Sunday 13 March and, although it was my own suggestion, getting out of bed at stupid o’clock to drive three hours north to Cannock Chase was starting to seem like a dumb idea. The weather was warm and sunny when we left Plymouth but arriving at 10 in Cannock, it was positively Baltic. Even the penguins had jumpers on.
Luckily the early start paid off and, as we chowed down on super fine bacon butties, we got to witness the opening of the recently completed Follow The Dog trail by none other than the man himself, Mr Gary Fisher. First thing we noticed, aside from Gary’s rather fetching PVC mac, was that quite a few people had turned up to this inauguration and a chance to ride with the Godfather of MTB. So we got kitted up, dragged a whole pile of freshly repainted Shred-Red Cove Stiffees out the back of the vans and hit the trails.
Starting off at a well equipped MTB centre, run by Swinnerton Cycles, the trail scoots off over some pretty bumpy hardpack before immersing you in tight, twisty singletrack through some dense tree cover. These sections of the trail are totally man made and a little loose at the moment, but give it time and a few fat boys along it and it’ll pack in really nicely. The rest of the seven-mile loop takes in a real wild selection of terrain. WIth only really two climbs, which could be ridden by anyone with half a set of good tryes, the trail is reminiscent of Thetford/Sherwood Pines terrain – I guess undulating is the word you’d use.
The favourite sections for the crew were probably the untouched-by-man ‘muddy’ descent which looked far worse than it rode, in fact it was a lot of fun. And then the final downhill sections which had a texture similar to riding on marbles and guarantees some two wheel drifting on almost every corner.
After a couple of laps and a quick chat with Mr Fisher it was time to head back down south. We liked Follow The Dog – it’s technical enough for a good rider to bang out two or three laps at speed and not get bored, and also easy enough for a beginner to take some time and get used to riding off road. It was obvious that some bits are waiting for better weather – this will come good in a couple of months and then Cannock Chase will have a real nice set of trails.
You can get the full rundown on the Chase trails and check out our chat with Gary Fisher in the new issue of shred magazine due out on 23 March.