Today (17 April 2014) some 50 mountain bike riders took part in mass descents of two new cross country mountain bike descent trails at Nevis Range Trail Centre located near Fort William in the Outdoor Capital of The UK.
The beginner trail was opened by Ronnie Fulford (9) and the intermediate trail by Fergus Beradelli and Alistair Poll. The ride out included families, adult and children from the Lochaber area and beyond and of all skills and ages, from 3 years upwards. There was a large range of bikes including cross country mountain bikes, a trailer bike, a tag along bike and a trike bike.
The new trails will be able to be ridden by a much wider range of mountain biker than the existing trails, including families and small children. Combined with the tracks already in place at Nevis Range the new trails will give riders the opportunity to build their all mountain skills from beginner to world cup rider in one top class location.
The green (beginner) and blue trails (intermediate) are part of a larger £229,363 project, funded by sportscotland, Highland and Islands Enterprise, Nevis Range and West Highland Wheelers, to enhance the biking opportunities at Nevis Range for young people at all levels through Active Schools programmes, coach lead skills development and performance training.
A further phase of the project will see the addition of two more jump lines (graded orange) built alongside the World Cup Downhill dirt jumps and an easy ‘up’ trail to allow mountain bikers an interesting ascent to the beginning of all the new trails.
The new trails were constructed by Highland based contractors Mark Hedderwick (Hitrak Ltd, Beauly) and Eenie MacGillivray (Acharacle) along with the Nevis Range bike track team.
Both tracks are descents, accessed initially by forest road, and will have mini features to encourage the skills of budding downhillers while still remaining in keeping with cross country trail standards.
The CATS EYES green-graded cross country descent has wide berms and rollover features. Features it can be ridden as a flat track or utilising the big wide open berms, with a rolling trail through the trees beside a burn. It’s at least 1.5m wide and is rideable by a trailer bike.
The BLUE ADDER blue-graded cross country descent is a mix of 80m of wide boardwalk, with chicken wire and gentle berms, followed by a series of flowing twists and turns, at least 1m wide.
Both new tracks are accessed by a 2km climb up a forestry road and finish by the Pinemarten cafe bar.
The Nevis Range trail centre is already home to the UCI World Cup Downhill track, the Nevis Red and 48km of cross country trails including the World Championships loop, but the majority of the tracks are more suited to the committed mountain biker.
Marian Austin, MD of Nevis Range said: “‘Nevis Range is well known for the Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup which takes here every year, but what many people don’t realise is that there are fantastic cross country trails here too including the mini skills loops. Over the last few years funding has concentrated on retaining the World Cup events and building our unique Red Giant cross country trail accessed by Gondola. It is now recognised that we need to encourage more people to develop the skills to be able to ride these World Class trails and they have to start on easier trails with achievable challenges."
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has supported the business by investing over £40,000 into the project. Elaine Jones, HIE development manager, commented: “Nevis Range has worked hard to expand the range of facilities at the centre, both for skiing and mountain biking. This range provides a great opportunity to attract the widest possible groups of people, including getting families and children involved. We are delighted to support this ambitious local business as it drives forward exciting activities for visitors into the future.”
Louise Martin CBE, Chair of sportscotland, said: “Mountain biking in Scotland is going from strength to strength, and more people than ever before are keen to become involved, inspired by what they have seen at the Olympics and right here at the Nevis Range at World Cup events.
“At sportscotland we are delighted to invest in these accessible routes to provide more and better opportunities for people to try the sport. It’s so exciting to think that someone could go from trying their first trail to riding the tracks used by the best athletes in the world all in one place.”
Kevin Peace, Forestry Commission Scotland's District Manager in Lochaber Scotland said “We’re delighted to be working with partners to develop a network of exhilarating and challenging world-class trails in Scotland’s forests, which help make the country such a big hit on the mountain biking world map. We have many award-winning trails which are suitable for beginners to world class bikers so everyone has the chance to enhance their cycling skills by progressing from one track to the next.”