Oakwell Hall Trail Opening

Summer is here (or so I’m told)….

And therefore it’s time to get outside, ride bikes, eat good food, drink beers, listen to music and have fun with friends….

Which is why we are hosting the

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We have teamed up with a number of local businesses to put on a grand opening of the Oakwell Trail. It is looking to be a great day, with fun for all the family. Obviously it’s all going to revolve around mountain biking and riding the trail, but with a few added extras to entertain everyone.

We are planning on running a time trial challenge on the trail, for both adults and kids. A back to basics fun race, where you log your fastest loop (on strava, or using a good old fashioned stopwatch) and submit it for the chance to be King/Queen of the trail.

A mountain bike skills course will be set up set up for  kids to hone their skills, and set their fastest loop time to win a prize!!

Ride Kirklees will be there manning a stall alongside the Kirklees Bridleways Group to chat to everyone about the development of trails and the work we are doing to improve access around the area, being nice and saying Hi and keeping our trails trash free.

Beer is being supplied by the good folks at Magic Rock Brewing, Coffee will be flowing thanks to Mobile Kuppa Coffee and sweet treats are coming from Charlottes Jersey Ice Cream.

Slaithwaite based OTSO clothing are setting up shop for all your ethically produced streetwear. Local bike shop Hargreaves Cycles will be on hand for any bike repairs, advice and possibly a chance to demo some Cannondale bikes.

WhooshMTB are a guiding and coaching company from Hebden Bridge, and will be on hand to offer advice on bike set up and skills development. And if you fancy looking into booking a session or a guided ride in #calderfornia Chris will be able sort you out.

Local photographers Furness Digital are going to be out on the trail capturing the action of the riders, which will be available to purchase direct from them.

Andy’s Man club will be showing the positive effects getting out on your bike can have on your physical and mental well being, and reminding us all that #itsokaytotalk

The day is set to be a cracking event for everyone, and a good chance to come and meet the Ride Kirklees team and play out on bikes.

Hope to see you all there….

 

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Why should we support Holme Valley Mountain Rescue?

As a Ride Kirklees member, why should you love Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team(HVMRT)? Most of you will think that’s nowhere near me, so what? They may be based in Marsden however their patch covers the whole of Kirklees, and a lot more besides; from Holmfirth to Marsden, via Oakwell, to Garforth and Knottingley.

None of us ride expecting to end up in bother however accidents happen. If you’re riding locally, stack it badly and have to call 999, it’s highly unlikely that an ambulance can get to you. That means it’s over to Mountain Rescue, and for us it’s HVMRT who’ll come and sort us out.

They’re a highly skilled and dedicated Emergency Service, who are all unpaid volunteers. Not a lot of people know that, they assume they’re funded like the Police/Fire Service/Ambulances. Nope, there’s no regular government funding, the whole organisation is predominantly funded by donations from the public.

Hopefully that’s given you an insight into why we love Holme Valley MRT. They’re our guardian angels so as Ride Kirklees, we’d like to try to give something back to them. Here are a couple of ideas:

July 14th Holme Valley MRT Rescue Rides

 This is a biking fundraiser they organise that has 5 different routes – 2 mountain biking, 2 road, and a family route:

Blue mtb: 15 miles, 1700ft of climbing
Red mtb: 32 miles, 2900ft
Blue road: 22 miles, 1600ft
Red road: 40 miles, 2900 ft
Family route 7 miles, 470ft

I can only speak for the mtb rides however they’re well signposted, have the odd refreshment point on the way around, and finish at the HVMRT base (where last year there was free pizza!). If you’ve not ridden in West Kirklees, it’s a cracking introduction to some great trails (and hills) around here. There are already several Ride Kirklees members riding it so if you’re not sure about route and such, we can be “guides”. The 32 mile route is a tough old gig however you can laugh at me crawling up the last hill. A couple of Ride Kirklees members will also be offering to “sweep” the course, so if you fancy lending a hand (or want an excuse for plodding around at the back!) let us know.

Tickets for the ride can be found here.

Providing Training “Casualties”.

Being a casualty doesn’t sound like a bundle of fun however HVMRT hold regular training events and occasionally they need volunteers to “act” as casualties. They look for people they don’t know as that’s more realistic of their rescues. One new aspect they’re looking at is a specific mtb training exercise. There’s more and more of us riding so ….ahem….we’re providing an increasing amount of work for them.

