When we make the effort and take the time to go for a ride at a fun destination, like Codgers Mountain Bike Park with kids, we want it to be an enjoyable experience. To have a ‘great day’ on the bike with kids there are simple things to think about, plan and do.
In this story we are riding in Codgers Mountain Bike Park in Nelson on some of the beginner to intermediate tracks with Rhea 12yrs old – mountain bikes occasionally, Isaac 9yrs old – mountain bikes occasionally and Roman 9yrs old – first time mountain biking.
Codgers Mountain Bike Park – Where is it?
Located 1km from central Nelson up the Brook Valley on Brook Street. Just look out for the map board and the wide trail start of the Dun Mountain track.
Parking can be difficult right at the park entrance, 50m further up the road you will find some off road parks but these are limited and on a Saturday or Sunday morning they are likely to be full. Don’t block the track entrance with your car and be considerate of the local residents. Nelson City Council is working on developing a car parking area within the park itself.
Codgers Mountain Bike Park is run by Nelson Mountain Bike Club in partnership with Nelson City Council. The lower beginner and family friendly tracks do not require a permit to ride in but be aware that other areas require you to be a member of the club (HotBox/Smasher/Lollipop/Turners/Fringed Hill Rd).
If you need to hire bikes see Trail Journeys in the Millers Acre Centre, 37-39 Halifax Street…or Torpedo 7 on the corner of Rutherford & Bridge Street….or if you would like to be guided see Gravity Nelson.
Is it doable?
The ride needs to be doable for you and any riders (kids) you are biking with.
The length of this ride is entirely at your discretion you have an extensive network of tracks spread out over 3 hillsides. These tracks range from grade 2, easy, to grade 5, advanced, but if your kids don’t mountain bike as a sport they will be restricted to the easy to moderate tracks at the beginning of the park.
Once you leave the main trail (Dun Mountain Trail) basic mountain biking skills will be needed but again the easiest tracks are well designed for beginners. Just be aware that the tracks will be narrower, have more challenging undulations, climbing sections and tighter corners so ideally your kids should be riding a bike with gears. The biking surface of the suggested route is mainly compact clay/dirt with a few gravel sections to contend with….is it doable?
EASY SUGGESTED ROUTE
From the main entrance, The Dun Mountain Trail gives you access to the park & beyond up onto Dun Mountain. It is a wide, smooth continuous climb for approximately 10mins – a perfect introduction to off road climbing on a bike. No kid likes to climb so you may need to stop for several morale breaks along the way.
You are looking for Tasman Journeys, the first track on your left that is sign posted and not a track exit (be sure not to start climbing up a track that is designed to be ridden down, & note, if you do this loop you will be coming down one of these). Tasman Journeys is a switchback (tight cornering) climbing track that takes you up to a height of 426m. This section is the most challenging of your climbing. All 3 kids I had with me on the day had to stop and rest (and complain). The second time they climbed it with grins and enthusiasm – great what a bit of adrenalin and down hill speed can give you.
At the top of Tasman Journeys you need to turn left and find the entrance to Crazy Horse.
The Tasman Journeys track sign you are looking for
One of the many switchback corners on Tasman Journeys
Crazy Horse is a purpose built 672m of descending track with wide sweeping corners. This is a great way to teach people new to mountain biking about cornering. It is rated an intermediate track because you need to maintain control through lots of turns. Wide corners are made to ride wide or through the outside of the bend. So try to teach the kids this, to keep them out of the inside of the corners where the gravel and stones tend to fall to.
The track ends on the Dun Mountain track you have just climbed up – so now it’s decision time because if you cross the track Lower Crazy Horse carries on down to the very bottom of the hill (more of the same with some fun little flowing sections). However, you can choose to climb 50m up Dun Mountain track and you will be at Tasman Journeys again. You can do this short loop or choose a longer loop…
If you continue all the way to the bottom you end up in a bit of a wide clearing. Turn to your left and ride along the valley for about 100m until you come to a 4 wheel drive road that goes straight back up the hill to the Dun Mountain Track – it’s bumpy and difficult to ride, only experienced kids would conquer it so expect to push your bikes.
First time for this guy down Crazy Horse
Entrance to Lower Crazy Horse
ADDING SOME MORE…
This will involve a bit more climbing….is it doable? You could come back another day just to do this track.
