To convert the herd, got to spread the word…

As you know, KoftheP is a simple idea; you ride your bike and then tweet what the conditions were like on the ground. On the back of that riders can choose where to ride so that it’s not just a slog through mud. Also, the muddy bits get chance to recover.

Pretty simple.

But the Twitter feed only hits certain people, and rarely non-bikers. So it’s important to be able to take what we all do to those other groups.

The Cut Gate thing has been ace in showing that we are a responsible bunch and has led to some great conversations with other users. I’m looking forward to seeing that collaboration grow.

But it’s brilliant too to get the message into the mainstream media and maybe into the minds of those who perhaps have a different, less positive view of the mountain biking community.

You might have seen this week’s Sheffield Telegraph where I’m posing badly and freezing my tweets off. It was in The Star too.

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It’s a small thing but hopefully it’ll get into non-riders’ minds that we’re a decent bunch really and we can all get on on the trails and more importantly; work together to improve them.

So that’s why I’m in the paper.

You know all the stuff going on locally that shows what mountain bikers do for the area – you just need to look at Peak District MTB’s and Ride Sheffield’s pages for examples on the ground.

If you want science, you can look at the work of Marion & Wimpey, Pickering et al or Thurston and Reader to know that the impact we all have on the landscape is comparable.

But ultimately it’s better just to have a chat, do our bit for the Peak District and to put it simply: Be Nice, Say Hi and always wear your pants on the outside.

*thanks David Bocking for the piece and Sheffield Telegraph and The Star for running the story.

Apologies Shed Seven and Adam West.

 

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Cut Gate: bright lights, big city, northerners

It’s not every day you find yourself in the Houses of Parliament. But today, me and Si from Ride Sheffield went along to the official launch of the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million campaign – representing the Cut Gate project alongside the Peak District National Park.

With talks from the BMC and Alan Hinkes OBE – the only Briton to have climbed all 14 mountains over 8000 metres – the campaign kicked off with great support from the hundred or so present, under the watchful eyes of Cromwell and Churchill.

It was amusing to hear “we’ve even got some mountain bikers here” at one point, but said in good humour it was recognition of where we are as a group now – getting a fair say in decisions that affect us.

Take a look at the vid I’ve quickly put together featuring Sarah Fowler, Chief Exec of the Peak District National Park Authority , the ever erudite Si and some fella from Peak District MTB talking about Bob Geldof.

What a start to the campaign – thanks to everyone for your support so far. Now it’s over to you!

#cutgate

#mendourmountains

Mendmountains.thebmc.co.uk

Mend Our Mountains: Cut Gate Path

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Today we launch our Cut Gate campaign.

Cut Gate is one of the those paths that comes up time and time again on @KoftheP. Normally it’s a “what’s Cut Gate like?” question. Pretty regularly, it’s a conditions update. Very, very rarely it’s an update which says “Cut Gate’s great, ride it”. Perhaps only after a baking few days, or in a deep freeze.

So it’s a great, great privilege to be in the position to do something about it.

Cut Gate has been adopted by the BMC as one of its primary projects in the Mend Our Mountains campaign Conversations were kicked off by me and Ride Sheffield, and working with Peak District MTB, the “Cut Gate thing” was first picked up by the Peak District National Park Authority, supported by the horse riding and walking groups locally and eventually selected as one of the primary Mend Our Mountains projects. It’s fair to say we didn’t expect that!

It’s fantastic recognition for this collaborative project and is something I’ve been proud to be heavily involved in from the early days.

So what’s going on?

Well working with Moors for the Future – the PDNPA supported conservation group – we’ve pulled together a plan to sensitively patch up the various boggy bits up top while maintaining the character of the trail. Every one of us involved in the project loves Cut Gate for the same reasons you do – so to be leading the conversation on how it should be sorted is exactly where we need to be. Even better; very influential groups are willing to support us both financially and in every other way.

But enough of this. WE NEED YOUR HELP.

Tomorrow our pages will be live so get over to cutgate.org to get the full details on the ‘Cut Gate thing’.

Second, tell everyone you know about it. And get them to support it however they can! We need just about everything people, groups and businesses can do: pure cash, sponsorship, promotion, moral support, everything. But mainly money. Please chip in what you can. You’ll find a range of information on cutgate.org

So, shamelessly, Cut Gate will form a big part of what I’m bonging on about for the next few months. And I see no shame in that. You want to ride Cut Gate. I want to ride Cut Gate. Let’s sort it so we can.

Press release| Posters | Flyer | Business

*Thanks to supporters so far: Magic Rock Brewery for Bike Day, Paul Testa Architecture for printing and Radventure for the awesome photos.

A step in the right direction

It’s fair to say that in the last few years, the relationship between the local mountain biking community and Derbyshire County Council has not been where anybody would like it to be. We all know the history and ongoing tussles, but we keep on keeping on, hoping that as we continue to demonstrate how well a relationship can work that things may just improve.

With the local elections this summer came a change of leadership at Derbyshire County Council. With new people at the top, could we do something to reset the relationship and change the way we work together. Worth a try eh?

 

Following the election I* contacted the leader of the council – via Twitter – to see if we could look at how we work together and try to improve things. He responded positively and, following a few weeks of trying to line up diaries, yesterday I headed off to the council offices for a chat with the acting cabinet member for Highways at Derbyshire County Council.

