Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cannock- The Monkey Trail

Indulgent, I know, but Dangerous and I decided to have a sneaky weekday trip to sample the recently opened extension to 'Follow the Dog' at Cannock.
Rain had just set in as we loaded up, but we thought this might not be such a bad thing with the surface at Cannock. However, by the time we reached Birches Valley all was dry.
Interesting to see how popular this site is on a weekday, there were plenty of other riders about.
Along with building the new section, Chase Trails has also tweaked the 'Follow the Dog', so even this felt unfamiliar in places. A new steep switchback section takes you down to the railway/road crossing to 'Monkey' - we watched others carefully picking their way down and I must admit being 'challenged' by a stepped hairpin!
Across the road is like another world, quite different in character and with hints of Welsh and Scottish trail centres. A steep switchback climb gets your legs warmed up - we would have cleared this had it not been for a lack of grip and resulting wheel spin. The new trails are brilliant and very much 'Red' graded. Fast, twisty singletrack with the odd rocky surprise thrown in. Lots of potential for being airborne if you are feeling brave! It just got better and better. One section has some optional 'Black' rock gardens - David cleared these - I stayed on the red. Climbs are not too taxing and at the highest point there was a viewpoint and picnic spot for a welcome rest.
The 'new' section is fast swoopy with lots of 'berms' - brilliant!
Back across the road a familiar long 'fire road' climb joins the old trail and leads past the Marquis Drive centre. The original fast downhill trail is closed and after another road crossing you join a new final section which maintains the new standard - fast and testing singletrack, the end of one section is a sheer drop of at least 2', a very nasty surprise for me. Then you are into a fast 'jumpy' section with some very big 'table tops' and 'doubles' - all can be rolled.
A definite thumbs up. Sadly I really felt 'off form' for much of the ride - It is quite a while since I rode the 5-Spot and for some reason I did not feel at all right on it. It felt big after the Duster and the lose surface meant quite a few 'moments' with the front wheel drifting off line :-( I really want to go back and try it all again with the hardtail - interested to know whether it will work better or if it was just a 'Bad day at the office'.
As we sat enjoying a post ride coffee at the Birches Valley Cage we spotted a Porsche Cayman pull in the car park with a bike rack on the back - now we have seen it all!
Posse: Dahnhilla; Commencal. Uphilla: Turner
Weather: Very cool, but dry.
Mechanicals: None


Farqui said...

You lucky blighters, don't worry - whilst you're enjoying yourselves on a WEEKDAY, we kept the country running. Tsk, I'm only jealous.

I found Cannock lifted its game with the previous upgrades and the latest improvements look fab. I can't wait to get back up there and schralp it up.

Rob#2 said...

I'm really keen to check out Cannock...looks like I won't be disappointed. On one of your picturers it shows a rocky that the Black graded section?

uphilla said...

You will not be dissappointed! Yes, the rocks are a 'Black' option, there are two such sections. david found the first easier than it looked and the second harder - but cleared both. There are other rocky step downs in the red section - just to keep you on your toes...

Dangerous Dave said...

They're black options you'd probably want to look at before diving in. The first has a nasty hole to fall in a the end if you don't pick your line right, but generally is a point and shoot rock garden. The second requires a bit more finesse and committment to get through, I went in a bit hot and clipped a big boulder with my pedal, bucking me a bit, but it was fine and added to the excitement!

Brilliant trail overall. Lots to keep everyone happy.