Back in 2010, or maybe it was as long ago as 2009, I made the pilgrimage down to Tavistock, and more specifically Gawton, with Editor Mike Rose and Jake the (then) ‘Tea Boy’ in the old red Dirt Van to see what all the fuss was about on a wooded hillside overlooking the Tamar river on the border between Devon and Cornwall… YOU KNOW LIKE…WELL DONE…A PROPER JOB ‘INNIT
From Dirt Issue 130 – December 2012
Words by Jon Gregory. Photos by Jacob Gibbins.
Ignorant as I was about the topography of the land I wasn’t expecting too much and I was confident that the borrowed Mondraker Kaiser rattling away in the back of the van was going to be too much bike. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Gawton, and specifically the two black graded trails of ‘Super Tavi’ and ‘Egypt’ are as a ball–shrinkingly intimidating as they get. There are sections in both that require some serious bike handling skill and commitment, and when it gets wet then even more so. It is ‘all or nothing’ for only the most confident of riders, and it was a fitting place to inherit the ‘Dirt 1:04’ moniker from a challenging and rocky hillside in Wales a couple of years back. Search ‘Gawton 1:04’ on the Dirt website and you will be treated to some short riding lessons from some of the worlds best posting some plain ‘silly’ times down ‘Super Tavi’…it will also give you an insight (once you have ridden there) as to how some of the top riders go around some of the more tricky steep and tight switchbacks, of which there are many. Mind warping stuff.
So, alongside the two black graded trails of ‘Super Tavi’ and ‘Egypt’ the hill has a more sedate and manageable affair in the red graded ‘HSD’ or ‘High Speed Descent’. Succinctly described by many who have ridden it as, ‘an overgrown pumptrack’ or a ‘pumptrack on steroids’. From our experience it was just plain flowy fun from top to bottom and something that could be ridden with ease on every type of mountainbike. Accessible. Three tracks, one fairly easy and two very hard…with nothing in between. That was until now of course…and the all–new ‘Proper Job’.
The three original tracks were designed and built by Rowan Sorrell and his Back–on–Track team. The new trail is a more home–grown affair, and following funding form the Mountainbike Development Project it was designed and built by the Gawton Gravity Hub themselves (or the Woodland Riders as they were formerly known). Volunteers chipped in bringing the total man–count to nearly 90. The quality of the build is very much in keeping with what Rowan and the boys achieved with HSD. You can expect a well surfaced trail with big neatly constructed berms and rollers cut in to the side of the hill.
From the start mound you give it a couple of cranks before slamming in to five perfect back–to–back corners which instantly build speed and get you ‘in the fun zone’…and you pretty much stay that way till you hit the last couple of drops–to–berms that spit you out at the bottom, ragged, pumped and smiling. Blind drops, doubles and manual opportunities are mixed up with a man–made rock garden that’s about 50 metres long, which tests your line execution and commitment.
Overall the track is steeper with more technical sections than HSD. It sits firmly in the realms of something you might expect to find on an alpine bike park track. Lots of flow, with good use of the hillside, drops, compressions, pumps and elevation. No need to use the cranks too much at all on this one. I loved it…just the right balance of speed, flow and…when ridden back to back with ‘Super Tavi’ and ‘Egypt’, I would say ‘fear’. It’s fun in the wet too.
The real beauty of ‘Track 4’ or ‘Proper Job’ (apart from it now being on my doorstep of course), is what it has achieved beyond the physical manifestation of another trail. It has transformed Gawton from a specialist downhill destination with a ‘token’ easy trail to somewhere that has become a whole load more accessible. A place that should now be part of every mountainbikers destination list. Somewhere you can visit and spend a whole load more time. Somewhere to progress your skills, somewhere with a track to suit the ability and taste of all your riding mates. With talk of a ‘track 5’ being completed in 2013 and a singletrack link being made to Tavi Woodlands on the cards as well, you can start to see the potential.
The uplift may not be running at the moment (hopefully opening soon) but the walk back up to the top is easy with a newly surfaced track that can even be also ridden if you feeling strong or like the workout. I spent four or five hours down there recently and managed to total nine runs with a couple of breaks.
For some more info check out this cracking edit by Gawton local Jacob Gibbins (go to www.dirtmountainbike.com and search for ‘Gawton Proper Job’) that will also put a face to many of the names responsible for making this happen. Dirt salutes you!