Sunday, 25 July 2010

And now for something completely different…

If you were around Birches Valley last weekend, you couldn’t fail to notice an increase in the number of runners and the hi-viz yellow waymarkers. The Concert Site had been taken over by the “Love Life Love Running” event for the weekend. Earlier in the year, we were approached via Pat Adams of Pro-Velo fame (organisers of “Mountain Mayhem” and “Sleepless in the Saddle”) to plan, waymark and marshal the 3 courses. With an offer to increase the Chase Trails coffers, we agreed to assist.

On the Friday afternoon, the Pearson Syndicate joined me to waymark the charity mile course ready for the Saturday morning. After finishing taping the start area, we headed for the catering tent for a well earned burger and brew.

Saturday morning started early for Dave and myself – we loaded up with stakes and signs ready to drive around the Chase marking out the 10 km course. In the meantime, Sally joined Petra, Charlotte and the birthday girl, Jessica for the Donna Louise Charity Mile fun run. Well done to Jessica for finishing third!

Bruce and Jez rode around the course in double quick time to check all signs were still in place and add the kilometre markers so the runners knew how far they had to go before they could collapse in a heap at the finish – the course had some nasty climbs!

Following a quick briefing session, we headed off to our marshalling points before the run started at 1pm. Even the slowest runner completed the course in around 1hr 15 mins which was no mean feat.

After a much needed brew, we decided on a quick blast around the Dog (we do occasionally get to ride) and then joined the rest of the Pearson family for Jessica’s surprise birthday party in the Treehouse Education Centre. No jelly and ice cream but we did play “pass the parcel” and have delicious home made birthday cake thanks to Dave’s mom. Even the Easter Bunny (aka Rob) made an appearance in a bit of a inebriated state – Dutch courage I believe they call it.

Another early start on the Sunday – the 10km course required tweaking to reduce it to 7 Km for the 6 hour challenge event. I think it was meant to be for teams but there were some nutters who ran as individuals for 6 hours – respect!

Whilst some of us marshalled, Ian, Jez, Martin and Steve spent the morning tweaking the last corner before the rock steps down to Klondike bridge. The dry weather had caused the surface to break up and become badly rutted.

To finish the long weekend off, Dave and I rounded up all the waymarkers before we all headed off home for a hot bath and an early night!


Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Flourescent Traffic Lights (Trail Building Sunday 18th July 2010)

Caffeine ... thats the usual thing that kick starts us in the morning! One by one, we gathered outside he bike shop, discussing all sorts of things ... funny and serious. It was soon 10am, and we were joined by a new trailbuilder, John from Loughbrough - welcome John, we hope you had a good day?

We all trundled round to the container where we worked out what to do today. There are a number of things on the To Do list, some more urgent than others. It was decided that we would finish off what we were doing last week. With that, The Fairere members of the Pearson Clan (sorry Dave ;) ) joined Andrew, Martin and Steph finishing off the boards on the Stegasaurus and tidied up some of the rocks for use elsewhere.

The Ugly members of Chase Trails and headed over to Back Monkey to finish off the stepped rock turn. The technical crew headed down to the corner to install rocks, Bruce finished up on the rock step a bit further down and Jez ... hit stuff with a sledge hammer!

There was a display of more extreme wheel barrowing from Pete and Nigel, loading fairly large rocks into the barrow, before working their way down onto the live trail and unloading onto the closed trail. Now there is obviously a danger here, with a lot of people riding on the Red Monkey we needed to install a traffic control system ... seen as i had ridden over to the site, i couldn't play with rocks as i only had cycling shoes on, so i ended up on the trail making sure there were now wheel barrow / bike conflicts! Most riders understood and appreciated why we stopped them and held them up for a few moments.... most did, but there is always one person who just doesn't get it... you didn't do mountiain bikers any favours that day sir...

Back down at the corner, things were coming along nicely. The last section of rock was complete, the retaining crib was finished and the surfacing shaped into place ... which meant test pilot time!

Dale and i kitted up, checked out the line and then comitted ... rides nice too! Here's the test ride.

Feeling pleased with ourselves, we packed up ... just as Martin appeared with a trailer full of rocks! all the rocks were unloaded and some were moved down onto the trail (installing the traffic lights again). then we packed up and headed back to Birches Valley.

After a few snacks, Dave, Andrew, Jez, Pete (with Blade in tow) and myself headed out for a ride. Unfortunately for Andrew and Dave, their ride didn't last past secion 8 ... Andrews bike decided it has had enough ... and broke quite spectacularly! Andrew was ok, but his pride and joy is not ... both chain stays broken, a warped rotor and buckled wheel. Andrew peeled off to the link, while Dave went back and fetched his car to pick Andrew up ... lucky we weren't in the Peak District!

Back at Birches valley, we treated ourselves to Ice Cream ... interesting day, lots to talk about too!


Sunday, 11 July 2010

Loose Boards (Trail Building Sunday 11th July)

The original plan was for us all to head up to the Black Monkey to continue with the crazy paving but Rob turned up with a copy of the monthly inspection report for “Follow the Dog” in hand. With the wood drying out, there were several loose deck boards on the Causeway Bridge and these needed sorting pretty quickly so we split into two teams. Charlotte, Jessica, Martin, Petra, Steve and I loaded up with drills, screws and the genny then headed to the bridge whilst the rest headed for Rainbow Valley. We also hitched up a trailer so we could retrieve a pile of redundant rocks – at £900 per tonne, they’re best put to good use and not left decorating the side of the trails.

The junior trailbuilders helped me erect the diversion signs then we closed the start of the Steg which leads down onto the bridge. Next, the extension leads were unravelled and I fired up the genny. Meanwhile, Martin and Steve had loaded up the trailer with rock so Martin headed over to the Monkey to give the others some more material to play with.

After a while, we got ourselves organised: I counterbored the planks, Steve drilled the holes, Charlotte and Jessica pushed the coachscrews into the holes and tapped them down with a lump hammer leaving Petra to screw them in. Thanks to the chap who stopped to lend Petra a hand – all help is greatly appreciated.

We continued until we ran out of screws so we’ll need to come back next week but all of the loose boards are now secure. Advanced warning to all Sunday morning riders – the Steg and bridge will be closed for a few hours.


Sunday, 4 July 2010

Daylight Rock Raid (Trail Building Sunday 4th July)

Whilst the rest of us headed up to the Black Monkey to continue our latest feature which we’d started last week, Pete, Martin and Steve hitched up a trailer and went off to liberate a load of smaller rocks so we could rock pitch the steps on the corner. See if you can spot where the rocks were taken from next time you’re out on the Dog – answers on a postcard ….

A big warm welcome to new volunteers Debbie and Harvey - thank you for coming along and lending a hand. They helped Petra, Charlotte and Jessica remove the slippery sand from the Red Monkey rocks and then made a sterling job of brushing a thick layer of pine needles off the Black Monkey. It’s been a long time since the original Monkey has seen regular traffic.

The new feature we’re working on is a bit of a mixed bag – a rock skinny leading into a stepped corner finishing with a berm to kick you round and off a rock step. Frank and Dave did a grand job of pitching the steps, big men Jez and Steve bashed in the wooden posts for the larch planks to support the berm, Bruce and Martin arranged three rocks to make the step whilst Nigel and Pete perfected their extreme barrowing technique bring rocks down from the trailer. The berm and last step need more work but the results so far look impressive.

It’s surprising how long it takes to build a rock feature that will take moments to ride – if you think the Red Monkey rocks are a little too tame, come and lend a hand to make the Black Monkey really rock!