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The Head Banger – new Let Loose black section now open!

1 December, 2014 at 02:00

Let Loose

We’re delighted to announce that the brand new black-graded section next to Let Loose is now open! The Head Banger is a short but brilliant black-graded section near the start of Let Loose, with two boardwalks and a rock qualifier, and the mother of all rock gardens – enough to challenge any rider! The section was built by Chase Trails with support from the Forestry Commission, Sport Across Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent, Run and Ride, and British Cycling.

We held a highly successful Big Build Day back in June, with around 50 or so volunteers pitching in their help to get the section started. Following on from that, our regular volunteers worked hard to build up the rock garden ready for the British Cycling Nationals XC race earlier this year. It went down a treat during the race, and following on from that, we’ve been back to continue working on it to build a qualifier – the idea being that if you find the qualifier tricky, you’ll probably find the main feature even trickier.

We’ve had plenty of people pitch in over the past few months to work on the section – remember, anyone can volunteer and without YOUR help, this section (and indeed most of our trails) would not be possible. We’re always on the look out for more volunteers, so if you can spare the time, please come and help!

Finally, as with all new features, if you’ve not ridden it before it’s a very good idea to stop and have a look before attempting it – and if you’re not sure about it, we won’t judge you for giving it a miss – promise! 😉

Advance notice of Trail Closures

31 October, 2014 at 19:04

Trail Closures

We’ll be closing two sections of trail whilst we carry out essential maintenance over the next two weeks. These sections will only be closed for the Sunday morning, reopening after we have completed the work.

For everyone’s safety, please follow the signed diversions – we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Le Singe Noir is now open!

5 September, 2014 at 18:00

Le Singe Noir is now open. We have improved the safety/durability of the features (improving demarcation) and carried out improvements to drainage. The trail has been thinned out, which keeps the trail drier by letting though light and wind.

The Forestry Commission has also organised a contractor today to leaf blow the trail clean of needles, dirt and stones – after a good many months out of action, it was hard to see the trail in a few places! 🙂


National MTB Series Round 5 – Follow the Dog Closure!

3 August, 2014 at 17:00

As you may know, the British Cycling National MTB Series Round 5 is a mere two weeks away, and will be taking place around the Tackeroo block, where Follow the Dog passes through. Due to the size of the event, this means that the sections of Follow the Dog within the Tackeroo block will be closed from Thursday 14th August until Monday 18th August for the races. If you are riding Follow the Dog during this period, a signed diversion will be in place. The diversion is on shared tracks so please take care and show respect for other forest users. This map shows what’s affected and where the diversion is:

Midlands XC Race - Tackeroo Closure

Midlands XC Race – Tackeroo Closure

For those wondering – yes, you can spectate! Just turn up on the day and pick a spot to watch from, and enjoy the fun.

As part of today’s trail building, we worked on the new rock garden next to Let Loose to put the finishing touches in place – this included a few last minute tweaks to the B-line to make it a bit faster (widening the corners), as well as making sure the rock garden was finished (couple of extra rocks here and there, bit more material to fill in the gaps, etc). And it’s done! However, it’s not quite ready for everyone yet – we’ve blocked it off until the race, and once that’s completed, we have a few small changes to make here and there before it will be ready for the public to ride. If you want a sneak peak before then, there’s still time to enter the race before the cut off date on the 12th August… 😉

We uploaded a few photos of the finished product on Facebook – here’s a quick look:

Chase Trails Memberships – Quick Update

27 July, 2014 at 22:46

Quick update from Bruce, who as you may know is in charge of the membership packs – we’ve had a decent amount of renewals come in, however that means that Bruce has unfortunately been drowned in getting them all sorted out and in the post. As such, he’ll need time to recover from the trauma process everything and get them all sent out, so that will take a few weeks – he does have a normal job to go to after all! 🙂

It’s nice to see people appreciate our work enough to keep supporting us, so to those who have renewed, and signed up for the first time, thank you!

Don’t forget, if you’d like to drown poor Bruce under even more mail support Chase Trails but don’t have the time to come and volunteer with trail building (hint hint!), you can sign up to become a Chase Trails Member – it’s £15 per year, and you get a warm fuzzy feeling of supporting the trails, as well as a membership pack, some nifty perks including free tea/coffee from Swinnos and 10% off in the shop, plus a lot more. All the income goes toward Chase Trails – this helps us buy things like new tools, wheelbarrows, and so on. You can find out more information and join on the Membership page on our site.

