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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.

Next up….BIG BUILD DAY! YAY!

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 – Sunday 16th Feb

14 February, 2014 at 00:00

We are not trail building this Sunday (16th Feb) but instead conducting a trail inspection ride with a view planning where and what maintenance is required over the coming months.

We are also reviewing the possibility of holding “fix what you enjoy riding” Big Build Days to repair longer sections of damage trail – watch this space…

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. 😉

Twist & Shout Closure

31 January, 2014 at 15:00

As you’ll no doubt be aware, ‘Twist and Shout’ – the first section of Follow the Dog after you pass under Go Ape – has been closed for around a week and a half.

The current forestry operations in ‘Twist and Shout’ and around the visitor centre will last for approximately 6 weeks. Once complete, we’ll assess the level of damage to determine what repairs are necessary. Depending on the amount of work required, the opportunity may be taken to re-surface that second half of the trail. Please abide by the warning signs and follow the signed diversion. More details to follow once the harvesting is complete.

Paul Weller announces Forestry Commission gigs

13 January, 2014 at 14:00

Paul Weller has confirmed five forest gigs, appearing as part of the Forestry Commission’s Forest Live concert programme in spectacular woodland locations across the country.

It’s been thirty years since Paul Weller first exploded onto the music scene, suited and booted, and armed with statement tunes in The Jam. Blending the best of British with his love of Motown, Weller crafted a new landscape in the UK music scene thanks to an impressive portfolio of work including amongst others, Stanley Road, Illumination, 22 Dreams and 2013’s Sonik Kicks all hitting Number One. A significant figure in popular music for the past three generations, he remains a cultural icon.

Forest Live is an independent programme organised by the Forestry Commission bringing music to new audiences without commercial branding or sponsorship. Income from the concerts is spent on improving the woodland for both people and wildlife.

Following on from two sold out Forest Live dates last summer, Paul said of the 2014 shows, “It’s a favourite summer jaunt for me so I look forward to performing in a few of the forests that I haven’t played in a good while”.

Paul Weller plus special guests will be performing:

  • Saturday 14 June: Sherwood Pines Forest, Edwinstowe, Nr Mansfield, Notts.
  • Saturday 21 June: Bedgebury Pinetum & Forest, Nr Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
  • Friday 27 June: Dalby Forest, Nr Pickering, N Yorks.
  • Saturday 28 June: Cannock Chase Forest, Nr Rugeley, Staffs.
  • Friday 4 July: Delamere Forest, Nr Northwich, Cheshire.

Tickets £46.20 (including booking fee) go on sale at 9.00am Friday 17 January from the Forestry Commission box office tel 03000 680400 or buy online at www.forestry.gov.uk/music.

Info
www.paulweller.com
www.forestry.gov.uk/music

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. 🙂

Jessie J concerts announced as part of Forest Live

16 December, 2013 at 13:00

The Forestry Commission are thrilled to reveal Jessie J has announced summer dates for 2014 as part of Forest Live, organised by the Forestry Commission, where concerts are performed in spectacular woodland locations around the country.

There hasn’t been a career in recent memory that has taken off so fast, so spectacularly and so all-consumingly as Jessie J’s. Highlights have included No 1 singles and two hugely successful albums that headed straight for the top with millions of sales worldwide, show-stopping performances in front of a global audience of billions at the London Olympics, a full-blown Saturday night prime-time TV career, extraordinary acts for charity that hit the headlines, Glastonbury festival and the Diamond Jubilee Concert.

With Jessie’s multi-platinum debut, ‘Who You Are’, she achieved the accolade of being the first UK solo artist to have six top-ten hits off one album including two No 1 singles: ‘Price Tag’ and ‘Domino’. Success continues with the 2013 release of her second power-pop album ‘Alive’ featuring the hit singles ‘Wild’, ‘It’s My Party’ and ‘Thunder’ alongside a sell-out UK arena tour.

Forest Live is an independent programme organised by the Forestry Commission bringing music to new audiences without commercial branding or sponsorship. Income from the concerts is spent on improving the woodland for both people and wildlife.

