Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dalby Forest - Red Trail

A necessary trip to Yorkshire to collect my boy from his holiday last week gave an excuse to fit in a ride at Dalby Forest.

Dalby has had some major funding recently and now has a great range of trails for all abilities including the 23 mile red with optional black sections. Singletraction and Pace have been involved.

Originally I had hoped to link up with Toons, but work prevented him making the trip South on Friday afternoon.

Good old STW forum provided some useful local advice and I opted to start from the main car park near the new Visitor centre, (there is also a bike shop/hire and second CafĂ© there). The ‘official’ start of Black, red and green trails is at Dixon’s Hollow a bit further North on the Forest Drive.

There is a £7 Toll to enter the Forest, bit of a shock to the system – I had been pointed to a free option outside the forest, but as it was the first visit I was slightly worried about extra time this would add to the ride.

Out of the car park there is an easy switchback climb up to join the red trail where it was straight into a series of log steps and drops before climbing back up on some tight single-track. The natural surface here is quite different to anything else I have come across with quite a bit of sand in places and within a couple of miles I had reason to give thanks my flat pedals again as my front wheel dug in after a small hump and I was thrown over the bars!

The first few miles threw up all sorts of challenges, some man-made rock causeways like Dalbeattie, some tight switchback drops. In places the white sand made the trail looked like there was a ground frost.

Before too long I reached Dixon’s Hollow and the Pace Bike Park – this is a bit of a play ground/skills area with drops and jumps, (maybe a 4x course). I took the chance to stop and watch those honing their jumping skills and adjust my tyre pressures.

If I had started at Dixon’s Hollow I would probably have been disappointed, the ‘proper’ start of the Red was fun enough and then there was a challenging drop into a narrow valley, but after that if you chose red over black it was mostly fire road, (I had made a choice to avoid Black as I was riding solo). Then the route effectively joins the Green route for a number of miles, (See map), maybe a welcome break for some and I guess necessary to join what are effectively 2 areas. I was glad to see signs for red again, but my heart dropped when I saw that this trail was closed and so back onto fire road for a while longer.

The next bit of proper red I hit was an man made narrow ridge through the trees, fun to ride fast I guess, but then it got a whole lot more interesting with some great tight single-track, sharp drop and one fast bermed downhill with a series of fast step downs which got even this ground hog airborne! The long grind on the Green was now forgotten as everything got much more interesting, faster, tighter and jumpy! The climbs are never that hard here, the granny ring was not needed.

Legs were getting tired by this stage, 23 miles is probably the longest single ride I have done on this kind of terrain and the signs to the visitor centre were welcome – great that even this exit is a challenging series of fast berms and a final set of steps to drop.

In all it took just 3 hours riding time. I would thoroughly recommend it if you can get up that way, (it took me around 3 hours driving from Long Buckby, 170 miles) – the great thing about Dalby is the variety of trails to suit all abilities and there is enough other stuff locally to entertain those who do not want to ride. Not as challenging as Wales or Scotland perhaps, but some brilliant single-track.

5-Spot performed brilliantly, got me through some very tricky stuff that my head told me was not possible. Gears worked perfectly again – had shortened the chain before the trip. Getting used to and love the new XTR shifters. Weather was also perfect for once.

Tracklog available here.


Farqui said...

The car parking charges are a little out of line compared to other FC centers :( Still a fair price for a days riding tho.

There's been much written about how good the new trail(s) are up there, which seems to be confirmed by our level headed reporter. Is it the variety of terrain that makes it appealing ?

Good weather and working gears, the knobbly gods were smiling on you grasshopper.

dahnhilla said...

Sounds good! Have heard good things about that place... we'll have to go some time dad!!!

uphilla said...

I would be happy to spend a weekend at Dalby. It would be good to try the black sections and the Southern bit of the red could be ridden separately by using part of the green route for a short cut. There is also the Pace Bike Park for some entertainment.
It was a good day, though some company would have been good.

uphilla said...

What I remembered today was that there was a 'Northshore' section that I missed out, and in a couple of places there were log 'bridges', narrow log bridges in fact, fortunately there were alternatives, but I found myself wondering how anyone could cross them without falling off...

bathmate said...

it really very good.
I love it !
I like it !
thanks :)- .