Saturday is usually ride day but, with the imminent official opening of Phase 2, we're rapidly running out of Sunday's to get everything done in time. So, Dave despatched Petra, Charlotte and Jessica for a ride, and joined Andrew, Bruce, Alex and me for a spot of woodland carpentry.
Delegation of duties was the first order of business when we arrived at the site of our 'Klondike' bridge in Rainbow Valley - some of you may have noticed it on the right-hand side when spinning up the fire road. I set to sawing up planks to the required length whilst Bruce, Andrew and Dave set about planing the edges for a nice fit and triple screwing the planks to the supports.
Alex took a large and dangerous knife and headed in the direction of some naughty boys who were riding the closed section which ends at our bridge. Ever the epitome of restraint and decorum, Alex informed these wayward souls of the error of their ways, explaining that the 'Trail Closed' sign really did in fact apply to them as well. Having done his good deed for the day, Alex then set out back along the trail to brash it just in case any other riders made a similar mistake - there's now several tons of fallen branches, logs and foliage on those sections to emphasise the closure.
Meanwhile, progress was rapid back at wood shop 101. I sawed my way through a dozen or so planks, whilst the others systematically measured, remeasured, adjusted the angles and fixed down the boards to our structure. Progress was interupted briefly when one of the Forestry forwarders arrived with 20 odd tons of sawn and sorted logs to add to the neat piles in the area. Obviously, the piles he needed were exactly where we'd parked the vehicles. Luckily, he was understanding and refrained from moving Alex' car out of the way with his mechanical grab, instead agreeing to return in an hour after we'd packed up and shipped out.
The bridge still isn't quite finished, maybe 1 more day of boarding and it'll be ready for a final engineering inspection.
We met up with the ladies, had a quick lunch and headed out for a well deserved ride. Winding up Marquis Drive, past the pumping station we noticed a group of naughty boys and girls at the top of one of the closed sections. Our 9 year old trail information service (Jessica) started broadcasting that the trail was closed and they should stop riding it. Thank goodness they were too far away to hear so we took the excuse to ride around the next closed section of trail (and brash off the beginning again) and up the fire road to the top.
We found an impressive group of journalists and competition winners on blingtastic machinery. There was also a tall man from Yorkshire called Steven or Peter (I couldn't work out which) on a nice looking Santa Cruz - apparently he's quite well known for going down hills very quickly - who was assisting with a spot of on the trail tuition for the lucky competition winners.
There was a bit of hobnobing and chit-chat, then the decision was made to move on.
Clearly, with all the new faces, Jessica took the opportunity to ride off down the trail yelling "WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE" at the top of her voice and showing the downhill world champion how it should be done. There was a bit more sessioning at the bottom on the berms at the bottom of the hill before we went our separate ways - journos and superstar back up to Stile Cop and us back to Birches Valley for some coffee.
Note - all the built trails in that area are closed to allow for their recovery after the cold snap. Please, please, please don't ride those trails. The official opening is shortly before Easter and the trails need that time to settle down after all the damage caused by hundreds of wheels, sub-zero weeks and metres of snow. Our guests were invited by the Forestry Commission and were in a controlled and managed area for their visit.