In the last couple of years, Redhill Extreme has been taken into new ownership and has been given a new lease of life. It’s low key and a relatively small site – basically a big field on the side of a hill, tucked away behind clay pigeon shooting, a pirate themed mini golf, and a few other slightly surreal activity options. They day we went to visit, it was baking hot, though as the evening went on the shadows lengthened a little giving patches of shade as a relief from the sun.
The new owners since 2019 are Mattie, Gareth and Ian. Gareth and Ian also own Pedalabikeaway, down the road in Forest of Dean, while Mattie has been involved at Redhill since it was run by Katie Curd and her then partner Jake Ireland. Under the new ownership, it’s been set up as a not-for-profit Community Interest Project, with the aim of creating a place to ride a bike without the overheads of some of the big bike parks. Mattie explained that, inspired by his son Billy, he wants Redhill to be somewhere that young people can come and ride alongside the best riders on the scene, and be inspired by what they see.
Brendan Fairclough’s new ‘Dog’s Life Diaries‘ line comes down the middle of the site, starting right at the top and wriggling its way down to in front of the portacabin HQ. From the bottom of the site here you can see the 4X track on the left of the Brendog line. The 4X track is a flow line, so anyone can ride it and work on their skills, but at the same time it’s up to British Championship racing standards. A wide grassy gap runs to the right of the Brendog line, top to bottom of the site. It’s here that you make the short push up the mown grass to whichever of the dirt lines on the right hand side of the field you want to try out.
The first track you come to is a short BMX or beginner’s dirt bowl track – totally rollable, no kickers, just rollers and berms. Next up the hill is a slightly trickier track, but it’s still passable by novices. The rollers and berms are joined by tables, some of them fairly sizeable, and just before the last berm there’s an optional step down takeoff on the right. If you hit that wrong, it drops you down into the sandy depths of the berm, which you really don’t want.
Climb up the hill some more and maybe you’ll choose to play on the dirt jump section, or do the full run down the field. There are choices here – the big line with the (frankly huge) gap jumps, or the less big line that misses them out but still takes in some sizeable kickers. When we were there though, most weren’t bothering with the full run, instead starting at a point part way down the course that allows you to just tackle the biggest gaps, or to nip round onto a step up with a woodchip landing. If you’re working on your technique or trying to add some tricks to your repertoire, this woodchip surface provides a good low-consequence practice area.
This area part way up the hill was the focus of most of the activity when we were there – the best riders egging each other on to try new things, watching technique and giving feedback, and generally enjoying the atmosphere.
There was a fair mix of skills and ages there – everything from little kids just rolling round to really really good kids making the adults look a bit rubbish. Top notch FS bikes, dirt jumpers, enduro bikes and even BMX bikes were all in evidence – even a Ti hardtail with SPD pedals! You don’t need a top end bike to ride here, though the tracks are designed to be interesting enough to attract those that ride them. In a heart warming development, DMR has agreed to come on board and sponsor a line, plus is providing a small fleet of bikes so that if someone turns up with a bike that’s not fit to ride, they’re not turned away. This is part of the Community Interest Project ethos of the place – it’s about creating the opportunity and inspiration to ride, whatever your ability or economic situation.
There’s a bit of something for everyone here. It’s a great place to focus on repeated runs, polishing your technique, and watching and learning from others. Plus, they’re back they’re building all the time – using the bad weather days to get more digging done, and there’s the Brendog line to be modified and made rideable by mortals once filming is over.
The Redhill Extreme site looks out over a wide flat plain, so if the wind is in the wrong direction it can be bit exposed. Being dirt tracks, it’s a dry weather only affair, but the folks in charge keep a close eye on the rain radar and are well accustomed to the local microclimate. If there’s a chance either way it could be wet or it could be dry, they’ll wait it out as long as they can before calling whether to open or not. Indeed, we were there on one of those lucky days when they’d made the call to open, and sure enough the rain skirted but a few fields away around the site.
It’s not far at all from the Forest of Dean, so if you’ve got the energy left after a day there, a Wednesday or Friday evening trip to Redhill could round the day off nicely. Or, if you’re heading for a weekend of riding at FoD or further on into Wales, maybe a Friday night play at Redhill could break up the journey and get your weekend off to a flying start?
Redhill Extreme is open Wednesday and Friday evenings, plus Saturdays and Sundays from 12noon, entry costs £5 weekdays and £7.50 weekends, though it’s open for group bookings at other times too. Bike must have bar end plugs and at least one functional brake. We had a great time at Redhill Extreme, and love the ethos behind the place, so why not get planning your trip there?
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