Opinion: Thumbs up to the Trail FairiesSave
Did you know the Bay of Plenty has the highest preference for outdoor pursuits in New Zealand?
This is not surprising, of course, considering the huge array of options available on our back doorstep - whether that is in Rotorua, Katikati or Opotiki, we really are spoilt for choice.
As a bike mad family, living in Rotorua provides us with everything we need in terms of riding - free trails at the Whakarewarewa Forest, the Cy-Way connecting the inner city area, Gravity Park at Skyline Skyrides, as well as the local BMX track.
For us, being able to load up our bikes and shoot out to the mighty Redwoods is an easy, affordable and fun option as a family.
Often, when we are out there, we bump into a crew of Trail fairies - volunteers who are putting their time back into the trails through 'trail karma' (trail maintenance).
In most cases, these are organised sessions, with some planning involved on what the group will work on each time, and more often than not some small incentive to encourage people along.
Rotorua Trails Trust is one group that organises these sessions, along with Revolve Rotorua, who have adopted The Dipper, the Be Rude Not Too adoptees working group and Whaka Digs working their magic all over the trails.
Over in other areas of the Bay of Plenty, there are other voluntary groups sharing their love of riding by doing their part in organising trail maintenance.
MTB Tauranga looks after Summerhills, Opotiki Multisporters and Adventure Racers look after the various Motu Trails, as well as other groups doing what they can, when they can, to keep the trails smooth for the growing number of riders making the most of what we have in our backyard.
Just this week, as we were finishing up for the afternoon, we came down Old Exit Trail and came across a sole trail maintenance guy.
He was very chipper and happy to share a quick word about what he had been up to and the plans to keep the trail rolling.
We'd had such a great ride, and felt very grateful to this guy and the many volunteers who give their time to make the trails better.
As a family, we have made a commitment to get involved and help out when we can and it is the same everywhere - more volunteers are needed to keep the workload down and the trails running smooth.
Check out Facebook for the many ways you can get involved. You'll be joining a great community and some good trail karma will come your way.
Melanie Short is the Communication and Operations Manager for the Sport Bay of Plenty.