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A new off-road trail for Aston Hill in the Chilterns

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The Chilterns is home to Aston Hill, a Forestry Commission owned area dedicated to off-road mountain biking famous for its downhill runs created by our very own Off-Road Officer, Ian Warby. An added attraction is a new trail, 'Surface to Air'...
Senior Off-Road Officer, Ian Warby, tests the trails at Aston Hill
Senior Off-Road Officer, Ian Warby, tests the trails at Aston Hill

Aston Hill has long been a favourite of riders across the South-East, including riders and writers for Mountain Bike Rider (MBR) magazine.  It is situated just outside Wendover in the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty and features five graded downhill (DH) runs, a 4X track and a two-part cross-country (XC) loop. It is a great venue for riders of all ages and abilities with something to challenge everyone, although in the winter months it is more suited to competent riders.

In 1996, before he worked for the CTC, a young Ian Warby approached the Forestry Commission about an awkward piece of woodland too steep to be of commercial use. With some fast learning about sustainable trails, a lot of hard graft and input from a world-class downhiller (Rob Warner helped to design the infamous Black Run), Ian converted a forestry off-cut into one of the premier mountain bike centres in the south east of England, and introduced Aston Hill into southern mountain bike folklore.

Now working as CTC's Senior Off-Road Officer, Ian passed a lot of the responsibility over to the volunteer-based Aston Hill Committee and, with their help, its popularity is sure to grow with the opening of their newest trail at the venue.

Called ‘Surface to Air’, the new trail aims to replicate the legendary experience of Whistler’s A-Line trail with a string of jumps, berms and drops. Watch the video to see it emerge from the chalk and earth to the delight of all involved.

Work has been completed on all of the tracks since the Committee took over in 2008: nearly every track has been tuned to add interest and reduce permanent damage to the Hill. Both XC and DH-based beginners can improve here very quickly under supervision using the lower graded runs and the top section of the XC loop, especially on one of the many MTB training courses run by Firecrest MTB.

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