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Mason Bryant is a 26-year-old Taupo local who loves riding his mountain bike as much as he loves helping his community. Ever since his uncle bought him a mountain bike at 6 years old, Mason has never looked back. When the opportunity came for Mason to grow the sport he loves, he jumped at the chance.
A large portion of Mason's time is spent at the Taupo Bike Park, maintaining and building up the dirt jumps. A community-led effort, the Taupo Bike Park is both a local spot for kids to grow their passion for BMX riding and the location for national competitions. Mason's dedication to riding and his community even captured the attention of the international apparel brand, Etnies, and news outlet, Pinkbike.
Keep your eyes open as Mason has big plans for the Taupo Bike Park, the bike community in Taupo, and Crankworx Rotorua 2021 in November!
How did you start building the dirt jumps at Taupo Bike Park?
I took over the reins after a few years. The local legend family, the Simpsons, Cath, and Joe, and Phil played a big role in approaching the council about their vision and idea. Also, with the help of a few other locals in this scene. They got it going. Then I moved in with Joe, and I was living with him in 2015. Ever since then, Joe has moved out of town, and I stepped up and took over.
What is involved in maintaining the Taupo Bike Park?
In terms of seasons, winter is the best time to be digging because the jumps tend to be a bit softer with the rain. But in the summertime, it's quite a battle down there with the sun so harsh, and the type of dirt (the jumps) tend to be really dusty. You have to keep watering them, and there is intense heat in the summer.
Overall, the maintenance of the jump park does take up a lot of time. There is a group of locals that help me out. People will see me down there, approach me and ask "hey can we come help out." But I spend a lot of time down there, probably 5-8 hours a week. If I go down there after work, I'm there until dark, having a bit of a tidy-up and riding.
In the Pinkbike interview, you talked about the biking scene gaining momentum in the past few years. What do you think about the future of mountain biking in Taupo?
The mountain bike scene is definitely growing in Taupo and it's good to see. With Taupo Skate Park and Taupo Bike Park, it has progressed over the last year or so. There's been a lot of interest in getting kids back out on bikes. If you go down (to the Taupo Bike Park) on a weekend, there can be twenty to thirty people. Most days different people are coming and going, traveling from all over, from Rotorua to Palmerston North.
With Craters MTB Park and the progression out there, it's attracting more and more young people to go.
The Taupo scene is definitely growing. We've got a great BMX track at Craters, the dirt jumps at the Taupo Bike Park, the Taupo Skate Park – which I still rate one of New Zealand's best skate parks. We've got a little bit of a hub down (at Taupo Bike Park), but the likes of a tar heel jump track, that would be a gamechanger. With the expansion plans of the jump park, I can only see the scene growing more and more.
With events like Crankworx and having those types of facilities (in Taupo), the progression of the kids would skyrocket.
Even now, watching the kids over at the jumps (Taupo Bike Park) over a couple of weeks, you can see them building their confidence, hitting the bigger jumps. It's so rewarding! That's why I do it – seeing kids stoked. It's awesome.
In the video, you mentioned Taupo Bike Park, Taupo Skate Park, and Craters MTB Park. Why are these great places to ride?
At Taupo Skate Park, being one of New Zealand's top skate parks, you can flow around and can have a chill session. But you can also learn a few tricks at the skate park. Then when you feel comfortable, you can go down to Taupo Bike Park and try them out over the dirt jumps there. With both Taupo Bike Park and the skate park being 500 meters apart, that’s so good for the biking community. You can spend a few hours up at the skate park and then shoot down to the Taupo Bike Park jumps and spend a few more hours down there. Being so close together, it's great.
With Craters MTB Park, you just have a 2-minute drive out of town and you're on the bike trails. I like the technical, more jumpy style of mountain biking so if I'm going to Craters, I tend to head straight up to Grinder. The other tracks I ride are Cole’s Killer and Buzzard- those are where I tend to head- the steeper, flowy, and jumpier tracks.
It's all very economical with all the riding spots being so close together in Taupo.
What is a top tip for visiting riders?
Don't be afraid to explore. As long as people are having fun on their bikes, that’s all I'm about, just seeing people smiling on bikes.
Where do you go before and after a long day riding?
We're very lucky with the hospitality in Taupo. You can't go wrong with any café or pub.
If I want to eat, Café Baku or Storehouse are go-to's for a pre-ride breakfast. But Taupo has so many cafes, it's hard to pick!
A beer at the Two Mile Bay Sailing Club after a ride is definitely a good way to end the day.
Where do you go for any biking gear or needs?
The local bike shop, Top Gear Cycles. Since I was a wee fellow, I'd go in there and talk to them. They'd always give me the time of day to have a chat and help me service my bike. I've always gone there ever since I've been riding.
As a local born in Taupo, Crankworx was always a dream for Mason. For the past three years, he worked nonstop to compete in the worldwide biking festival. This year all of his hard work paid off!
I've been given a wildcard entry for Crankworx at the start of November for the Speed and Style event as well as the Pump Track Challenge which is invite-only.
How do you feel about it?
Over the moon! Over the past 3 years, I've been trying to get into the speed and style event so I'm going to give it my all. I've been putting in the kilometers on the bike, trying to get bike fit and ride as much as I can. I don't want to look back with regret and think I could have trained harder.
To jump on the bike and compete with some of the best people in the world it’s the best feeling!
Heading to Crankworx Rotorua and inspired to get your wheels turning? Combine the world-renowned mountain bike parks and trails in Rotorua with some of the best singletrack trails in the country and you have the perfect recipe for an epic Central North Island mountain bike holiday.More info
Bike Taupo hosted international mountain bike legend Bas van Steenbergen and current Queen of Crankworx and three times Canadian downhill national champion Vaea Verbeeck for an epic few days riding in Taupo New Zealand.