Mountain bike racing is set to make a long-awaited return to Eastridge Woods after two years of hard work by volunteer trailbuilders. The Shropshire Hills venue was one of the first sites in the UK to host downhill and cross-country events back in the 1990s but had fallen into neglect over the past decade.
The Eastridge Trail Partnership (ETP) was set up in 2009 to restore the old trails, create new sections and improve drainage. Their effort has paid off, and two events later this year – round four of the UK Gravity Enduro series on 6 August and round four of the Midlands XC series on 4 September – promise to put the trails back on the racing map.
Sandy Plenty, co-founder of the ETP, said: “It's very important for us to have the racing coming back to Eastridge. It's great to see that the area is becoming really popular and the racing is the icing on the cake. Part of the reason we fell in love with Eastridge was the racing, because you had the best guys in the world coming down here. It's nice to see that we've been a part of making high-level racing return to Eastridge.”
The trails have been revamped with help from Shrewsbury School and servicemen from the local RAF base. Georgina Sharp, Forestry Commission recreation ranger, said: “We're delighted at the interest in Eastridge again. It's great woodland and it deserves to be enjoyed by as many people as possible.” She added that the compact nature of the woodland at Eastridge may have been a factor in racing returning there, with organisers looking for something different to what the larger venues offer.