Sunday, 30 October 2011

This Hole In The Ground ... (Trailbuilding - Sunday 30th October)

Well this week was very much like last week except we're all a week older. After a quick lurk at the urn, we set off to Tackeroo whilst quarrymen Dave, Steve and Martin carried on rock breaking. Along the trail, two Phils dug sump holes and drain channels while at the Roller dips Matt carried on enlarging the sump holes begun last week. We were delighted to welcome the return of Graham, the human JCB, who repeated his Olympic hole-digging record attempt. Meanwhile Bruce and Frank were filling the trailer with aggregate and transferring it to the top of the hill to be barrowed down and along the trail to reinforce the soft spots and a new low berm we added just because we felt like it. Vague but persistent mutterings are now heard about adding a boardwalk... will anything come of this or is it all just a rumour?

After some lovely cake supplied by Petra in honour of Bruce's birthday, we retired to the tea urn to witness the engagement of Bruce to his new true love, an orange Transition Covert frame. We hope they’ll both be very happy together.

Remember that this coming Saturday (5th November), this year’s National Lottery Awards winners will be revealed - 9:30pm on BBC1. Will Chase Trails be proud but humble winners or a generous and gracious support act? Either way it's a tremendous achievement to have made it to the final and see Rob looking smart.


Sunday, 23 October 2011

'There I was a-diggin this hole' (Trailbuilding - Sunday 24th October)

After an entertaining weekend off (some went to Dalby and the Peaks and dislocated fingers whilst I went to Greece and got struck by lightning) we returned to the tranquillity of Tackeroo. We also returned to a pile of enormous rocks kindly provided by the nice Forestry Commission people. The only snag being that they are a little too big to move! However, undaunted we equipped ourselves with all the appliances of modern technology (no, not just big hammers) and set to work.

Dave and Steve focussed on splitting the rocks into handle-able chunks using the 'wedge and feathers' method as practiced since ancient Egyptian times (though not by Dave and Steve obviously). See here if you want to know more. It's a cheap, effective and quick way of cutting boulders down to size. Meanwhile, Martin had been adapting the battered old rock wheelbarrow by removing the bucket and fitting a flat plate. This made moving rocks from our “quarry” to the trail vastly less arduous and finger-risky as he and Jez ferried the newly cut blocks to their future resting place.

The rest of us were engaged in more traditional trail-building activities - digging holes. Between each “Rollers” is a dip where water accumulates and turns to mud in the winter. To defeat this problem we are armouring the bottom of the dips with the rock and digging big, I mean BIG, sumps to the side as drains. Everyone not “rocking” started digging - Petra, Frank, Matt, Andrew, another Matt, Peter and Ellie. A really big thanks to Ellie who was hard at work digging a hole while her dad sat and gave her advice (so we believe). When we struck good sub-soil, it was barrowed off to build up the final berm. Special thanks to Paul, Trevor and the two other riders, who stopped, got stuck in, and then went to finish their ride. Sorry I didn't get all of your names guys but thanks for your help - please come again.

Later, and further up the trail, the sump hole-digging continued with talk of repairing berms and possibly adding a small sky-berm. After all, we always like to leave trails better than we found them, although it does mean that it's going to take longer to sort this section out.


Saturday, 22 October 2011

Trail building update

We'll be working on the end of "Tackeroo" in the coming weeks (that's the last section of 'Follow the Dog' - the one that's currently closed). There are rock slabs to go into the bottom of the Rollers to stop them turning into mud baths, drainage on the corners that turn into swimming pools and reshaping of the two steps. We may even add a few new surprises .... why not stop and say "hello".

This is the pile of rock we've got to play - the "wedges and feathers" will be getting some serious use splitting these boulders!


Monday, 17 October 2011

Busman's Holiday

Last weekend saw five of the trail building crew (Bruce, Dave, Jez, Petra and me) heading “up norf” for a weekend away. Glorious sunny if cold weather greeted us on Saturday morning as we drove the 20 or so miles from ‘Little Argham Cottage’ (Rudston, near Bridlington) to Dalby Forest.

The red grade trail is 23 miles long but the best bits are recent additions for the black grade World Cup course. We’ve come back with a few ideas that may be appearing at Cannock in the future. The drop off at the top of ‘Worry Gill’ makes Werewolf Drop look like a cute fluffy puppy!

Following a recommendation from the cottage owner, we stopped off in Seamer for fish and chips. ‘Seamer Fisheries’ fries the best haddock I’ve had in years – definitely worth the detour on the way back to our cosy 6 berth cottage.

On our way back home, the riding choice was Sherwood Pines or the Peaks – the Peaks won hands down. As Petra wasn’t riding, she dropped us off at Hayfield so we could ride “au naturale” to Edale via Kinder Reservoir, Edale Cross and Jacob’s Ladder – now that’s a proper rocky decent.

Back to normal next weekend …more maintenance work on the last section of Tackeroo.


Monday, 10 October 2011

No trail building Sunday 16th October

There will be no trail building on Sunday 16th October as the trail building crew are on a fact finding mission to Dalby (i.e. seeing if there are any good ideas we can "borrow" from our Yorkshire friends).


