Posts Tagged ‘Timber’

Last weekend’s race on the BCP side of Thetford Forest may well be the last time anyone gets to ride some of the best trails in the forest. Yes, that’s right, the harvesters are moving in and local sources tell me it sounds like work has begun on the Four Bridges area already. It is a real shame but it has happened before and new trails will emerge from the wreckage.

I have been riding in the forest since the late 1980s and it has changed beyond recognition not once, but many times. There was a ‘golden period’ when the riding was fantastic, there were very few bikes on the trails and you could put together a two or three hour ride of almost constant singletrack on the BCP side alone. In due course, and for reasons I will not go into again, this time has passed and most of the good riding on the ‘dry side’ has been lost to us. What was left (until last weekend) represented the skeletal remains of some arguably the best trail network to be found…anywhere. This too is under the cosh now and it is hard to remain enthusiastic about what will remain and frankly, the limited options on the High Lodge side.

In memory of the dead trails I will put a discreet black band around my frame as I mourn the loss of some (more) old friends.

At the end of the day though, none of these are ‘our’ trails, they don’t belong to us and a little like friends and family, they have only ever been on loan. One day, they will all go, or we will take our leave of them, in turn, and what then? With a little bit of nurturing, a touch of tlc and the passage of time, a new generation of tracks will emerge all shiny and clean, ready to begin the cycle once more.

The trails are dead! Long live the trails! Rest assured, something will emerge but don’t make the mistake of thinking that trails make themselves, don’t be a lazy so and so, leaving the work to others. Get involved. This did not start off as a recruiting poster for trail pixies but this time round, believe me, Kitchener is looking you straight in the eye, demanding your help!

Trail building…..years ago, it was a case of riding around, spotting a potential line in the trees then coming back with some friends, clearing overhanging branches, scraping back the pine needles, trying out the lines and riding it over and over again. Once happy with the result you would simply mark the entrance, spread the word, and before too long a new trail would be established. I did this all the time and always knew I had done well when people would tell me about a ‘new bit’ at such and such an area, or when it would be adopted for race use. My riding mates were not always so happy though as I’d invariably use them as unwilling volunteers’ leading them down sections that ‘just need riding in’.

Like the trails however, times have changed. I no longer know everyone in the car park, rider volumes have expanded dramatically and we have to do things differently now. For a gnarly old timer I have had to embrace change slowly, reluctantly, and have almost fully adjusted now. The increase in traffic means more erosion, trails being damaged by riders who rely on their brakes, rather than any skill, to get them round corners, through berms etc or who are unable to bring their bike to a controlled halt without leaving long skid marks everywhere. Advances in bike technology mean that people can get themselves into more trouble than they realise and yes, they end up hurting themselves. The Forestry Commission often end up picking up the pieces and sorting out the liability issues when people set themselves challenges they are nowhere near being able to meet.

The point behind this? (Yes I can ramble on for ages) Make some effort, give something back to the forest. In austere times such as these, the Forestry Commission do not have money to throw about, they have no resources to spare and without volunteers, the trail network will most surely disappear. There is only one group in the forest dedicated to the creation and upkeep of the trail network; there is only one group run by mountain bikers, for mountain bikers who give their time and money to working on the trails you enjoy. There is only one group who are so far ahead of other UK trail pixies that they are being held up as an example for others to follow. Yes, it is Timber. Membership is ridiculously cheap so even if you can’t give your time, make the effort to join…your contribution will go back to the forest, your trails and ultimately your fun. Check out the website and the forum (quite an active place actually) to see what is going on. Most of the inhabitants are (more or less) human and it isn’t somewhere where you get shot down in flames by regulars.


Timber Training Events

Posted: February 22, 2011 in 2011, Events
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These will start soon as I try to whip the Timber boys into shape for the forthcoming season.Many of the guys have been racing through the winter but whether they have been racing quickly or slowly will become apparent when these sessions start.

To kick off we will be warming up on fire roads just outside Bury and then move onto a short circuit (maybe a mile) which includes singletrack, double track, a climb and some fire road. Short and sweet and designed to be as fast as possible so I want to see some evidence of all work they said they were putting in over the winter!

In later sessions we will move onto the road for some more intense chain gang work where we will work on high tempo and speed work, just to shake that winter lethargy out of the legs.

As soon as the clocks go back we’ll be back at our normal venue, time and day. Can’t wait really! 🙂