Two tribes

You might have seen an article pinballing around the outdoors forums and groups today about fell runners and their apparent lack of engagement when it comes to trail maintenance.

It’s from the US, but that’s not stopped it being somewhat unfairly jumped on and quoted left, right and centre over here. And it’s started surfacing the same old arguments about trail damage, effort and responsibility.

I’d like to think that we’re better than that now. I can’t say I know much about the situation in Colorado, but I think it’s different here.

If the all the work the advocacy groups are doing has shown one thing, that is that with a bit of conversation, everyone can pull together and work for the benefit of the whole.

The work of those advocacy groups in uniting other groups behind a plan has been amazing. The Cut Gate campaign for example, has brought the horse riders, walkers and mountain bikers together to raise shed loads of cash to maintain paths. The #BeNiceSayHi campaign is the illustration of that and is growing on trails up and down the country. Of course, even when they’re not doing something together, it doesn’t take much effort to find evidence of each of the groups mucking in independently.

We’re past the divisive comments now. We’ve moved on. It’s just not helpful. Yes, there’s still friction here and there, but overall the collaboration; the teamwork; the realisation that we’re all out there simply trying to have a good time in beautiful landscape is the overriding theme coming through.

We just don’t need to get into the tribalism again.

#BeNiceSayHi started over in the US, but it’s really found it’s feet here. Perhaps it’s time for a homecoming.

So while the arguments are rumbling on on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere over a click-baity headline in a mag from 5000 miles away, just remember that somewhere much closer to home there’s likely a mountain biker, a walker, a horserider and a fell-runner having a chat together about where they can do something good together. And they’re probably doing it over a pint.

Mine’s a Peak Ales Great Ridge, ta.

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Trail of betrayal?

Derbyshire County Council have begun work on Rushup Edge, using approaches completely at odds with those promised in an email just a few weeks ago.

The track – Chapel-en-le-Frith BOAT 144 – has been the subject of a highly contentious consultation process where DCC have faced criticism from all user groups for their poor approach to discussion, consultation and design.

In an email to advocacy group Peak District MTB, who have been campaigning for a sensitive approach to the repairs, the group were told that

  • DCC have concluded that minimal intervention is the way forward and they do not plan major construction work on the route
  • The aim of DCC is to preserve the natural surface to avoid any form of infill and construction
  • DCC plan to test some sections of the route in March, this will involve removing and stock piling loose stone and where there are significant holes to fill these with material gathered on site
  • DCC expect to be on-site for a month, this is because there is a lot of manual work involved work in re-instating selected areas, this is being done on an as needed basis. DCC only expect to discover this once they have picked the length of Chapel Gate from the road to the gate on the moor

Today, photos have shown that

  • DCC have used extensive infill on the track.
  • DCC have used stone set in concrete
  • DCC contractors have caused significant damage to adjoining banks
  • DCC have used mechanical equipment liberally.

The evidence of shown today, it is my honest opinion, based on these directly contradictory statements and actions that we – KoftheP, PDMTB, Ride Sheffield, the various supporting groups and the thousands of people who contributed to the spurious consultations DCC performed – have been misled.

The work done at the bottom is shocking.

Rest assured, I, PDMTB and other groups are urgently finding out more – starting with the Rights of Way officer most heavily involved in the decisions relating to Rushup. Is this just test activity or is this the approach they had planned all along?

His response today?

Out of office.

Tough choice – BHF challenge postponed

It takes a lot to put on an event like the BHF Mountain Bike Challenge.

From the arranging the location to booking the sites, from working with the national park to getting all the online stuff up and running.

Then there’s merchandise and marketing, the medical cover and marshalls.

Way before all that, there’s the route planning and timing.

Which is why it’s an incredibly tough decision for them to have postponed.

But it’s the right one. With 45mph winds and driving rain predicted it’s a sensible choice not only for the safety of the riders, but also the marshalls out on the hill. Of course, the sopping wet trails will also be spared the extra traffic too.

Well done to the BHF for making such a tough decision.

Now, for the rescheduled event, let’s make it a cracker.

These events need your help. Not just in riding them, but in things like marshalling. If you can get involved, please contact info@peakdistrictmtb.org. Details of the rescheduled event will be coming shortly.

Rushup Edge – common sense finally wins out?

There’s been some alarm and speculation about new activity up on Rushup Edge.

As you know, Peak District MTB has been tirelessly working to get DCC to see sense in their approach and after over four years of pushing them to consult properly, consider the feedback given and take a common sense approach it finally lookslike they may have listened.

