A REWARD is being offered for information leading to the arrest of whoever sabotaged a North-East mountain bike track by tying a rope across one of its main runs.

Cyclist Lukasz Sikorski was “clotheslined” from his bike when he ran into the rope at the bottom of the main run at Descend Hamsterley, in Hamsterley Forest, County Durham, at lunchtime on Sunday.

The blue corded rope had been strung between two trees at about waist height.

Dramatic video footage caught on the 29-year-old’s helmet camera shows the moment he hit the rope at a speed of about 20mph and is thrown off his bike.

A few seconds after hitting the snow-covered ground, the footage shows the bewildered man picking himself up and walking over to remove the rope before cycling away.

The cyclist had just come round a steep hairpin corner off a 4ft drop then landed on a steep downward slope, with the bike compressed and ready to hit the next jump, which was where the rope was located.

He escaped uninjured but the impact with the rope caused a friction burn on his nylon cycling top.

Last night Mr Sikorski, a toolmaker from Consett, County Durham, who cycles at the track every weekend, said he had not seen the rope, which struck him in the ribs.

He said his protective clothing minimised his injuries, which could have been much worse if the weather conditions had been better.

“It was a big shock,” said Mr Sikorski, originally from Poland. “I had a big pain in my chest and for a few seconds I had problems breathing.

“But if the track had been dry, I would have ridden faster and then I don’t know what would have happened.”

It is thought the trap was laid between 3pm and 5pm on Saturday, or between 7am and 10am on Sunday.

Craig Hunter, project manager at the track, said: “By rights, this rider should have received serious injury, possibly fatal.

“We stress that this is a pure attempt to seriously injure those using the facility.

“Due to this incident, we must advise that all riders check the tracks before use – even though management checks the trials daily.

“There are eight runs and we go up and down them regularly, but it takes time. We cannot risk another incident of this nature because next time, it could be a whole lot worse.

“I am very annoyed about it.

The rope has hit him in the stomach so he has been very lucky.

“He told me it felt like he had been shot – he felt his bike go away from him and he fell backwards.

“The top and bottom of it is, this lad is over 6ft, but if it had been one of the younger ones, it could have been so much worse because it would have been at chest height and could have caught their helmet strap. Cyclists travel up to 30mph down that track.”

Mr Hunter appealed to anyone who may have encountered conflict with any members of the public at the track over the weekend to come forward.

And he said Descend Hamsterley was prepared to offer a “substantial” reward for the arrest and conviction of the culprit.

Facebook users are being encouraged to share the appeal from Descend Hamsterley’s page on the social networking site on their profiles in a bid to catch those responsible.

The video footage on YouTube has been viewed by more than 800 people, many of whom express their disbelief and anger towards whoever tied the rope.

Durham Police say they are aware of the incident.

Anyone with information is asked to call the force’s nonemergency number 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800-555-111.