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Thetford Improved Mountain Biking EnviRonment

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Easter Weekend Double Yolker!

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With two bank holidays in four days, social rides were planned for Good Friday and Easter Monday around Thetford Forest. These usually take in off-piste sections are are really good to find hidden gems of singletrack

7 riders assembled at High Lodge on Friday morning, setting off some time after 10am towards the pump track soon picking up the Beater trail then off-piste. Unfortunately due to weather and forestry activities the trail was blocked by trees - this would become a common theme throughout the ride.

I won't go into details of where we went because a) I can't remember and b) join a social ride to find out where we go.  After spending a bit of time on the High Lodge side we headed to the BCP side, which was where the first crash occured -front wheel washout on a muddy corner, nothing damaged just pride.

After more singletrack we headed back to High Lodge side to play in some of the pits, with a fantastic save in Tom's, a close call on the exit of the Skip and a minor off on the Beast, most of the group headed back to High Lodge for food and drinks.

Bank Holiday Monday came, with marshals in the car park and 15 of us, old and new faces, left at just after 10am.  We headed out towards the middle of the Beater trail at quite a pace, and quite soon the first crash occurred just before Duck and Cover, with a second through Duck and cover.

When we reached the exit road from High Lodge we headed towards St Helen's side of the forest which was less crowded then High Lodge. After some fireroads we soon hit the various pieces of singletrack that litters this part of the forest.

A snapped pedal, motocross bike, quadbike and a big off greeted us here, and after the last crash it was decided to head back to High Lodge with all riders making it back safely.

Both rides were really enjoyable, even if the trail conditions on Friday were far from ideal, and it's good to find those obscure gems of singletrack.

Richard Hall (rshall)

 

 

MSG Round 1 Shouldham Warren 1st March 2015

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First round of a new season of races only a week after the end of the last ones, what could go wrong? Not too much, traffic was slow heading towards Shouldham, then I missed the turning but arrived just before midday, signed on and went for a walk.

I have never been to Shouldham Warren before and it's similar to the off piste sections of Thetford, Brandon and Santon Downham, but lumpier. I met Jon and we went for a sighting lap, there were a few interesting sections, two steep climbs and a small pit.

Just after 2pm we all lined up for the start in lines of six for our respective categories, yours truly was right at the back, with Jon in the line in front.  The whistle went and we were off up a fire road climb then looping back down to the start/finish fireroad and into the first section of singletrack.

This was twisty, sticky and rooty with an off camber lump which caught people out (yes me!), small section of fireroad then up the first 'nadgery' (TM Jon) climb with people having clipless moments as they ran out of steam. The course went left into the first technical section, a couple of rollable drops followed by a little climb causing more stalls (me again).

There was a very lumpy and muddy downhill section from here into more singletrack though trees and rhododendrons, out onto fireroad and another wider but smoother steep climb followed by a wide descent.  From here on it was mainly singletrack either rising or falling with no real places to catch your breath.

Towards the end of the lap there was the other technical section, a small pit with a rollable drop entrance, small bump and a loose climb out.  I tried to make this but stalled at the top, stopped myself rolling back, then got out of the way rapidly as another rider was approaching.

Even though no photos were taken of my fail, the rider behind me was Jon! so I have to mention that I did have an off and managed a very tiny cut to my left knee. More singletrack after this and then a nice swoopy drop to the start/finish line.

The next lap about half way round I was overtaken by the leader, so that meant one less lap, dropped a gel, went back for it and lost places and bypassed the second technical section.  Each lap became harder, especially the climbs, but some sections were riding in nicely.

The bell went to signify the last lap, the fast riders were still going strong, I was starting to flag.  Down the final section of singletrack and an attempted sprint finish. I crossed the line having completed 4 laps, finishing in 46th (out of 54) place feeling slightly sick but pleased with completing the race

Richard Hall (rshall)

 

Winter Series 4 22nd February 2015

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The final race of the winter series was at Fire Road 6 Brandon Country Park side, and after watching the weather forecast all week it was cold(icy) but dry. The course was described as 'undulating' which meant climbing, and with defrosting conditions would lead to being hard work as the race progressed.