Mal Gibb

 

Ride Holme Rides out.

Things with Ride Kirklees have been pretty hectic lately, with Oakwell Hall, rights of way meetings, public enquiries and general admin. So when a group member, Jason Budd (Ride Holme) informed me that he was starting up a mountain bike guiding company and was putting on a ride around the Holme valley to launch it, I jumped at the chance to forget everything else and go ride.

The ride was planned for the morning of Saturday the 26th, and we met in the Co-op carpark in Holmfirth. Spirits were high, and it was a great chance to meet people who I had seen through social media, but never met. And so it was that a group of us set of around 10 am to be led through the trails of Holmfirth on tour of some great trails, led by a local lad with a passion for mountain biking, advocacy and quality pork pies!!dsc_0221

The route took us out of Holmfirth, with a steady road climb before heading down a bridleway and up to Holmfirth Cliff towards Hade edge using some quiet country roads and bridleways.  When we arrived at Hade Edge it was time for a quick stop, and some pies from Addy’s butchers. A great butchers selling quality food and local produce – especially the pies, which every rider devoured!!

 

 

 

It was then onward to Snittle road (which now has a cracking ‘be nice say hi’ sign on it) and up towards the Snittlegate Quarry for some great single track (and more signs!!).

 

 

From the quarry it was over to Ramsden road (for more signs) and of course one of the best technical descents in the area. It was great to see people who didn’t know the trail riding down with grins plastered across their faces. We followed the road down past Brownhill reservoir into Holmebridge and then up onto Cartworth moor for another cracking descent back down into Holmfirth.

Although it wasn’t an all day epic, it was a brilliant social ride out with a great group of mountain bikers enjoying local trails, chatting and pie, followed by a cheeky pint (or two) at the Nook Brew house.

If you’ve never ridden the Holme Valley, it’s a graet area, with beautiful countryside and amazing trails. It’s a great place to explore, but if you don’t have the time to plan rides in the area, or you want to seek out the hidden gems that are known by the locals, then get in touch with Jason through and book yourself a guided ride. He offers riding for all abilities, and can tailor rides to suit everyone.

Head over to www.rideholme.co.uk for more details and get yourself a guided half/full days riding in the Holme Valley.

 

 

 

Oakwell’s a go

As most of you will know by now, the Oakwell Hall MTB trail is open and ready to ride!!

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And boy is it good – fun, fast and flowing and full of berms, berms and more berms. It is a blue graded trail, but it is definitely at the top end of what a blue trail should be – meaning its great for beginners and shredders alike!!

So how did it all come about?

The trail has been in development for the past 13 months, but has been an idea for over 2 years. The initial plan was for a hand built trail, designed and created by local riders, with the consent of Oakwell. Obviously, with it being on council property, those responsible for Oakwell needed to be informed….and then the bombshell was dropped –  they said that if it’s going to be done, it should be done properly and  that there was potentially some funding available!! All that was needed was a funding bid to be written and presented to cabinet.

Easy, no problem!!  I had no experience of trail building or writing bids, but thought, what have I got to loose. So with the help of Amanda from Oakwell, the initial bid was written with construction costs pulled out of thin air – more guestimates than anything else!! With the bid written and submitted, it was a waiting game to see if we could get the funding, and low and behold, it was offered through the better homes funding scheme. Brilliant, onto the next stage – finding someone to build it.

I got in touch with a number of trail construction companies, looking to get them to take a look at the site and provide a quote for it…Bombshell number 2 then hit – the funding we had wasn’t going to get anything other than a path!!

What to do….

It appeared that the plan had fallen flat on it a*&e straight away. I started looking into funding streams and where I could get enough money to make something worthwhile. It was through a chance meeting that I was told about the Community Access Fund from Sport England and the Awards for All through the Big lottery fund.  Great, however you can’t apply as an individual, so that wasn’t going to work…Unless

The birth of Ride Kirklees.

The idea came like a lightning bolt of inspiration – Ride Sheffield and Lady Cannings, a community group, raising funds, building trails and promoting mountain biking for everyone. I’d met John Horscroft at Lady Cannings, and decided to get in touch and pick his brains about setting up a group in Kirklees to mirror the work of Ride Sheffield.

