Sunday, 29 August 2010

APF continued (Trailbuilding Sunday 29th August 2010)

We continued work on the APF woodwork this week. Progress is going well. Full picture update next week.


Sunday, 22 August 2010

APF Starts Here (Trailbuilding Sunday 22nd August 2010)

We’re only a few weeks away from the APF exhibition so it was time to crack on with the woodwork for our free ride display. Now, the most sensible place to start would be with the start ramp that will shoot our intrepid riders into the wall ride. Whilst Alex and myself scratched our heads as we gazed at the plans, the rest of the team started digging around the stumps left from the trees that were felled last weekend and de-barking them ready for cutting.

With a stake in the ground, well, yellow flag, Alex and myself started marking out where the uprights for the structure were going. We even used a bit of trigonometry to get everything nice and square. As the posts we we’re using were 8 foot long (2.4 metres for the younger readers), we needed our taller members to drive the post knocker and even they had to dig a starter hole to plant the post in! It will be a few years before our junior trail builders will be tall enough …

After returning from their trip to the Red Monkey rocks (see later), Bruce and Dave assisted with the construction. It didn’t take too long before things started taking shape. In the meantime, Martin cut the tops of the stumps off below ground level so they can be covered with surfacing material.

All in all it had taken the whole day to get the start ramp frame work finished. We won’t be decking it until just before the event for safety reasons. As you can see from the warning sign, please keep clear and don’t climb on the structure. The APF display will be taken down after the event but it’s been built with the intention of erecting permanently elsewhere on the Chase – Stile Cop for the more extreme features and the Monkey for the tamer North Shore woodwork that we’ll be building in the coming weeks.

We’ll be out same place same time next weekend doing more woodwork – stop and have a chat or lend a hand if you want.


Red Monkey Rock Repairs (Trailbuilding Sunday 22nd August 2010)

After the tools were unloaded, Bruce and I headed over to do some essential work on one of the Monkey rock sections. During our group ride on Saturday, we found that one of the rock sections was getting excessively covered in loose black soil. The reason for this is because some riders are panicking and trying to ride around the rocks instead of riding over them.

First things first, we set out our trail warning signs. A big thank you to all the riders who did slow down but as usual, there are those who don’t think that the rules apply to them. Please slow when you approach trail warning signs.

The rocks are installed in these areas to give protection to the trail but they also give us an added bonus of a trail feature. Riding around is probably harder than riding the section but as an added incentive we decided to lay some larch logs along the edge so that riders stay on the trail to prevent any further damage. If you don’t feel confident to ride these features you should dismount and walk down the trail and not try to scoot over the rocks.

After clearing some to the debris from the rocks, it was time to rejoin the other builders and continue with the work that was being done for the APF.


Sunday, 15 August 2010

The Holidays Over (Trailbuilding Sunday 15th August 2010)

We arrived nice and early at the container; it was soon time to decide what the highest priority was and where we were going to work after our little outing to visit some of the 7 Stanes.

It was decided that Martin, Jez and Alex would go and cut down some trees to clear the area where we are setting up a Demo for the APF as this is quite a dangerous operation it was decided that we would take the younger trail builders to work elsewhere.

Bruce, Steve, Phil, Sally, Petra, Charlotte, Jessica and I went to do some work on section “H” we started building a log roll like the one on Section 8 of FTD. This is to allow the trail to drop to the fire road before crossing onto the skinny; we started putting in the posts while Sally and Petra started to re-shape the landing leading to the log roll. Phil was re-shaping from the fire road crossing to the Skinny to try and make sure you didn’t hit the skinny whilst being off camber. After a short while the structure was starting to take shape. Caution this structure is not complete do not ride it was quite interesting to see that for a closed trail how much it was being ridden and from the number of riders that came down the trail to where we were working.

This section is closed some of the features may not be complete and may be unsafe.

The people that are riding these closed sections are making it harder for us to complete as we have to keep going over the same work that we have already done, so if you want to moan about the trail not being open or the braking bumps why don’t you come and give us a helping hand.


Friday, 13 August 2010

Chase Trails Scottish Summer Shenaniganry

On Friday we drove up to Scotland and set up camp at Hoddam Castle, near Lockerbie. There were to be eleven of us camping there. The facilities were good, plenty of toilets, showers, washing up area and laundrette. Some alcohol was consumed by a couple of members of the party and a good laugh was had by all.

On the Saturday we did Dalbeattie, the girls rode some of the red then went on to the blue to avoid doing ‘The Slab’ and the men rode all of the red. I really enjoyed this trail as it was technical, there were lots of boardwalks, rocks, drop offs and a rocky descent reminiscent of a down hill race course. I really surprised myself by doing most of the technical features and after looking at the rocky descent I summoned up the courage to do it, although I was rather relieved when I managed to get to the bottom in one piece. The girls finished up by doing the skills loop which I enjoyed.

On Sunday it was Glentress, this started with a climb up through the trees with technical bits, rocks and skinnies. We reached the skills area, this had a skinny with corners on it, after falling off several times I managed to complete it then I attempted the rock drop off which I managed to do, I did, however, fail to do the rock climb which consisted of a rock step up. We then split into two groups some of the men did the red and the rest of us did the blue. There was lots of climbing, some on single track and some on fire road. Then came the descents, there was a very long descent through the trees, this had some roots and switchbacks but went on for a long time. The rest of the descents were shorter and these had rock drop offs on the trail and larger ones to the side for the more adventurous then we crossed over a bridge with a drop off the other side of it. Another couple of sections of switchbacks and we arrived back at the cafe.

