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Mountain bike racing is set to make a return to an iconic West Midlands Forestry Commission site this year.
Set in the Shropshire Hills, Eastridge Woods was a popular venue for mountain biking racing in the 1990s and was one of the first sites in the UK to host downhill and cross-country events.
The area has been growing in popularity among riders and this year there are two big events scheduled to take place at Eastridge that promise to put it back on the mountain bike racing map.
The Gravity Enduro series will visit Eastridge in August and there will be a Midlands XC (cross country) race held in September.
Georgina Sharp, Forestry Commission recreation ranger, said:
“The Forestry Commission is delighted at the interest in Eastridge again. It is a great woodland and it deserves to be enjoyed by as many people as possible.”
The return of racing is due to the passion and hard work of a collection of volunteer riders called the Eastridge Trail Partnership (ETP). The ETP have been painstakingly restoring the old trails in Eastridge, as well as creating new linking sections and improving drainage to help reduce erosion.
Sandy Plenty, co-founder of the ETP and manager of a local bike shop, said:
“We have been building trails down here since mid-2009 and during the last six months everyone has really pulled together and we are getting help from the guys at the local RAF base as well as from Shrewsbury School.
“It is very important for us to have the racing coming back to Eastridge. It is great to see that the area is becoming really popular and the racing is the icing on the cake.
“Part of the reason that we fell in love with Eastridge was the racing because you had the best guys in the world coming down here. It is nice to see that we have been a part of making high-level racing return to Eastridge.”
Marc Beaumont is one of the world’s top downhill mountain bikers and races on the international circuit. He first cut his teeth at Eastridge racing as a 13-year-old in 1998.
He said he thought it was great that racing was returning to the area:
“Eastridge holds a great significance in the West Midlands. All of the area’s most successful bikers have competed here and it is great to have it back as a race venue. There seems to be a great team behind the forest. Every time I ride there I seem to come across new and exciting trails.”
The Gravity Enduro event at Eastridge takes place on August 6. More information is available at www.gravityenduro.co.uk
The Midlands XC event takes place on September 4. More information on this event is available at www.xcracer.com
More information about Eastridge Woods is available by visiting www.forestry.gov.uk/website/Recreation.nsf/LUWebDocsByKey/EnglandHerefordshireTheMarchesEastridge
Note to Editors
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. To find out more about Forestry Commission England visit www.forestry.gov.uk/england.
Georgina Sharp (Recreation Ranger) at the Forestry Commission’s Mortimer Forest Office on 01584 813826 or 07795 052426 or email firstname.lastname@example.org