Digger’s Diary – new trail at Gisburn

Trail building is like a combination of DIY and gardening except of course that it’s fun and useful. It’s even better when you can do it within a 2 minute ride from a pub, and being able to build something that you really want to ride, with plenty of flow and challenge, is great motivation to grab a shovel and get dirty in the woods.

Nick from Singletraction laying down a sweet roller

Along with Tim, the mountain biking landlord from the excellent Dog and Partridge, I’ve been dreaming up and planning a new trail for Gisburn Forest. Tim has been involved in the past with developing some of the downhill tracks at Gisburn and we wanted to combine some features drawn from this kind of riding, into a trail that can be enjoyed on a hardtail and other normal trail bikes. Our aim is to to build something that will be fun for everyone to ride. One that you can learn new skills on, as well as being a challenge for faster, more advanced riders. You might say it’s a skills development trail or maybe a freeride trail.

Rowan has wheelie good skillz

Forestry gave us the go ahead and kindly paid Rowan Sorrell from Back on Track, to advise us on design and make sure that what we were planning would integrate with what is already at Gisburn and what is planned there for the future. We also linked up with the good people from Singletraction, who have a wealth of  planning, coordinating and building experience from their projects in places like Stainburn and Dalby Forest and the existing XC trail building volunteers, who have made the excellent ‘Home Baked’ section at Gisburn. Various local riders and diggers have been getting involved including a hoard of guys from the Cycle Junkies club.

Forestry dude with a chainsaw clearing the trail

The first section that we have started building is a pump trail that cuts through trees with lots and lots of rollers and berms. It will be good for practicing pump technique and progressing on to manualing and jumping sections. When will it be ready? Probably when we’ve finished building it! By the way it’s not ready to ride yet so don’t go messing it up.

Me actually working on a small step down! Tim leaning on a tree (he's a professional builder you know)

We’re hoping to extend this trail into a tabletop jump line section, which will be ideal for those learning to jump as well as those who already can. Hope have very kindly agreed to sponsor this section by paying for professional trail builders with diggers to come in to do the construction work. There is a fair bit of hand building and red tape to clear before we get to this section, but it should be great. Beyond this there are tentative plans for drop offs and a more naturally surfaced rooty switchback line. One day at a time though!

Typical trail building Hobbit

If you’re interested in joining us to dig for glory then you can find out the details of dig days on the front page of the Singletraction site. There are also details here for other trail building projects including the XC trails at Gisburn, where they give you tea and biscuits.

Precision laying of the trail. Hip jump/roller.

Good news from Lee and Cragg quarries as well. The building of the 2km link trail is well under way and should be finished by November. Apparently the guys doing the finishing work have just come from a job building a pump track with Phil Saxena, so we should expect a pretty cool pump line descent all the way from Rooley Moor Road down to Lee Quarry. I’m looking forward to seeing how that turns out. A volunteer group is also being formed to lead trail building projects starting around the quarries and Healey Nabb, but with the wider aim of promoting mountain biking at a number of sites across the Pennines. More details soon….

Some more photos here

Ed Oxley www.great-rock.co.uk