Ride Guide – Dalby Forest
Tucked away in the east riding of Yorkshire around 45 minutes from the city of York is Dalby Forest, or The Yorkshire Forest as it is marketed to the public.
There are a wide range of activities for other non-mountain biking humans so you’re going to have to share the car park with the ‘footwalkers’. Luckily the jewel in the crown of Dalby Forest, the 21.5 mile red route, is long enough to allow you find your inner peace a few miles in.
First things first; the facilities at Dalby forest are excellent. The visitors centre is set up to assist you in lightening your wallet without you even noticing, indeed some may baulk at the £8 entrance fee, but if some of that money is being ploughed back into the trails then it is a price worth paying. There are two different cafes and an excellent bike shop, Dalby Bike Barn, which will keep you busy before and after your ride. As far as we know there aren’t any pressure washers to clean off the bike after your ride, although this gave us an opportunity to test out our new Aqua2Go mobile washer (a review of that to follow soon).
You can try out the green, blue and black routes but the most fun is to be found on the long varied red route which starts at the visitors centre, although you could easily pick it up from Dixon’s Hollow car park halfway round. The 21.5 mile route has a variety of single track mixed with a little fire road, including a number of seemingly never ending climbs which allude to the trails world cup cross country heritage.
After an initial and punishing climb straight out of the car park you’ll get to enjoy some swooping, steep descents through the trees although every metre down is rewarded with a quick mash on the pedals to temporarily gain altitude again. You wont find the wooden board walks of Gisburn Forest or the steep techy feel to Stainburn but Dalby’s red route has a lot to offer those willing to see it through to the end. The soil is sandy in the forest and drains well so expect the trails to stay relatively dry even into the winter. Dalby’s red route reminds us of some of the Scottish trail centres like Glentress, where long switchback climbs are rewarded with flowing descents through the trees. If you like the 7stanes then you will probably enjoy Dalby just as much (dare I say it, if not more!).
Despite Dalby being relatively XC orientated there are a number of difficult features to enjoy but chief amongst them is the short descent referred to as ‘Vera Lynn’, which will test out your ability to pick your way through a rock-strewn descent. Last time we were there we witnessed it claim a riders rear derailleur, and it is pretty clear that won’t have been its last victim.
In addition to Vera Lynn it would be remiss of us not to mention the fantastic developments to the Blue route which are worth enjoying at the end of the red route. There are long sweeping sections with wide berms and table tops that should appeal to beginners and pros alike. It’s designed to push you to go faster and to hit the jumps harder, just be sure not to slam on the brakes or you’ll be picking gravel out of your teeth for weeks.
There are whole sections of flowing singletrack where I am pretty I just zoned out. None of these sections are particularly challenging but the endless back and forth through well sculpted berms with minimal pedalling will leave you in a trance. Sometimes this is just what is needed after a long week at work.\
Half way round the red route you will find Dixon’s Hollow with its pump track, jump park, wooden boarded sections and beginner-friendly downhill runs. Hopefully the first few climbs haven’t worn you out and you can spend time session the table top line and the pump track to your hearts content. You’ll also find a surprisingly large number of riders there, despite hardly having passed another soul for the first few miles. From the looks of it Singletraction trail crew have more for us in store at Dixon’s Hollow so watch this space.
Given the pretty consistent ‘up and down’ nature of Dalby a downhill bike is out of the question, though expect to see a few in action at the Dixon Hollows jumps spot. A 120- 140mm trail bike (160mm at most) is probably the best tool for the job, although hitting the red route on a mid-travel hardtail would probably be just as enjoyable and would suitably pay homage to Pace Cycles involvement in the development of the trail network in the forest. Given the length of the trail you will probably want to pack some snacks (a lot of snacks in our case), a tube and pump and some tools in case you ‘interact’ with the numerous rocks around the course.
If you are looking for a long ride that will challenge your fitness and your abilities then you could do a lot worse than give Dalby’s red route a go. There are enough technical features to keep it interesting and we are sure there must be a number KOM’s to aim for. If you do make the journey to East Yorkshire then let us know how you get on.
August 27, 2016