Commenting on the concerts, Jessie J said, “I made my Forest Live debut this summer with just one show which I loved so it’s great to be taking in another four Forest Live dates next year…………….see you there.”

Jessie J plus guest will be performing:

  • Friday 13 June: Sherwood Pines Forest, nr Edwinstowe, Notts.
  • Friday 20 June: Bedgebury Pinetum, nr Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
  • Friday 27 June: Cannock Chase Forest, nr Rugeley, Staffs.
  • Saturday 5 July: Delamere Forest, Nr Northwich, Cheshire.

Please note that the FC will no longer be selling tickets from the local forest office or Swinnerton Cycles and are only available through the box office and approved agents only.

Tickets £42.90 (including £3.90 booking fee) go on sale at 9.00am Thursday 19 December from the Forestry Commission box office tel 03000 680400 or buy online at www.forestry.gov.uk/music.

Info
www.jessiejofficial.com
www.forestry.gov.uk/music

Big Build Day on Stile Cop – 24th November 2013

18 November, 2013 at 16:00

Stile Cop Rocks

We’ll be holding another Big Build Day this weekend, on Sunday the 24th November. The cross country and downhill builders will be joining forces to work on the Red course on Stile Cop – we have a huge pile of material and an equally huge pile of rocks to shift into place, and will be making improvements to the red course, including some upgraded TTFs (technical trail features) and improving the surfacing.

We’ll also have plenty of hot food, cakes, and drinks available at lunch time for all volunteers.

If you’re interested in joining us, please read the following carefully. We’re meeting at Stile Cop at 10am, not Birches Valley like we usually do.

When: 10am until 3pm, Sunday 24th November
Where: Stile Cop – postcode WS15 1ND.

That postcode will get you to the correct road, but not the exact location – if you’re driving up Stile Cop Road from the A460 / Hednesford Road, Stile Cop will be on your RIGHT. There should be plenty of room on the fire road, but if it does happen to be full, there’s a car park nearby – if you’re driving up Stile Cop Road from the A460 / Hednesford Road, go past the gate on your right, and take the next left into the car park.

Map with directions from Birches Valley: http://goo.gl/maps/1iLTE
Street View image of the fire road entrance: http://goo.gl/maps/ctIjQ
Street View image of the car park entrance: http://goo.gl/maps/au5sJ

The gate will be open from 10am until we pack up at about 3pm. If you’ve been to Stile Cop before, please note that the turning circle at the top will not be available to use – it’ll be reserved for the Gazebo and Land Rover / trailer. Please do not block access to the gate. And finally, please make sure any valuables are hidden from view, inc sat-nav mounts, bikes, etc – the area is pretty remote and quiet.

Forthcoming Events – November/December 2013

5 November, 2013 at 19:00

A few events you may be interested in this and next month:

Thursday 14th November – Chase Trails Mid-week Maintenance
10am @ Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre, Birches Valley
For more details see the event page on Facebook.

Sunday 24th November – Stile Cop Big Build Day
10am @ Stile Cop Bike Park (see here for directions)

Thursday 28th November – Chase Trails Mid-week Maintenance
10am @ Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre, Birches Valley
For more details see the event page on Facebook.

Saturday 30th November – Christmas at Birches Valley
Christmas tree sales and Santa’s Grotto open at 10am @ Birches Valley. Santa’s Grand Arrival, along with his reindeer, will be at 11am.
For more details and opening times visit the Forestry Commission’s website.

Saturday 7th December – TrailPlus Adventure Challenge
Starting @ Tackeroo Caravan Site
Team adventure challenge event including trail running, mountain biking and kayak canoeing and special challenges.
For more details see the TrailPlus website.

Big Build Day Oct 2013 – Surfacing the start of a new section…

21 October, 2013 at 13:00

With the last Big Build Day being all the way back in January 2012, we thought it would be a good idea to run another one, so on Sunday, we held 2013’s first BBD. I asked on our Facebook page if anyone planned to turn up and got about five responses, so it was a nice surprise when we had 39 volunteers turn up in the end!

