Swinley Forest's volunteer group Trail Team Swinley have just announced the plans for the much anticipated new freeride area. They sound great and volunteer construction has already started. Many folk's had their heart broken when Jump Gulley not so long ago was taken down and for many a mtb'er that wound is still raw!!
But all is forgiven if not forgotten (with fondness) as awesome things are now upon us again.
We are talking in phase one 2 black and 1 black/red downhill runs with challenging technical features and a push up and in phase 2 a pump track and dirt jumps!
Personally I would have gone for a more bike park 1, 2 and 3 orange dot system as a) Orange dots also make it clear that 3 dots is more than just one step up from a red trail (which black would convey) so you don't get the intermediate rider over-committing (especially important when the red at Swinley is quite tame in comparison to most UK reds) and b) on the other side of the scale with one dot they could make it more progressive rather than just making it specifically targeted at elite level or experienced mountain bikers that the design states. For the more average new influx of Swinley riders in the last couple of years who rides the red trail and manages it easily now the one and two dots dots would feel like a progressive next step to try. Will the black be a bit of a leap for that current red trail user? I hope not. No pun intended but that's the type of gap you want to avoid.
It has to be said though that on the more entry level progressive upwards front overall at Swinley they do with the green, blue and red routes offer trails for many levels already today. Also when the pump track comes this will be even further enhanced for all ability levels. So credit where it is due.
Also they will be planning that by putting qualifier drops at the start start they should hopefully avoid the volume of accidents from beginners and novices seen previously overall from Jump Gulley. Being accident concious they are now near the entrance to the Lookout centre which means help can be at hand much easier and quicker (as even the elite come off) than it was at Jump Gulley which was more remote in the forest and hard to access. We understand that being easily accesible to emergency vehicles was a core concern for all parties especially the Crown Estate in putting together and so approving these plans. It is though it sounds with the gaps and drops quite a step up in technical ability than Jump Gulley was previously and it is easier also for beginners to get to and check out / be tempted with as it is now near the main car park rather than half way into the forest where Jump Gulley was (hence good idea to have the qualifier drops at the start). Hopefully it will stand the test of time and not be pulled down when the first inevitable accident that goes with all freeride areas at some point happens.
You can check out the detailed plans for the new freeride area here at the full iBikeRide Swinley Forest listing along with all the other trails on offer there.
And remember this only happens with volunteer support. Their first dig day on the Freeride area was today but there of course many more to go. So go head to the Trail Team Swinley facebook page and get onto the next dig day.