Any given Saturday

Look at any of your social media on a Saturday evening and you’ll no doubt see pics and vids of your mates’ rides, jumps and crashes, or for those who haven’t been out, pictures of a bike in a frame being fettled ready for Sunday, a bottle of beer artfully positioned on the wall behind for full mountain biker points.

But for a small group, those weekend biking uploads are often a little bit different. 

Take this weekend for example. Clicking on to Facebook, the first thing I saw was a police officer, high-vizzed up, riding a tassled-grips, 16” wheeled bike, stabilisers and all round a market in West Yorkshire.

Last Sunday, it was a bunch of my mountain biking friends  – no bikes in sight – building a dry stone wall in Staffordshire. 

Those two pics were from a Ride Kirklees stand and Peak District MTB dig day respectively, with Chairs Gordon McMinn and Dan Noble sharing the news from each as they push mountain biking on as a force for good.

Brilliantly, there’s a growing number of the mountain biking community who spend a bit of time at the weekend (every so often), out of the saddle and doing something for the community overall.

Dig days, manning stands, marshalling – it all helps to change the perception of mountain bikers, and at times it can help towards making a positive change for mountain bikers too.

And so it was yesterday where I found myself at the Longshaw Moorland Discovery Centre, attending the Kinder and High Peak Advisory Group (KHPAG) meeting. Peak District MTB was invited to become part of the Group back in 2021, following conversations with the National Trust as part of Project 22%. And it’s a fascinating thing to be part of.

KHPAG is made up of representatives from all interested groups in the Peak. We’re there representing mountain bikers, and there are people from horse-riding groups, walkers, climbers, fell-runners, local businesses and the National Trust, who set up the session. And that’s important. They’re one of the biggest landowners in the Peak District and us having a direct line to them where we can share our our hopes and plans – 22% anyone? – and perhaps importantly, see how we can help is a big step forward.

You’ll very rarely get a group of people in a room who care quite so much about the Peak District and improved access as you do at this meeting. And with that starting point, there’s a helluva lot of collaborative work done and a lot more understanding of each others’ aims than you might think.

So what came of it? Well the two things were our ability to feed directly into the emerging vision for the National Trust in the Peak as presented by General Manager Craig Best, which you’ll be unsurprised to hear, we did; calling for improved access (with strong support from others too), and secondly the motion for us to join in a smaller working group with the National Trust to get our teeth into some specific projects. All good stuff and all in the direction of where we want to go with improving things for riders in the Peak. 

And all very encouraging for those of us in the room.

But there’s the crux. How do we get that enthusiasm, excitement and energy out of the room and into the wider world, and how do we get the wider world into the room?

You see the same faces at these things regularly. People with a deep well of knowledge earned over  years of pushing for better – often backed up with a hefty dose of expertise from a ‘real’ job elsewhere. But the decisions being made; the influence being exerted could, quite honestly, only be seen on the ground after the members of that committee have long departed such are the long term plans being drawn up. Fresh views are needed. Could they be yours?

Still, a brilliant thing for us here at Peak District MTB to be part of and recognition of the ever growing role mountain bikers play in shaping the national park for all.

We’ll keep you up to speed on the things that come out of the working group. Relationship building leading to actual access improvements eh? All a bit Project 22 as far as I can see. Slowly but surely.




20 June 2022