The aim of the day was to surface the beginning of an exciting new 1km descent on the Monkey. While most of the trail has been there for a few years now, Forestry harvesting meant we had to postpone completing it but now we’re having a strong push to get the section completed, hence the silence on the blog – for the past few months we’ve been out working hard every Sunday. Today’s task has helped surface approximately 10% of the trail, so we’ve made good progress so far, but we still have plenty to go – you can help speed it up a bit if you join us on Sundays. 😉

IMG_8859

We had previously prepared the ground for surfacing the start of the descent on the BBD (pictured above), but with the immense manpower that was soon finished. The trail corridor was quickly prepared, trimming back branches and marking the line to extend the trail parallel to the fire road – as such, we had to dig the trail from scratch. This extra bit of trail may be relatively straight, but it does twist in and out of the tight trees a little so it keeps you on your toes if you apply some speed. It should be similar to the end of Bomb Hole on Follow the Dog, so if you enjoy that, you’ll enjoy this.

IMG_8874

Once that was dug out, we all stopped for a spot of lunch – Andrew’s parents had kindly baked 60 jacket potatoes as well as assorted cupcakes. Very delicious cupcakes, as evidenced by the fact I had 8 of them…

Back to work, we moved on to surfacing the trail. With three piles of material available, a lot of barrowing was in order – which got somewhat interesting as the day went by, due to the work area starting to resemble Glastonbury’s mud. A combination of rain the previous night and lots of foot traffic meant we got the barrows stuck quite a lot. But the hard work paid off – by the end of the day, we had completely flattened all three piles of material, with the end result being….

IMG_8889

We’ve put a quick clip showing the whole trail on Instagram (more of that social media malarky 🙂 ) – as you can see we got a fair bit done.

As the whole section still has plenty of work to do before we can open it, we finished the day by brashing the trail – the entire section from start to finish is heavily brashed and completely unridable, so please do not try and ride it, or you’ll cause damage, which means we have to waste time fixing it. Trust us, it’ll be worth the wait in the end!

Further details for Sunday’s Big Build Day

16 October, 2013 at 19:27

If you’re coming along to this Sunday’s Big Build Day, here’s some extra info about the day.

Meet:

Either meet at Birches Valley outside Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre at 10am then follow us to the build site (5 miles away) or head straight there, parking in ‘Beaudesert Old Park’ car park on Rugeley Road (WS15 1QW gets you close) then follow our signs to the build area. Unfortunately the build area is a good walk from the car park (up quite a steep hill) – approximately half a mile – click the thumbnail below for walking directions.

Beaudesert Old Car Park: https://plus.google.com/104548429352956398678/about
Driving directions from Birches Valley to Beaudesert Old Car Park: http://goo.gl/maps/c1poK

The car park is halfway between the caravan site and the golf club (on the opposite side of the road).

Aim to be at the build site for an 11am safety briefing before we start work.

Lunch:

Filled jacket potatoes and cake plus hot/cold drinks will be provided at lunchtime with a free raffle for the chance to win exclusive Chase Trails merchandise. You’re welcome to bring your own lunch and we’d probably recommend bringing some water to drink throughout the day.

Anything else?

There’s no fixed finishing time so if you can only make the morning, we don’t mind if you beat a hasty retreat after lunch.

If you’re meeting us at Birches Valley then driving to the build site, there is no need to pay for parking. If you plan to leave your car at Birches Valley all day, ask for one of our volunteer parking passes.

There will be a covered camping toilet for the ladies.

No XC Trail Building 6th October

3 October, 2013 at 12:00

Most of the Chase Trails regulars are off to Thetford Forest this weekend for the Exposure Lights Dusk ‘Til Dawn bike race. This is a 12 hour event running from 8pm on Saturday until 8am on Sunday.

As such, we’ve decided to cancel the XC trail building.

However, Stile Cop will be holding a build day to work on the Red Route, so why not head over and lend a hand there instead? They meet over at Stile Cop at 10am – click here for directions if you’re not sure where to go.