On last weekends ride at Cannock Chase I was stood at the trailhead. I was looking at the folk rolling their bicycle transportation device out of the back of their even bigger and equally expensive automobile transportation device. It looked like some sort of niche, middle class, Russian Nesting Doll. All located in this huge car park in the middle of the forest. This got me thinking about the concept of trail centres.

The benevolent forestry forces have come together to create a network of maintained trails rideable all year round. The tree people have done all of this just for us even though our sport is only really on the fringe of public consciousness. A trail centre is an odd concept when you think about it. What if it’s a trap? What if we’re all being lured in to some evil lair? What if what we’re not actually riding on mountains?

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The unsuspecting herd ready to roll slowly into certain doom, and plaid trousers.

After spending a whole fire road climbs worth of time analysing this theory I concluded that these so called ‘trail centres’ are nothing but traps. Ambushes designed for a social cleansing of rad dads. Cannock Chase is a conspiracy to sanitise our minds and ‘correct’ all mountain bikers. They draw us all out of the forest, the Peak District, down from the fells and lure us in with convenience and coffees. Once our adventurous ambition is quelled they will complete the process by selling golf clubs in the bike shop, showing the PGA tour highlight on Pinkbike and turning the abundance of amazing natural trails into golf courses.

The worst thing is, the bike companies have been in on it all along. Hints about the long term plan were even dropped by companies like Orange over 20 years ago.

However, once you are on the path to enlightenment and you accept the golf like experience of trail centres you can have a bit of fun. The trails are always in good condition, you are guaranteed a predictable ride and stoke-o-meters easily tick away at 60% for a good hour or two. We must not forget the trails that lie beyond the crushed gravel though. For outside the ‘centres of trails’ the hills hold buckets of adventure oils which lubes the suspension of our mind.

The path to enlightenment…

On a non conspiratory note, trail centres like Cannock are great fun and a good way to get an easy thrill fix. We are very lucky to have access to trails like Cannock. They are only a good thing for getting new people into the sport and they also offer levels of progression for experienced riders alike. They are well built, brilliant bang for your buck and our group thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Cannock cult for the day. Besides, I think the process has already taken hold so I might as well sit back, give up the fight and read Golf Monthly.

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