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The West Midlands ultimate mountain bike trail – The ‘Monkey Trail’, will be unveiled at the Forestry Commission’s Cannock Forest near Rugeley on Saturday 17 April.
Professional mountain biker, Commonwealth Silver Medalist and Olympian, Oli Beckingsale, will launch and ride the new red grade mountain bike trail, which has been designed as a technical route for expert cyclists, and starts and finishes at the Birches Valley Forest Centre.
The new ‘Monkey Trail’ is part of a £200,000 project to improve the visitor facilities at Cannock Forest over the past three years, which has included eight kilometres of new singletrack and some new look features added to existing routes.
Cross-country, downhill, and family cycle trails (1-10 miles) have also benefited from the revamp and will be re-launched on the day.
Birches Valley Forest Centre is already the starting point for the popular ‘Follow the Dog’ technical route. The seven-mile, single-track trail, which was created by Chase Trails as the West Midlands’ first dedicated Cross Country MTB trail, was also be upgraded as part of the changes.
When linked to the Follow the Dog technical route, the new ‘Monkey Trail’, will provide 24 kilometres of the West Midlands’ finest bike trail.
The ‘Monkey Trail’ features some short sharp climbs and long flowing decents, so you can expect some extremely tight twists and turns along the way. New features that are popular with mountain bikers will include climbing turns, berms, rooty drops and lots of narrow flowing singletrack.
Jason Maclean, Environment Manager for the Forestry Commission at Cannock, says:
“After three years of intensive planning, designing and building we’re delighted to be launching the newest and biggest purpose-built mountain bike trail in the West Midlands.
“This new trail has been designed to be sustainable and have minimal environmental impact, whilst allowing thousands of mountain bikers and forest visitors to develop their cycling skills or simply go out and have fun.”
Wider changes and improvements to existing trails will help more people of all ages and abilities get active and develop a healthier lifestyle. There will be an easy green route for families and beginners through to blue and red courses for cycling enthusiasts.
Natural features found in the forest are now merging into the trail, so that it will look as though it has always been there in just a few months. The trail surface will be made from locally sourced stone and look and ride just as any natural trail in the area.
The Project has been steered into action with the help of the Chase Trails volunteer group, a volunteer group of local mountain bikers. They have given up countless weekends to help enhance the cycling facilities at Cannock Chase by helping to plan and design significant sections of trail.
Hand built sections of the trails have also been completed by Chase Trails through ‘big build weekends’, weekly volunteering sessions and occasional help external supporters like RAF Stafford.
Rob Lamb from Chase Trails, says:
"Completion of the ‘Monkey Trail’ represents a huge milestone in the progression of Chase Trails. This is the second trail we’ve developed and will offer riders a technical step up from our earlier work.
“Working with a great team of partners has been critical to the success of the project and we couldn't have achieved without the ongoing help of our volunteers. We’re extremely lucky to have the regular support of a highly committed team of volunteers who have put completion of the trail ahead of everything else including their own valuable riding time.
“We’ve met an almost countless number of new volunteers through our regular big build days and to all these people we owe a great debt of thanks.”
Anyone interested in supporting the project or joining the Chase Trails volunteer group should visit www.chasetrails.co.uk.
Chase Trails volunteers and partners have raised over [£60,000 – CHECK] for the project, £28,000 of which came from the Staffordshire Aggregates Levy Grant Scheme. Sport England awarded the initiative £130,800 of National Lottery funding.
Anne Ripon, Sport England’s Regional Lead for the West Midlands, said:
“If community sports providers want to attract and retain participants, they need to be able to offer quality facilities for everyone. The improvements to the facilities in Cannock Forest will be welcomed by regular users and those who are new to cycling.”
Cycle brand, Giant UK, will be sponsoring the new trail at Cannock Chase over the next three years. Collette Clensy, Marketing Manager at Giant UK, says:
“The new network of trails at Cannock Chase offers something for riders of all ages and abilities and the project shares Giant’s vision of bringing cycling to all.
“We’re pleased to offer families, budding novices and experienced riders alike the opportunity and facilities to get outdoors and involved in the local cycling community.”
Large sections of the trail has also been built by specialist trail builders Clixby’s, from Oakamoor in Staffordshire, who previously constructed singletrack mountain bike trails for the Forestry Commission at Dalby forest in North Yorkshire, Whinlatter Forest in Cumbria and the descent line at Stainburn, near Leeds.
Hugh Clixby from trail builders Clixby’s, said:
“Over the past 15 months we’ve built almost 10km of trails. We’ve built some lovely sweet flowing singletrack, technical short sharp climbs, fast flowing bermy descents and a couple of black technical features which wouldn’t be out of place on the world cup course at Dalby.
“I hope the ‘Monkey Trail’ provides riders with a worthwhile challenge, but most of all, loads and loads of fun. I have certainly enjoyed riding the trail as we have been building it and working alongside all the volunteers at Chase Trails.”
Chase Trails volunteer group, cycle brand - Giant UK, Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre, Staffordshire Aggregates Levy Grant Scheme, Staffordshire County Council, the Sport England Community Investment Fund and the Forestry Commission have all contributed to the project.
Cemex provided local materials needed for surfacing the trails and Staffordshire County Council supported the project by helping with re-waymarking some of the existing family trails.
Bike hire facilities will be provided by Swinnerton Cycles. For more information on cycle hire at Cannock Forest, contact Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre on 01889 575170 or visit www.bikechase.co.uk
For more information about recreational facilities at Cannock Forest and other Forestry Commission woodland around the West Midlands visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westmidlands and www.forestry.gov.uk/cannockforest
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Images of cyclists on existing sections of the trail at the Forestry Commission’s Cannock Chase Forest, near Rugeley in Staffordshire are available by calling 01524-782086.
2. Oli Beckingsale is a professional mountain biker. He represented Britain at the Olympic Games in 2000, 2004 and 2008, and England at the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and 2006.
3. The Forestry Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in Britain with responsibility for over one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest, woodlands and open countryside. The West Midlands region covers the counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, the West Midlands and parts of Derbyshire and Leicestershire.
4. The Active Woods campaign aims to alert people to the link between trees, woodland and forests and human health and wellbeing. Research has shown that exercising in natural environments reduces stress levels and can speed recovery from illness. For more information see www.forestry.gov.uk/activewoods-england
5. Sport England is a non-departmental public body and National Lottery distributor, which is committed to creating a world class community sports development system and increasing participation in sport.
6. Sport England has nine Regional Sports Boards (RSBs), each made up of experts from areas such as business, local government, sport, health and education. The RSBs provide the strategic lead for sport in their regions and distribute investment for grassroots sport.
7. The Community Investment Fund (CIF) is the community element of the Sport England Lottery Fund and is delivered through the Regional Sport Boards and Sport England in the regions.
Jason Maclean (Environment Manager) on 01889 586593 or email Jason.email@example.com