I heard it through the Grapevine (sorry Marvin)

Update: businesses are responding. Thanks very much to all of those who have been in touch.

What a nasty little piece of bile from the Grapevine editor in the latest edition of their ‘magazine’.

No doubt editor Ian MacGill will attempt to pass if off as humour, but this shrug of the shoulders will reveal an ignorance not only of the very real damage such idiotic statements can cause, but also of the target audience for his glossy, doorstep dropper.

In the editorial (reluctantly linked here), MacGill describes an ‘old chums’ demand for razor wire to be strung at head height in order to decapitate cyclists. It’s a woefully written piece of tripe which concludes with the oft-rolled out, tedious call for licence plates for bikes. If MacGill were even remotely aware of the almost weekly examples of trail sabotage cyclists see he’d have realised just how poor taste his ridiculous column is.

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Grapevine Editorial piece – June 2019

This kind of comment – joking or otherwise – legitimises the anti-cyclist hatred and rhetoric that groups like Ride Sheffield, Peak District MTB and me – as well as others such as CycleSheffield have worked hard – successfully I might add – to combat. And more than that, as well as legitimising the bile, MacGill has gone one step further and suggested ways in which an easily led idiot could cause serious bodily harm. It’s not surprising that there have been a number of people calling for the police to be involved.

He’d do well to look at a few of the examples of people actually doing what his “chum Mr Smith” suggests. Perhaps he could imagine his kids or grandkids being on the receiving end. And these are just from a quick search of barbed wire boody traps. Add in the rocks, logs, carpet tacks and branches cyclists are caught by and he may begin to understand how much of a nasty piece of work his 300 or so words make him sound to a rider, pavement or not.

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Dad-of-two Adam Hoult fell from his bike and blacked out after colliding with the wire

Sheffield is proudly positioned as The Outdoor City, and cycling on or off road is embraced. MacGill is either intentionally or embarrassingly ignorant of this.

Maybe it’s the clickbait thing and MacGill and his no-doubt made up ‘chum’ Mr Smith are knowingly baiting cyclists in order to get them interested in care homes, conservatories and carpets. But it’s a door drop, cat litter tray, kindling publication so click-bait is a no-go.

Maybe MacGill has made the mistake of thinking his audience feels the same as he – sorry, his ‘chum’ – does and that cyclists; those red light jumping, pavement riding hooligans should be educated in his Charles Bronson, vigilante style.

Maybe he completely overlooks the fact that a cyclist who can spend a few thousand pounds on a bike might just be the kind of person he wishes to spend money with the advertisers who frequent his wet-bike-boot dryer.

So do we boycott Grapevine?

Well, how can you boycott a magazine that is dumped through your door with the pizza leaflets and hedge trimmer flyers? It’s like trying to boycott someone else’s fart in a lift.

No, perhaps the key to expressing your anger at ‘Mr Smith’ is in the advertisers. I’ve handily listed them here for you so you don’t have to look at the mag should you wish to make an educated decision on where you next spend your cash. Maybe those advertisers might wish to make their displeasure known to the editor.

Ian MacGill’s sorry effort at humour is, at best, not that funny, at worst a green light to people to stoke up the anti-cyclist bile to a potentially fatal level.

It will be interesting to see if the police feel the same way.

Advertisers:

  • Sheffield Window Centre
  • Image, Middlewood
  • Disygn Ltd
  • Charlesworth Landscapes
  • Wragg Roofing and Building
  • Borden Electrics
  • Local Heat and Warmth
  • Silverdale Garden Services
  • Tim Mycroft Group Services
  • The Porterbrook Care Home
  • Grand Interior Designs
  • DWS Ltd
  • Fulwood Motor Company
  • BMV Custom Car Centre
  • Hillcare Care Home
  • Tavern Service Station
  • H2O Bathrooms
  • Bents Green Nursery
  • Alugate
  • Supafit
  • The Eye Place
  • Alfredo’s Spanish
  • Chauffer Class Service
  • Drew Decor Store
  • Visual Bathrooms
  • John Heath and Sons
  • Your PC’s Best Friend
  • I Can
  • Oakbrook Upholstery
  • WTV Service
  • Scape Easy
  • Bespoke Blinds
  • Fireplace Factory
  • Layers Flooring
  • TecNick Autos
  • Aerials Above
  • Steve’ll Fix It
  • Fulwood Garden Services
  • Graham Bathrooms
  • Dragonfly Tree Services
  • Rosalind Watcher Solicitor
  • Quality Kitchen Facelifts
  • SGS Gutter Services
  • IJD Electrical
  • Groundforce Landscapes
  • Malden Roofind
  • Shepherd Plumbing and Heating
  • Overdale Care Home
  • Charles Brooks
  • MJ Lee Joiners
  • Westside Gardens
  • Star Upholstery
  • CM Baker Ltd
  • The Oven Guy
  • Dalton Roofing
  • Bensons Carpets
  • Clean Care
  • Central Glass Ltd
  • David J. Martin
  • Appliance World
  • Sheffield Kitchen Interiors

Update: some businesses have brilliantly joined the chorus against the awful editorial. If you let me know who’s responded, I’ll add them here. Bravo to the following:

  • The Foundry Climbing Centre have pulled all advertisin
  • Otto’s Restaurant have who asked for the editorial to be pulled and for an apology to all involved.
  • S11 Carpets and Flooring who are removing adverts until an apology is made. “I spoke with Grapevine today, doesn’t appear that they will issue an apology. I have told them that I won’t advertise with them next month as planned unless they apologise. They just said they understood my feelings.”
  • Tapton Hall Sheffield who have stopped their advertising and are in discussions with the editors
  • The Strines Inn have cancelled all advertising
  • 1st Call Gas Services will not renew advertising with Grapevine after the August issue and have said “comments on his editorial are just completely unnecessary and disgusting. We also feelwhether it was a ‘joke’ or not he should apologise for his actions.

