But before we get onto the Roger bit… let’s quickly deal with a couple of aspects of this trail.
Bennett’s walk is the track which has always followed the creek from the Bright caravan park to here. In about 2009, because of the increased popularity of mountain biking in the area, Ross Walker and Dave Innes developed the idea and started to build the adjacent mountain bike trail – now the Roger Packham trail.
Many contributed to the building including; Ross and Dave, Sarah Black and Claude Haas. Roger Zonta and Karl Meyland contributed to a lot of the heavy work by building bridges and moving road-base – and my brother Tim assisted with his machine to build the grassy loops down the swing-bridge end of the trail.
Since then, the maintenance of the trail has been completed by many club members who are frequent but rarely seen trail fairies. Most of you know who they are so I won’t mention all their names. Suffice to say that Guy and Roger Packham were a couple of them, particularly along those sections down the other end.
Since being built, the trail has become a favourite of those riding mountain bikes in Bright and is entrenched as part of the annual Bright 6 hour Enduro Race. It will also be part of the coming Gravity 12 hour enduro.
Those mountain bikers here know how rich Bright is in single track. It’s mountain biking heaven and rivals any of those better known ‘mountain bike parks’ nearby. But the opening of this trail will mark the first ‘officially sanctioned and classified’ trail in Bright. With full permission from the land-owners and support from the Alpine Shire and the Alpine Cycling Club – it’s here to stay and you’ll soon see how this trail has been marked as a blue square trail – classifying it as a ‘more difficult’ trail.
There are a couple of reasons this trail has been chosen as the one to remember Roger by. First and most importantly, Roger loved it. It was rare that he went out for a ride and didn’t finish with this trail – hence his desire to be out here ensuring it was always operational. Another reason is that this land will never be cleared and the trail will therefore be here forever (and if you saw how much concrete Roger Zonta used to put these signs in, you would further be assured of that!). A final reason of course, is that the mountain bikers amongst us also love riding this trail and every time we ride it we will think of him.
Many of you may not realise that, by chance, today is the anniversary of the day on which Roger died. A year ago today, Jenny, Ellie and Liam lost a husband and father – Guy and Cheryl, a loved brother and Evie, Laura, Digby and Doug – their dear uncle.
The rest of us here lost a good mate and a strong and capable riding companion. Some of you were very close to Rog – others, like me, were just occasional riding partners – yet still very impacted by your relationship with Roger due to his strength of character.
The outstanding memory for me from Roger’s funeral last January was the respect people had for Roger’s strength within the community. I later heard him described as a ‘Stalwart’.
Let me remind you what that means. Think about how clearly he fits this description…
“Synonymous with strong. A loyal, reliable, and hardworking supporter or participant in an organisation or team. Having or marked by imposing physical strength. Firm, steadfast, and uncompromising. Physically and morally strong.”
In a conversation with Guy a couple of weeks ago now, it dawned on me exactly why we have done this. Everyone will remember Roger in different ways. His family – Jenny, Guy, Cheryl and the kids – will never forget and will never require anything to remind them. Members of the Bright theatre community may remember him when they think on a particular play or when they hit the stage from time-to-time. The Hotham community will remember him as a good manager and a hard worker as they stand on the summit – and others will remember Roger as they dig into a good meal due to his desire to create and share fabulous food.
So, as cyclists who knew him – we will remember him when we ride this trail… Those times when we were following his wheel or he was well-and-truly onto ours. We’ll hit the drops and burms and shred those flowing sections of trail – maybe crash or involuntarily dismount once in a while – and we’ll think of Rodge. We’ll probably think of him often away from this environment as well – but what we know for sure is that when we ride this, he will always be with us.