550-acre Hadleigh Farm near Basildon, Essex, in the UK will host the mountain bike race for the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Shown above and after the break are some of the first sections of the course to be unveiled.  Man-made technical features combine with some natural ones to create a course that brings the racers near each other on several occasions, letting them keep tabs on the competition while likely providing a spectator friendly venue.

Construction of the trail began in July after the original venue was rejected as “not technical enough.”

More after the break…

“It is fantastic to be able to see the course taking shape as our Olympic dream becomes a reality,” said Essex County Councillor Stephen Castle, Cabinet Member for the 2012 Games. We are committed to delivering a first class London 2012 Olympic discipline and a course that will test the world’s finest Mountain Bike riders. I look forward to seeing further developments as we get closer to the 2012 Games.”

500,000 tons of rock have been brought in to create technical sections and drops, including the “Oak Tree Drop” above and below, among others.  It’ll have 70m of (230ft) elevation gain throughout the approximately 5km (3.1 mile) lap, and it should accommodate around 20,000 spectators.

“The course is great – much hillier than I expected,” Maddie Horton told Breaking Travel News. Horton won the silver medal at the 2010 British National Championships and is pictured riding above and below. “I’ve ridden World Cup courses before, and this is definitely up there with the toughest.”

The Olympic XC race will be held on August 11-12, 2012, and host approximately 50 men and 30 women for a two-hour race.  A pre-Olympic test race will likely be held in August 2011. Tickets should be around £20 and go on sale in March 2012.

The switchbacks provide a quick climb up the hillside…and a brutal view of who’s beating you.


  1. What a effing joke. I’ve never been, but I am certain there must be dozens of better places to host this event ON NATURAL TERRAIN. Sheesh. I’d def be rocking the CX bike on that course.

  2. The course does look cool and most important 70% of course can be seen at once, should make good racing on TV and draw people into XC racing. In UK XC gets back seat to track and road and this course is designed to get the best TV coverage…

    Keep your eye on it and in March we get to race it in UK, so more will come….

  3. i agree with Jason, that the course does look cool… albeit brutally groomed. i also agree with making better efforts aimed towards showing newbies the joys of XC racing, on teevee or at spectator-friendly venues.
    there’s till plenty of time to toughen up the parcours well ahead of the Olympics, and in my humble opinion, the designers/builders probably should.

    or just finish the job and pave it.

    my questions are: what happens apres Olympics? is the ranch going to be open to the public for cycling? or is this just a one time thing… when it’s all said & done the place reverts straight back to horses & fox hunts?

  4. I agree, it looks way to smooth, but perhaps they’ll let the grass grow in some to narrow it down…that would make it more difficult to pass (unless they’re trying to achieve the opposite, which could be the case in order to make for better television. Afterall NASCAR doesn’t race on single-wide lanes.)…and I suspect it’ll get ridden in some before the Olympics, causing natural lines to groove into the currently way-too-wide path.

    As for after the event, there are plans being discussed to preserve the trail. Hopefully, the land owners will open it to the public like they did with the inaugural Olympic MTB course in Conyers, GA (which is stellar and totally worth riding if you’re anywhere nearby).

What do you think?