It’s a bit late, but sometimes life (and bikes) get in the way!!!
The annual general meeting of 2019 was held on the 28th of November at the Navigation Tavern in Mirfield. Its a great wee venue, where we had a function room to ourselves, and is pretty much central to the whole of Kirklees, so becomes accessible for all group members. It was attended by 10 group members, who took part in a number of discussions about the direction and projects that we are involved in.
The first point on the agenda was the dull, but necessary bit for the constitution where we need to appoint/elect a chair, treasurer and secretary. Myself (Gordon McMinn), Mal Gibb and Liam Raby were proposed and seconded by the attendees and will remain in position for another year. There are also committee positions available to group members who would like to get more involved, and if you would like to put yourself forward please get in touch with a current committee member, listed below:
Ride Kirklees Committee:
Chair: Gordon McMinn. Treasurer: Mal Gibb. Secretary: Liam Raby.
Committee: Rik Legge, Andy Bampton, Bob Hedley, Chris Hull, James Smith, Mat Melia.
After all the formalities, it was on to the real stuff we wanted to chat about –
What have we done as a group?
The main discussion revolved around the big projects, with the first being the national Be Nice Say Hi campaign. When RK first started, the campaign had already started to gain some momentum through Ride Sheffield, PDMTB and other advocacy groups as well as Cycling UK and The British Horse Society. We were able to secure funding from Kirklees Sports and Physical Activity team to get 250 signs printed up with the plan to distribute them across the popular bridleways in Kirklees.
The signs arrived in time for the opening of Oakwell, and were put up around the entrances to the Park on day 1. From there they have started spreading around the Colne and Holme valleys and Mirfield. We really need to get more of these signs out around the trails group members ride, so we are asking people from other areas to get in touch, so we can send signs and screws out and get the message out there.
Oakwell Hall MTB.
The big success story of 2019 has to be the opening of the Oakwell Hall trail. It was a great event, on a beautiful day with bikes, beer, music and fun. The trail has cost around 90k to build, has used over 200 volunteer hours, been embraced by mountain bikers and local park users, featured in MBR and came 2nd in the MBR Trail Of The Year – no mean feet for a small group of riders.
The event itself went off pretty smooth, with no major issues. Everyone seemed to have a great time, from riders and vendors to members of the public wanting to see what was going on. It was a fantastic day, though we learnt a few things that can be improved for next year. The day attracted over 500 people, with 60 riders entering the time trial race. The feedback from stall holders was great, and they have all expressed an interest in attending any more we do.
The plan now is to hold a yearly event to celebrate the trail and all things MTB. We are hoping to make each event bigger and better every time, and welcome ideas from group members to help us achieve this – so if you have any ideas, let us know.
One of the main aims of RK is to help improve access for riders around Kirklees. Most of you will know that the network of trails isn’t amazing (although we do have some amazing trails). A lot of the bridleways are beginning to show signs of wear and tear, and there is always a strong chance that if not maintained sympathetically, these routes will be sanitized by the powers that be.
We have written proposals for the maintenance of a number of bridleways that although are great to ride at the moment, have issues that if left unchecked could ruin a great ride. We are not looking to tame any rough/fun stuff, but to create sustainable trails where we can reduce our environmental impact and give something back.
The current proposals include: The Marsden Packhorse Trail, Wessenden, Meltham Cop, Causeway (near Pole Moor) and Harrison Lane (Blackmoorfoot). Most of the work revolves around drainage, reducing the amount of standing water and erosion. All the proposals have been given the go ahead (pending site inspections).
So far, work has started on Wessenden and a good section of drain has been cleared helping keep the trail dry(ish) and preventing further erosion. In the photo, you can see the drain on the left is now clear – before this was taken it was completely overgrown with vegetation and all the run off went straight onto the trail to create a series of large puddles. Not a problem on a bike, but other users try to avoid the puddles, which then widens the trail, and ultimately could lead to it being resurfaced and it loosing its character. This bridleway will be an ongoing one due to the length of it, and we are planning to make a start on Meltham Cop, which could be done within a couple of sessions.
Project 22% – PDMTB
Peak District MTB have recently launched a new project that aims to increase the bridleway network in the Peak from 11% up to the national average of 22%. This is great news for us, as many of our ‘footpaths’ cross over into the Peak, and if they can be upgraded to bridleways, our routes can take us further. So far as a group we have submitted 9 suggestions, which equates to approximately 20km of trail. RK have spoken to Kirklees council, who are onside and open to discussion about upgrading some, if there is supporting evidence.
Earlier in the year the Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team held their annual Rescue Ride to help raise funds for the sterling work they do across Kirklees (not just the Holme Valley!!) As mountain bikers, they are the team of volunteers who will be there to pick up the pieces when we come off in remote areas. As a group, we felt it was only right to support them where we can.
