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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Forest of Dean Awayday experience

A small group of us headed down to the Forest of Dean on Sunday to try out the Verderer's trail. Everything starts from the cycle centre car park, which is easy to get to and the trails are clearly marked so there's no need for a map or gpx. The centre was very busy when we arrived but as there are three distinct activities here we were alone on the trail most of the time.

We decided to get straight onto the Verderer's and set off following the blue arrows that mark the route. The trail is only 7 miles long so it's short but boy is it lots of fun! It's graded as a blue but that's because it is very safe, not because it's timid. The trail is man made clay and stone, nice and wide, and the climbing is nice and steady. The descents are exhilarating with lots of sweeps with very big berms and table top runs that encourage you to find air and swing your bike below you just like the photo's in the magazines. (that's enough fantasy Ed.)
It's true to say that the descent is just awesome. We all skidded to a halt in the car park with big big grins, knowing that we could just nip round and do it all again straight away. I had an overwhelming feeling of 'glad I came, glad I'm here right now'.

We decided to try the red arrows we'd seen on our way round next. These mark the short 2.5 mile Freeminer route that is the original FODCA. It's a short detour off the Verderer's made up of very narrow and technical single track. It's technical because it's nearly all heavily rooted and in the wet I found it quite uncomfortable to ride. I was happy to get back on the Verderer's and more fast flowing fun.

The centre has a shop, a cafe and showers. There's plenty of seating outside but it get's all a bit cramped inside if the weather's a bit wet.

There's a long enduro trail that you can add to your Verderer's ride, an 11 mile family trail and 7 DH routes here too; so something for all the family.
If you fancy giving it a go it's a pleasant 90 miles along the A40 and you'll find the location mapped under the Rides link above. There are maps and gpx files and all the information you need here on the centre's web site 

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