If they are enjoying themselves and have more energy you can continue through the park to Tu Meke a 745m rolling, flowing little gem of a track. This was the favourite part of our ride for all the kids (Rhea 12yrs old – mountain bikes occasionally, Isaac 9yrs old – mountain bikes occasionally and Roman 9yrs old – first time mountain biking) If you do choose to do this you will hopefully have some smiling excited kids, talking about what fun that ride was… 15 to 20 more minutes depending on how often you stop and how fast you are climbing up the hill…is it doable?
To get to Tu Meke you have 2 choices
- Stop one of your loops at the Dun Mountain Track and continue on up this track past Tasman Journeys. This will take you 10 to 15 minutes of climbing with kids before you come to a fork in the track with an uphill or downhill option. Take the down and, not very far, around 5m down the entrance to Tu Meke is on your right (it is currently not sign posted – that’s how new this track is!). It’s a sharp right so if you’re looking at a sign that says Gully you’ve missed the turn.
- From the very bottom of Lower Crazy Horse – down in the valley – take the same path, to your left towards the 4 wheel drive road but when you reach the bottom of this road turn in the opposite direction, go down a bit of a dip to a gate. On the other side of this gate is a gravel road (open to traffic) that leads up to the Tantragee Saddle. Take this road up for roughly 800m until you see another gate to allow you back into the mountain bike park. Once through the gate it is a simple little climb up past a track called Gully to Tu Meke on your left (currently not sign posted).
Away you go down a lovely flowing fun track that has one surprise – the big log over the track exit. So don’t get too carried away with speed.
Remember the weather on the day will effect your ride. Most of this ride is in a recently logged forest so you are exposed – sun screen is recommended on hot days, jackets in rain/wind – is it doable?
It doesn’t matter what ride you are doing or where you are going, you want to feel comfortable. Check out the goRide guide How to have a “great day” on the bike for general information on how to make sure you are comfortable on the bike.
Water – you will need enough to last the length of your ride. There is no tap water or toilet facilities in the park (NCC is planning on developing a parking area within Codgers that will have water & toilet facilities…)
Protection – As you or the kids learn to mountain bike there is a chance for accidents – bike gloves, covered arms, covered legs, good helmets are some protection options. Please make them wear shoes. Comfort on the seat can be a big factor so consider padded bike underwear – goUnders for Kids, see photo to right. Worn under their shorts or leggings these ‘undies’ protect soft tissue & prevent chaffing.
Food – A museli bar or a bit of chocolate can be a great motivator or reward at the top of a hill and as we mentioned above they will have to climb. The closest food option is the dairy at the beginning of Brook Street or central Nelson (a bit over a km away) is full of cafes and restaurants.
It doesn’t matter what ride you are doing or where you are going, you want to feel safe. Check out the goRide guide How to have a “great day” on the bike for general information on how to make sure you are safe on the bike.
Maps – There is a map board at the main entrance – see photo but it is an overview of a large area and not detailed enough to use to ride. Codgers has had a lot of work done to it over the last few months due to logging. At the time of writing (Feb 2018) there are very few up to date maps. The signs within the park are good and this is a really popular place to go so there will always be locals to ask.
Carry a basic biking first aid kit in your bag or on your bike. Have a more comprehensive kit in the car or a refill pack incase serious patch ups are required. Grazed knees, elbows and irrigation for eyes are the most common minor biking accidents.
You – Am I safe to goRide? A checklist to complete that ensures YOU are safe to goRide.
Bike – goRide pre-ride bike safety check – is it safe? A simple checklist to complete pre-ride so that you know your bike is in working order.
If you have worked through the points above then you will be more likely to enjoy and have fun on your ride.
There is so much fun to be had when learning to mountain bike ride.
- The options with the loops we have talked about are great. We know kids (pre-teens/teens) that spend their entire afternoon doing loops of Crazy Horse – going faster, lining up jumps, generally just playing around.
- Let the kids lead the way. Let them find the tracks and work out what signs and names they should look for along the way. The signs in this mountain bike park are really well done so are perfect for those new to map reading.
- If you are making a day of it in Nelson, right at the end of Brook Street is the Waimarama Brook Sanctuary – we have a story on riding to this destination and exploring, read here
Does it fit?
The location of Codgers Mountain Bike Park makes it very easy to get to quickly. So with very little travel time you can be enjoying a mountain bike experience with the kids. You will have to climb into the park so to enjoy the ride the kids need bikes with gears. The network of tracks makes it easy to choose loops of varying lengths to match the ability of your group and the available time you have.
Codgers Mountain Bike Park with Kids
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