And it was a good meeting.

I can’t go into too much detail about what we discussed – nor would I want to over promise anything – but rest assured that I’m confident that we’ll begin seeing some positive changes in how DCC works with us.

No cards were left off the table, nothing was glossed over. I had an incredibly frank and open discussion about how we’ve found ourselves in this situation, how we think things can be better, how we’d like to see things improve and what we as a community can do to help.

And yes, we did talk about Chapel-en-le-Frith BOAT 144 aka Rushup.

So, watch this space. I came out of the meeting feeling very positive about what we can do and in the coming weeks I should be able to share more. I’ll also be at the Peak District MTB AGM next week, so if you’d like to talk to me about it, join up and come along.

Oh, and it’s the third anniversary of the Rushup debacle on Monday – what a birthday present eh?

 

*To clear up any confusion – KoftheP (me) got in touch with DCC, but I happen to be on the PDMTB committee too so could draw on the strength of both groups in the conversation. It’s all pulling in the same direction! 

 

Tipping point

There are some very exciting things happening in the advocacy world at the minute. 

Firstly, the Cycling UK campaign to open up the trails across Wales. It feels like we’re on the cusp of another huge step forward that’s right up there with the Land Reform Act which opened Scotland up and – dare I say it – the Kinder Mass Trespass of 1932, which gave us the access to moors we cherish today. 

If it turns out as we hope, the trails of Wales  will open to riders, bar a few exemptions. 

What a coup that would be. 

Secondly, Open MTB. They are a uniting force for the various MTB groups out there and provide a single, coordinated voice for our efforts.

And finally, those efforts themselves. Up and down the country more and more riders are getting involved in stuff that puts mountain biking in a really positive light – from big projects like the Wales campaign down to even the simplest thing like picking up litter on a trail. Join your local advocacy group to get involved. 

I don’t know about you, but it feels like it’s working. I’ve had far fewer difficult conversations with other users out on the trails; the conversations with authorities are much easier and they’re open to us leading thinking on things; the support we’re getting is increasing in formally opposed places. Am I being overly optimistic? Naive? Maybe, but as the popularity of mountain biking increases and the Be Nice Say Hi/Don’t be a d***/rider responsibility ethos gets out there more and more, it really feels to me that things are looking good for the years ahead. 

What do you think? 

A vote for you

21442924_10159219520050587_1814290550_nToday I had the brilliant news that I was nominated for a Singletrack Magazine Reader Award for Best Online Service. Though I knew a couple of people were intending on nominating me (thank you!), I never thought I’d be shortlisted as a finalist. And to be nominated alongside such brilliant services as the Ordnance Survey and SixthElement is astounding. Thank you.

But it’s not really a vote for me. It’s a vote for you. KoftheP is you – every single one of you who takes that few moments to drop me an update on your ride. That little update you send in has a massive impact, not only for the places you ride or your fellow riders who use your update to decide where to go for a pedal; but also for mountain bikers as a whole.

Your tweet shows that we care about where we ride, that we’re responsible, and that we will play a part in looking after it. That has helped to unlock a huge load of positive responses from formerly challenging groups.

There’s more to do of course, but that’s all part of the fun. And what can you do to help? Just keep on tweeting to KoftheP.

Thank you all – it really means a lot.

Oh, and vote!!!!! Go and vote for Keeper of the Peak in the Singletrack Reader Awards.

 

Thanks as always to Peak District MTB, Ride Sheffield and the Peak District National Park Authority for your support.

In praise of the bimble

I’ve noticed something with my riding in recent years; with the pressures of work, family, jobs….life, the much needed therapy of a ride gets squeezed in when possible. Or squeezed out entirely.

My rides are no longer lazy explorations of the peak, instead they’re highlights packages – a frantic blast to the best descent, bish bash bosh, back to it.

So it’s a refreshing change to take the foot off the accelerator, pick up a map and go out and explore some trails which I’ve not ridden for many years, if at all. And that was tonight.

A few fun descents, some steady climbs, grassy meadows, sheep, deer, cows, tonnes of flies and not another person in sight. It was bliss.

A quick run along the old railway (dodging the army cadets) and I was soon on perfect meadow singletrack. Ignoring the clouds of flies buzzing round my head, the ride couldn’t have been more picturesque. No rush to the descent – just a bimble along in a field, up the farm track and over towards Haddon Hall.

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You notice things when you ride like that, like the single-prop plane sitting in one of the meadows ready for take off. I think the guy who saw me taking a photo thought I was going to nick it. Little sights make for a memorable ride.

More bimbling and Chatsworth soon came into view, the stately home and the tea rooms of Edensor a welcome change from the spin out over Houndkirk. Jumps and dodging sheep on the drop to the road a very different experience to the gritstone rock of the Dark Peak.

Of course, it’s still nice to have a little bit of a blast in a ride and the golf course descent at Bakewell fits the bill nicely, and pops you out just by the railway again for a spin back to the car; satisfied, relaxed, bimbled.

So give it a go. Pick up a map and string some bridleways together. Embrace the bimble.

This post in honour of @grumpytechnoph1 – get well soon old chap. It’s quieter on the twitter without you riding!