Setting up the group was easy enough – the benefits of social media!! The group started growing in numbers and support, and there was now a community group that could apply for funding and begin to make a positive contribution to mountain biking in Kirklees. So it was back to the computer, writing funding applications, submitting them and waiting for what seemed like ages!!

After a few telephone conversations and several emails, I got word from the Big lottery – success!! 1 step closer to getting the cash….A bit more waiting, more phone calls, quite a few more emails, and BINGO, Sport England were on board. We had the money!!!

Who to choose…

With the project being done through the council, there were a number of things that had to be done a certain way. They had the money (there was no way I was taking control of the cash!!) The construction had to be put to tender. I did some research on trail building companies and provided a list of the ones I thought would be suitable. A few companies submitted tender to build the trail, and it was then time to decide who would get the contract. A meeting was held with Oakwell staff, Kirklees council staff and group members from Ride Kirklees. The applications were scrutinized and discussed at length, with points awarded to each company for the way they were going to build the trail, maintain it, and how much it was going to cost.

It was a close call, but Bike Track got it. Not the cheapest, but definitely the most thorough, offering a really good service in designing, building and maintaining the trail.

And their off…

With bike track selected to build the trail, it was then down to them to carry out site surveys and design the trail. This is quite a lengthy process, and can’t be rushed (unless you just want a path through the woods!!) and it was a few months before some designs were seen, and approved. The scheme of works was drawn up, all we needed was for LUBP red trail to be finished, and bike track were going to get on with Oakwell.

And get on with it they did!! Trees were marked up for felling, fences were flagged for removal, and it was over to Oakwell staff and volunteers and Ride Kirklees to get the trail clear ready for the machines and Jordan with his gang to get on site.

In no time at all, the majority of the trail was cleared, and bike tracks compound set up. The stone was delivered and ferried around the fields ready to be laid out. Within a couple of weeks, there was a definite trail forming, and it was time to have a meeting a sign it off so the build could progress.

As soon as the initial digging out of the trail had been signed off, the stone started going in. It was an impressive sight to see. A group of 5 guys, with a digger, dumper, rakes and shovels shifted countless tonnes of stone into the woods and sculpted the trail pretty much by hand.dsc_0012 They worked tirelessly, and pretty soon, I was asked to go and sign off the next phase of the build. When I arrived, I felt like a kid at Christmas – it was more than I could have imagined. There was a trail, a perfect ribbon of sculpted mountain bike heaven just waiting to be ridden.

A couple more weeks, and the build was complete, but unfortunately mother nature was against us, and decided to rain in vast amounts and saturate the trail, meaning no amount of wacker plateing was going to make it ready to ride….and so, back to the waiting game!!!

Bike track had said they would be complete by mid December – and true to their word they were, but with the heavy rainfall, it was decided that it would be after Christmas and probably new year until it had firmed up and was ready to ride. No bother, there was still plenty of work that needed to be done.

One of the main jobs to get on with was ensuring that the dog walkers, who had previously walked where the trail now ran needed another route, and so Ride Kirklees group members grabbed some mattocks and shovels, donned their work boots and made good a footpath to the side of the trail – which was much appreciated by the walkers!!

 

There are other jobs that still need to be done to complete the trail – fencing around the cow field and drinking pond, kissing gates to be installed, fences to be repaired, brash to me removed – the list goes on, and it’s going to take a fair few volunteer hours to get it done (any help would be greatly appreciated on trail maintenance days!!) and I had plans to get in  over the Christmas and New Year period to get on with some of these jobs, but sometimes life gets in the way of the things you want to get on with….

Then the call came in…

After New year, I decided to take a trip over to Oakwell with my 3 girls to show them what I had been involved in creating, which just so happened to coincide with Jordan putting up some new Bike track signs. After a brief chat, Jordan said that we should be good to go, it just needed a few more days, and bit of tree work and a tidy up and then go ride.

The wait was over, time to ride…

In order to avoid the masses descending on the trail whilst there was still work to be done, the decision was made for a small work party (the RK committee) to go in and finish of the last few jobs to make the trail safe, do some litter picking so that the trail could start out as a #trashfreetrail and clear the brash before the first rides..

