Appeal For Staffordshire Trail Volunteers

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The search is on for volunteers of all ages to help complete part of the West Midlands’ newest mountain bike trail on the Forestry Commission estate at Cannock Forest, near Rugeley.

With only six months to go until the new trail is due to open to the public, three ‘Big Build Days’ are being arranged by Chase Trails volunteers over the autumn and winter to help get the trail finished in time.

Chase Trails, a group of local mountain bikers who have already given up countless weekends and raised thousands of pounds to help enhance the cycling facilities at Cannock Chase, are now on the look out for even more volunteers to lend a hand building two more sections of trail.

On Sunday 4 October 2009, Sunday 15 November 2009 and Sunday 3 January 2010 from 10am until 4pm, families and their four-legged friends will be encouraged to play their part in creating the West Midlands’ newest mountain bike trail.  Children and dogs must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Experts will be on hand to offer guidance and instruction on trail building and safe working practices, so no experience is necessary.  A barbecue lunch and refreshments will also be provided to satisfy all those healthy appetites.

Rob Lamb from Chase Trails, says: “Big Build Days have been a great success.  It’s amazing how much has been achieved in such a short space of time and it’s been fantastic to see so many people trail building for the first time and enjoying it so much that they keep coming back.

“A ‘Big build day’ is a great day out for the whole family. We have a growing number of ‘junior trail builders’ who always have lots of fun and keep us all entertained.”

So far this year, Chase Trails have held six ‘Big Build Days’, clocked up over 1,500 volunteer hours and built four new sections of trail totalling over 1,500 metres.

Anyone interested in supporting the project or joining the Chase Trails volunteer group should call Rob Lamb on 07951 135506, visit www.chasetrails.co.uk or check out their new blog for all the latest news and trail building information at http://chasetrails.blogspot.com

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People who are interested in volunteering for any of the ‘Big Build Days’ should meet at Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre, Birches Valley, Cannock Chase.  Tools are provided, but people can bring along their favourite spade.  Sturdy footwear and suitable outdoor clothing is also advised.

Chase Trails also hold ‘regular build days’ every Sunday, meeting outside Swinnerton Cycles at 10am.

The new bike trail is part of a £200,000 project to improve the visitor facilities at the Forestry Commission’s Cannock Forest and will involve developing some new look features added to existing routes.  Cross-country, downhill and leisure trails will all benefit from the revamp.

Jason Maclean, Environment Manager for the Forestry Commission at Cannock Forest, says: “We’re really grateful to Chase Trails volunteers for their continued support of the Cannock bike trail development project.  The help of volunteers has meant we’ve made a lot of progress in a short space of time and brought us closer to our Easter 2010 completion deadline. Now everyone can look forward to riding the region’s newest and biggest purpose built mountain bike trail, as well as the range of cycling routes  already on offer to get people out and active in the woods.”

The Project is being steered into action with the help of the Chase Trails volunteer group, cycle manufacturer – Giant UK, Swinnerton Cycles Forest Centre, Staffordshire Aggregates Levy Grant Scheme, Staffordshire County Council, the Sport England Community Investment Fund and the Forestry Commission.

Chase Trails volunteers and partners have raised over £60,000 for the project, £28,000 of which came from the Staffordshire Aggregates Levy Grant Scheme.  Sport England’s West Midlands Regional Sports Board (RSB) recently awarded the initiative £130,800 from the National Lottery funded Community Investment Fund.

Wider changes and improvements to existing trails will help more people of all ages and abilities get active and develop a healthier lifestyle.  There will be an easy green route for families and beginners through to blue and red courses for cycling enthusiasts.

Cycle manufacturer, Giant UK, will be sponsoring the new trail at Cannock Chase over the next three years.

Other sections of the trail are being built by trail builders Clixby’s, from Oakamoor in Staffordshire.

The Forestry Commission’s Birches Valley Visitor Centre will remain open to the public throughout the work, but access may be limited in some places.

Birches Valley Forest Centre at Cannock Chase is already the starting point for the popular ‘Follow the Dog’ technical route. The seven-mile, singletrack trail, which was created by Chase Trails as the West Midlands’ first dedicated Cross Country MTB trail, will also be upgraded as part of the changes.

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