Specialist local contractors have moved into the Forestry Commission’s Cannock Forest near Rugeley in Staffordshire this week, to start work on the region’s newest and biggest purpose built mountain bike trail.
The new bike trail is part of a £200,000 project to improve the visitor facilities at Cannock Forest and will involve developing eight kilometres of new singletrack, plus some new look features added to existing routes. Cross-country, downhill and leisure trails will all benefit from the revamp.
Giant UK will be sponsoring the new trail at Cannock Chase over the next three years.
The trail is being built by trail builders Clixby’s, from Oakamoor in Staffordshire, who previously constructed singletrack mountain bike trails for the Forestry Commission at Dalby forest in North Yorkshire, Whinlatter Forest in Cumbria and the new descent line at Stainburn, near Leeds.
The new technical trail at Cannock is being designed for expert riders and will be graded as red.
There will also be an easy green route for families and beginners through to blue and red courses for cycling enthusiasts.
The construction work is expected to take up to six months to complete and the new trail will be officially opened to the public in summer 2009. The project will help safeguard six existing jobs.
Jason Maclean, Environment Manager for the Forestry Commission at Cannock, says:
“It’s really exciting to see progress being made on what will become the region’s top mountain biking venue.
“This new trail will allow thousands of mountain bikers and forest visitors to develop their cycling skills or simply go out and have fun.”
The trail has been specially designed as a contour trail, with some short sharp climbs and long flowing decents, so you can expect some extremely tight twists and turns along the way. New features will include climbing turns, berms, rooty drops and lots of narrow flowing singletrack.
Hugh Clixby from trail builders Clixby’s, said:
“We’ve a wealth of experience building bike trails in other parts of the country, so we’re looking forward to taking on the Cannock site and making sure there’s something for everyone.
“We have just come from Whinlatter Forest in the Lake District, with its big gnarly, mountainous terrain. Cannock will provide such a contrast, we will be able to build some lovely sweet flowing singletrack, using the contours of the valleys and the gravely, sandy soil mix which is so natural to the area.”
The Project is being steered into action with the help of the Chase Trails volunteer group, Giant UK, Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre, Staffordshire Aggregates Levy Grant Scheme, Staffordshire County Council, the Sport England Community Investment Fund and the Forestry Commission.
Chase Trails volunteers and partners have raised over £60,000 for the project, £28,000 of which came from the Staffordshire Aggregates Levy Grant Scheme. Sport England’s West Midlands Regional Sports Board (RSB) recently awarded the initiative £130,800 from the National Lottery funded Community Investment Fund.
Chase Trails is a volunteer group of local mountain bikers who have given up weekends to help enhance the cycling facilities at Cannock Chase.
Martin Bave from Chase Trails, says:
"It’s great that after almost two years of detailed planning by Chase Trails, that work is starting on what promises to be the most technical trails on Cannock Chase. The new trail will be both physically and technically challenging for riders and will be a mixture of machine and hand built sections.
Bike hire facilities will be provided by Swinnerton Cycles, who also offer mountain bike training.
The Forestry Commission’s Birches Valley Visitor Centre will remain open to the public throughout the work, but access may be limited in some places.
Birches Valley Forest Centre at Cannock Chase is already the starting point for the popular ‘Follow the Dog’ technical route. The seven-mile, single-track trail, which was created by Chase Trails as the West Midlands’ first dedicated Cross Country MTB trail, will also be upgraded as part of the changes.