 

A few laps later, and it was time to let all of you good people know the craic..A quick word with riders coming past and a post on Facebook told people what they needed to know – the trail was open. I could feel the excitement in my pocket as my phone started going ping, ping, ping!!! Riders started appearing at the start of the trail – excited kids and adults who happened to be riding past, the faces said it all…

Since that sunny Sunday in January, my phone hasn’t stopped – comments on the trail, people asking for directions, writers and bloggers posting reviews, mums and dads joining the group to find out more information, horse riders with concerns, and of course complaints!!!

The inevitable…

As with all new things there is always some teething problems – it was expected, but I just hoped it wasn’t going to be the mountain bikers who were causing problems, more disgruntled visitors to Oakwell who had “been walking here for 20 odd years”, but unfortunately it was a small minority of riders who believe that getting a Strava KOM/trophy/PR is more important than being polite and courteous that have caused some issues.

So far (from what I’ve been told) and elderly couple and their dog have had a near miss, regular Park runners have had bad encounters and Amanda (one of the rangers) has had some grief from riders. This kind of thing puts mountain bikers in a bad position, and is detrimental to all the work Ride Kirklees is trying to do.

The issue seems to be people tearing down the main track to and from the trail head, and not giving any consideration to other user groups on site, so please keep the Strava KOMS and trophies to the trail and

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On a positive note..

The comments and feedback are brilliant. Everyone is out enjoying the trail, Dads and their lads, mums and their little uns, shredders and newbies are riding the trail with smiles plastered across their faces. The café has commented on how polite the mountain bikers are (and how it’s great for business). So this little trail can only strengthen the community and encourage people to get out and ride.

It’s been a long and at times stressful journey to get this trail built. A lot of hard work has been put into it and it has paid off. I hope you all enjoy riding it and we can prove to Kirklees Council that mountain bikers are a responsible user group worthy of investment.

Have fun!!!

 

A new year on the horizon….

2018 is nearly over, and it’s been a pretty good year for Ride Kirklees. The group has made loads of progress and is getting bigger (judging by the number of members joining on social media ).

The group is still in its infancy – just over 1 year old, but already we have made a lot of progress and have a number of achievements due to the drive of our members. If the past year is anything to go by, then 2019 will see us growing in numbers and making a huge impact on mountain biking in the area.

Our achievements this year have been:

  1. Becoming a constituted group.
  2. Taking the first steps to getting insurance so we can carry out trail maintenance on our bridleway network.
  3. Having our 1st AGM, and electing our committee members.
  4. Getting the Oakwell hall trail built-it will soon be ready to ride!!received_378946719543987.jpeg
  5. Getting the nod from the council to plan a Waymarked off road route around Kirklees, which will hopefully be a big project for 2019.
  6. 250 be nice say hi signs are being printed and will soon appear on bridleways across the area.downloadfile
  7. Developing links with other user groups and the council to take further steps towards providing better rights of way.
  8. Getting 1000 flyers printed up to promote the group and our vision.ridekirklees flyer-01
  9. Being instrumental in the development of a Yorkshire wide advocacy group that will provide evidence of the positive aspects of mountain biking to help develop more off road routes.

So what’s the plan for 2019?

In a nutshell: to keep it rolling and take things further. The success of the group is all down to the proactive approach to improve mountain biking for seasoned riders and the next generation. We need to prove that it’s not just a popular fad, and that mountain biking is only going to get bigger and better, that way more infrastructure can be developed and people will be encouraged to get out and ride.

To do this, we are going to have to look towards development and encouraging riders to ‘be nice say hi’ and put something back into the community/countryside. This can be a really easy process – being polite and respectful to other user groups is a straightforward thing to do and shows that we (as a user group) are respectful and mindful of others. Putting something back however is a bit trickier and will take a bit more effort. We are planning on carrying out some trail maintenance days – not just on Oakwell Hall trail, but on the bridleway network across Kirklees. This is going to need some serious effort and time from group members, but don’t worry if you don’t have that much time!!

Whilst out riding, there a few ways each and everyone of us can make a difference.

Give a drain a kick!!

So easy and takes less than a minute. This simple act will mean that drains keep water of the trail, and will stop trail users (one group especially) from avoiding getting their feet wet and widening the trail, therefore keeping singletrack single!

