The best new trails, biggest pump tracks and freshest rebuilds for the year ahead - global pandemic permitting of course!
The best new trails, biggest pump tracks and freshest rebuilds for the year ahead – global pandemic permitting of course! Forest of Dean, Dyfi Bike Park, Edenbrook Country Park, BikePark Wales and King Alfred’s Way.
1. Verderer’s Trail, Forest Of Dean
This year, 2021, the Verderer’s Trail at the Forest of Dean celebrates its 10 year anniversary. It’s the trail that changed the face of FoD’s Cannop Cycle Centre, shifting the demographic of the riders who visited by drawing in new, family and trail-riding crowds alongside the ranks of gravity addicts. How many riders does the 11km blue trail see? A year before it was built, 906 laps were completed on all the trails at Cannop in the month of August. But by August 2012 the trail counters showed 8,174 laps. And last year 65,000 sets of wheels rolled on the trails. The figures speak for themselves and like it or loathe it, this was the trail that made the FoD.
It just so happens we do like it, thanks to endless flow that’s addictive enough to have riders going for lap after lap. But after years of pounding, those flowing sections had become great lumps of braking bumps, with rubber and water rubbing out the smooth lines. This year, though, there’s been extensive maintenance to renovate the surface, bringing the Verderer’s back to life. The skills area at Cannop Cycle Centre has also had a revamp.
Forestry England has invested around £80,000 to carry out the improvements, with Back on Track and the Dean Trail Volunteers on the tools.
2. Dyfi Bike Park
OK, so Dyfi Bike Park has been open for a while, and the two new red trails and the pump track were really added in 2020 during the first lockdown, but Covid restrictions meant fewer of us than hoped were actually able to get over there and try them out. Yes, among those missing out were team mbr, much as we’ve wanted to go and sample Super Swooper and El Hippo. Why should we go in 2021? Well, Dy Bike Park has quickly become so much more than a spot for just the huckers among us – the reds are a triumph of ow and progression that means regular but experienced riders can enjoy them, before stepping it up to the bigger tracks like Original DH… if they dare.
3. Edenbrook Country Park, Fleet, Hampshire
Pump tracks provided lots of us with two-wheeled escapes during lockdown. The great news, then, is that for 2021, Edenbrook Country Park has a new one. It’s flippin’ big too, all-weather surfaced and with multiple lines to play on. The latest development is two mountain bike trails – some 150 and 180 metres in length – to add some dirt to the equations, featuring tables and berms.
The new trails are built by Berkeley Homes and designed by Architrail.
4. The A470 Line
No, not the road, the line. BikePark Wales built the A470 jumpline as a signature piece: 40 tabletops and gaps that would showcase the trail builders’ skill and leave riders in raptures at the same time. It’s had four minor tweaks since it opened in 2015, but this time around it’s been flattened and completely rebuilt.
“We’ve never felt it 100 per cent clicked and t in with the other trails, so thanks to the latest lockdown, for the rst time ever we’ve been able to close the whole line and rebuild it,” says Nick Pole from BPW. The old trail had been sculpted by a number of different builders, something we reckon you could actually feel in the character of how it rode.
The idea now is to make the A470 flow more smoothly and also to fit better into the way BikePark Wales works – chiefly, progression. If you’re a beginner learning to jump then Popty Ping is your first trail to ride, with mellow lips and small tables. Master that and move on to Locomotion with more of the same, albeit bigger. The new A470 comes next and the reworked Insufficient Funds trail is the biggest of the flowy jump lines.
That’s not all that’s new for 2021 either; the pump track has had a long-overdue redesign, and the blue-grade Bushwacker trail that takes you back to the visitor’s centre has also been resurfaced. And taking you up to the top of the hill, the big black box returns after a year out of commission; a repurposed military vehicle, it’ll uplift 14 riders, allowing for social distancing.
5. King Alfred’s Way
There’s a new long-distance trail to try this year. Called King Alfred’s Way, you’ll cover 350km o -road around southern England on some seriously ancient trails. It’s no bike park adrenaline rush, more of a South Downs Way kinda vibe, taking in World Heritage sites like Stonehenge and Avebury, and Iron Age hill forts at Old Sarum and Barbury Castle.
It’s definitely not the path untrodden then, but it’s new to bikes thanks to Cycling UK, which has pieced the route over three years and it now connects four of England’s National Trails: North Downs Way, South Downs Way, Ridgeway and Thames Path. To link up the new King Alfred’s Way successfully and make it all legally rideable, sections of footpath were upgraded for bikes, which is an impressive feat on the part of the charity.
Meanwhile, if that doesn’t sate your thirst for long-distance riding, last year Cycling UK opened up an 800-mile trail from the Peak District to Cape Wrath in Scotland, called the Great North Trail. It’s part of the charity’s drive to criss-cross the country in off-road routes. Head to cyclinguk.org to download the routes.