Saturday 25th Sept 2010 – Hamsterley
I started out by following the Red trail. This follows a wide path from the car park and not much happens for the first mile or so. After crossing the road it was a big climb up a track. This passes through the Descend Hamsterley downhill area. There were a lot of riders on the trails there. The next signpost gave me the option of the Section 13 extension. This involved more climbing up a track. It was well worth it though: Section 13 is a brilliant bit of flowing downhill with a lot of rock jumps, kickers, berms, a corkscrew and some tabletops. I liked it so much that I did it four times. The Hamsterly Trailblazers are a local club dedicated to improving the trails in the forest and this is one of their initiatives.
I then called in at the Descend Hamsterley hut for a cup of tea and a pie. They gave me a load of duct tape so I could make a poor mans headcam using my compact camera.
After Section 13 I was in a good mood and prepared to accept a bit of boring trail. After several kilometres of wide track I wasn’t so happy. Fire road heaven. The view was alright though. I was riding along thinking “a bad day riding is still better than an excellent day in the office” when I encountered race marshalls. They were running a 121 race. This means 1 bike, 2 events, 1 rider. They were using the Transmission Line section plus some custom trails. I followed all of this to the race finish. The Transmission Line section is similar to Seection 13, meaning flowing trail with large berms, optional rock features, kickers, table tops and jumps. The race route had a really tight section through the trees over roots too.
I took a guess on the race route and ended up doing the Black descent, which was also great. I followed the race route back to the top of the Transmission line and did it again before riding back to the car park.
The verdict: Section 13 and Transmission Line were great trail and just about made up for the boring stuff.
I then gave the Black route a go. I liked this. I had some steep climbing and a lot of interesting descent. It wasn’t ridiculous “off a cliff” black. As luck would have it this goes up past Section 13, so I took another tour of this. I ended by following the Black trail back to the car park.
By the end of the day I’d got my fix of biking. It was just a matter of finding the best bits. I understand that the Trailblazers want to build more single track on the Red route; it’s going to be a really good trail once a few more sections are complete.
My recommended route is: Black trail from car park to Section 13. Do that a few times. Follow the Red trail round to the Transmission Line section. Follow Red to Road, then turn right, over bridge, up hill back to Section 13. Do that again, then turn right at the bottom and follow the Black trail back to the car park.