The ride started, as every good ride does, with a(nother) cup of tea, a bike check and quick briefing before we set off.
Our group of 9 included some regular (and irregular) faces as well as some new riders to the club all keen to get going and enjoy the day. We started off a little after 11am and went straight into the beginning of Follow The Dog. Since our last visit the trail has been changed a little at the beginning and one of the first features was a wooden walkway with a rock drop off at the end then leading into the tight trees then off into the woods. The tight trees at the beginning saw a couple of our riders off as handlebars were snagged but thankfully there were no injuries and everybody was happy to carry on riding.
The trails at Cannock feature a few different wooden bridges as well as a small north-shore style section made using 4 or 5 tree trunks in a zig-zag. We had a play about on these for a bit until we’d all had a go – props to Oliver who made it further than anybody that day by at least treble the distance! I’ll try and get the videos online shortly so you can have a laugh (read: look).
The trails and the way they flowed are quite different to most places we’ve held rides and have a very man-made feel to them which can take some getting used to. As we wound our way through the woods it was easy to see the group becoming more confident and getting much more from the trails. We were all really surprised at how quite dusty FTD was, if you’ve not been there it’s a really hard-packed trail surface with smooth stones in (it runs really quickly in the wet as well) and the dry weather meant that some sections were covered with a pretty good layer of dust which made it pretty slippery in some sections and in others it acted like a sand trap almost stopping us dead in our tracks.
The trail crew at Cannock Chase have been very busy since our last ride there at the beginning of the year (HUGE Thanks!!!!!!) and there are loads of new sections to try out on Follow The Dog and Monkey Trail – some Red graded trails and a new Black graded trail as well. All of the new sections were really good fun and a great improvement on what is already a great place to ride. We did see a rider on a cyclocross bike (what a nutter!?!) try to ride the new Black section halfway round Monkey Trail though – he ended up doing one of the first rock sections but had issues with his (massive) chain ring catching the next set of rocks as he tried rolling through – the BMTB riders however did a superb job of hitting the drop off and riding on ever so gracefully making it look all rather easy!
We got out of the woods and into the sun at the top of the next hill for a breather and an impromptu update on the cricket – I think we were doing kinda well – and some cake…
2 of the best descents of the day lay ahead and we made our way round to them on another new section of trail - this replaced a fast fire road descent with an all new singletrack descent through the trees which hadn’t been ridden much before – it was nice and fast but the dust clouds made it hard following anybody too closely. After such a pleasant surprise the next climb seemed slightly less of a slog. The majority of the group enjoyed the next descent so much they went back to the top to do it all again whilst the others took a well-earned breather!
With time pressing on we hit the last descent on Monkey Trail before heading back over the train tracks and finishing off Follow The Dog. The last section of trail here is great fun and everybody upped their game to make the most of the last few berms and rollers. The Werewolf drops almost saw 1 rider off but it was pretty impressive watching somebody ride them no-footed!
The ride ended with more tea and ice creams for most whilst Paul’s hangover had subsided enough for him and Oliver to set off and ride another lap of Follow The Dog – that’s dedication eh?
By all accounts everybody had a fun day and said they’d be like to visit the trails another time soon.
Do keep an eye out on our Group Rides pages for more info on forthcoming rides and hopefully we’ll see you there!
Michael | BucksMTB