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Wellington brothers in US mountain biking hall of fame

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Wellington’s Kennett brothers, Paul, Simon and Jonathan, have become the first New Zealanders to be accepted into the United States’ Marin Mountain Biking Hall of Fame.

Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, is regarded the birthplace of mountain biking.

Their nomination says over the last 30 years the brothers, who have competed at the top of the sport, winning national championships and participating in events around the world, have completely transformed off-road riding in New Zealand.

“The brothers’ enduring contribution of ground-breaking events, best-selling publications and sustainable trail development has earned them a reputation as true pioneers of the sport, and played a key role in making mountain biking one of the most popular outdoors pursuits in New Zealand,” the nomination says.

Their latest accomplishment is one of the world’s biggest bike-packing events – the 500-rider, 3000km-long, Tour Aotearoa.

“Wellington is one of the best places in the country for mountain biking and it’s in large part thanks to the massive efforts of the Kennetts,” says Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.

“Thousands of Wellingtonians can enjoy our parks on their bikes and the Kennetts’ conservation work has pioneered the model for how parks are built.”

Wellington City Councillors Andy Foster and Peter Gilberd say they are delighted with the brothers’ recognition.

“Mountain biking is a booming sport for all ages in New Zealand and globally. Paul, Simon and Jonathan were the pioneers in New Zealand,” says Cr Foster.

“They’ve contributed massively to events, founding the Karapoti Classic in 1986, organising stage races and mountain bike festivals, and directing the 1997 UCI XC World Cup race in Wellington.”

The Kennetts have been involved in creating route alignments for many tracks around the city, including; Makara Peak, Skyline, Wright Hill (Salvation), Crofton Downs (Silversky), Polhill (Highbury Fling and Transient) and Mt Victoria.

Cr Foster, who has worked on projects with the Kennetts for many years, says Wellington is fortunate to have them.

“They became the development managers when we set up the award-winning Makara Peak in 1998, and right from the get-go this was an environmental project too – with sustained pest control and at least one tree being planted for every metre of track built.”

Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park has become a model for volunteer trail development combined with forest restoration.

“This is all hands on, bashing through bush, salt of the earth work, and it is a massive contribution to all the people who love biking, running and walking in our hills,” says Cr Foster.

Cr Gilberd, the Council’s Natural Environment Portfolio Leader, says the Council has increasingly recognised that the green belts and the tracks that run through them are a massive part of the unique lifestyle that our city offers.

“The Kennetts have played a massive role in making that possible. This recognition is so richly deserved, and we join with their many friends and the mountain biking community in congratulating the Kennett brothers.”

SOME KENNETT ACHIEVEMENTS:

· Paul self-published 10 issues of New Zealand Mountain Bike Newsletter from 1988 to 1991

· In 1991 the brothers teamed up with Patrick Morgan to write the best-seller Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike Rides

· Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails, a guidebook focusing on multi-day cycling trips, has proved to be their best-selling book to date

· Other publications include RIDE – the story of cycling in New Zealand, Spinning the Globe about Louise Southerland (the first person to ride the Trans-Amazonian ‘highway’) and The Muddy Olympians about six New Zealand mountain bikers who made it to the Olympics

· Jonathan’s been a key part of the massively successful Nga Haerenga trails

· From 2002-2004, Simon designed and set out skills courses for the national “Kids Bike Jam” series

· Lessons learned were applied to the country’s first permanent kids’ mountain bike skills track which the Kennett Brothers built in a central Wellington park in 2009.

· Jonathan took those design ideas around the country in support of the innovative Bikes in Schools programme, which builds bike tracks at schools.

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