Jason Menard always felt the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trial had the potential to become a success.
The former Alps 2 Ocean marketing and sales officer, based in Twizel, recently took up a position with ChristchurchNZ as its Mackenzie district digital marketing executive.
In nearly five years on the trail, Mr Menard felt he had achieved a lot, and decided it was time to step away and let someone new stamp their mark.
“I felt that I’d .. put a lot into it and sometimes it’s nice to see what someone else might do.
“I wouldn’t have left if I felt I was half-finished. I thought we’d gotten to a good point with it and it was the right time to step down.”
A personal highlight for him was working with businesses along the 300km trial, which extends from Aoraki Mt Cook to Oamaru.
“Without the partners, the trail’s just a gravel trail through a paddock,” he said.
“It’s the businesses that make it what it is. It’s the people moving bikes, putting the accommodation up, the cafes .. so promoting all the 150-odd businesses that are associated with the trail was one of the absolute highlights.”
Another highlight came when the trail was featured on TVNZ’s Breakfast programme for five days in 2015.
His new role was similar to his previous one in terms of its job description, and he was pleased he would be able to continue his association with the cycle trail.
“The A2O is one of the premier products in the Mackenzie .. Twizel is very much the base of the trail.
themselves in Twizel then in the morning shuttle up to Mt Cook or Tekapo to start it. I’ll still have plenty to do with that.”
Even when the trail was in its early stages of development, he believed it had the potential to be one of the best in the country in terms of both scenery and rideability.
“That was apparent to me the very first time I put myself in the mind of a tourist and rode the whole trail.
“When I got to Oamaru, I was just astounded by what a range of experiences you can have along the trail. I thought the nice thing about this is anyone can just walk into the Cadbury tour or Monteith’s (brewery) tour right away, but with the A2O, it’s all on you. It feels like an incredible achievement.
“I’m not a sporting guy. I hadn’t been on a bike in years when I took this job. That sense of accomplishment was like .. I just cycled from the alps down to the ocean – I feel like a superstar.
“It drove home the fact this is such an attainable dream for anyone. You don’t have to be in the most amazing shape of your life – you just have to have a reasonable level of fitness and break it down over a number of days.”
He described the trail as “one of the top 10 reasons to come to New Zealand” and was firm in his belief the trail would continue to punch above its weight.
“I certainly hope so. I think it’s got massive potential. It’s still in its infancy – it’s still not officially opened yet. It’s only Mt Cook to Omarama where there’s been official openings.
“The sky’s the limit with this one.
“There’s potentially so much that could be done to maximise the trial and the benefits to operators along it.”