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The Tooth Fairies (Trail Building Sunday 27th December)

27 December, 2009 at 22:00

Today the majority of the crew went to build a short connector at the end of ‘Deerskull’.

Andrew, Alex, Dave and myself had some planning to do before next weeks ‘Big Build Day’ but were thwarted by the lack of flags so Dave and Andrew went to start some wood work while Alex and myself went on a flag hunt! We knew we had left some somewhere but Cannock Chase is quite a big place when you are looking for pin flags. We found some in the end and also ran down the ‘Mad Hatter’ to test its flow.

When I rejoined the other they thought they were just about finished and ready to head back to the ‘tea earn’ but I quickly identified some more trail that needed digging and set them back to work!

Jez had kindly brought Chocolates but Jess bit off a bit more than she could chew and will be leaving a present for the tooth fairy tonight!


Freezing Mulled Wine (Trail Building Tuesday 22nd December)

22 December, 2009 at 22:00

More waymarker installation today. Unfortunately Bruce couldn’t make it so we replaced him with Andrew. Andrew seemed to insist deciding on the best place to put the post BEFORE digging the hole and using a spirit level. Very strange behaviour but given how hard the ground was probably a very sensible one!

It was bitterly cold today but the mulled wine kept us warm and Jason from the Forestry Commission had provided us with a tin of Chocolates.

Dispite the ground being so hard we made really good progress today, it won’t be long until we’ll be attaching little red arrows to all these posts.

Have a good Christmas and we’ll hopefully see you all at our next Big Build Day on Sunday 3rd January.


Chase Trails Needs You – Big Build Day Sunday 3rd January 2010

21 December, 2009 at 18:00

What better way to see in the new year and work off all that Christmas Pudding that by coming to a Big Build Day. A great day out for the whole family, free food (turkey curry?), a free prize draw and the chance to spend the day with like minded people digging brand new trail.

Chase Trails Big Build Day – Sunday 3rd January 2010
Meet outside Swinnerton Cycles Forest Cneter 10am

Check out Missus Toast’s most self-indulgent and nerdy BBD poster yet (her words not mine!)

Christmas Spirit (Trail Building Sunday 20th December)

20 December, 2009 at 22:00

It was just a little cold and icy this morning to the extent that I thought we might not be trail building but when I suggested this to the other I was greeted with ‘IT’S SUNDAY – WE’RE TRAIL BUILDING’. Well that was me told!

Woodwork, rocks and surfacing were off the agenda today which just left good old digging. We headed to work on the ‘Mad Hatter’ and fortunately the ground wasn’t too hard.

The kids (Charlotte, Jessica & Rob) were in high spirits today and entertained themselves by singing Christmas Carols and taking lots of photos. Everyone else worked really hard and dug a significant section of trail.

Energy was provided by mince pies and Christmas cake (thanks to Kath & Abbey) and everyone worked long into the afternoon (apart from those that left early to see Father Christmas!).

Thanks to everyone who has helped and supported Chase Trails this year. We would like to wish you all have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.


I Don’t Have A Map (Trail Building Thursday 17th December)

17 December, 2009 at 20:00

Today Martin, Bruce and myself made a start on installing waymarkers for ‘Phase 2’. Digging in waymarkers can be very therapeutic, very little to think about just digging holes and filling them back in again. Between digging we chatted about everything and nothing. We enjoyed lunch at Five Way sheltering from the icy wind as it started to snow. (Well actually Martin and Bruce enjoyed their lunch while I picked mould off my sandwiches!)

After lunch Alex joined us and we went to do some maintenance work around the causeway. The bridge looked very picturesque covered with a dusting of snow. We cleared some mud and moved some rocks so hopefully you’ll notice the improvements the next time you ride it.


Double Skinny? (Trail Building Sunday 13th December)

13 December, 2009 at 22:00

We set ourselves a challenge – finish the framework for the ‘Gold Mine’ bridge today which was a tall challenge considering it’s getting dark by 4 these days. Loaded up with lengths of timber and fixings, Dave and I headed for Rainbow Valley. When we arrived, a large group of riders were eyeing up our handy work and one asked if there was going to be an easier route across … “no mate, the plan is to flood the area so you’ll need your SPD wellies!”

Later someone else asked if we were going to deck it…. “No, it’s a double skinny”. “I can’t ride that!” was their reply – sorry, but we were in a mischievous mood.

Working like Trojans, progress was swift but light was fading fast as we finished the last span. There is a little tidying required here and there before the decking goes down but first the Forestry guys need to give it their seal of approval.

It might look like a film set for the next ‘Indiana Jones’ film but it’s securely screwed together …. that said it’s best not to walk on it as the wet wood is rather slimy.


Kitbag Hill (Trail Building Monday 7th December)

9 December, 2009 at 09:45

Today Martin, Dave and myself worked with a group of RAF recruits to build and surface another section of ‘Phase 2’ trail.