As normal I got overtaken by nearly everybody in the 2 hour race, and as in the previous race their was a crash on the fireroad start.  When I got to the first bit of singletrack there was the usual queue but nobody pushed in. After the singletrack came a fast downhill fireroad section which turned 90 degrees right into more singletrack, through into a section called Ferg's Berms which rode really well, and scarily fast when I got it right.

The route then turned back on itself, another small section of single track, more fireroads, into pinball, then out into more downhill fireroads - I hit 25mph on this section. The route carried on towards Brandon Country Park through some sticky, rooty uphill sections that I struggled to get into a decent rhythm on.

Dropping down from Brandon on the usual sections of singletrack, short sections of fireroad, across Heather Terrace, a few more sections of fireroad and single track them up Plumbuster/Nutcracker.  When I first got to this there was a train of riders climbing away,  this would get harder each lap.

My second lap was faster and riders were getting more spread out, there were times it felt like the end of a 4 hour race with no one around me. End of the lap and up Nutcracker, not too bad but starting to hurt

Third lap and pushing on a bit as I wanted to 4 laps in, one point having full on rear wheel drift through one of the fireroad corners.  I was slowly catching some of the riders that passed me at the start, yet again Nutcracker was hard work with three of us winching away up the hill.

As I came into the arena I heard I was in 64th place, this pushed me on a little as I knew others around me in the standings would be suffering as much as I was. If I saw a rider in front of me I tried to catch them, while not getting in the way of the much faster riders

The final section of fireroad before Nutcarcker and I passed a few riders, up Nutcracker I passed a few more, one guy was walking very slowly - sometimes I love having a triple! Out of the trees for the final time, no final push for the line as my legs were shot.

I did't stop riding after crossing the line, just rode very slowly back to my car, nearly collapsed and felt sick.

Final result was 58th out of 83, which I was pleased with, other Timber members finished 17th, 23rd and60th, so well done to all. A bit of rest as I have stupidly signed up to MSG on 1st of March, I must be a glutton for punishment!

Richard Hall (rshall)

 

Winter Series Round 3 2014/15

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My second race of the season and confidence was higher. I’d finished rebuilding my crashed bike, my fitness and confidence had increased, I’d eaten nearly a whole packet of Jaffa Cakes and it wasn’t forecast to rain! I had arrived with enough time for a sighting lap and duly set off.

Parts were still covered in frost and there was some ice around but generally looking good.  The first feature was Tom’s Pit, this was to be bypassed on the first lap, but I wanted to check it out.  I took my entry too slow and had a clipless ‘moment’ on the hip jump, falling to the outside edge – not a good start.

The rest of the lap was a good mix of single track, fireroads and pits including mower trail, parts of rusty bucket, Flint and Howe’s pits, and Super Big Dog, surprisingly there was no going up Double Shocker – perhaps too slippery?

I met up with Jon and Adam and had a little chat with them prior to the start. Soon we were off, quite controlled really even though there was a crash on the first section of fireroad! Queues formed approaching Tom’s pit as it was bypassed, but via single track.

I settled into a steady rhythm, felt quite strong so decided to push a bit where I could and soon was catching and passing people.  Things were going well until Howe’s Pit where the rider in front of me changed lines on the entry and crashed, blocking the entry but I don’t think he hurt himself.

Out of the pit with no more issues and on to the feed zone/start where I went past few people. Still feeling strong I pushed on the fire roads and tried to use Jedi training on the single track.  Next lap, I still felt strong and carried on the same vein, passing one of the Timber 4hour riders.  Once I had started my fourth lap I knew I wouldn’t get anymore laps in so eased off a bit and enjoyed the race, still passing the odd rider, and being passed by the much faster ones

After 2Hours 18 minutes of racing I crossed the line in 55th place (out of 86), which I was very happy with.  Other Timber riders finished 19th, 28th and 30th, all in the 4hours race (nutters!)

Richard Hall (rshall)

 
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TIMBER MTB is the volunteer trail group in Thetford Forest working with the FC to improve the trails

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