Story: Catherine Brown, Secretary to the Friends of Parkwood Springs
Work starts soon at Parkwood Springs, on an exciting new mountain bike trail, funded by Sport England and European Value. The free, open access trail is designed to be accessible and promote skills development at all levels from novice to expert rider.
On Saturday 10th March, Parks & Countryside Officer Jon Dallow led a walking tour of the proposed first sections of the route, starting at the Shirecliffe/ Cooks Wood Road entrance where there will also be a warm-up area. Jon explained that mountain bike trails are graded like ski slopes – green (easy), blue (moderate), red (difficult), black (severe). Parkwood Springs trail will be blue with some red ‘opt-in’ sections.
The project which aims to work with all aspects of the local community, will be supported by a Ranger for roughly two days a week over the next two years, providing bikes, equipment and instruction so that anyone can have a go!
Emphasis will be on developing mountain bike skills, understanding the natural environment, promoting sustainable trail use, good rider etiquette and respect. Longer-term aspirations are to create a regular Saturday club and hold at least one race per year.
A 1 metre wide single track will head in an anti-clockwise direction for 2.4 km (1.5 miles), weaving first uphill through woodland, then an exhilarating downhill section near the Forest Garden, from which riders will get an excellent view across the city centre before a further climb to the finish.
The Friends of Parkwood Springs were reassured to hear that the ecology of the site had been carefully considered as part of the design process, involving local trail builders, riders and 2008 world mountain bike champion Dr Steve Peat. The majority of the track will be stone surfaced, to protect heathland from contamination, and when meeting footpaths and bridleways it would be designed to reduce the speed of riders so that everyone can enjoy a safe visit.
For further information, see http://www.parkwood-springs.org.uk