Friday, 30 September 2011

Tackeroo Descent - Bottom Section Closed

Please be aware that, with immediate effect, the bottom of Tackeroo - the final section of Follow the Dog and Monkey Trail - will be closed.
Commencing from the feature signed "Hugh's Bridge" until the end after the rollers will be closed to riders at the instruction of the Forestry Commission. This is to enable rectification and repair work to begin and to prevent further degradation of the trail. Please do NOT ride this section.

We know you all love this section but the FC have taken the difficult decision to close it and do something about it now.

Please obey any and all signed diversions that are in place.

Evil Slab Bypass Open

As of today, the bypass is now open for business

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Let Them Eat Cake - Evil Slab Bypass (Trailbuilding – Sunday 25th September)

I was away recovering last week (I won't bother you with the details, but pain and handlebar acrobatics were involved) so my belief that work had started on the Werewolf Drop bypass had to be recalibrated when it turned out that a different bypass had been undertaken. The feeling was that Evil Slab (the Evil formerly known as Root 2) was turning out a bit too evil, and most people just couldn't or wouldn't manage it. So in the spirit of having a slightly friendlier trail, with fewer naughty words so near the Visitor Centre, a bypass was in order. This week we would finish the job.

Because it is Charlotte's birthday (Happy Birthday Charlotte) Petra arrived with trays of home-made fairy cakes for hungry trail pixies. So we had some cake and loaded the trailer with tools, and all the usual crew plus returnee Dave set off to the scene of action. All that is except Dave (another one) and Andrew of Chase Trails and Gary and Andrew (another one) of the FC. They set off to do prospecting and long-range thinking stuff not realising that cakes were going somewhere else.

Last week a chicken run (oops) by-pass had been carved out to the right of the approach to Evil Slab. This week we ate fairy cake (mmmm), unloaded some larch logs and laid them out and secured them as kerbs to keep riders on the straight and narrow, Last week’s surfacing looked a bit untough so after some more cake, we re-cycled gravel surfacing from a nearby disused hard standing and barrowed it in as an extra solid running surface. The pleasure we may have had at this point was somewhat marred by the horizontal rain sweeping across the Chase and dampening our enthusiasm and trousers.

In the meantime we amused ourselves by observing passing riders attempting Evil Slab. Many avoided it on an unofficial alternative (now under logs and brashing placed to make it less attractive); lots failed valiantly; and the remainder conquered with varying degrees of elegance. We pointed out to those who failed that they would have won cake if successful, but forgot to mention this to those who rode over and away, thus we had to eat their cake too.

After Martin had wackered surfacing to his hearts content, and Frank had installed a marker post (can you find him in the picture?) we decided it was just too late enough to be able to go start something else and went back to base and stashed the gear. Then to the magicial tea urn and a final cake (or two).

Big thanks to Matt who came by, got off his bike, worked like stink for half an hour and then rode on his way with a clean conscience having done his bit. Boo to all those riders who seem to think a hi-viz vest is a Harry Potter invisibility cloak, and don't even say 'Hi' or 'Thanks' to people trail building a yard away. In future follow Matt's example, get off your bike and pitch in for half an hour. The trail needs it.

And as for Dave and Andrew x 2 and Gary... we never saw or heard from them again!!!


And now for something totally different ...

As posted here, Sunday saw the Tackeroo camp site being taken over by cyclo-crossers. For those that don’t know, they look like road bikes but have cantilever or 'V' brakes and wider knobbly tyres. Chase Trails weren’t involved with the event but Dave and I witnessed some of the racing whilst on a planning session with the Forestry guys - more about that in a future post.

It’s not my cup of tea but it certainly looks like a good way for the “roadies” to keep fit during the winter months ... not sure about those narrow (compared with MTB) tyres on wet roots!


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Trailbuilding Update

Just to keep readers informed, section 11 (that's the one which has been closed for a tad over six months) will be reopened Sunday 2nd October as part of the day's trail building activities.
Those of you who can remember far enough back to when it was previously open, the trail line hasn't changed but just about the whole length of it has been dug up and re-laid using a number of different types of aggregate as an experiment to work out which is “best”. By that we mean which can cope with the rigors of winter and 100,000 + riders a year.
To spice things up, there are three boardwalks spanning the boggy areas, a section of small log steps to direct the water off the trail and a couple of rock steps.
We’ll brash the edges to encourage riders to stay on the surfaced trail and complete the last minute fettling before the tapes finally come down. Can’t say exactly when it will open but if you’re in the area stop and say “hello” – you never know, you may have the honour of being the first to ride this revamped section.


Sunday, 11 September 2011

Not Tackeroo After All (Trail building - Sunday 11th September)

With the Forestry Discovery Day underway Chase Trails needed to staff our gazebo and encourage anyone in the vicinity to vote for us on the National Lottery Awards (still at Big thanks to Petra and Charlotte for their sterling work in engaging the passing public to vote and increasing our membership by two.

As we’re awaiting the go ahead to start the tweaks on Tackeroo, the decision was made to fill in the holes at the end of Section 10. It's easy because we knew we had some surfacing material on hand to fill the holes with, clearly an important consideration in holesmanship.

With a “tooled up” trailer, off to Section 10 we headed. A quick set of diversion signs plus trail brashing as a hint to illiterate riders and it was sweep, hack, barrow, level, wack until all the final section of the trail through the trees looked like a billiard table, albeit a billiard table covered in gravel.

