Much as we love to see new trails opening, few would deny that there’s been a considerable bias in favour of Scotland and Wales. So it’s with particular pleasure that we get to tell you about the grand opening of Follow The Dog, the first purpose-built trail in the West Midlands.
The seven mile trail is the work of Chase Trails, a volunteer trail building group founded by local riders Stuart Tite and Gary Galpin. Their small army of volunteers worked for two years alongside the Forestry Commission to build a sustainable, all-year-round trail. Additional support came from local shop Swinnerton Cycles.
“Bike fans in the West Midlands have been yearning for this kind of trail for years,” says Gary. “We wanted to offer riders plenty of diversity, so the route combines tight turns, climbs and descents, with more flowing sections. It’s designed for intermediate level bikers and requires a bit of skill and stamina. We built it to last, so it won’t disappear under a foot of mud, which will allow it to be used all year round.”
The trail will be sponsored by Gary Fisher Bikes, and the man himself will be helping to officially launch the trail on Sunday along with legendary race organiser Pat Adams. The festivities start at 10am at the Birches Valley Visitor Centre (where the new trail starts and ends) and will include demo rides, trade stands, displays, music and a hog roast. The trail launch coincides with Foresty Commission’s Active Woods programme, a British Heart Foundation-backed initiative aiming to get people out in Britain’s woods to burn off surplus calories. So don’t forget to go for a ride after your slice of roast pig in a bun.
And the name? At one point during the build, the Chase Trails guys were unsure of which particular line to take. Gary Galpin’s dog Zak trotted off through the woods on what looked like a good direction, so the builders flagged out a stretch of trail in his paw prints…
More information at www.chasetrails.co.uk.