Work Begins on the 2012 Olympic MTB Course

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We’ve just heard from the PR folks in Essex. The final plans were approved by the Secretary of State this week and work has now begun on the course. Despite the lack of elevation (or any particularly testing terrain) we’ve spoken to people who’ve visited and reckon that it has great potential and certainly has a great setting. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with it. With work starting now, hopefully we’ll get a preview later this year…

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Here’s the press release:

“Work has begun to create the Olympic Mountain Bike Event course at The Salvation Army’s Hadleigh Farm, in the Borough of Castle Point. Against a stunning backdrop of Hadleigh Castle and the Thames Estuary, the course is being created in harmony with the natural contours of the park land, to test the mettle of the world’s best mountain bike riders. More information is available at

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Comments (42)

    Good god, that looks like an awful place to race a bike. Maybe they could helicopter in Mam Tor?

    I agree it doesn’t much elevation to play with however this is my local ride and I can confirm that there are some short, sharp sections that could be made challenging given sufficient thought and planning. This course will be all about keeping momentum as high as possible and trying not to lose speed in the corners.

    2012 – the year cyclocross replaced mountain biking as an olympic sport

    Will the course use all the area inside the orange fencing or just the bit where the diggers are?

    Any news on whether they’ll even be leaving the course for use after the event? This is still the latest on the 2012 website…

    “The temporary structures will be taken down. We will work closely with our partners including Essex County Council and the Salvation Army to explore what course will be left in place for future use.”

    It would be shocking if all the expense of creating something even half decent were to be wasted long term!

    Dr_Bakes, based on the latest public consultation the bit on Sali Army land will remain however the section through the castle will be just for the Olympics……….could all change though!

    Maybe the digger is part of the course in a Kick-start stylee, add a bit of height at least.

    Do we get brass band music at various points around the course as well?

    You work with what you have, and this is one case where infrastructure may justifiably be a more significant consideration ! I have my name down to volunteer. Reckon they could make it interesting by either building some hills or going the othere way and digging a great big MF hole !

    Sorry to disagree, but that looks a bit too gnarly for me…. some of those drop-off are higher than kerbs!?! I hope none of the riders get hurt… could give the sport a bad name…

    Do they need volunteers for digging the course ?

    I mean volunteers for staff at the event, marhals etc. There is a form on the Olympics website I think.

    Looks fine to me. It’s meant to be an xc course, not a mountain endurance event.

    Yippeee….it seems cyclo cross is on the olympic program after all…

    Not 100% sure what the obsession is with elevation. Anyone who’s raced the Thetford Winter series knows how tough a flat but tight course can be. This is XC racing not DH afteral!

    Don’t we already have numerous MTB specific trails in the UK, that would have provided a much more challenging and possibly better spectacle, without the associated cost of a new build?

    or am I missing something?

    They’re not in Essex. If it were the UK Olympics, or the Manchester ones, then we could have hoped for the course to be somewhere more fun. As it’s the London Olympics, they’re keeping things near London.

    Any suggestions of having the course somewhere more rugged (for example, the sailing will be down near Weymouth) have fallen on deaf ears. So, Essex it is. I’m sure they’ll be making it the best that they can.

    In response, one may refer to my original comment . . .

    Why does it have to be in Essex? the sailing venue last time round was 400 miles away from the other stuff.

    Looks more promising as a golf course

    With 5 people, 2 diggers, hi-viz jackets and some orange tape, they’ll have some mountains built in no time! LOL.

    Who’s designing and building it?

    I’m sure it’ll be reet in the end but it isn’t going to stop everyone (me included) taking the mikey.

    With enough time, money and diggers they could build anything.

    At least once its over the course can be put to good use as a bowling green…

    Anyway, I thought the form here was to build a course that your riders could win on ?? Citing the Chinese course and Ren Chengyuan. Not that it worked tho, when they were forced to make it more technical…

    Surely a joke. WTF?

    Could this location be any more painful to get to for anyone West, North or South of London? Crazy!

    “They’re not in Essex. If it were the UK Olympics, or the Manchester ones, then we could have hoped for the course to be somewhere more fun. As it’s the London Olympics, they’re keeping things near London.”

    that sounds fair enough, but the beijing olympic horse trials were in hong kong. thats not a dig at you chipps. just at the location

    The course will be ok, it will meet the specs. What would have made far more sense is to have sited the course west of london, far easier access for most people. I don’t go with needing big hills, the course will be fairly short as is how XC race courses are and would be worse with one big climb than with a number of short sharp climbs.

    Keeping in in London are you sure?

    I hope they keep the bill in london also.

    What til the H&S get their hands on it.

    Just a though BUT does Brands Hatch have more hills and facilitys in place already ?

    Perhaps this is one for Mr Camerons ways to save web – dont waste money on this go north or west and spend it at an existing centre or even the budget back to Dalby option.

    Looks very sandy. The most important question missed: What tyres?

    Why is West London any better? Not for anyone in the East. Though I guess Heathrow has plenty of spare land now they aren’t building that extra runway.

    Is it 1st April ?
    They forgot to mention the lovely views of the oil refineries at Coryton.
    Thats got to be the first mountain bike track built on a flood plain!
    Unbelivably disappointing

    I remember when they first did the Beijing course, the riders did a trial race on it, then said they were going to do it on CX bikes, next week, the designer came back (same one as doing the London course) put in a few logs, stones then the riders declared it the hardest one on the circuit. You’ll be surprised when they can do to slow the riders down, don’t know it…. yet

    *what they can do to slow the riders down

    The reason the horse events were in Hong Kong is that nobody knew what diseases the Chinese had in Bejing and they didn’t want to run the bad pr etc of multi million pound losses on very pricey nags dying suddenly!

    That’s why they won’t send the XC course north of Watford.

    It looks disappointing.

    well I must admit, reading alot of the posts on here has been amusing to say the least, its quite clear to me that most of you have not got a clue about what a gem of a venue we have in hadleigh. All of the people involved in the selection of hadleigh as a venue and the design of the course have vast experience in mountain biking and know whats right for the sport, so show them the respect they deserve and support it rather than dis it. You all will be very surprised by it!

    All olympic cycling venues are to remain post games – had a visit to the new velodrome last week – awesome. Work on mtb course area actually started a few years ago, thye are now just doing the actual course layout.

    Just to clear up some inaccuracies from the comments above –

    The Beijing track was originally designed and built by the Chinese. It rode like a cyclocross track so I was sent in by UCI to rough it up a bit. We had limited time but managed to change enough of the track to make a big difference. The sections I changed were very tech and built in the way I’d like to see MTB WC/Olympic XC go – real mountain biking. Given more time I would have liked to change the entire track to this style, although the change could have been too much too soon for the riders.

    Anyway, I have nothing to do with the track in London although it’s no secret that I would have liked to. I have no idea who is building the track. Why is there no info to be found anywhere on this aspect of the project?

    Poster number 39 above: “coursebuilder’. Who are you and could you give us all some more information please? I know the potential of the site, but the general public certainly don’t.


    Rootes1 – Is that definately confirmed that the MTB course will remain post games? At the public consultations we were told that some of the trail could remain in an easier-to-ride form if suitable agreements were reached with the Salvation Army (assume this is a public liability insurance type discussion) but a large section of the course (essentially through and infront of the castle would be just for the Olympics.

    I agree with “ilikecake” the course does have potential but details are a bit sketchy at this time. All updates from those in the know gratefully received!

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