Monday, 30 November 2009

Bridge To Nowhere (Trail Building Sunday 29th November)

As time is matching on, we need to get cracking on the timber work that will cross the swamp at the bottom of Rainbow Valley. I’d already sketched out a design so last week a small group headed over there to make a start. After looking at the site and mulling over the design, we tweaked it slightly but I reckon it will still provide a techie start to the climb out of the valley.

Rain made cutting timber hard work but we temporarily erected the first few spans of the bridge to get a feel for it. It may not be as high as the black boardwalk as Llandegla, but it could give vertigo suffers a few scary moments! We’ll be completing the frame work over the next few weeks and then deck it at a later date.

This week, Dave and I armed ourselves with cordless drills and enough fixings to start a small ironmongers then headed back to the bridge, Our mission was to replace the temporary screws with proper fixings – all thread and coach bolts. After a couple of hours sliding around in the mud, the job was a good ‘un before more pressing needs meant we headed back to join the rest.


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Birches Valley Carparking Arrangments

Please be aware that from Saturday 28th November until Christmas the Birches Valley top carpark (near Swinnertons & Go Ape) will be being used exclusively for Christmas Tree sales. Everyone else is asked to use the lower carpark near the Cafe. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Trail Trashers (Trail Building Sunday 22nd November)

On Sunday we worked on the Monkey. The junior trail builders, Jess and I, (as none of the other juniors were there) and our mum, Petra, tweaked the Red Monkey. We were soon accompanied by a passing biker who wished to help us. We had to get rid of a gulley and block off a turning that isn’t part of the trail any more. By that time the rider had gone to do some more riding. Mum, Jess and I decided to trash the bit of trail that we had had to block as we remembered that some riders remove the brash and ride it even though it’s closed. So we got the mattock, croc, spade and rake and decommissioned the blocked off trail and we put a massive log or two just to make sure.

After that we went to check on the guys doing the wood work and unfortunately for Andrew, who had designed the new bridge, his helpers Gary and Stu (and Zac and Max, who had gone barking mad as Andrew said) had deserted him. The bridge was coming on nicely and Andrew came up with us to see what we had accomplished. Then we went to check on the rock moving and we watched for some time and we were entertained by Jessica and Alex. Alex started the fight by trying to rub mud from his gloves all over Jess’s face.

Back at the compound Alex and Jess were conjuring up another fight and this time Alex managed to get mud all over Jess’s little face. She looked like she’d just come out the trenches and was chasing Alex around the compound in order to get revenge on him!!!

By Charlotte

Sunday, 15 November 2009

The Mad Hatter (Big Build Day Sunday 15th November)

With promises of floods and tornadoes and general meteorological cataclysm we had thought that Sunday's Big Build day wouldn't be that well attended. How wrong were we? With over a hundred cups of tea and fifty hot jacket potatoes served for lunch and a few people opting for the "Just cake" option, we've got to say that the turnout was excellent!

We began the day, as normal, with a quick word on the safe use of tools before heading up to the trail, "H", to get cracking on the monster that's consumed two big build days already. After leading the way to the end of one of the sections and asking people to "Follow the yellow flags until you hit trail that's already been built, and space yourself out" I got a big shock when I could see people only a short way in stopping and starting to dig. Our volunteers had reached all the way from the fireroad crossing to where we left off on the last big build, not an inconsiderable distance!

With lots of digging, a few monster stumps removed and some trees 'moved', a ribbon of freshly benchcut trail had emerged under the feet of our volunteers. We broke for lunch and the raffle (featuring brand new Chase Trails T Shirts). After enjoying Sharon and Dale's excellent baked spuds and chilli nearly everyone went back to the trail to chew through more trail. So many in fact that we crossed the fireroad and got to work on the next section of "H"!

By 4pm, and with that nearly done, we called it a day having built a huge amount of trail. Top effort from everyone and a big thanks to everyone who came along to help.

We want to open Phase 2 at Easter 2010, and with a few more days like today, we'll be well set for it.


The Junior Trailbuilders

The junior trail builders were having so much fun on big build day because they were making dens! Charlotte, Bethany, Josh, and I were making a den at the end of absinth trail in the trees out of pine needles. Abby and Joe were making a den out of mud at first then afterwards planted mini trees!(sticks).

Rob came to look at our den but Alex was sneaking in the trees to get to Josh. then it was time for lunch with spuds and biscuits thanks to Sharon and dale. Soon it was time to go and we packed up. We hope to see everyone on the next big build day which is the 3rd of January.


Sunday, 8 November 2009

Holes & Rocks - Trail Building Sunday 8th November

As there were no junior trail builders around this week – they were off being Guides and Brownies, and with the favourable weather conditions, rock shifting was the order of the day. So to this end, the Landies were loaded up with tools and bodies and off to the Monkey we headed.