Five Ways Descent is now open

16 July, 2014 at 10:00

Just a quick update to say the new 1km descent from Five Ways is now open, and has been since Thursday last week. It replaces the old fire road which took you down to near Absinthe and Upper Cliff. The new section avoids almost all the fire roads, and brings you out right at the start of Absinthe.

Chase Trails volunteers have been hard at work since early 2013 getting the section ready, and after a Big Build Day in October last year, and a few delays this year which prevented us from working on it, it’s finally open. At a very rough guess based on about 60 seconds with a calculator, we’d estimate that over 2000 hours of work has gone into building the section in the past year and a half.

To celebrate, myself and Ben (who sometimes attends the build days on Stile Cop) went out on Monday to do a spot of filming for a trailer. Be warned, it’s enduro… 😉

Let Loose Black Section Progress – 6th July 2014

7 July, 2014 at 18:54

Yesterday’s trail building saw us push on with the black section on Let Loose. The to-do list was fairly simple for the day – move rocks and material into place, and tidy up the B-line.

As we turned up on site, we saw the results of the Forestry’s work this past week – they had delivered a few extra rocks on site for us for the rock garden, and cleared a path up to the rock garden in case emergency access is needed on race day.

With plenty to do, we all got to work. A few of us started shifting rocks and material into place for the rock garden, while Dave and Jez, the rock wranglers, got to work making them all fit. As the day went by, we saw it steadily progress up the hill. The current start of the rocks seems reasonably easy at first glance – it’s a gentle slope, relatively flat, and not too challenging compared to what’s coming. That leads to a gap between the trees, where there are a few small but tricky steps to attempt. Finally, we have the end section which is the trickiest of the lot, which was done last week. We gave it a test ride, and even with a confident rider attempting it, it looks difficult!

It’s not quite done yet – we have a lot more rocks to put into place, including adding some hefty slabs to the bottom where the landing area is, so we’ll be back to carry on the work very soon.

The level of difficulty of the rock garden presented us with another problem – we’re predicting the B-line will get a fair bit of use on the day, so Phil, and new volunteer Tom, worked on removing some tree stumps, widening the line, and improving some of the corners a little. Tom had joined us for the day as part of working toward his Duke of Edinburgh award.

After a good many hours shifting material and rocks around, we were all rather tired, so we packed up, grabbed a couple of photos, and headed back to base. Job done. 🙂

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

Concerts – Birches Valley Car Park Information

22 June, 2014 at 16:00

News from the Forestry Commission regarding the Forest Live concerts this coming week. 🙂

Due to Forestry Commission Live Music Concerts, Birches Valley Car Park will be closed early to the General Public on both Friday 27th June and Saturday 28th June 2014.

Friday 27th June 2014– Closed at 3.30pm
Saturday 28th June 2014 – Closed at 3.30pm

The upper car park will be closed all day on both the Friday and Saturday.

The Concert Carpark will open at 5pm for Concert Ticket Holders only. Concerts Ticket Holders arriving before 3pm will be able to park in the normal visitor car park during the daytime but must return to their vehicle and move them to the Concert Carpark when they open at 5pm.

Follow the Dog and the Monkey trail will both be open as normal during this period. If you intend to be on the trail after 3pm on either Friday 27th or Saturday 28th June, alternative car parking will be available at Tackeroo Campsite.

Also from Monday 23rd to Wednesday 2nd July a large number of heavy vehicles will be using Birches Valley for concert site setup and take down so pleases take extra care during this time.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Zig Zak? Snap It? Where do these names come from?

5 June, 2014 at 18:00

Ever wondered where all the section names came from? Well, the easy answer is: you! A good selection of them were thought up by members of the public at the Forest Discovery Day in 2012. Most of them are reasonably obvious – such as Insidious Incline (it’s a bit of a climb…), Lung Buster (it’s a nasty little climb), Time For A Brew (it’s near the Cannock Chase Visitor Centre), and so on, so you can probably guess why most sections have their names. Some of them though…are less obvious. 😉

Zig Zak

First up, anyone want to hazard a guess as to who Zak is, on Follow the Dog? Yes…he is the original dog, who was followed around Cannock Chase to come up with the route many years ago!

Zak, Gary, and Stu

Zak, Gary, and Stu

In case you’ve relatively new to the Chase (and plenty of us are!), you might not know that this little chap is part of the reason why Follow the Dog follows the route it does. The original route has changed over time – for example, the current Follow the Dog route goes from Tackeroo campsite down to Birches Valley, but the old route used to follow a path down the hill on the other side of Birches Valley road – above the Fairoak Pools – eventually finishing under where Go Ape’s long zip wires are now.