You can see the results of PDMTB’s dogged determination here.

Though I’m reluctant to call this a victory, it is worth pointing out that this is exactly what Peak District MTB, Keeper of the Peak and the the various groups involved in our original feedback to DCC asked to be done to BOAT 144 all those years ago.

We’re holding our breath but

the it finally looks like things may be going in the right (and proper) direction.

Bravo PDMTB on all your efforts.

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet

It’s normal at this time of the year to begin making new year’s resolutions; grandiose plans that are typically forgotten when the first obstacles of life pop up to knock you off your resolve. This year I planned to ride loads more. For one reason or another I think I actually ended up riding less than the year before – but that’s sometimes just the way it goes.

So maybe I should temper my resolutions a bit this year? Calm my ambitions and be realistic? ‘Ride more’ is a given – it’s not really a resolution is it? So what should I aim for then?

Well there are a few things which I’m aiming for in 2019; some maybe a bit of a stretch, while others I really think are within reach.

The Peak District is a real challenge. A mish mash of landowners, land managers, park authority, local councils, parish councils, county councils – and that’s before you overlay the various groups who want to get out there for some fun. I’ve been navigating these – alongside groups like the excellent Peak District MTB – for a number of years now, and though I’ve said we’re getting close to a tipping point before, I really believe that in 2019 we’re going to see some real progress for mountain biking in the national park. So, what about those resolutions then?

  1. RV-CutGate-1737Finish the Cut Gate project.
    We’re just a few thousand pounds from hitting our £74000 target for Cut Gate in the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million project. To have achieved that is incredible – it really is – now the focus shifts to the actual work itself. We’ll likely begin this year, so working closely with PDMTB and Ride Sheffield with Moors for the Future to ensure the path is something which we can all be proud is one of my main focuses this year.
  2. Change the relationship with some key landowners.
    On any patch of land in the Peak you can have perhaps four or five people with an ownership or responsibility for it. Rarely do those stars ever align long enough to allow mountain bikers to get access. Even if they do, it can be just the smallest negatively perceived thing that gets that access taken away again. Strava on a sensitive trail. A few curt words between people. The perception of recklessness. That all happened in 2018 and set back advocacy work. However, there are a few green shoots of promise coming though that suggest that we might be able to begin opening up some more access. If I can help to do that I’ll be really happy.
  3. Get everyone on the same page.
    Cut Gate’s already been a big help for this, but basically when you talk to the other groups who use the same kind of tracks we do, you soon realise that we all want the same things. More access. Sensitive repairs. If we can all, together agree on what we want, we can put more pressure on to achieve more. Let’s work together more. And that doens’t just mean different groups. Even within our own community we’re not all on the same page. Some are seemingly wilfully against what advocacy groups are doing on one hand while enjoying the fruits of those labours on the other. It’s a bizarre contradiction which I’d love to see change. Like I say though, some of my ambitions may be a stretch. Doesn’t mean I won’t try.
  4. Ride my bike more.
    But I said I wouldn’t say that.

So there’s my little list. I’l revisit it in a year and see where we are. Happy New Year everyone, here’s to a cracking 2019 for you all.

Getting to the final furlong…

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The £7500 grant secured by Peak Horsepower from the British Horse Society communities fund is a massive step closer to the Cut Gate target.

But it’s a lot more valuable than just the money.

From the very start when we wrote the Cut Gate thing, me, Peak District MTB and Ride Sheffield have seen the Cut Gate project as an opportunity to build the relationship between user groups; mountain bikers, horse riders, climbers and walkers. There has been friction between many of these groups in the past. The only way we are going to improve access and change minds is by getting behind something like Cut Gate and realising that really, the reason we go out into the Peak District is pretty similar across the various groups.

The dialogue and cross-group support for the project shows that we can work together.

Anyway, enough of that worthy nonsense. The money raised by the horse riders is fantastic and very, very welcome.

We’re now only a few thousand pounds away from hitting the target and being able to get started on the work up on Cut Gate. At the recent Peak District MTB AGM, Moors for the Future called for riders to share their thoughts on favoured trails, popular repairs and examples of good work. Personally Roych Clough, Foulstone Road and parts of Cutthroat Bridge spring to mind. You might have other examples. If you do, please email them to kotp@live.co.uk. Any other feedback you might have about repairs is welcome too.

Nearly there folks. And thanks Peak Horsepower and the BHS.

KoftheP