Phil and myself had some rather pressing maintenance to do on the Dog. Whilst shredding the trails the day before, Bruce discovered a hole on the blue chicken run around the original boardwalk. The recent wet weather had caused subsidence around the drainage pipe under the trail. Now, ideally a short length of pipe would have made a perfect repair but after a good ferret around the yard we drew a blank. With some improvisation, we came up with a fitting solution. Now, those without the confidence to tackle the boardwalk can take the diversion without the fear of ending up in Oz.

We then headed off to join the others grafting on Phase 2. Work was well underway on a short descent of the “Red Monkey” . It was being rock armoured to make a durable trail and give it an exciting technical edge. The guys had started with a hernia inducing large rock at the bottom of the slope to act as an anchor and then worked upwards selecting suitable shaped rocks to fit into the jigsaw. To finish, a couple of larger rocks were positioned either side of the entry to the section. The right hand one is quietly waiting there ready to jump out and rip the rear mech off an unsuspecting rider’s mount.

The finished result looks much better in the flesh than in these photos – and far steeper!

Whilst the one group were humping the rocks around, another group made a start on a new corner on the “Black Monkey”. This will be a steep tight rocky lefthander dropping down the hill about 3 metres (10 feet for us oldies). We needed to take out a couple of trees blocking the flow of the corner and hack out their stumps. Unfortunately the FC won’t let us use dynamite so deft use of a mattock and brute force did the trick. The rooty top surface needed clearing away and a rotten stump removed before we started to shape the corner. As it will be rock armoured, we were only interested in getting the general shape sorted.

Remember, it’s Big Build Day this coming weekend so if you’re around, please come and lend a hand – even if it’s only for a couple of hours.


It Came From Across The Road (Chase Trails Needs You - Sunday 15th November)

Phase 2 Big Build Day - Sunday 15th November
Meet Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre 10am

Autumn and winter are a great time for trailbuilding and with only a few months to go before the official opening of Phase 2 next Easter we need as much help as we can get to make sure everything is finished and ready to ride. We're looking forward to catching up with our growing number of 'Big Build Day regulars' and also welcoming new faces coming trail building for the first time. So why not come along and help build part of 'Phase 2'

The great poster again designed by Missus Toast

Thursday, 5 November 2009

A Quick Trim and Tidy

Today Martin and myself caught up on a few little jobs that needed doing on 'Follow The Dog'. We didn't do anything major but just lots of small bits and pieces that most people wouldn't even notice.

My day started with a ride in very heavy rain but at least it was warm enough to wear the best waterproofs ever invented (shorts). After changing into some dry gear we set about our list of jobs; replacing missing signs, clearing fall zones, removing old waymarkers and best of all cleaning the bridge!

It's surprising how long lots of little jobs can take but we crossed off everything on the list and the weather stayed dry all day until it was time to ride home when it started to rain again!


Monday, 2 November 2009

Slip Slidin on AoT - Trail Building 1st November 2009

Wet... Thats how the day started for me. I got up early to get a ride in before trailbuilding but the journey to Birches Valley suggested that it was going to be a very wet ride! After negotiating with minor flood on the A449, i wondered how much of the Chase would be under water - the answer was most of it! From the start of section 2, to the last blat on 17 to the causeway there was water and grit and mud everywhere - but it was brilliant!

I pulled up in the yard with grit grinding in the disc rotors to find most people had arrived and started loading up. By now it had stopped raining which is great news! After a quick chat i got changed out of my soaking clothes, then we all headed up to Five Ways to do some more on the trail from the last Big Build Day.

Now, this section hasn't been named yet, but the conditions on it in places are treacherous when its wet. We're going to need lots of surface materil here - LOTS! This slippery beast has lead to it's second name so far - AoT (I won't expand the reasoning on this name) - the first was just daft. Others were mentioned, like 'Face Brake', but AoT is the best so far.

Today was about progressing the trail further down the hill and making some tweaks and adjustments. Dave and Jez found a couple of stumps that needed removing and while 'trimming' the roots of one tree at the edge of the trail 'it fell over' ...

Fortunately for us, Silver Birch are classed as a weed by the Forestry Commission, so this wasn't much of an issue. It also means the long corner works so much better.

Further up the trail, Bruce, Sally & Phil were hard working some sculptural magic on two left hand berms ... Photos don't give the size, shape and depth of Berms ... thats when i had an idea. I had seen some photos that create 3D images ... so i thought i'd have a go ...

The trick is to go a bit cross eyed, so that the two images merge into 1. Then you need to focus on the middle image, and suddenly it all fits! I need to work on it to make them better, but it gives you an idea...

While we were digging, the weather was good to us. Apart from the odd nock on a tree which releases a mini shower, it remained dry. But as we were loading up the tools, the rain started to fall again - timed it just right!