The 8 - Red Trail
The 8 is split into two distinctive loops, the bottom one
has extensive sections of volunteer built singletrack and shares some of the
blue route. The top loop was contractor built and has bigger features.
Cocklett Hill car park will give you the chance to warm up with some mellow
singletrack and fire road taking you across the reservoir causeway and bringing
you out on the first section of volunteer built singletrack. Circle takes you
away from the fire road and gradually climbs up through the forest, initially
following a stream but then diving into the woods in a tight twisty upward climb
with a couple of small step ups and roots to contend with. Having had a taster
of the volunteer built stuff you've got a short fire road climb to the start of
Homebaked proper. For many riders
this is their favourite section, as it was hand built there was no need to clear
a path through the trees for machinery keeping it very tight and often very
dark. A short rocky qualifier section quickly leads you into the trees and then
back out to follow the line of a wall (this is the part a full suss can really
help). You plunge back into the forest after this, the trees are very close
together and this section is often more like riding in twilight than daylight. Those with oversize bars beware, there is one point with literal only
inches to spare either side. There are few sections in other trails centres with
a similar feel. A short steep rocky climb takes you back into the light
before a another couple of hundred metres get you to the top.
From here it's downhill, it's tight, it's twisty,
it's fast, there's berms, there's roots and not a lot of room for error
(think speeder bikes from return of the Jedi without the teddy bears). The highlight (or nemesis) for many is the rocky staircase near
the end. It's a lot grippier than it looks, honest! Speed here is really your
friend although it doesn't always feel like it. Once you've negotiated
the final few yards you'll drop back onto the fire road but almost
immediately you drop back onto the trees for one final shot of
singletrack culminating in a second steep rocky drop (or a chicken run
over the bridge if your nerves have had it).
A fire road climb now ensues taking you up to the
crossing point or middle of the 8. It's now decision time, you can nip
off the fire road and have a play on the woodwork or save that for the
return leg. Personally I refer to tackle it with fresh legs! A section
of boardwalk leads into the trees and onto the first log ride, this one
being at ground level to get your eye. A tight switch back with a nasty
root follows (you'll know the one if you've ridden it) before the log
hall on Vimeo.
|This section is
graded black and will really test your nerve and balance. At
four feet off the ground it's not one to get wrong. If you don't
fancy making the turn in the middle there is a chicken run off
the end of the first log (and a chicken run around both logs).
Clear the logs and there are a couple of
short narrow bridges to contend with, both requiring a bit of
speed to get onto them. Then it's downhill, across the board
walk and back onto the fire road.
If you enjoyed this section you can do it
all over again on the return leg.
Moving on up the fire road takes you to a
steep climb up to the Quarry and the top of the Hope Line.
The Hope Line gives you another opportunity to
stop and play, just remember you've got to come up that fire road again.
on 'The 8' takes you to the start of the upper loop. Tthrough the quarry
negotiating a number of rocky step ups and back into the trees and onto one of Gisburn's unique singing boardwalk sections built using
split larch logs. Grippy in most conditions but worthy of respect if it's icey.
Into an area of clear fell next with the
singletrack becoming a line of monolithic rock slabs end to end, need to
keep you momentum up here. Back into the trees again for a section of
berms finishing in steep switch backing climb.
The trail now climbs upwards to reach Whelpstone Crag.
Resembling a 4X course there's multiple line choices here and the
opportunity to session the best line.
Here you'll also find a number of black line options and the infamous slab. With
a gradient in excess of 45 degrees and a rocky run out it's another test
of nerves and control. Possibly best not attempted if the the winds up
as it's pretty exposed up here.
playing on the hill top you drop down through a series of superb sandy berms to
reach one of the star attractions, Hully Gully. This section is also known as
the roller coaster. Graded black (for good reason) it starts with a qualifier
drop in followed by a few small berms before hitting the gully
proper and the BIG berms which are over 30ft tall. Let the bike take you, lay
off the brakes and don't try and stop at the top of the berms and you'll find
yourself flying up the valley side. It can get a tad slippery when wet, you've
been warned. Surviving those throws into a serious
of sharp drops on various surfaces, there's not a lot of room for error on this
section as the trail clings to the side of the gully with a good 20ft drop into
the stream below on your right. Finally you're flung flinging you out through the ruined
farm buildings at the bottom ready for a couple of water crossings. These can be
deep and fast in the winter and after heavy rain!
If you don't fancy defying gravity on the berms there is
a red graded alternative if you carry on down the fire road which is still a
fast ride to the bottom.
the adrenaline there's a leg buring fire road climb to take back up to the
Bottoms?! Swift singletrack takes you to the rooty goodness of the drop to the
stream. A steep climb up the other side takes you to more new berms enhancing some of the old singletrack
before returning to the log rides again (if you've still got the bottle and legs
to have a second go).
A gentle fire road pootle brings you to a fast
down hill fire road. What a waste of gradient, or at least that's what
the volunteers thought. Singletrack is currently being built to remove
all of this fire road section which is likely to open in late 2012.
It'll start off mellow and meandering before becoming more like the end
of Hully Gully, clinging to the side of the river gully, swooping up and
down the banks before crossing the stream to exit opposite the blue. For
now though you'll have to wait for construction to be completed, but it
should be worth the wait. The blue awaits with more sweeping berms and a
couple of bridges before coming back onto the final fire road climb.
Singletrack then skirts around Stephen Park to take you across another
boardwalk section and the climb up to the final descent. As if you
haven't already had enough berms the run into the car park is a series
of left and right berms running into each other one after another.
- Blue Trail
blue graded Bottoms Beck route initially follows the same route as the
red but quickly diverts down some blue graded singletrack taking you
down and around Dalehead Church before bringing you back to the red
route to cross Stocks reservoir.
Out onto Eggberry road, the blue trail contours
around valley sides above the stream feeding the reservoir following
this ancient and bumpy road. As the fire road starts to climb the trail
diverts onto a section of old railway constructed to bring stone down to
dam during the construction of reservoir.
This gentle section of singletrack brings you out at the bottom of
the fire road climb up to the crossing point of 'The 8'. As an
alternative more demanding route the singletrack on the Circle and
Homebaked sections can be ridden instead of Eggberry road.
onto the flat of 'The 8' crossing the fire road the trail heads out to
the East of the forest until you come to a fork in the fire roads.
Taking the right hand fork, the fire road gradually gets steeper and
speeds pick up as you head back down to the stream. The trail now heads
back towards the car park taking in the two sections of blue graded
singletrack shared with the red trail. The first starts with a series of
berms with the gradient in your favour before trending more uphill. A
couple of bridge crossings and some tight switch backs bring you back to
the fire road which runs parallel above this section of trail.
then skirts around Stephen Park to take you across another boardwalk
section, wider and flatter than the boardwalk on the red, it never the
less requires concentration. The penalty for not quite getting it right
is a soft, albeit rather wet landing in the swamp it crosses. The
singletrack then climbs back up the hill, switch backing amongst the
trees to line you up for the final bermed descent to the car park. The
berms can be taken slowly or ridden flat out what ever your preference.