It’s a funny game this one. The whole ‘cycling advocacy’ thing. To some you’re a champion for the biking community; fighting their corner against the powers that are intent on curbing our fun. To others, we’re the fun police – getting all uppity and high and mighty about where people ride.
I reckon the reality is somewhere in between.
No matter where you sit on that particular fence, the honest truth of the matter is that advocacy – however the argument is made, be it through emails, twitter, picnic protests, responsible trail maintenance or campaigning – is getting more and more important if we’re to be seen as a group that can’t be ignored.
I’ve sat in meetings with various authorities where they’ve described how the mood and feeling towards mountain biking in sensitive areas like the Peak has shifted from one of horror, to acceptance and increasingly towards support. It’s nice to hear but crikey it’s taken some work. It’s also taken a hell of a lot of give and take.
I’m pretty new to it. 4 years old! A toddler. It all started when I suggested Cut Gate in winter might not be the best route. “Who died and made you keeper of the peak?” I was asked. And there you go.
Talking to other groups like Peak District MTB and Ride Sheffield and you soon find people who’ve been banging the drum for getting on for decades. They’ve been pushing and pushing for so long and now the ball is rolling – we just need to help it gain momentum. Joining those groups is a first step. Getting on a maintenance day another. There is so much you can do to help.
Over on RS, John talked about ‘being dad’ the other day. “Here come the fun police again!” but his take home message was simple – think about where you ride and when. Nobody likes slogging through a bog on their rides and inevitably it’s the single tyre track which is most recognisable in a muddy puddle regardless of how many walking boots or horses’ hooves have been through. That’s just the way it is. The perception may not be fair but that’s our square one. We just need to roll the dice, get on the way and get up a ladder or two. But even making that choice to ride somewhere else and sharing why with others really helps make the case for us as a community, and who knows; it may lead to better access, rights and support in the [near] future. We’re working on it.
2017 looks good. Talking to RS and PDMTB it feels like we’re at a tipping point. There really is momentum behind the work those groups are doing which you can read about online. Thanks to both of them for supporting KoftheP on your pages.
In the wider world too we’re looking at building support nationally and outside of the MTB community and press. It’s taking a lot of emails, a lot of effort and a lot of missed riding time – but it’s worth it and we’ll carry on.
So, enough of this wittering. Keep up tweeting, get on and support your local advocacy groups and enjoy your ride!
Ride. Tweet. Update.