Thetford Forest

KitsuneAndy

New Member
Location
Norwich
We spent today cycling around Thetford forest.

Both of us are complete novices when it comes to MTB'ing and cycling offroad other than the occasional gravel trail when we go cycling locally.

I'd consider myself fairly unfit, I'm overweight and dont do half as much exercise as I should, so we decided we'd start on the 'Green' track. Which was well, a nice ride, but fairly dull. (and who had the clever idea of making some of the tracks out of sand? There were bloody dunes in the middle of some of the tracks). Think we did about 6 or 7 miles on the Green track before moving on to the Blue track, expecting this to be more of a challenge. Only it wasn't, it was the same, but longer, not quite sure where the difficulty rating comes from.

We stopped for a bit of lunch and then thought 'we still have some time left, let's attempt a small stretch of the Red track'.

We were a little worried because of the description - "The Red route is a difficult and taxing ride. It is mostly single track winding between the trees and is a step up from the Green or Blue routes. For aspiring cyclists who enjoy a challenge."

Difficult and taxing? No, not really, atleast not in my opinion. But it was great fun, if we'd known how dull the Green and Blue tracks were compared to the Red we wouldn't have bothered with them.

So we will hopefully get back to Thetford soon and our plan is to do the full Red route (we used the shortcut as it was getting on and we had to cycle back to the train station in Brandon). And then move on to the Black route, maybe.

Does anyone have any experience of riding the Black route? They make it sound hard, but they made the Red route sound hard as well....

"The Black Mountain Bike Route is for experienced riders only. It has been graded as very difficult and highly technical. The tracks are narrow and difficult with varied surfaces. There are also very steep rises and decents. High levels of skill, experience and off-road knowledge with a high level of endurance fitness is required."

I'm up for a challenge, but I don't want to die :biggrin:

I think I also need some decent gloves, my hands ache now, argh.
 

Wobbly John

Veteran
The Black route is more challenging, but not difficult. The 'Beast of the East', parallel to the road from Mayday farm to Brandon country park, is a sort of 'rights of passage' ride. Windy, up & down rollercoaster, with trees that jump out at you.

You'll love it!
 
OP
KitsuneAndy

KitsuneAndy

New Member
Location
Norwich
User76 said:
My mother and brother both live in Brandon, and last year I went up to visit (we're not close!!) and took my bike. Now I'm no hard-core off-roader, but thought what the hell it's the Black Run for me:thumbsup: I honestly could not understand where they got the rating from, we normally cycle more tricky and technical routes to get to Rowberrow Warren where we tend to do most of our mtbing.

I think the problem may be that they have used the standard route descriptions, and when put in Thetford Forest they kind of don't really work when you may have just come from a weekend in Coed-y-Brenin or Afan or similar. On the flip side, I am sure they is some small measure of risk involved in using these guides. If you spent most of your time in Thetford doing the Black Run, then go to Afan (or similar) and do a comparably graded run for the first time, you will be on your arse or walking 80% of the time as the difference in skill level, fitness and experience is absolutely huge.

I think Thetford Forest should have it's own classification system, bespoke to the particular conditions found there. BTW I am not slagging off Thetford at all, just my observations!
That's kinda what I was thinking once I realised the 'Red' route wasn't actually difficult at all, just didn't want to commit to the black one without getting another persons opinion incase it was actually accurate :biggrin:

Think the plan for next time will definitely be to do the black route then!
 

barq

Senior Member
Location
Birmingham, UK
It's interesting that the Forestry Commission have been reviewing their grading system. Apparently it takes into account the mileage and the distance from civilisation as well as the actual technical difficulty of the trail. Furthermore it isn't absolutely standardised nationwide - so if you go to a big MTB centre in the mountains then you have to accept that black means something a bit more challenging.

The other thing is they have introduced a new orange rectangle because they were having problems with XC riders who were happy with double-black-diamond at Coed y Brenin setting off down some BIG downhill trail at Cwmcarn, or wherever, on an XC bike and then crashing badly.
 
