As my bleary eyes cleared and my ears became accustom to ignoring the Garmin Lady's voice, Andrew, Ian and myself rolled into the sleepy market town of Leighton Buzzard to meet Ian Warby. Ian is the Senior Off-Road Development Officer at CTC (since 2006) and is working to develop the mountain biking scene nationally in partnership with leading experts in the field, or more likely in the woods. He is also developing the CTC's mountain bike skills training and a National Standard for off-road skills training. We were here to visit some of the projects he was working on, have a guided tour of some projects similar to the BCC allotment and generally get inspiration for our own trail system.
Leighton Buzzard must be the luckiest town in the country. Due to money from the lottery/Olympic future thingy, the town has £30 per person for a population about the same as Frome to develop a range of cycling venues around the town. We visited the future site of some dirt jumps, a pikey jump spot made good, a pump track in the initial build stages, and a mini north shore style trail also in the initial build stages. All with the aim of making kids so tired they "can't be arsed to smash the s#*t out of a bus stop"
For lunch we grabbed some pies and headed for a Dirt Jump picnic. The jumps had been built on landfill capped with clay so drainage was proving to be a bit of an issue, but they had built 4 sets of jumps varying from beginner table tops all the way up to large advanced gap lines and a cheeky pump track at the bottom. Ian described the problems involved in the build, emphasising the need for a digger driver that understood what was trying to be created and the priceless knowledge of a local trail boss to really help shape things up.
Next stop was Woburn. Many of you will have seen the legendary Woburn dirt jumps on video but seeing the trails is something else! This place is incredible, the shear size of the jumps and the variety of possible lines boggles the mind. Coupled with a maze of random downhill trails we were running around like kids in a candy shop when the shop master had popped out back to restock the sherbert dib dabs. The dirt is very sandy which makes building fast and drainage of no consequence. It turns out that Woburn's maze of downhill tracks are both a blessing and a burden. Unlike many "bike parks" (for want of a better word) Woburn has no club pushing the area in a specific direction, instead this area is allowed to exist and has evolved with people building new lines all the time creating a bewildering lattice of trails rather than a selection of fully resolved trails. The trails looked like good fun to ride but we jumped back into cars and set of for Chicksands.
Chicksands is is primarily managed by the Forestry Commission and run by Beds Fat Trax.