Monday we went to Kirroughtree, we started by having lunch in the cafe then started our ride. We started off on the red route and this had technical features with occasional black options to the side. After doing some of the red the girls split off from the boys and did the blue, the descents were nice and flowing and we really enjoyed them. The ride finished at the cafe, but we decided to climb back up the first section to do the skills area. This was good as it had a blue loop, a red loop and a black loop. We did the blue loop a few times and then stepped up the challenge for the red loop, this consisted of a rock step up, immediately followed by a rock switchback climb another switchback and then a couple of rock drop offs. As it had been raining and the rock was wet it made it difficult to manual over the step as the back wheel kept sliding and then there wasn't enough momentum to get around the rock switchback, I did give it a go but ended up having to dismount and push my bike around the corner, unfortunately I slipped on the rock whilst pushing my bike and managed to land on my hip which came out in a huge colourful bruise. I continued around the rest of the loop and then gave it another couple of attempts. I didn't manage to get my back wheel over the step up but I gave it good try. We got one of the lads to show us how to do it but he appeared to have the same problem as we were, although he said something about wet rock being slippery and not having the correct tyres for riding rock. Then it was quickly back to the cafe for a hot drink before they closed.

Tuesday we packed the camping gear away amidst torrential rain thunder and lighting and hail stones. At one point there were three of us with umbrellas huddled over the electric hook up to make a drink just as the heavens opened up again and the hail started. When we eventually managed to get packed away we headed for the Lake District to ride Whinlatter. It was late when we arrived and so, of course, we had to check out the cafe as we had missed lunch. After eating we set off for our ride, we did the north loop this consisted of single track with a drop to the side. We climbed up rocks and roots and climbed and climbed some more then we came onto a fire road and climbed a bit further as we entered the single track again guess what? Yes you guessed it more climbing but what goes up must come down and the down when we got to it was great, flowing single track with drop offs and steep down hill sections and switch backs going through the trees which by this time was quite dark as dusk was fast approaching. When we arrived back at the car park it was virtually empty, quite late and we still had to drive back home.


Fab company; lots of laughter; superb trails; great biking; brilliant hills and to top it all . . . the coconut and cherry scones at Kirroughtree!


The two things I enjoyed at Scotland was having a laugh with the trail builders and Glentress. I enjoyed Glentress because of its blue routes last three sections (they are all downhill). The best bit of them was the bridge going over the other trail and the jumps. Thanks for organising it. It was so much fun.

Jessica aged 10

Abby and I don't do camping ... that was blatantly obvious from our lack of camping gear! No tent, no sleeping bags and no camping style catering implements! But that didn't matter too much, as our fellow holiday goers were well equipped! Thanks to all who we scrounged from!

It also goes to show how much of a draw mountain biking is for us ... choosing to sleep in a field to ride some of the country's best trails says plenty.

Both Abby and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves ... I'm already thinking when I can go up there next!

And the riding? ... It is a completely different story up there, the terrain, materials (and money) used to build them culminates in some seriously bonkers trails. They are trails that EVERY mountain biker should ride at least once.

Red grade trail really is red up there ... you think werewolf drops is difficult ... ride one of the red sections on Kirroughtree and you won't think twice about riding werewolf again.

Oh and now we have some ideas up our sleeves. Expect some 'upgrades' over the next few months, all of which we will need your help with!


Chase Trails Scottish Summer Shenaniganry Awards

Best Cafe - Mabie - “I'll have a Shed burger and Shed Chocolate please” (for those that stopped the full week )
Best Campsite Cooking - Profiteroles & Beer - we ate like Kings (again, for those that stopped the full week )
Worst luck - Jez (broken spoke & shock two rides in a row)
Most punctures - Dave (every time he rode a black feature!!)
Most forgetful - Rob (gloves, bottle, glasses - maybe I just like doing that first climb twice!)
Most improved - Petra (seemed capable of riding anything)
Best Riding - Bruce (nailing The Slab)
Best trails - Kirroughtree and Dalbeattie


I too could be nominated for the worst luck award as after breaking my frame a couple of weeks ago, the replacement didn’t arrive until 4:30pm on the Friday afternoon before our trip. If the courier had delivered in the morning, I’d have had my “new” bike ready to ride in Scotland but c'est la vie …. Thanks to Dave and Jez for lending me their spare machines and Jack and Steve at Swinnertons for trying to get me back on the road in time.


Sunday, 1 August 2010

Normal service resumes (Trailbuilding Sunday 1st August)

We’re a little late posting this but it was back to business as usual …. well, not totally as our first task was to clear the area for the Chase Trails display at September’s APF event. This is a trade show for all things forestry … from big tree chopping machines to woodcarving with chainsaws. We are there to show land owners that there are much more exciting things they can do with their land than just growing trees. A few months back, Alex had planned where the temporary trail was going but bracken now covered everything. So, armed with slashers and rakes, we beat the bracken into submission … now we can see the flags and markers on the trees. The plan is to build a short impressive freeride style display with boardwalk, jumps, wall rides and the like to wow the punters …. more news at that as work progresses.

Next on the list was a little tlc for Lower Cliff. Starting at the bottom, we worked our way up removing the worst of the braking bumps, sweeping away the loose marbles from the berms and hacking back the overgrown bracken and brambles. At least now you can ride without sliding off the trail or being lacerated by trail side vegetation.

There was no trail building last weekend because we were all off on our holidays! It was the “Chase Trails Summer Shenaniganry” in Scotland …. more on that in next post …