OP
KitsuneAndy

KitsuneAndy

New Member
Location
Norwich
barq said:
It's interesting that the Forestry Commission have been reviewing their grading system. Apparently it takes into account the mileage and the distance from civilisation as well as the actual technical difficulty of the trail. Furthermore it isn't absolutely standardised nationwide - so if you go to a big MTB centre in the mountains then you have to accept that black means something a bit more challenging.

The other thing is they have introduced a new orange rectangle because they were having problems with XC riders who were happy with double-black-diamond at Coed y Brenin setting off down some BIG downhill trail at Cwmcarn, or wherever, on an XC bike and then crashing badly.
Just been looking at the Coed Y Brenin website, looks lovely! Obviously I'd probably die if I tried the longer track, but it definitely looks like a nice place to go.

The only problem we have is lack of transport, we can both drive, but don't have a car. So we either have to rely on public transport or find somewhere that will rent out a car with a cycle rack :biggrin:

Would like to try and get to some different places next year though, my parents live in Northumberland so if we can get the bikes up there I can make them run us about :biggrin:
 

stevenb

New Member
Location
South Beds.
It's nice round there.
I walked the orange route with my Ex just a couple of months ago...it was a beautiful day.....nice place and some darn good trails there!
 
Well they just published the course for this year's Dusk til Dawn at Thetford (in two weeks time) and the beast of the east is in it. At 5am having been riding all night on a skinfull of red bull and instant noodles I reckon it will be pretty black...
 

barq

Senior Member
Location
Birmingham, UK
KitsuneAndy said:
Just been looking at the Coed Y Brenin website, looks lovely! Obviously I'd probably die if I tried the longer track, but it definitely looks like a nice place to go.

The only problem we have is lack of transport, we can both drive, but don't have a car. So we either have to rely on public transport or find somewhere that will rent out a car with a cycle rack xx(
I try to get to Coed y Brenin twice a year and normally camp near Dolgellau for the full outdoor experience - and my god what an experience it was this so-called 'summer'! :sad: But even in bad weather CyB still works because it is very well designed. I love the fact that they have the full range from fireroads to rocky XC. The more technical trails have 'granny stoppers' at the start so don't panic if you seem to be doing an awful lot of climbing for the first ten minutes. :eek:

Maybe you should rent a small van. You see quite a lot of people at CyB with transit vans and the like. I imagine most of them are hired or borrowed from people's work.
 
OP
KitsuneAndy

KitsuneAndy

New Member
Location
Norwich
barq said:
I try to get to Coed y Brenin twice a year and normally camp near Dolgellau for the full outdoor experience - and my god what an experience it was this so-called 'summer'! xx( But even in bad weather CyB still works because it is very well designed. I love the fact that they have the full range from fireroads to rocky XC. The more technical trails have 'granny stoppers' at the start so don't panic if you seem to be doing an awful lot of climbing for the first ten minutes. :sad:

Maybe you should rent a small van. You see quite a lot of people at CyB with transit vans and the like. I imagine most of them are hired or borrowed from people's work.
That may well be a plan, will have to look into costs etc for next year. Currently keeping costs as low as possible is a priority as there's 2 of us living on one salary, which is a bit crap (and made even worse as I'm useless with money!)
 

Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
Location
S of Kendal
Slightly more accessible from Norfolk is Cannock Chase. There's plenty of good riding here including bridleways and prepared singletrack.

You can ride up onto the Chase from a number of railways stations in the various towns that ring the area.
 
OP
KitsuneAndy

KitsuneAndy

New Member
Location
Norwich
Well, that didn't quite go to plan. I forgot it was Dusk Till Dawn tonight so the Black route was closed off. So we did 1 lap of the full Red route and a second lap of the shortened version.

The only problem I find with Thetford is with us having to get the train to brandon and cycle to the forestry centre is that we have to carry everything with us (lunch, change of clothes etc). Would be handy if there were lockers for the public, even if they charged for them.
 
Top Bottom