Normally I’m not what you’d regard as a monarchist, but I have to admit the extra Bank Holiday for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was very welcome. God save the Queen, and all that… especially if he throws in some extra days off. I decided to ride somewhere completely new to celebrate. That somewhere was Sherwood Pines.
I’ve pondered riding Sherwood Pines for many, many years now, but somehow never got around to it. I have been there before, for a holiday back in 2019 with my mom and Mini-Toast (Mr Toast was in San Fransisco for Google I/O at the time), but never got any riding in. It was a slightly bittersweet experience as I pulled into the entrance and passed the sign for the Forest Holiday cabins – it was the last holiday my mom ever took, and when I first realised that something was really amiss with her health. I made her promise to see a doctor when she got back, and less than a month later they confirmed that she had a mass in her oesophagus.
It was a lovely holiday though, despite what came after, and I’ll always have fond memories of my mom and Mini-Toast zooming around – mom on her hired off-road mobility scooter, Mini-Toast on his little green Strider balance bike, so with the sadness there was also smiles.
Still, I hoped to make new memories, and to scout the place as a potential venue for family biking trips. Sherwood Pines has always been maligned for having an easy red route, which for me, is a strong selling point – not just for the family potential, but also just for me.
I rode the blue first, just to warm up. It was pleasant enough, but exceedingly tame. Emboldened, I felt that I was well up for giving the red a go. And honestly… it was an absolute winner. I loved it. It was fast and flowy, and reminded me a lot of the old Follow the Dog. There were no tight turns, either uphill or downhill, just super zoom wide turns and berms to keep speed. It was nice to ride a trail where I felt completely comfortable, even though it had sections called HELLFIRE ALLEY and DEATH VALLEY.
When I set out I’d been plotting to do the blue once or twice, then the red, then go on an explore. But honestly, I loved the red so much I did it three times. It’s a relatively flat trail, but as I said, super fun and they use the elevation that they do have well. I was surprised at how little fireroad there was a well – it’s got a pretty high percentage of singletrack making up the trail.
Where there downsides? Not hugely. The last section was closed and diverted, but I can live with that. The signage from the visitor centre is a bit vague (especially for the blue), but nothing unsurmountable. They’ve changed the name of the trails (Kitchener is now the Outlaw trail and the Viking trail is the Adventure trail) which can also add to the confusion as there’s still a bit of a mix and match of waymarkers. But otherwise? Cracking trail, nicely maintained (looks like some stuff has been resurfaced fairly recently), and I will fight anyone who says it’s rubbish.