We offered to publicize the ride and drum up more entries for the day, and also carry out sweeping duties to ensure all the signs were brought in and no one was left behind. It was a cracking ride out, with quite a few RK members entering, and has also led to us being involved in organizing their other MTB events.
We are helping the team to generate more interest, but also more importantly providing advice and suggestions on the route, hopefully resulting in less road, and more fun stuff. The 2020 event is on Sunday July 5th.
After helping on the Rescue Ride, we have built a pretty solid relationship with the team, and also volunteered to be casualties on some of their training days. 3 of us ventured out with the team on a wet morning to provide a scenario of 3 riders involved in some pretty serious ‘offs’. This was a great experience where we were able to get an insight into how the team operate, and what would happen if we did come a cropper out on the trails. As mountain bikers, we really need to support the Rescue teams as much as possible, as they are vital to our safety, and are volunteers, who have no support from the government, but will gladly give their time to get us packaged up and sorted out.
A classic MTB route that is falling into disrepair and in need of a shed load of tlc. RK have signed up as a voice for mountain bikers to the Friends of Ramsden Road action group. The group was formed to work alongside the council to find a solution to the damaged road, that would suit all user groups and get the job done. FoRR is made up of representatives from 4×4 drivers, trails riders, walkers, horse riders and mountain bikers who want to ensure that the nature of the road is not lost and that access can be improved for all.
The road has deteriorated over a number of years due to water damage, and if not sorted could be downgraded to a footpath and lost to all but walkers. The group has got together to come up with a viable solution and raise funds to address the drainage and keep it open to all.
So far there has been a lot of positive discussion which is now turning to action. Bike track have been invited to cast an eye over it and provide a quote for getting the diggers in and cracking on. We can get involved in some of the hands on digging, but the main reason for getting involved is to ensure that the technical trail stays technical and isn’t sanitized.
Tubes don’t grow on trees/ Trash Free Trails.
Climate change, micro plastics and the downfall of the human race is constantly being discussed in the media these days, and even if you are a sceptic about how bad it really is, that’s no reason not to do your bit for the environment. Tubes don’t grow on trees and Trash Free Trails are 2 mountain bike specific organisations that are at the front of the movement to help protect the countryside we ride in.
The message is simple, “pick it up, ya prick” and “don’t be a tosser”. As an advocacy group, it is really important to ensure that we are seen as doing our bit and taking care of our trails. By simply timing a break on a ride where there is some litter and putting it in your pack, you are helping look after the countryside.
We encourage all of you to do this and hashtag the stuff you find of social media. The more riders are seen to be doing this, the better the public’s view of mountain bikers will be. It’s really important in more remote areas, as there are no street cleaners on’t moors – its our responsibility.
Project 2026 – Recording lost rights of way.
If you’ve not heard of project 2026, here is a quick breakdown. By the year 2026, historic rights of way that are not recorded properly could be lost forever. We have all ridden footpaths that are wide enough to drive a car down and tracks that are blatantly old packhorse trails which have ‘no bikes’ signs etc and if we don’t identify them and get them changed, they will remain that way – rights of way mountain bikers (and horse riders) have no rights to use.
A lot of these trails were missed or recorded incorrectly when the definitive map was drawn up, and now is the last chance to change them. A prime example of this is around Deerhill above Meltham. Deerhill End Road is a bridleway up to a Yorkshire water gate, after the gate it is a footpath around the reservoir and down Shooters nab (although you could drive a Landy all the way!) The gate is the boundary between what was the Meltham and Colne valley districts. When the definitive map was drawn up, Meltham parish council called it a bridleway, Colne valley a footpath, and so (officially) we shouldn’t ride there.
The Kirklees Bridleways Group are working tirelessly to change this, and are submitting applications for footpaths to be upgraded on a regular basis. We can help the Bridleways group whenever we come across a trail we feel should be a bridleway. All we need to do is let them know where it is, and send some photos. Bev and Mark will then pretty much take it from there and get the paperwork together. Its then just a case of filling out a form (takes about 10 minutes) and submitting it.
The 2 pictures above show separate footpaths, both about 2 meters wide with walls down either side. To me they looked like they should be bridleways (especially the first one with a stone carving of a packhorse!!) I took a couple of photos, noted the location and sent them onto Bev and Mark – it’s as simple as that, and it could open up new routes for us to enjoy..
Until next years….
Well there it is, a years work done, and plenty to still do. We have been really busy behind the scenes at RK, with meetings, planning, organizing and riding. There is a great little cohort of dedicated guys in the group, working away, and I would like to give my thanks to all of you who have contributed to this group. If anyone wants to get more involved, there is loads you can do – from putting out be nice signs, helping out on dig days, organizing ride outs to picking up trail side litter and identifying lost rights of way. We are always looking for more volunteers, so if you want to get more involved, please get in touch….