Keep a record

of the trails that could do with some TLC. If you are getting rotor deep in mud on a trail that could run well, or having to dodge a load of overhanging branches, make a note, post it to the group and lets get it sorted out. This will mean we can ride great trails, but other users can enjoy them too.

Other than those two things, you can also join us on a trail maintenance day at Oakwell or any other venue that needs it. You can also submit your local routes that could be worthy of being part of the Kirklees wide circular loop. We are looking for day loops, containing the best ascents/descents that are on offer. We would also like to get the routes pages up and running so any GPX files would be great…

All the best for 2019…Enjoy the ride…

 

 

Merry Christmas

Just a quick one to say merry Christmas to everyone, and thanks for being part of this group..

This year has really seen the group take off with projects taking shape, new members joining and plans for more great work.

Between now and the beginning of the new year, there will be some trail days at Oakwell to get it all ready to ride, so keep eeye out on social media and here for details.

Enjoy Christmas, be merry and ride bikes… .

Christmas come early?

It’s that time of year, the weather has certainly changed since our glorious summer, decorations are going up and people are out buying presents. Well this year the presents for Ride Kirklees members are as follows:

  • A new blue graded trail at Oakwell Hall.
  • Some funding for ‘be nice say Hi’ signs.
  • Flyers to advertise the group and the work we are doing.
  • Trail maintenance days a plenty…

The big, main present – Oakwell Hall!! Bike Track said the trail would be finished mid December and….IT IS!! It has been signed off today and the Bike Track gang are packed up and shipping out. However, due to the recent weather and potential weather in the future, the trail won’t open yet… BOO, I hear you say. The reason for this is that we want the trail to be in its best condition for as long as possible (before we need to carry out any maintenance) and the recent deluge has meant that no amount of whacking will make it rideable yet.

Parts of the trail are still really soft, and the only thing to do is let nature take its course to let the trail bed down. The time this takes, no one knows. If we have a really dry spell maybe a couple of weeks, if we get rain (or snow) then its going to take longer. After discussions with Bike Track, the thinking is – let it be for this year at least. The good news is that this will mean we can get a date organized for next year, and go ride a trail that is ready for riding!! The logs and brash that is currently covering the trail will stay on until then – so please don’t be tempted to go have a cheeky ride – it will cause more harm than good.

Be nice say Hi.

The national campaign that was started by our fellow advocacy group Ride Sheffield is soon to be a common sight around Kirklees. Funding has just been confirmed for us to get 250 signs printed up. The iconic black and white squares will soon start appearing on bridleways across the area. Kirklees sports and physical activity development  project ‘Try it, Like it, Do it’ have awarded us the cash to get the signs, so when they arrive we will need some volunteers to screw them onto posts.

Flyers, flyers, flyers.

After the AGM in October, it was suggested that getting some advertising for local bike shops needed to be done. So a few months later and with some help from Adam Simmonite from Trail Advantage some flyers have been done designed. The next thing was to look at how to get them printed, and thanks to Amanda Walker, we now have a box of flyers to distribute around. Some have already been delivered to Earnshaws two wheel centre on Manchester road in Huddersfield, Albion Cycling in Thongsbridge and The handmade Bakery in Slaithwaite. I am aiming to get leaflets out to all the local bike shops and bike friendly eating and drinking establishments – so if anyone can help, please let me know and I’ll get you some flyers.

Trail maintenance days.

An application has recently gone into Natural Kirklees so that we can be insured to carry out trail maintenance in the area. If this comes through then we will need members to update the group on trails that need some TLC – from drainage to overhanging branches. Winter is a great time to get out and do the work, as it’s the right time to fell trees, clear drains and look after the trails so they are ready to ride come spring. All potential work needs to be cleared by Kirklees council, so please let the group know if there are areas that need attention.

One area that is going to see some work is around Oakwell. There are loads of bits to get stuck into to finish of the areas surrounding the trail. Jobs like fencing, tree felling and pruning and the installation of gates to help protect the trail from motorbikes. The first task is on Saturday the 8th of December, with some footpath work, and further dates will be organized to carry out other tasks. Any help would be greatly appreciated, so keep an eye on the Facebook page and if you can spare some time, please do.

Hope you all enjoy your Ride Kirklees presents when they are ready – it will definitely be worth the wait.

Have a great Christmas, and hopefully see you on the trails…..