Forestry Commission Chair, Sir William Worsley officially opened the impressive new cycling facilities on Friday 20 May at Forestry England Cannock Chase Forest.
Showcased at the event was ‘Perry’s Trail’, an off-road trail for intermediate riders which is going to be used as the backbone of the course that will host the mountain bike competition at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games this summer.
With only 69 days until the Games, Forestry England welcomed guests including the Lord Lieutenant for Staffordshire, Ian Dudson, and Commonwealth Games Minister, Nigel Huddleston and local MPs Amanda Milling and Theo Clarke, to thank them for their support in developing this popular visitor destination’s cycling facilities.
The funding that was secured from partners including Sport England, British Cycling and local councils, allowed Forestry England to develop the new blue-graded trail that will be used during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, plus a first of its kind bike play trail called ‘Pedal and play’. This was designed in partnership with British Cycling and aims to inspire the next generation of cross-country mountain bikers.
Children from Burton Manor School were invited to the event and received coaching lessons from British Cycling. This took place on the pedal and play which has already proved to be a very popular addition to the forest, teaching many children from the local community to master the pedals.
Guests also had the opportunity to ride the new ‘Perry’s Trail’ and were led by a British Cycling Go Ride Coach. Secured as part of the project, the British Cycling coach will continue to work at Cannock Chase Forest until 2023, to encourage as many people as possible from a range of backgrounds and skill level to take up, and to continue to develop participation in cycling.
Sir William said: “It was fantastic to show all our partners today the impressive and hugely beneficial development of the cycling facilities at Cannock Chase Forest.
“It is clear the new cycling centre really benefits the local community, by encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle whilst also connecting people with the fantastic forest environment.”
Commonwealth Games Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “This site is not only playing host to one of the many exciting Birmingham 2022 sporting events, but is also levelling up access to cycling facilities for all and leaving a lasting legacy for the local community.
“Thanks to Games Partners and local councils, the new facilities at Cannock Chase will inspire the next generation of mountain bikers, conserve beautiful woodland and promote both the environmental and health benefits of getting on a bike.”
Andy Harvey-Coggins, Recreation Manager, Forestry England Cannock Chase Forest, said: “We have wanted to further develop our cycling offer at Cannock Chase Forest for a long time and being selected as the mountain biking venue for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games really was the catalyst to make our dreams a reality.
“The funding from Sport England allowed us to develop our mountain biking offer and make the forest a cycling centre of excellence for the West Midlands.
“It was great to welcome all the funding organisations today, to showcase the incredible facilities we now have! We hope to continue to encourage as many people as possible to participate in cycling and hope we can inspire the next generation of Commonwealth champions.”
Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England CEO, said: “Sport England’s investment into the Games is to support people to get active now and the future – especially those that face the most barriers to getting active. The community value of Cannock Chase Forest will last well beyond the end of the Commonwealth Games; it’s a sporting destination that the whole nation can be proud of.”
The new cycling facilities are already proving popular with riders and the Games this summer will see Cannock Chase Forest firmly on the global mountain biking map.
Dominic Olliff, Director of Venues, for Birmingham 2022, said: “Cannock Chase Forest is going to be a superb venue for Birmingham 2022 and the men’s and women’s mountain bike events, which will be held on 3 August, will be extremely exciting, with highly skilled cyclists from across the Commonwealth taking part.
“However, just as exciting for us is knowing that the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has been the catalyst for the creation of the new pedal and play area, which will be a wonderful legacy for the Games, providing a fantastic facility for young people to enjoy for years to come and giving them chance to get active and develop new cycling skills.”
The mountain bike events for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will be held on August 3, 2022. Please go to birmingham2022.com to find out more.