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Happy New Year to all our readers

31 December, 2012 at 13:00
The wet weather is limiting what we can do at the moment – any surfacing we lay just ends up like sandy coloured porridge and bypasses around work areas turn to axle deep slurry.

The section we re-laid a couple of weeks ago has been de-brashed to save the forest around it – riders trying to find a drier line churned it into a muddy mess. We have plans for this low spot but first we need to run them passed the Forestry – we’ll be back …


Burning off the Christmas calories – Trail building

27 December, 2012 at 22:00
Did Santa bring all the bike bling you asked for?

To burn off the Christmas excesses, Bruce and I met up for a soggy building session on Tackeroo – yet another sump and drainage pipe combo. After cutting and taping a bypass, Bruce started digging the sump while I worked on a trench for the pipe.

Considering the inclement weather, there was a surprising number of riders out. Many voiced their approval of our recent trail maintenance efforts – it’s good to hear our work is appreciated.

After installing the pipe and back filling the trench, we finished the job off reshaping the berm. The soft ground needs settling time so we’ve left the bypass in place for a while


More Maintenance – Trail building

23 December, 2012 at 22:00
With Bob the Digger Driver moving the surfacing material received from the Cemex quarry (see here for details), we could carry out some much needed maintenance on the later sections of The Dog.
Last weekend, the crew split into two teams working on different sections – the first rerouting the trail to improve the flow and drainage by digging a trench. Unfortunately, as the surface needs time to settle and dry out – unlikely with the current weather, we had to leave the bypass (mud bath) around the work zone in place.

The other crew made a start on filling holes and other damaged areas of trail which we continued this weekend. It’s a case of draining off the puddles, breaking up the old surface and adding new material. This is then raked level and wackered flat but as the trail needs settling time, we had to post a diversion along the fire road. This should only be for a couple of weeks depending on the weather,


Up on the Cliff – Trail building

9 December, 2012 at 22:00
We were back up on Upper Cliff this weekend to sort out a potential wheel trap of a hole that had developed not long after the start of the descent. Initially, the plan was just to fill the hole but after spoting a water gully in the bank at the side of the trail, the job grew into digging a sump and installing yet another pipe – if a job’s worth doing …..
Whilst one team were working on that, two more were working their way down the trail filling smaller holes, cleaning the woodwork and de-berming the edge of compacted pine needles to improve drainage.
To finish, there were a couple of information panels to plant above the black rock sections – you need to know what you’re letting yourself in for.


How many pipes? – Trail building

2 December, 2012 at 22:00

I’ve lost count how many berms we have installed drainages pipes in over the last couple of months but riding around the Dog, you can see the improvements given the amount of rainfall we’ve had recently. Last weekend, we headed over to Upper Cliff on the Monkey Trail to hit another berm and tidy up the Black Rocks.

A “Strava line”, as one of the guys had christened it, was blocked with a low fence – riding down the side of the rock feature at speed into the path of riders on the red line is an accident waiting to happen. Young Phil, who stopped to help mid-ride, worked like a Trojan digging material out of a hole to repair the entrance to the rocks.
This Sunday, the work site was a little closer to home – the flooded corner between the Stegosaurus and Kingfisher Bridge. Yet another pipe was buried in the trail to take water from the sump. This left the trail surface rather soft so we may need to do a bit more remedial work in the future.
Another “Strava line” was blocked with logs and other brash whilst a number of puddles were sorted.
There are a few more pipes to install but we’ll be doing other maintenance work over the next few weeks …. weather permitting now winter is here!


Monkey Trail Diversion – Update from the Forestry Commission

1 December, 2012 at 12:00
* * *    For latest update – see here   * * * 

The harvesting work is now 50% complete. We are investigating whether we can reopen some sections of the trail as the contractors have nearly reached the start of the initial diversion. Harvesting sites are dangerous places and it is imperative than forest users stay out of these areas. Contravening these exclusion zones not only endangers your own life, but also the harvesting contractors. It also slows down the operation and consequently the speed at which the trail can be re-opened. It is important to remember that the trail closure is only around 10% of entire trail network of which is the long fire road climb.  We are already talking to a contractor about trail reinstatement to ensure we can get the trail open as soon as we can.

Gary (FC Recreation Ranger)

Forestry Commission on Facebook

1 December, 2012 at 11:00
The Forestry Commission on Cannock Chase now have a facebook page. They’ll be posting news about CannockChaseForest, information on forthcoming events and activities, trail updates and much much more…

Recreation Ranger

Christmas Tree Sales – Impact on Car Parking

25 November, 2012 at 12:00
It’s that time of the year again. Christmas Trees are on sale at BirchesValley from Saturday 1st December daily from 10am – 5pm. While the trails are all open as normal parking arrangements are a little different to normal. The top car park by Go Ape / Swinnertons will be used solely for Christmas Tree sales & Santa’s Grotto so unless you are buying a Christmas Tree you’ll need to park in the lower car park during December.

Buying a Real Tree from the Forestry Commission is a great way to show your support for the trails and the work that ChaseTrails and the Forestry Commission do so why not take a tree home after your next ride? More details here.


