We headed up to our local trail centre Lee Quarry (and site of the Singletrack Weekender) a few days ago, ostensibly to come and have a sneak preview of some 2011 Royal Racing kit during a photoshoot. With Royal Racing involved it was a star studded affair, with Steve Peat, Rowan Sorrell, Chris Akrigg and Rich Cunynghame traveling up to take part. While the weather was alright elsewhere, in classic Lee Quarry style the dark clouds had gathered directly above and it was hammering it down.
Despite having some of the world’s best riders gathered in one spot, no tyre touched dirt thanks to the rain and poor light. Instead dozens of cups of coffee and teacakes were consumed in Poppie’s Deli Cafe across the road from the quarry carpark. It must be a particularly British trait to be able to look at the same shade of dark grey sky for hours on end and still remain optimistic that it’s about to clear up, but after a while it was obvious the shoot would be off. With mutterings about going off to play a game that’s named after a popular German hatchback, there was only one thing
left to do. Walk up the hill, do a quick promo shot with people trying to look cheery while their faces were machine gunned with water and then head onwards.
Well, all except Rowan Sorrell, whose trailbuilding company Back On Track has just got the contract to build some more trails at Lee Quarry and sister site Cragg Quarry. Thanks to the popularity of the first pump track making it nigh on impossible to get a ride on at the weekends, a second pump track is going to be built just across from it.
There will be a new black graded skills development run, which will keep it short and technical, taking quality over quantity. That should mean plenty of drop offs, step downs and gap jumps. Cragg Quarry will be getting some more flowing singletrack to add to the current selection, making good use of the spoil heaps around the place. The link trail between the two sites has been open for a while now and has opened up the area up nicely, meaning there’s plenty of distance riding on offer as well as the short fun loops that make Lee such a nice place to ride.
Rowan and his team, along with Tony Lund, the Environments Officer at Lancashire County Council and driving force behind the developments, will also be maintaining the existing trails to keep them in top condition. Taking a stroll around the quarry with the pair of them and listening to them discuss the way new trails will be sited and placed is an insight into something that’s much more complicated than marking out lines and then digging a few berms. They’re both passionate about making exciting trails for all abilities. It’s an artform to build trails that can be ridden by a beginner or a rider with years under their belt and still challenge and excite them.
Work will be starting at the site soon and should be completed around March, perfectly in time for the new sections to be used in our annual Singletrack Weekender event. That said, Rowan and Tony pointed out that keen riders using the trails before they’re properly ready and bedded in causes serious delays and means more work for the team – so no sneaking on to the new bits before they’re officially open.