Posts Tagged ‘Chicksands’
Posts about the Chicksands Bike Park in Bedfordshire.
First a little history, Chicksands to those who don’t know is a joint project between the Forestry Commission and Southill Estates. It is situated in the Rowney Warren forest in Bedfordshire. With the management being organisized by a group called Beds Fat Trax which formed in 1999. Right that is the background in place, seeing as it is so far away we had to set off very early to make the long journey down which took around two and a half hours. There were four of us going down Mark (A friend of Josh through work), Josh, Jeff and myself. With they’re not being enough space for Jeff’s bike which I think he was pleased by. He was on picture and video duty all day. The route down there was quite straight forward taking the M1 most of the way followed by some A road action to get to the forest. After Parking up and a short ride through the forest we were met by a biker’s dream. With there being a number of different zones these included; 4X, Dual Slalom, Dirt Jumps, Freeride Area, and some wicked Northshore. When you thought it couldn’t get any better there would always be something around the corner that was even better 🙂 So a little description about each of the different zones.
4X The 4X track really is quite something and because of this it is used on a national level for 4X racing. So as you can imagine it is quite tricky to get fast and smooth. Seeing as me and Mark (orange 224) were on downhill bikes it was interesting to say the least. The track starts out with a nice high wooden and metal starting ramp/gate. After a short hard pedal down the starting ramp you can come across two short doubles. We found it was best to manual the first and jump the second. After this the track splits off into two large berms. With the inside shorter berm having a couple of small drops and the outside longer berm being smooth. This sets you up for the next jump which is a long table. The trick was to try and keep it low over this for maximum speed. The next bit of the track could be ridden in a number of different ways. But we found it was best to pre jump the first small roller and then pump and try and clear the rest. By this point in the track you were travelling along at some speed. Again the track splits into two berms with the inside berm having a jump into it and a smooth outside berm. This sent you flying into the largest jump on the track which was a triple. We spotted a couple of riders trying to clear the whole thing but you had to go very large to do this. Josh tried a couple of times but he couldn’t get the distance. Instead we jumped it like a true triple jump, taking two smaller jumps. If you got this bit smooth you could then launch a small table and put a couple of pedals in before the final double to 180 degree berm. It was very interesting watching riders off all ages and abilities ride this track as it just showed the wide variation in the lines and techniques used.
Dual Slalom Years ago before 4X was even born dual slalom was ridden. But since then 4X has replaced it, but you can see why dual slalom was so popular in years gone by. They still race duals at Crankworks each year. The concept is that two riders race identical tracks side by side, often only separated by a couple of inches. This makes it extremely interesting for spectators. At Chicksand they have built a track that encompasses the essence of dual slalom really well. I am not going to describe the track like I did for the 4X but it was very fast flowy and had a couple of very interesting sections where riders would be fighting for the same line. Mark and Josh had a couple of near misses on these bits. At the end of the track there is a huge berm that seemed to go on forever.
Dirt Jumps Although we didn’t ride any of the dirt jumps we watched a number of skilled riders doing them instead. There are three lines; small, medium and very large. Each was a 6 pack, except the smallest line which is an 8 pack, with a perfect run in bank setting you up for speed and a 180 berm at the end of each line to bring you back. They were building on the largest line but we saw a couple of riders hitting it for the first time, Wow! 🙂
Freeride area This is an area covering one side of a hill which is covered by drops, launches, and berms. We had a quick play in this bit at the end with Josh clearing a very impressive jump. Which was at least a 12ft gap. There was one main line running down the hill which started with a nice big drop (10ft plus) which then lined you up for a number of jumps, drops and berms that ran down the hill. There was also another smaller area off the side which had a hip jump, and a nice jump that was dug into the bank.
North Shore The scale of the north shore is very impressive with there being many different lines for all abilities. This wouldn’t have looked out of place on the north shore in Vancouver. It looked like they had recently finished building the latest lines, with many locals showing there impressive balance. None of us were good enough or stupid enough to try the more advance stinky lines. But we had fun riding some of the other stuff that was lower to the ground. Josh and Mark decided to ride the ladder drops. Which were perfect in there design having a nice steep landing and a good run out. Although I do have to admit after they did the larger of the two drops I lost my nerve after they both commented on the sketchiness of it. One for next time.
All in all Chicksands is a great place to ride and is defiantly worth going back to. The builders of those trails should be extremely please with what they have built. For its all around appeal to riders of many different types I can’t really think of anywhere else to match it. I am sure that the trails will increase to grow in size and difficulty in the years to come, and we should have another road trip soon.