Thursday, 13 June 2013

A couple of days at Swinley Forest!

The summer is sort of here and the weather is getting better, my son is now 14 days old and my other half tells me I should go out on the bikes as she does not want me to stop riding and it is strange when I am not out on the bikes at the weekend (she bakes pie too!) so i did.

Now that the new trail system at Swinley Forest aka The Lookout was complete and had time to set in and hopefully dry out a little after all the rain. So I give the bike a once over and check up, went with Stumpy (SWorks Stumpjumper) as Stumpys' Estranged Cousin (Session8) would make me do lots of things that would make my Chiropractor unhappy, almost healed though :)

I identified a good run that starts on Blue Route, completes the Red Route then finishes off on the second half of the Blue Route. Some of the old trails are still there so you can take a detour for some of the jumps etc. Day one was sunny and a good 20 degrees Celsius so the air was dry and the trail was dusty and far more loose than it had been the previous couple of trips, it had dried out nicely so that added a twist to the routes as the trails were loose and dusty.

I managed to fit the handle bar mount for my ContourHD to stumpy, still think it needs a bit of an old inner tube around the bar and I managed to reconfigure it during the two days so hopefully the image is a bit more stable. I managed to record quite a few videos which I will add below. The Blogger video up-loader has been causing random errors so hopefully the videos work.

Blue Route

First impression of the blue route was it was smooth and fast flowing with decent berms. The route is designed as a mid level out of the current trails. The route can be used by those new to experience what is XC/DH mountain biking as there are not many technical areas so it is a good area to practice. For those that are experienced you can just run the route faster and the course does seem to accommodate the faster moving riders.

The beginning of the route is sanded with decent berms for high speed although there is quite a lot of hill climbing (not the session 8 strong point)

The above video shows one of the descents between hills and you can easily throw the bike around the corners, there is plenty of space. There is the odd little jump by design but I have also noticed additional larger jumps strategically placed at certain points while descending the route. I do not know if they were supposed to be there but they are not bad for a little air time.

The trail gets to a point which some may recognize if you ever followed the endurance route and is somewhere near pudding hill. The trail snakes across the hill side before taking you to a relatively flat area.

The route descends a little before leading you to a fire road where it links up with the Red Route. Once completing the Red Route following the Blue Route back to the look out is fairly flat and snakes across the forest. The route follows a couple of hills and is a fast flowing section and the later part of this route is more fun than the first half.

The rest of route has climbs and decent decents and massive berms, the route still has the smooth flat location although there is a bit of rubble in places. The end of the route has a pretty steep climb until one last decent and flat section before returning to the Lookout.

Overall the blue route is not too technical but can be fast, families and new riders use this route so when using this route keep an eye out for slow riders or children.

Red Route

The red route is the highest level available at Swinley and is not designed for beginners, it starts with a fairly long twisty section which remains relatively level but the trail is mostly rubble and dirt trail but has some interesting corners which I can only describe as a snooker pocket.

The above shows a twisty section through a gully near the tank traps which can be fast flowing and tests cornering ability if heading in at speed which the previous section does allow just remember there is a drop before entering the gully.

The route enters a denser part of the forest and becomes hilly with some good decents. There are some good corners too but depending on the weather you will need to keep an eye on some of them.

One of my favorite parts is near the reservoir and is a fast flowing decent with jumping sections. There are often people hanging around there repeating the jump, there is a good lead time so they should spot you but if not keep an eye out.

The route then moves up to the DH section and takes you down Deer Stalker which is similar to Deer Chaser next to it. The route then heads into the labyrinth, there is a diversion as the route is not completed due to ground nesting birds but eventually heads to a pretty big hill which can take it out of you especially after going through the labyrinth. It is worth the effort as the next bit is pretty fun and there are often jump and downhill bikes repeating the section.

The trail then hits a fire road which loops back to the beginning of the red route, following the blue route will head back to the Lookout.

The Red route is a big step up when compared with the Blue Route and has far more technical sections and good descents and jump sections. There are still families and beginner riders using this routes as well but you often have less reaction time than the Blue Route.

All in all a good couple of days with lots of riding, wonder if they are going to build more routes.....