The ‘Big Build Day’ is being led by Chase Trails volunteers – a group of local mountain bikers who have given up countless weekends and raised thousands of pounds to help enhance the cycling facilities at Cannock Chase.
Photo (right) by Andy Fox
From 10am until 4pm, people of all ages are being encouraged to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty as part of the trail building day. Experts will be on hand to offer guidance and instruction on trail building and safe working practices, so no experience is necessary. A barbecue lunch and refreshments will also be provided to satisfy all those healthy appetites.
The new bike trail is part of a £200,000 project to improve the visitor facilities at the Forestry Commission’s Cannock Forest and will involve developing eight kilometres of new single track, plus some new look features added to existing routes. Cross-country, downhill and leisure trails will all benefit from the revamp.
Rob Lamb from Chase Trails, says: “Coming to a Big Build Day is a great way to get involved in trail building. You’ll get to learn about trail construction, meet lots of new people, enjoy a barbecue lunch in a beautiful setting and best of all, help build trails that you’ll soon be riding.
Anyone interested in supporting the project or joining the Chase Trails volunteer group should call 07966 507798 or visit www.chasetrails.co.uk
People who are interested in volunteering for the ‘Big Build Day’ on the 1st of March should meet at Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre, Birches Valley, Cannock Chase. Tools are provided, but people can bring along their favourite spade. Sturdy footwear and suitable outdoor clothing is also advised.
Jason Maclean, Environment Manager for the Forestry Commission at Cannock Forest, says: “We’re really grateful to Chase Trails volunteers for their continued support of the Cannock bike trail development project. The help of volunteers has meant we’ve made a lot of progress in a short space of time and brought us closer to our summer 2009 completion deadline.
“Now everyone can look forward to riding the region’s newest and biggest purpose built mountain bike trail, as well as the range of cycling routes already on offer to get people out and active in the woods.”
The Project is being steered into action with the help of the Chase Trails volunteer group, cycle manufacturer – 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.
Wider changes and improvements to existing trails will help more people of all ages and abilities get active and develop a healthier lifestyle. There will be an easy green route for families and beginners through to blue and red courses for cycling enthusiasts.
The new trail will be officially opened to the public in summer 2009. The project will help safeguard six existing jobs.
Cycle manufacturer, Giant UK, will be sponsoring the new trail at Cannock Chase over the next three years.
Other sections of the trail are 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.
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.
For more information on cycle hire at Cannock Forest, contact Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre on 01889 575170 or visit www.bikechase.co.uk
For more information about recreational facilities at Cannock Forest and other Forestry Commission woodland around the West Midlands visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westmidlands and www.forestry.gov.uk