The photo above shows Zak strutting his stuff, along with Stuart and Gary – the two original founders of Chase Trails. And as you can see, the photo was taken back in the day when you didn’t need a 160mm travel all-mountain full-suspension bike to tackle Cannock Chase. 😛

Snap It

One of our regular builders on the Chase Trails team, Phil, decided one day to go out for a nice little ride. During that ride, he stopped on what’s now known as Snap It, and put his foot down on the ground…which, for his ankle, didn’t entirely end up as planned.

If you were hoping for a nice happy story, unfortunately, it didn’t end very well. It ended with Phil having a selection of screws and plates in his ankle to hold things together. Ouch! 😐

Phil's Ankle X-Ray

Phil’s Ankle X-Ray

Thankfully, after about a year to recover, Phil can once again hop on a bike, but with perhaps a little less enthusiasm about riding Snap It now.

And there you have it. That’s the story behind Zig Zak, and Snap It. Hopefully that hasn’t put you off riding Snap It… 😀

Big Build Day: June 8, Black Section on Follow the Dog

25 May, 2014 at 09:00

Apologise for the silence on the blog…we’ll try and change that from now on and get the updates coming a bit more frequently… 🙂

The first of those updates is about our forum – you may have noticed that the old Bike Adventures UK site went offline recently – unfortunately, that was beyond our control and as such it appears we no longer have access to the old database of members, posts, and so on. Bit of a shame, but it gives us the chance to start fresh. While you can quite easily argue that Twitter and Facebook (mostly Facebook…) has all but made forums extinct, there is still a place for a forum – not everyone is on Facebook, and a forum is a lot more of a “permanent” archive than Facebook is – you can much more easily go through old threads, search for stuff, and so on.

Without further ado…here it is: Chase Trails Forum. Unfortunately you’ll need to re-register – though you can now login with Facebook or Twitter with just a couple of clicks, or sign up the “traditional” way, so it’s nice and easy.


We’re holding another Big Build Day, in exactly 2 weeks time! We’ll be building a brand new black section on Follow the Dog, which will run alongside “Let Loose”, on the right-hand side of the existing trail. The new black section will be used for round 5 of the British Cycling MTB XC series, in August. Once that’s finished, it’ll be opened to the masses and become a permanent black section on Follow the Dog. We’re delighted to be working on it in partnership with Run & Ride, British Cycling, and of course the Forestry Commission.

Our plan for the Big Build Day is to get started, and ideally finish the first “phase” of the build. If we have as good a turnout as we had in October on our last Big Build Day, we’ll be able to work on making it even longer – without revealing too much, there are plans for quite a decent length of trail if we have the manpower to build it. It’s in your best interests to come along on the day and lend a hand, and bring all your friends along too. 😉

When: Sunday, 8th June 2014, at 10am until around 3pm.
Where: Meet at Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre, Birches Valley (WS15 2UQ).
What to Bring: Yourself, all your friends, and suitable clothing to work in – boots are good if you have them, flip flops are bad.
Food/Drink: Various food/drink including jacket potatoes (like our last BBD in October).

Finally, be sure to look out for our poster outside Swinnerton Cycles – rather striking, isn’t it? 😀


Big Build Day - June 2014

No trail building this Sunday 20th April!

17 April, 2014 at 17:00

Even the hard working trail pixies need a break – as some of the regulars will be off to Scotland for a bit of riding research, we’re officially cancelling trail building this weekend. But don’t worry…we’ll be back on the 27th April as ever!

Also, apologies for not keeping the blog as up to date as we’d like – most of our attention goes into Facebook and Twitter, where most of the action is these days. We’ll try to remember to update the blog in future…though of course, if you’re on either Facebook or Twitter, be sure to give us a Like and a Follow! 😉

Diversion on The Monkey

2 March, 2014 at 21:00

There’s a short diversion in place at the start of Tight Squeeze (the first section of the Monkey after the climb) from today.  It will be there for a few weeks while the newly laid surfacing on the new start to this section settles – weather permitting. Please don’t ride it in the mean time – it will damage the surface! 🙁

No Trail Building Next Weekend (9th Feb)

2 February, 2014 at 15:00

No Trail Building

There will be no trail building on the 9th February. This is due to the regular Chase Trails volunteers having a safety training session to bring us up to date with new regulations and guidelines.

If you were hoping to lend a hand, don’t worry, we’ll be back to normal from the 16th February – 10am outside Swinnerton Cycles as usual. 😉

No trail building on 29th December

22 December, 2013 at 12:00

No Trail Building Dec 2013

We’ll be taking a break from digging over Christmas, so there will be no trail building next Sunday (29th Dec 2013).

From all of us here at Chase Trails, we’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. 🙂