Big Build Day: Let Loose Black Section

2 July, 2014 at 08:34

What’s this? A blog post about actual trail building for the first time in about half a year? Yes, sorry…we’ve neglected it a bit. But no more! We’ll aim to get weekly or bi-weekly updates out once again. 🙂

So, without further ado – remember that Big Build Day we had last month? It was a fantastic success and we got a good deal done on the day. The section is being built in partnership with British Cycling, Run & Ride, and of course the Forestry Commission, and will be used in the upcoming British Cycling MTB Cross Country Series race, which is being held at Cannock Chase on the 16-17th August.

We had a fantastic turnout on the day – including the Chase Trails regulars, we had a total of 54 people arrive for the day ready to help, and we managed to get most of the new section surfaced, and made a bit of a start on the rock garden.

Big Build Day - Let Loose Black Section

Big Build Day – Let Loose Black Section

The day started off with a safety briefing (don’t bonk anyone on the head with tools, etc), and then around half the volunteers got to work cutting the main trail – we had a completely blank canvas to start with, so with the route marked out, we got to work on clearing the needles and junk until we got down to the stony stuff – we have to give the surfacing material something to stick to, after all! Once that was done on the main line, we got to work shifting all the material into place, which involved a lot of digging and a lot of barrowing. We managed to flatten the rather sizable pile of material that was delivered to the site, and surfaced about 80 metres (or so…) of trail altogether.

While we were doing that, the other half of the volunteers were working on cutting the “B-line” for the race, providing an easier (but longer) option for those of you who aren’t keen on riding it. The B-line takes a longer zig-zaggy route down the hill, so if you want to save valuable seconds, the rock garden is a trickier but much quicker option! The B-line will only be in place for the race – once the black section becomes part of Follow the Dog, there won’t be a need for it (the existing trail will become the easier route), so it’ll be left for nature to claim it back – though it may be used again in future races, so we won’t make too much of an effort to hide it. 🙂

Let Loose Black Section - B-Line

Let Loose Black Section – B-Line

Once the race is over, we’ll be making a few changes to the section – the entrance to the section is currently built for the race, so it’s not ideal for joining from the existing trail. We’ll be adding a “qualifier” which will include more rock and a boardwalk – the idea being if you struggle on the qualifier, it’s best avoiding the big rock garden.

You can see a full set of photos from the day over on our Facebook page if you’d like (even if you’re not signed up). And finally, once again, a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who turned out for the day – the help is very much appreciated!

Bonus Extra Bit:

To make up for the lack of activity… have an extra tid-bit. For trail building this past weekend (29th June), we were back on the section, albeit with about 40 fewer people this time! Though we did gain a few new volunteers for the day – thanks to Clare, Luis, and Jack for joining us.

The aim for the day was to top up the surfacing in a couple of spots – all the barrowing on the Big Build Day had caused some of the surfacing we’d laid to become a bit rutted, so we soon got that sorted out. There were also a couple of bits that needed additional material just after the rock garden and at the very end of the section where the trails merge, so that was sorted out too.

Most importantly, a few of us got to work on shifting those lovely big rocks for the rock garden down the hill, ready for Dave to get started on building….well, this:

Rock Garden Progress

Rock Garden Progress

Think it looks big? You ain’t seen nothing yet – that’s only about a third of what it’ll look like when it’s finished – this will most definitely be a challenge for any rider, and line choice will be critical. Take the wrong line and there’s a good chance you might lose a rear mech….or your bike! It’s an evil one. 😉

Here’s the view from the bottom:

Rock Garden Progress

Rock Garden Progress

As it’s not finished yet, please don’t attempt to ride any of it – the surface still needs time to bed in, and the rock garden is not finished yet – you’ll cause us and/or yourself a problem if you try and ride it.