RWC#2: Fat Lad keeps It Real…

Riders Writing Cycle:

ghettoisation of riders:

for the mtb’ers trail centres, the perfect answer to all weather all year riding or the macdonalds of off roading?

for our road/commuters:

dedicated bike lanes protecting you from cagers or traeting cyclist as 2nd class road users?

The mass trespass of Kinder Scout was a notable act of willful trespass by ramblers. It was undertaken at Kinder Scout, in the Peak District of England, on 24 April 1932, to highlight weaknesses in English law of the time. This denied walkers in England or Wales access to areas of open country, and to public footpaths which, in previous ages (and today), formed public rights of way.

The peculiarities of rights of way and land access across the world is whole post in it’s own right. But here in blighty we have enshrined in law the rights of way system. Any bridleway, green lane or permissive bridleway you and your push iron are legally allowed to crank on. Footpaths (otherwise know as “cheeky” or night time bridleways) are out of bounds. Again this is a subject for a whole other post. All this waffling means that here in the UK mountain bikers are blessed with trails quite literally on the doorstep. Obviously these will vary incredibly due to local geography but isn’t that the whole fun of it?

Starting with (I believe) Coed Y Brenin the Red Bull Trail quickly got a reputation for being the quick hit trail of choice in the UK. The Forestry Commision soon wised up and started promoting vast swathes of fireroad across managed woodlands UK wide. They are a great thing boosting local economies with passing trade and tourism. In quite a lot of these places heavy industry has long gone and the trail centres are a good source of sustainable employment. Lastly they are a great way of introducing new riders to the buzz of the sport in a more risk-aware environment…

And I think, that maybe, the problem. Be honest, Mountain Biking is dangerous. Would you get the same buzz from it if it wasn’t. Some of the best rides I have ever been on we’ve sometimes wondered, atop a fog shrouded peak how the hell we’re getting back home.  To me Trail Centres are like Fast Food. Great as a treat but not to be consumed exclusive to the your greens. I get the same adrenaline fuelled buzz as the next guy tearing down a red route descent of Dalby Forest but what do you see but trees and hard pack?

Lastly, (admittedly I first was turned on to this thought by Jo Burt) is the potential ghettoisation of Mountain Biking:

“What are you lycra louts doing in the busy Peaks when you have dedicated areas set aside for bicycles?”

We need to be encouraging more discussion between trail users. There are perfectly good paths all around where I live that would cascade whole new possibilities should they be opened to all.

My first ride was not about cadence, heart rates or miles covered. To me Mountain Bikes summoned up a spirit of adventure. Getting out there, getting dirty, getting lost, just getting it. This summer I’m hoping to do my first bivvywith the bike.  I want to be in the hills under a starry sky green ground below me and not a routemarker in sight.

Fat Lad

One Comment

  1. Posted May 19, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Although I only understood about half of this, I think I get the gist which is that the joy is in riding in a place wild and free. And maybe camping out there with only the stars for company.
    Which sounds soul-healing to me.

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