Cyclist looking forward to new trail

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Cycling is “a real childish pleasure” for Mike Wolfenden, of Bannockburn.

He is the A Grade champion at the Central Otago-Wakatipu Cycle Club and won the 96km Lake Dunstan Cycle Challenge last year.

“It is a ‘whoo-hoo’, it is freedom. I get a smile as soon as I am on the bike.

“I think anyone who jumped on a bike as a kid, which is most kids, remember that feeling.”

Cycling in Central Otago was great because of the community of cyclists and “some really great cycling trails”.

Mr Wolfenden was looking forward to the proposed Lake Dunstan Trail that would pass through the Cromwell Gorge from Cromwell to Clyde.

“It is going to turn us into a great cycling destination, which is great for tourism in the region, but for those that live here it’s really going to be exceptional.”

Roads were getting busier, which led to more difficult traffic management for races, so being able to shift focus from roads to trails for some of the cycling events “could be really exciting”.

“There are quite a few races that can’t go on any more, the Alpine Classic for example, which used to go from Queenstown to Wanaka and back.”

Mr Wolfenden’s next challenge is the 75km Nevis Valley Gutbuster on November 24, which involves climbing over the Hector mountains and through the Nevis Valley, crossing about 25 river fords.

“Increasingly people are looking to mountainbiking because there are so many options in this area, but also as people look to enjoy cycling away from the roads.”

He is also looking forward to the Pioneer Mountain Bike Stage Race beginning on November 25 which passes through Alexandra, Bannockburn and Arrowtown.

It attracted “a massive amount of people”, Mr Wolfenden said.

“It is an internationally covered race. It is well televised, well publicised, so I think that will mean thereafter we will see a lot more people coming from overseas to come riding here.”

As well as loving the great outdoors, his other passion was working as assistant winemaker at Felton Road Wines in Bannockburn.

Last season at the vineyard was the “hottest season we’ve ever had on record”.

The summer season started very early “almost in springtime, in September.”

“All that accelerated growth that we had through that season kept us very busy.”

But when work got too busy there was always the opportunity to get out of the door and on to the bike.

“All week I watch the weather forecast for the vineyard and then I end up watching the forecast for the weekend to see where I can go, where I will have a tailwind.”

“I don’t think that childish pleasure ever goes away. It is all about fun.”