Work on Upper Cliff – Sunday 25th November

22 November, 2012 at 18:00

As a “heads up”, we will be doing maintenance on Upper Cliff over on the Monkey Trail. The plan is to install a pipe in the first left hand berm and do general repairs on the trail. Rather than closing the complete section, we will erect a temporary local diversion – please observe the warning signs.

The ‘Black Rocks’ may also be closed while we tidy up and cut back the trees on the lower section – again please observe the signage.


Blame the weather – Tackeroo Berms Diversion still in place

18 November, 2012 at 22:00
OK, I said that the diversion would be in place for just one week but I lied – the section needs to be kept closed for another week whilst the newly laid surface dries out. I’m blaming the wrong type of weather … a week on unbroken sunshine and temperatures in the high twenties and we’d have been sorted!

This week, we’ve completed the last berm repairs thanks to the Bruces, Frank and Steve plus some help from Bertie the dog. Jez and Martin beavered away filling braking bumps while Petra, Ben, Dave and William installed yet another pipe – this time on the first berm.

After a good dose of wackering, the section now looks mint – a bit like rolling the clock back 3 years … here’s hoping it will stay that way.

The diversion should be lifted next weekend before we head up to give the Upper Cliff descent some TLC.


For one week only – Diversion on Tackeroo Berms

11 November, 2012 at 22:00
To get back on schedule of fixing two berms each Sunday, with a good turnout, we hit three of the Tackeroo Berms simultaneously. Ben, Martin and Steve worked on the last one before the fire road crossing while Dave and Matt fettled the next one leaving Peter, William and I on the first one. Bruce and Jez headed off with the trailer in tow for a load of the surfacing material dropped by the quarry a few weeks ago.  
Trenches were cut, pipes laid and berms reshaped in time honoured fashion. While we worked on the berms, Frank swung a pick into action and set about removing the worst section of braking bumps and shaping the berm into a sort of low wall ride – we’ll see how that one works in time.

As the material in the last berm was very soft and boggy, the decision was made to leave the section closed for the week as further work and material is needed. We’ll be back up there this coming Sunday to finish off and sort out the first corner, so in the mean time please follow the red diversion signs along the fire road.

Another one bites the dust – Trail building

4 November, 2012 at 22:00
Today’s mission was to fix the final berm on the first section of the Dog by installing another drainage pipe. A Halloween ride by Dave and me in torrential rain proved that our work adding pipes to the berms was working a treat.
As usual, we started by taping and signing a diversion before Petra, Ben, Dave, Jez and Steve started worked on the berm. A sump on the inside of the berm was dug, along with the trench for the pipe and another sump for the overflow.
In parallel, Martin dug out the existing waymarker post at the end of the trail and swapped it with a replacement complete with new signs before spending time felling dead trees close to the trail. The Bruces and William turned their attentions to a corner that regularly puddles. They brought the level up with material from a borrow pit* and dug a drainage channel rather than adding a pipe.
Petra and I worked my way along the trail de-berming the edges and digging drainage channels. To finish, Ben put a couple of rocks found in the undergrowth to good use by adding a small step down between two trees.
Next weekend we’re back to last of the seven berms on Tackeroo so there will be a temporary diversion along the fire road while we work.
* – a borrow pit is a means of obtaining surfacing material close to where it is required. By digging off the top surface of pine needles and peaty soil, the material underneath can ideal for surfacing – that’s assuming it’s not too sandy.

Birches Valley Visitor Centre Car Park

2 November, 2012 at 12:00

Now the clocks have gone back and winter is on the way, the gates for the car park at Birches Valley will close at 5pm.

Be careful that you don’t get locked in if your afternoon ride takes a little longer than expected.


Downhill Trail Building – Sunday 4th November

1 November, 2012 at 08:00

Next big build session at the Cop will be Sunday 4th November.

10am – 2pm. As usual we’ll bring the tools and free refreshments. Meet at the bottom of the Red Course.

Plan is to work on the bottom sections of the Red & Black courses. We will need a good turnout to get all the work done so please spread the word.

Black course needs some maintenance after the wet summer we’ve had and for the Red, we want to reintroduce the pumpy flow form when the course was first built. The last straight-ish section will be pimped, buffed and polished to get it riding sweet again!
This will mean that the lowers sections of both courses will be closed throughout the day.


It’s dirty work – Trail building

28 October, 2012 at 22:00
As mentioned in last week’s post, the two berms above Werewolf Drop were targeted this week. We’ve got the routine down to a “T” now – cut and mark out a diversion then start digging! That’s the clean bit, the dirty work entails excavating the rather smelly sediment out of the bottom of the sumps. Our four legged trail builder, Bertie, was having great fun paddling in the muck much to his owner’s disgust!
Martin, Steve and I worked on the upper berm while Ben, Bruce2, Dave and William worked on the lower one. Making good use of a closed trail, Original Bruce and Jez filled in a number of braking bumps then struck gold – well, trail builder’s gold – good quality material for reshaping the lower berm.


After much barrowing and wackering, the berm repairs were finished just as the rain set in – it was “adjourn to the urn” time.
To capture our grafting on camera, William set up his Go-Pro in a tree to do a time-lapsed video – have a look here for laugh.
Next Sunday, the later part of the first section of ‘The Dog’ is ear marked for some TLC so we’ll be diverting riders along the Heritage Trail to the start of the Stegosaurus.