Rogate bike park in the South Downs bike park gets new trails, new owners and a promising future. Rogate reborn!
Rogate bike park: the trails
The single blue-graded trail at the park, Bottle Rocket, is enough to keep most riders entertained all by itself. Top to bottom, it’s perfect for a good warm-up, and gives an insight pumping and cornering on Rogate’s trademark dirt. It’s also a great introduction to riding, bike park style.
The red graded runs are challenging but fun. These trails are designed for the intermediate bike park rider to build confidence, with plenty of technical rooty sections, progressive drops, and jumps.
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Far Beyond Ridden is one of the more challenging black-graded runs and is an absolute old-school delight. Fast, furious and fun – you can hear the hollering for miles as riders negotiate the tricky roots and then get fired down the track over a series of incredible features, to be deposited below, right next to the push up track. It just works.
These well thought-out, progressive features make Rogate the perfect place to hone your technical skills. Sessioning the drops, jumps and seriously techy sections is a great way to improve your riding.
Designated push-ups help with negotiating the tracks and keeping a steady flow of riders. Pick your times carefully and you’ll have the place to yourself.
It’s no secret that the UK boasts some of the best year-round bike parks. But it’s not just the big, destination playgrounds like BikePark Wales or Revolution that make the bike park movement so unique. A growing number of sports are small but perfectly formed and there are now dozens of these lesser-known gems dotted around the country – all the product of hard work and commitment.
Rogate, nestling in the hills of West Sussex, is exactly this kind of bike park. It’s well established with a loyal group of riders, and has big plans. We caught up with Sam Bowell, Rogate’s site manager, to learn more about the new-look park, and what’s the secret behind this exciting and popular mtb hot spot.
Rogate might only have a diddy hill to play with (compared to the big Welsh venues) but boy does it make the most of it, with lines for new riders right through to those who want to hit big tables. It’s also a bike park with a big future, after being acquired by Windhill owner’s B1KE, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
“Progression is such a key part of the continuation and furtherance of MTB, so to be able to provide a facility which caters for big-hitters and new shredders alike is vital,” Sam says.
So what is it like to ride there? Rogate is a bike park of two halves. At the top of the hill are a few very short natural trails, and these lead to the main area of the hill. Here there are multiple trail options with a much more traditional bike park feel. It’s a clever way of maximising the limited space because you can mix and match trails as you descend.
Sam’s advice for anyone planning a visit: “Use the whole hill. The top is so different to the bottom, so mix it up a bit and get some variety in your Rogate experience.”
The park offers short, sharp bursts of speed which belie the flow of the trails. A result of working with the experts, says Sam “Dirtkraft have done a ridiculous job of realising our vision with their unreal machine skills and understanding of how ‘flow’ works.”
Rogate has been around for a good few years. Sam explains: “I first rode at Rogate 20 years ago. At that time it was part of the Pedalhounds Short Course Downhill Series.”
Years of hard graft, cultivating partnerships with landowners and land users, and being embraced into the B1KE bike park network have brought Rogate to where it is now.
To develop the bike park further though, the acquisition by B1KE was necessary. “In short: there wasn’t anyone else,” explains Sam. “We realised that as a voluntary committee we simply didn’t have the time or energy to provide the level of care and attention that the hill demanded; luckily B1ke were there to take up that slack.”
It wasn’t without its challenges though and Sam wasn’t always so confident about the park’s future: “If you’d asked me this time last year whether I thought we would have a completely renovated site, with plans to go even further, and not just one full-time member of staff but also several regular part-timers, I don’t think I would have hesitated in saying ‘No chance!’ We simply couldn’t be where we are now without B1ke’s involvement”.
And the pace of change has been impressive. There is now a blue trail to attract less-experienced riders, new push-ups, new trails and an overall shift in the overall dynamic that’s truly a game changer. It gives a feel of learning corners again and getting back to basics. The new Rogate is a fusion of old-school trails with contemporary jump features that build confidence and develop technical skills.
Hopefully this is just the beginning. “I don’t plan on slowing down any time soon,” says Sam, “so the next few years are going to be intense but ultimately very rewarding for everyone.”