Sunday, 9 October 2011

Hurrah For Us: Fame at Last & Tackeroo Improvements (Trailbuilding - Sunday 9th October)

The day got off to a fairly normal start, with appropriate milling about the tea urn and loading the trailer with tools, wood and two tons of surfacing (by hand!) and then hi ho, hi ho, off to work we go ... etc. We didn't have far to go, just across the road to the end of Tackeroo. Work started with barrowing the two tons of surfacing up the trail to help in the formation of the improved final hairpin berms, which will be considerably stronger and a bit higher. It didn't take long to shift the trailer load so then we split into 3 parties. The main group Dave, James, Matt, & Graham dug out the dips between the Rollers and moved the spoil to build up the berms. While they were at it they dug out some sumps to improve drainage and struck a mother lode of material which also made its way into the berms. A huge round of applause for newcomer Graham who performed like a human JCB, barely stopping for breath all day and put us to shame. Terrific effort! Meanwhile Bruce, Phil and Frank had found some spoil across the fire road and were quarrying and barrowing it to the berm. As may be apparent, a berm takes a lot of building

Upstream, (another) Dave, Andrew and Steve had started remodeling the trail below the two wood steps. They timbered up the outside ready for some surfacing after burying a drainage pipe to prevent the corner from flooding. The steps will be remodeled with rock slab landing zones to prevent future erosion. There's still a fair amount of work to get through, not least the slabbing of the Roller dips which will be fairly time consuming

Oh, and the “Fame At Last”? Well, Chase Trails have won the Forestry Commission 'Volunteer of the Year Award'. It recognises how much consistent quality effort, month-in month-out goes into making and mending the trails. And despite our seemingly low key response to it, we really are very, VERY pleased and proud. Hurrah for us!


Sunday, 2 October 2011

Section 11 Opened - Hurrah : Tackeroo Closed - Damn (Trailbuilding Sunday 2nd October)

After many, many months being closed for repair and upgrading it was with great pleasure that the Trail Crew set off with a trailer of tools and a song in their heart to open Section 11. The cheerfulness was reinforced by Abby arriving with another birthday cake for Charlotte! Lovely. Even the apparently simple task of opening a section takes a couple of hours. The brash has to be removed and the various shortcut opportunities eliminated. A final safety check of the various boardwalks, and any hanging branches overhead that may fall on the unwary. James and Matt grafted away sweeping the trail surface clear of pine needles and stuff to ensure a grippy start to the day. (Those Chase Trails people are really house-proud!)

Eventually about noon, the start was cleared, the diversion sign removed and the trail inaugurated by Phil & Tom, and Petra, Charlotte & Jess, plus a posse of riders who were either lurking waiting for it to open or just struck lucky. Having watched several dozen ride through and all survive unscathed and happy, we noted where any finessing might be needed, and moved on.
Just as we were in sight of having all sections open, it became apparent that the final length of the Tackeroo descent, the hairpins and berms at the end, are breaking away at the edge with a risk of high riding bikers encountering the scenery at an unexpected angle and unwished velocity. Attempts early in the week at running repairs were scuppered by bikers who rode dangerously in the vicinity of trail crew so the only option has been to close the section from Hugh's Bridge and divert riders down the bridleway back to the Forest Centre. Many people are riding this dangerously fast and with no regard for the interests of other users on foot or horse, or even pedalling uphill. Take it easy folks and think of others!

Right, to give you guys (and dolls) a bit more of a heads-up on what's going on with Tackeroo, here's an update from today's inspection and the commencement of works. The first feature after Hugh's Bridge is the pair of log steps/drops. These are digging out on the down slope and require repair and/or modification (and possibly rocks). Between there and The Rollers there are a few corners that urgently need rebuilding/changing and maybe a new berm.

The Rollers - We've started digging the bottoms of the rollers out in preparation to fill them with rock slabs. A couple of them have had a couple of feet dug out. The idea being that we will be able to use the rock to channel the water away without it pooling and turning the valleys into bogs like last winter. This should also mean we won't get frozen mud ruts again when it freezes. The height of the rollers won't change and neither should the inclines, they just won't wear away and turn to mush in winter.

The Berms - These have collapsed in places so we've also started digging out the backs of the berms at the bottom in preparation for crib walling and rebuilding with better material. Big thanks to Matt (no 2) who rode in and dug like a good 'un. It was especially good of him because he'd arrived just too late to help on Section 11, so made the effort to ride over and join in on Tackeroo. Outstanding!

This will not be a quick fix so please be patient with us. Please don't try and work round the tape and brashing. It just means we have to waste time putting it back and delays progress. Even though there's a fair bit of work going on in the final length, it's still intended to press ahead with the Werewolf Drops remodelling if enough people turn up on Sundays (10a.m. at Swinnos, Free Car Parking), so come along and help us help you!

...and cakeaholics will be glad to know that Abby's cake for Charlotte was delicious.

Phil (PTB)