by Ben Haworth
May 1, 2009
The Forestry Commission is putting the finishing touches to a 6.5 kilometre (4 mile) cross-country route on its estate in the 3,440-hectare (8,600-acre) wood, which will be used to stage the Nissan UCI Cross-Country Mountain Bike World Cup in Yorkshire next year if an ambitious bid is successful.
Dalby Forest is British Cycling’s preferred venue to host the prestigious global event, beating off stiff competition from elsewhere in the UK to put it in poll position.
Cycling chiefs are now working with the Forestry Commission, UK Sport and regional development agency Yorkshire Forward to lodge a bid with international cycling’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). A decision is expected in June.
The World Cup course will be put to the test for the first time on 10 May when it is used for the British Mountain Bike Race Series. Biking superstars will take part, including Liam Killeen and Oli Beckinsale, providing spectators with thrilling action. Racing gets underway from 10am. There’ll also be scores of exhibitors and biking displays, based at the Adderstone area of Dalby Forest.
Alan Eves, Forest Management Director with the Forestry Commission, said: “The new trail is a big investment for the future giving Dalby Forest a world class competition route which can be used time-and-time again. With big climbs, fast descents and technically demanding features, we’re confident it will live up to its billing as a course for the sport’s elite.”
Over 2,000 tonnes of locally sourced stone has been used to surface the trail and sustainable techniques used to make it more durable and suitable for use in all weathers. The design was finalised after months of careful planning work. Environmental assessments were also carried out to ensure bikers steer clear of sensitive wildlife habitats and archaeological sites. Forestry Commission engineer Martin O’Vastar has worked with contractor Hugh Clixby, from Matlock, to complete the project on schedule.
The trail will be incorporated into Dalby’s 55 kilometre mountain bike network, opened in 2007 at a cost of £400,000 and touted as some of the best single-tracks in England. It also uses part of the spectacular Dixons Hollow Pace Bike Park. Some of the World Cup course will be open for public use, but other sections will be off limits and reserved for top flight competitions. Alan Eves added: “Developments are happening thick and fast, with the bid about to be lodged and the test event imminent. We have had British Cycling officials visiting Dalby to check progress and help us produce the best possible course.”
Bid partners say that staging the World Cup would bring major economic and tourism opportunities for the area. Up to 500 of the world’s top off-road bikers would take part, representing 25 nations. The event could draw up to 10,000 spectators.
Further details at www.forestry.gov.uk/YorkshireandtheHumber
Pics by Tony Bartholomew.