you leave one province/region and enter the next one, there’s typically a roadside sign that says something like “You are now leaving the Taranaki region”, followed by (and this is where it gets really interesting) a few hundred metres up the road, a sign saying “Welcome to the Waikato region”.
Okay, so tell me, who owns the couple of hundred metres of land between those two signs?
I reckon we could claim it as “Motocross Province” or “Enduro Region”. It all adds up to hundreds of square metres of wonderful dirt bike terrain and it’s all apparently owned by nobody and it’s going to waste.
You know how there’s that annoying little piece of grass that is neither outside your house or truly outside your neighbours house either? So what happens when you mow the lawn? One or another of you take it upon themselves to mow the annoying little extra bit.
So who administers the land between the provincial border signs? I reckon MNZ could administer it, or BikesportNZ.com … We’d give it a bit of a spruce up, plant some track marker tape, set off a few sprinklers to keep the dust down and then hold a doozie of a motocross right there beside State Highway Three.
Which leads me to another point to ponder. Are you like me, in that you dreamily stare out the windows of the car (when you’re a passenger … of course) and imagine the farmland going by is a motocross or enduro course?
Yep, bet you do. Some of the best rolling farmland, forest tracks and nifty little creek crossings are right there beside the road.
And don’t even start me on golf courses. That’s more than just “a good walk spoiled” as some wit once said (popularly attributed to Mark Twain actually), it’s a criminal use of good motocross terrain.
I can just imagine what overseas visitors to New Zealand must think while they’re driving about the place.
New Zealand is so lush, green and perfect for a knobby tyre or two. Because so many of us have grown up on farms, or as near to someone who has one that it’s almost the same thing as living on a farm, we can be guilty of taking it for granted that we have such great terrain on our door-step.
I’ve been to many countries, even big ones like the US of A, where there really is nowhere to ride. Forget about the vast expanses of desert in the American mid-west, that’s just Looney Tunes terrain, where you’re just as likely to get lost and run out of water or meet up with someone burying a body.
Australia’s a bit the same … I remember an Australian friend of mine I was travelling with as we headed to a round of the Aussie motocross champs, and he kept wanting to stop and take photos of the “beautiful, green scenery” … I thought he must have been joking. It was dark red desert soil to me and barely a tree in sight (where do you think they got the name Nullarbor Plain from? It’s not aborigine but Latin, for nullus, as in ‘nothing’ or ‘no one’ and arbor for ‘tree’ … no trees).
Even we city slickers in New Zealand have river banks and forest tracks within an easy drive from our homes.
As long as we continue to act responsibly and don’t annoy the neighbours by rorting, rarking and wheelying through picnic sites, I reckon we’ll always have somewhere to ride in New Zealand.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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