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.

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

Celebrating a huge step forwards

eocaThe news that we have won the €30,000 European Outdoor Conservation Association ( EOCA ) grant for Cut Gate is a huge vote of confidence. At a third of the total pot, it’s a massive, massive boost to the campaign and puts us on the home straight to make the target £74,000 alongside the amount we’ve raised already.

Hats off to Moors for the Future for picking up on the opportunity and putting in the work to get the application in, and THANK YOU to everyone of you who voted for us and encouraged their friends and family to do the same.

RV-CutGate-1737So what now?

Well there’s still some way to go to hit the target, but it feels massively closer than it did yesterday.

More excitingly though, we can start thinking about the plans in more depth. With Ride Sheffield and Peak District MTB, I’ll be talking with Moors for the Future and the Peak District National Park Authority about how the pounds will look on the ground. As you know, this was a project started by mountain bikers – Ride Sheffield, Peak District MTB and KoftheP – so we’re keen to see Cut Gate protected and still be the Cut Gate you know and love.

Thanks for your continued support folks. Not long now.

KoftheP

Ride. Tweet. Update.

New Zealand Story

Mountain bike advocacy. It’s boring isn’t it? Loads of do gooders interfering with your riding telling you where you can and can’t go, how you should be riding and when, pushing boring campaigns and even how you should be spending your money.

Yep. Bloody bunch of interfering busy bodies the lot of ’em.

But that’s not quite the whole story. Advocacy is a boring word, true. But advocacy itself is far from it. Let’s have a look at the evidence. I’ll start locally.

Sheffield

You’ve ridden Greno right? Lady Cannings? Parkwood? All fantastically fun trails. Local advocacy group Ride Sheffield deserves all the plaudits they get for getting them up and running. But it all started with Ride Sheffield putting in the ground work with Sheffield City Council and the right landowners to get the permissions in place and the opinions turned around to mountain bikers being a useful partner.

And that’s Advocacy 101 – done so well by Ride Sheffield that they’ve set the standard for creating relationships and improving mountain biking.

The Peak District

It’s a whole other world of advocacy pain when you not only have landowners to consider but also the stringent rules of a national park as well. Peak District MTB spend a lot of their time navigating those particular minefields while also putting some distinctly rider friendly features into some of the Peak District’s most popular trails. Mam Tor to Greenlands? PDMTB. Whinstone Lee Tor to Cutthroat Bridge? PDMTB and Moors For The Future. Rushup Edge? Currently being fought over to prevent flattening.

You won’t know it when you’re swooping down the flowy trail from Mam Nick, but that’s only come about after a shedload of yep, you guessed it: advocacy. PDMTB and the Peak District National Park have an incredibly close relationship that’s leading to better stuff for riders.

Over the hills

Look a little further. Bike Park Wales. Advocacy. Seven Stanes. Advocacy. Crikey, even the Alps getting bikes up the ski trails came on the back of someone talking about it the right way and with the right person.

“Alright,” I hear you say. “You’ve bonged on about it long enough now. Where does New Zealand come into it then?”

A recent report on mountain biking tourism in the Whakarerewera Forest Park found that riding in their forests brings five times the revenue of timber operations. Five times the revenue.

Five times the revenue of their primary business.

That’s incredible.

Five times more. You can’t repeat it enough. Five. Times. More. Money.

Now, the places we like to ride are usually farmland. Not, perhaps in the wheat and barley sense, but think about the sheep pastures, timber forests and cattle meadows. All farmland.

Imagine now that those farmers, land owners and visitor experience managers were to realise that a thin ribbon of trail and a few supporting facilities could bring in five times their current revenue. Imagine then, that they shifted their focus from keeping mountain bikers out, to bringing them in? How good would that be?

Farmer John did it, and look at the awesome offering over there. Imagine if the big landowners; the Severn Trent Waters, United Utilities and maybe even the moor owners did the same?

One day the penny (and the thousands of pounds. For everyone) will drop.

Your boring advocacy groups are the ones plying the machine with 2ps at the top.

So how can we get there? It’s pretty simple really. Get involved with, support and back those advocacy groups.

Back their campaigns.

Be marshalls when they ask for them. Tell your friends and family what they do.

Hey, why not even email the big landowners and tell them?

Advocacy. Bloody boring. But when it comes good, it’s the best thing in the world.

KoftheP (somewhere over Croatia on a Ryanair plane)

p.s: I never got beyond the fourth level on The New Zealand Story. I was always more into Treasure Island Dizzy. Or Chuck Rock. That game was awesome.