POSTMAN Ian Jones has taken a break from his rounds to deliver first class forest cycling trails.
Ian, 44, who lives in Rothbury in Northumberland, is putting his own stamp on a project to turn Kielder Water and Forest Park into one of Europe’s top mountain biking destinations.
Keen biker Ian, who is taking a career break after 24 years with the Royal Mail, has been appointed as one of two supervisors to oversee the construction of 33 kilometres of new trails.
When opened next spring, the routes will give Kielder one of England’s biggest single track networks, part of a £850,000 investment in off-road facilities by the Kielder Partnership.
Contractors are now forging ahead with the project.
Ian said: “My job is to help turn the vision into a reality, looking after the longer of two new routes, a 18.7 kilometre ‘red’ trail which will be the first purpose- built cross Border track.
“We’ve built just over a third of it so far, with teams often working after nightfall using powerful spotlights to get the job done.”
Ian became passionate about mountain biking in the 1990s. He has taken part in scores of competitions, including the World Master’s Championships this summer in France, while also being an active member of the Cheviot Hill Riders club.
“We are doing OK despite all the rainfall, which adds to the difficulty of working in such a remote spot,” he said.
“Although we have the design carefully mapped out, we can tweak it on the ground to include features like berms and turns that work well. The key is to use an expert eye to get the most out of the terrain.”
A 10-metre- long bridge is also being built to span Plashetts Burn, along with a one kilometre elevated wooden boardwalk section to speed riders over a valuable wetland area.
Alex MacLennan, recreation, communities and tourism manager with the Forestry Commission, said: “We’ve used mapping systems to plot routes that steer clear of sensitive conservation sites.
“It’s impossible to overestimate the challenges of pushing through such a big project in England’s remotest corner. But we are making solid progress.“