The RAF were great to work with picking up all the basic trail building techniques really quickly and putting in loads of effort.

Giving the history of the RAF on Cannock Chase it was great to have them come and be part of ‘Phase 2’ and be part of what was hopefully a mutually beneficial and rewarding day.


Great Lake Swimmers (Trail Building Sunday 6th December)

6 December, 2009 at 18:00

We had some maintenance work to do on section 15 this week so while Andrew and Dave went off to continue work on the ‘Gold Mine’ the rest of us went to re familiarise ourselves with Follow the Dog. The main job was dealing with some potholes that were developing. We had hoped that we could just drain the water and shallow off the edges but the surfacing quality was poor so we ended up resurfacing. As always newly laid surfacing needs time to settle so section 15 will be closed for a little while.

We were all looking forward to our mid morning baggin as we had mince pies left over from a BC Cycling course we hosted yesterday. Unfortunately the goodies were locked in the back of Martin’s Landy and he had gone walkabout. Luckily everyone except Alex had their own snacks so we all refueled whilst trying our best to make Alex feel hungry.

Without enough time to head over to ‘phase 2’ we decided to head to section 14 and do some ‘drainage work’ (playing in puddles!)

Ian soon appeared on bike with the excuse for being late that he ‘had looked everywhere for us’. Anyone remember Ian’s last excuse when he was cut up on a roundabout and ended up at CyB? At least he made up a good story that time! Ian was armed with Chocolate just to make Alex feel even more hungry. [Tasted good too ;)]

Given the amount of rain some of the puddles were pretty deep. I think we must have raised the level of Fairoak pools by a good couple of inches. I hope the fishermen had their waders on.

Finally we tackled the biggest puddle of them all at the end of section 13 before heading back to Birches for mince pie, bourbon biscuits and cups of tea.


Bridge To Nowhere (Trail Building Sunday 29th November)

30 November, 2009 at 17:11

As time is matching on, we need to get cracking on the timber work that will cross the swamp at the bottom of Rainbow Valley. I’d already sketched out a design so last week a small group headed over there to make a start. After looking at the site and mulling over the design, we tweaked it slightly but I reckon it will still provide a techie start to the climb out of the valley.

Rain made cutting timber hard work but we temporarily erected the first few spans of the bridge to get a feel for it. It may not be as high as the black boardwalk as Llandegla, but it could give vertigo suffers a few scary moments! We’ll be completing the frame work over the next few weeks and then deck it at a later date.

This week, Dave and I armed ourselves with cordless drills and enough fixings to start a small ironmongers then headed back to the bridge, Our mission was to replace the temporary screws with proper fixings – all thread and coach bolts. After a couple of hours sliding around in the mud, the job was a good ‘un before more pressing needs meant we headed back to join the rest.


Birches Valley Carparking Arrangments

25 November, 2009 at 10:22

Please be aware that from Saturday 28th November until Christmas the Birches Valley top carpark (near Swinnertons & Go Ape) will be being used exclusively for Christmas Tree sales. Everyone else is asked to use the lower carpark near the Cafe. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Trail Trashers (Trail Building Sunday 22nd November)

22 November, 2009 at 22:00

On Sunday we worked on the Monkey. The junior trail builders, Jess and I, (as none of the other juniors were there) and our mum, Petra, tweaked the Red Monkey. We were soon accompanied by a passing biker who wished to help us. We had to get rid of a gulley and block off a turning that isn’t part of the trail any more. By that time the rider had gone to do some more riding. Mum, Jess and I decided to trash the bit of trail that we had had to block as we remembered that some riders remove the brash and ride it even though it’s closed. So we got the mattock, croc, spade and rake and decommissioned the blocked off trail and we put a massive log or two just to make sure.

After that we went to check on the guys doing the wood work and unfortunately for Andrew, who had designed the new bridge, his helpers Gary and Stu (and Zac and Max, who had gone barking mad as Andrew said) had deserted him. The bridge was coming on nicely and Andrew came up with us to see what we had accomplished. Then we went to check on the rock moving and we watched for some time and we were entertained by Jessica and Alex. Alex started the fight by trying to rub mud from his gloves all over Jess’s face.

Back at the compound Alex and Jess were conjuring up another fight and this time Alex managed to get mud all over Jess’s little face. She looked like she’d just come out the trenches and was chasing Alex around the compound in order to get revenge on him!!!

By Charlotte

The Mad Hatter (Big Build Day Sunday 15th November)

15 November, 2009 at 17:00

With promises of floods and tornadoes and general meteorological cataclysm we had thought that Sunday’s Big Build day wouldn’t be that well attended. How wrong were we? With over a hundred cups of tea and fifty hot jacket potatoes served for lunch and a few people opting for the “Just cake” option, we’ve got to say that the turnout was excellent!

