The Countdown is OVER!

Martyn Ashton riding Launchpad. Credit – Forestry England

Forestry England is pleased to announce that major work on some of its most popular mountain biking trails in the Forest of Dean has now been completed.

A maintenance programme worth £77,000 has seen the complete refurbishment of downhill trails Countdown and Launchpad, as well as sections of the much-loved blue graded Verderers Trail. Forestry England has invested around £68,000 to make this work happen, demonstrating their continued commitment to mountain biking in the Forest of Dean. Nearly £9,000 was kindly donated by riders in an online fundraiser hosted by the Dean Trail Volunteers(DTV) during the height of the pandemic.

First developed as a collaboration between DTV and Rough Riderz, Launchpad was opened in 2014 and is the only trail of its kind in the UK specifically designed for four-wheeled gravity bikes. Countdown was later added by DTV as a top section to Launchpad and both are popular with riders of all abilities. The refurbishment has been carried out in partnership with DTV and will future-proof the trails so they can continue to be enjoyed for years to come, by riders on both two and four wheels.

Earlier this week, Martyn Ashton, professional rider and presenter with the Global Mountain Bike Network (GMBN),was the first person to ride the newly surfaced trails. He said, 

“The first ride of Launchpad was like jumping on a roller coaster! It has so much flow to it, I was whooping and hollering all the way down. The accessibility is really important of course, but that has been built in without watering down the experience and making it feel lacking in any way. I’m looking forward to coming back and doing more laps that is for sure.”

The Verderers Trail, recently voted the best blue trail in England by readers of Mountain Biking UK, has also received some attention with resurfacing work on the first major climb and descent section. Back on Track Mountain Bike Solutions were brought in to carry out the maintenance work across all the trails.

Kate Thoday, Cycling Manager for Forestry England in the Forest of Dean said,

“The number of people visiting the Forest of Dean to ride on our cycle trails is growing year on year. During the busiest times we can see over 50,000 riders in a month. Whilst this is fantastic, it does take its toll on the trails.

Kate Thoday, Cycling Manager for Forestry England riding Countdown. Credit – Forestry England

We’re proud that over the last 12 months, Forestry England has invested around £180,000 into Cannop Cycle Centre and the cycle trail network. We work with DTV tomake the trails better, safer and more enjoyable to ride. Income we generate from car parking and membership makes it possible for us to make these kinds of investments and we are grateful for everyone’s support, as well as those who donated to the fundraiser. We are verypleased to reopen the trails and we can’t wait to give them a go ourselves!”

James Addison, Chairperson of the Dean Trail Volunteers said, 

“DTV are delighted that the overwhelming generosity of the public via the crowdfunding campaign in 2020, alongwith the substantial contribution by Forestry England, hasallowed DTV, Forestry England and Back on Track to complete a thorough re-development of both Launchpad and Countdown.

James Addison, Chairperson of Dean Trail Volunteers riding Launchpad. Credit – Forestry England

When the track was first built for 4 wheelers, we couldn’t have imagined how much of a firm favourite it would become with all riders. The new trail is a huge improvement and still retains the essence of everything that has made Launchpad and Countdown the hits they are. We look forward to seeing riders back on the trails for years to come.”

Care should be taken when riding the new sections for the first time. The trails have been completely re-shaped and so will be unfamiliar even to regular visitors. If you are planning on visiting the trails, please ride within your limits and always wear a helmet.


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