We were pleased to be joined by Jo, Isaac and Josh who despite all temptations seemed to enjoy themselves and put in a solid days graft of trail preparation and shifting surfacing. Robin and James returned and James brought Matt and all wielded picks with disturbing ferocity. Ian provided the technical expertise in moulding the running surface to his exacting standards (you would be surprised how much care goes into details you never see as you ride). Peter, Matt and Phil completed the surfacing party until Matt was detailed to join the rock group. We all want to be in a rock group when we're young but in this case it was Dave, Jez and Bruce shifting boulders to finesse parts of Section 11 (the section that will not die). They armoured the log-step landings to prevent erosion.

And then we went home and had tea and said - I wonder if next week we're going to start on the Werewolf Drops by-pass?


Thursday, 8 September 2011

National Lottery Awards Video Filming

Hopefully you'll have seen the video we filmed for the national lottery awards (if not head over to the National Lottery Awards Website where you can watch the video and vote for Chase Trails at the same time.

The video was filmed in late July. We met up at lunchtime in the Treehouse. Abbey was our coordinator for the day and briefed everyone on what to wear and say. The crew split into two groups with half going to do some proper work building up on section 11 while the other half were filmed riding their bikes on the Steg. After numerous re-shoots (can you ride a little slower / can you stay together a bit more!) the film crew moved up to 11 to see what really happens on a Sunday morning. Real building was taking place as we finished a short section of boardwalk but there was also a bit of 'staging' as we looked over maps and randomly pointed at the trees. Martin showed off his chainsaw skills and was reluctantly interviewed.

Following this we went up to Upper Cliff for some more riding and interviews. Andy and Jason from the FC were interviewed while the rest of us admired the view. The day finished with the group shot by the birches valley trail header. "Should we yay or whoo???"

We all had a great day filming and the result is a really nice short film about what we do and what the Chase Trails Cycle Project is all about.


Forestry Commission Forest Discovery Day

This Sunday (11th September) the Forestry Commission are holding a Forest Discovery Day to celebration the 2011 International Year of Forests.

There will be loads going on and lots of free activities including forest machinery demonstrations (including tree felling), a forest cycle game for children and a self-led quiz walk. Forestry Commission rangers will be on site if you want to talk / ask them anything be it about recreation, wildlife, education or operations. Chase Trails will be around (probably outside the bike shop) so please come and say hello. Paul Massey from Mountain Bike Adventures will also be running free MTB skills taster sessions throughout the afternoon.

Cyclo Cross Race - Advance Notice

Lichfield City Cycling Club are holding a Cyclo cross race on Sunday 25th September at Tackeroo Caravan Site. The course is based in a small area around the campsite and should be really good either to spectate or to race.

As the course crosses Follow the Dog there may be minor delays through Tackeroo. The crossing points will be marshalled so please obey all signage and instructions, if you are asked to wait please be patient and enjoy the racing for a couple of minuets. More info on or enquries to

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Will it Never End on Section 11? (Trailbuilding - Sunday 4th September)

Well actually yes! In fact it ended today with all that small scale fiddling about that stops you ever really getting your teeth into anything but which is absolutely vital to winding up the job properly. The usual Trail Crew were joined today by ride-in returnee Bruce (not to be confused with Bruce who is of course somebody completely different) and newcomers Danny, Jake and Robin who despite the piecemeal nature of the days efforts worked willingly and hard, making a significant impact on the day’s achievements. Our time was divided between resurfacing the worn-out start bits of the section so some of us had to go and ahem 'recycle' some spare gritstone to toughen up the usual trail surfacing material. Meanwhile others including Jez, James and Robin were preparing some interesting step features. What makes them interesting is these are UPHILL steps. You can't say we don't make your riding life varied. Then it was the cheery round of mixing, barrowing and spreading that makes Sundays fly by (no, honestly it does).

In another part of the forest something stirred and thundered into life – our trusty wacker. Martin and Steve took it in turns to compact the whole length of the trail, well the newly laid material. Now all we have to do is let nature take it's course and weather the trail down to a durable riding surface, so please don't jump the gun and try and ride it until it's opened in a few weeks. It'll just mean we have to keep it closed longer while we fix the damage you cause.

So what next I hear you cry! Current betting is that we'll put in a blue grade by-pass to Werewolf drops and when it's open use it as a diversion while we sort out the braking bumps leading into Werewolf. Why not come and join us for a day to make and mend the trails you love to ride. We need your help. In the meantime vote for us in the National Lottery awards at


Friday, 2 September 2011

National Lottery Awards

Chase Trails have now reached the final three in the best sports project category. We're really pleased to have made it to the finals as it is a great for us to receive national recognition for all our hard work over the past 8 years in designing, building and maintaining mountain bike trails on Cannock Chase.

You can vote for Chase Trails Cycle Project by calling 0844 836 9721 or online. Public voting for the final starts at 9am on 2 September and ends at midday on 26 September. If you voted for us in the semi-final please vote for us again in the final.

The Chase Trails Cycling Project involves local people in the design, build, maintenance and use of mountain bike trails in Cannock Chase, Staffordshire by providing equipment, training and machine hire to get the trails started. Over 100,000 people have ridden the network of cycling trails built in partnership between the Forestry Commission and the local community.

Volunteer trail building group Chase Trails was founded by local riders in 2003 with the aim of building and maintaining high quality, sustainable mountain bike trails on Cannock Chase. Working in partnership with the Forestry Commission, we have built 15 miles of mountain bike trails which we are continually working to maintain and improve. To date it is estimated that over 25,000 hours of volunteer time have been invested in the trails.

Chase Trails rely on volunteers to build and maintain the trails. We hold trail building sessions every week and are always looking for new volunteers to come and get involved.

By voting for Chase Trails you'll be showing your support for the trails and the work the volunteers do to build and maintain them. We'd encourage everyone to get behind us and support this fantastic project.

Vote for Chase Trails Cycle Project by calling 0844 836 9721 or online