Hardy trail builders are going up in the world to build the longest competition downhill mountain bike route of its kind in England.
Wielding shovels and pitch forks and armed with gritty determination in the face of winter weather, mountain bike fans expect to have the two mile trail built by October this year in spectacular 62,000 hectare (155,000 acre) Kielder Water & Forest Park.
Downhill mountain biking is not for the faint hearted, involving a rapid descent against the clock and fiendishly complicated technical sections.
The Forestry Commission is working with Northern Downhill on the new trail, which will have its starting line on the 2,000ft Northumbrian summit of Deadwater Fell.
“It will be the biggest vertical drop of any downhill trail built in England,” said Durham-based Philip Grimes from Northern Downhill. “It will be a major challenge getting it done, but the potential to create something really special in Kielder is the incentive.”
Britain is a hotbed for downhill biking and the current world champion, Danny Hart, comes from Redcar on Teesside. He cut his teeth in another Forestry Commission woodland – Hamsterley Forest, near Bishop Auckland in County Durham.
Alex MacLennan, recreation and public affairs manager (North East) with Forestry Commission, said: “Kielder lends itself to superlatives and the new trail will be a spectacular addition to the mountain biking scene in Britain.
“The forest park already boasts the country’s longest family and intermediate bike routes, the highest cross country trail and the toughest endurance event, helping to make it a prime mountain bike venue. Hosting downhill events throughout the winter each year is key in attracting more visitors to the area at a traditionally quiet time of year”
Northern Downhill is staging five races in northern Britain this year, culminating in a final joust for prizes at Kielder on October 20-21, when the new trail – which will be used for competitions only – will be employed for the first time.
Bike fans are being urged to join weekend trail building sessions. To find out more contact Philip Grimes on firstname.lastname@example.org
More details of bike routes at Kielder can be found at http://www.visitkielder.com