Milton Keynes man reveals how he spent 23 years building massive bike park in Woburn Woods – with just a spade and a wheelbarrow

A man with a passion for building bike trails has told his extraordinary story of how he made his dream come true in Woburn Woods.

By Sally Murrer
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 2:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 6:49 pm

Mountain biker Sam Johnson was a young teenager when he first set off to Woburn Woods after school, equipped with a shovel, with the aim of sculpting the natural sands into ramps and jumps.

Now, 23 years on, the finished result covers more than 10 acres and is set to put the woods the biking map as one the best trails in the UK.

Former Ousedale pupils Sam, whom is now 36, gave up his job as a gas engineer several years ago to concentrate on his dream and has worked eight hours a day, seven days a week, through rain, snow and sleet, shifting half a million tons sand to creating the massive trail.

Only recently has he had mechanical help, in the form of a digger permitted by the Greensands Trust, which manages the woods for Bedford Estates, and provided by Weaver Plant Hire.

"For most of the time it’s been me and a spade. It’s amazing what you can do with a spade!” he said.

Sam now has a small army of volunteer helpers, the Woburn Bike Park Trailbuilders, to assist him in their spare time. His efforts have earned him the title of Kiing Of Spades (the double i is intentional) and he has more than 100,000 followers on his Instagram and YouTube pages.

Currently he is focusing on the final hurdle, a major remodel, and the park is closed while he beavers away to make it bigger and better than ever before. He has launched a fundraising page to raise more than £8,000 to pay for mechanical equipment he needs.

Sam Johnson has spent 23 years build the Woburn woods bike trail

The final result will see a special area for young children, including toddlers on balance bikes, as well as eyewatering jumps up to 18ft high, ramps, Berms and and pump tracks for accomplished riders.

"The idea is that riders can start off in the simple areas and progress through the park as their skills increase,” said Sam, who lives on Medbourne in MK.

Now 36, he has poured his heart and soul into the project over the years, even selling his possessions and furniture in his flat to finance his efforts when times got tough.

"It’s my passion.. it’s my life... My reward is seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they enjoy the trail.”

Sam and a helper at work

Each structure can take months to design and build – months of shoveling sand, piling it in wheelbarrows and fashioning it into shape, allowing the rain to naturally compress it into a solid form.

After hours of meetings and countless emails and phone calls between Bedford Estate, Greensands Trust and the local councils, Sam has now secured the future of the bikepark with his long term expansion plan. He also has sponsorship from IXS and Trek MK.

The remodeled trail will be pay to enter, with tickets can be booked online through the Greensands Trust.

“One of the biggest changes is that we’ve been granted permission to use of a digger and dumper, which is incredibly exciting and greatly beneficial,” he said.

A structure in the bike trail

"Any contribution to this project would be greatly appreciated.. I just want to build the best bike park for everyone to enjoy.”