We began the day, as normal, with a quick word on the safe use of tools before heading up to the trail, “H”, to get cracking on the monster that’s consumed two big build days already. After leading the way to the end of one of the sections and asking people to “Follow the yellow flags until you hit trail that’s already been built, and space yourself out” I got a big shock when I could see people only a short way in stopping and starting to dig. Our volunteers had reached all the way from the fireroad crossing to where we left off on the last big build, not an inconsiderable distance!

With lots of digging, a few monster stumps removed and some trees ‘moved’, a ribbon of freshly benchcut trail had emerged under the feet of our volunteers. We broke for lunch and the raffle (featuring brand new Chase Trails T Shirts). After enjoying Sharon and Dale’s excellent baked spuds and chilli nearly everyone went back to the trail to chew through more trail. So many in fact that we crossed the fireroad and got to work on the next section of “H”!

By 4pm, and with that nearly done, we called it a day having built a huge amount of trail. Top effort from everyone and a big thanks to everyone who came along to help.

We want to open Phase 2 at Easter 2010, and with a few more days like today, we’ll be well set for it.


The Junior Trailbuilders

The junior trail builders were having so much fun on big build day because they were making dens! Charlotte, Bethany, Josh, and I were making a den at the end of absinth trail in the trees out of pine needles. Abby and Joe were making a den out of mud at first then afterwards planted mini trees!(sticks).

Rob came to look at our den but Alex was sneaking in the trees to get to Josh. then it was time for lunch with spuds and biscuits thanks to Sharon and dale. Soon it was time to go and we packed up. We hope to see everyone on the next big build day which is the 3rd of January.


Holes & Rocks – Trail Building Sunday 8th November

8 November, 2009 at 22:00

As there were no junior trail builders around this week – they were off being Guides and Brownies, and with the favourable weather conditions, rock shifting was the order of the day. So to this end, the Landies were loaded up with tools and bodies and off to the Monkey we headed.

Phil and myself had some rather pressing maintenance to do on the Dog. Whilst shredding the trails the day before, Bruce discovered a hole on the blue chicken run around the original boardwalk. The recent wet weather had caused subsidence around the drainage pipe under the trail. Now, ideally a short length of pipe would have made a perfect repair but after a good ferret around the yard we drew a blank. With some improvisation, we came up with a fitting solution. Now, those without the confidence to tackle the boardwalk can take the diversion without the fear of ending up in Oz.

We then headed off to join the others grafting on Phase 2. Work was well underway on a short descent of the “Red Monkey” . It was being rock armoured to make a durable trail and give it an exciting technical edge. The guys had started with a hernia inducing large rock at the bottom of the slope to act as an anchor and then worked upwards selecting suitable shaped rocks to fit into the jigsaw. To finish, a couple of larger rocks were positioned either side of the entry to the section. The right hand one is quietly waiting there ready to jump out and rip the rear mech off an unsuspecting rider’s mount.

The finished result looks much better in the flesh than in these photos – and far steeper!

Whilst the one group were humping the rocks around, another group made a start on a new corner on the “Black Monkey”. This will be a steep tight rocky lefthander dropping down the hill about 3 metres (10 feet for us oldies). We needed to take out a couple of trees blocking the flow of the corner and hack out their stumps. Unfortunately the FC won’t let us use dynamite so deft use of a mattock and brute force did the trick. The rooty top surface needed clearing away and a rotten stump removed before we started to shape the corner. As it will be rock armoured, we were only interested in getting the general shape sorted.

Remember, it’s Big Build Day this coming weekend so if you’re around, please come and lend a hand – even if it’s only for a couple of hours.


It Came From Across The Road (Chase Trails Needs You – Sunday 15th November)

8 November, 2009 at 20:00

Phase 2 Big Build Day – Sunday 15th November
Meet Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre 10am

Autumn and winter are a great time for trailbuilding and with only a few months to go before the official opening of Phase 2 next Easter we need as much help as we can get to make sure everything is finished and ready to ride. We’re looking forward to catching up with our growing number of ‘Big Build Day regulars’ and also welcoming new faces coming trail building for the first time. So why not come along and help build part of ‘Phase 2’

The great poster again designed by Missus Toast

A Quick Trim and Tidy

5 November, 2009 at 20:00

Today Martin and myself caught up on a few little jobs that needed doing on ‘Follow The Dog’. We didn’t do anything major but just lots of small bits and pieces that most people wouldn’t even notice.

My day started with a ride in very heavy rain but at least it was warm enough to wear the best waterproofs ever invented (shorts). After changing into some dry gear we set about our list of jobs; replacing missing signs, clearing fall zones, removing old waymarkers and best of all cleaning the bridge!

It’s surprising how long lots of little jobs can take but we crossed off everything on the list and the weather stayed dry all day until it was time to ride home when it started to rain again!