World mental health day.

Today is World Mental Health Day. In the midst of a global pandemic our physical health seems to be under constant scrutiny, and so it’s good to know that mental health issues are becoming more widely understood and less stigmatised.

However, separating our health into physical and mental “compartments” might be too simplistic; it’s more that they are two aspects of our overall health, and often closely linked. An injury or illness is likely to be accompanied by feelings of anxiety, perhaps a loss of confidence or worries over keeping up the day job. We might feel lethargic, demotivated, frustrated, angry. In my opinion, we should not just ignore these feelings but try to address and manage them in the same way we might approach any other “physical” illness or injury.

Worth remembering this wee slogan when your out, as you never know how another person is feeling, and a simple greeting can go along way.

In addition, there is still a lingering idea that mental health is in some way binary; a person is either well or unwell, or as if only some people are affected. But in the same way that even the fittest and healthiest of us can be struck down with a virus, anyone can struggle with their mental health. The severity might vary considerably (just like with a physical injury or illness) but even in mild cases, showing some sympathy and support can help.

Over the past few months, I have found myself feeling pretty down. I suffer a little bit with anxiety in any case, but with uncertainty over work, family, friends and a host of other things , life has felt more of a struggle. Normally, I find that any daily worries and frustrations seem more manageable after a ride. Getting outside, spending some time on my own in the hills and challenging myself on some tricky descents gives me the dopamine hit I need to restore my mental balance.

A bit of peace and quiet in the hills can go along way to relieving stresses.

However, recently things have been different. The idea of going for a ride just didn’t appeal. Sometimes I’d force myself out, but I felt crap, like I’d forgotten how to ride properly. Where previously I’d make time to ride, I was now doing more work. It became a vicious circle; seeing other people ride would induce feelings of jealousy, but I couldn’t bring myself to get out. I deleted Strava, stopped following people on social media, stopped messaging friends. I just wanted to shut everyone out, sell the bike, hide away.

Today though, I feel a bit better. Despite the damp conditions, I actually found I fancied getting out and when I did, I enjoyed it. It wasn’t fast or stylish, but it was fun. I have tried to identify what it was that made the difference, I’m still not sure and perhaps it was a few things, but at least in part it was a message from a friend arranging to meet up.

I know full well that my mental health issues are, in the grand scheme of things, pretty trivial. Everyone feels a bit down sometimes, or gets bogged down with work, or feels stressed. But just because everyone goes through it, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t show some kindness; both to others and ourselves (sorry, sounding a bit Jerry Springer there). Check in on your friends, see how they’re doing; it can make a huge difference.

Check in with your riding buddies, organise a ride out and have a laugh, you never know how they might be feeling, and getting out and forgetting for a short while, might do them the world of good.

Written and submitted by an anonymous Ride Kirklees group member.

If you suffer from any form of mental health issues, there are people and groups out there to help. There are numerous groups in Kirklees who can offer help and support, check out some of the links bellow or chat with friends and family.

www.andysmanclub.co.uk

www.kirkleesinrecovery.com

What have Ride Kirklees been up to?

As with everyone else Covid put life on hold for Ride Kirklees. It put a stop to our dig days, Trash Free Trails (#tft) clean-ups, social rides and such. That said lockdown gave us time to work on various proposals and we figured now’s a good time to start spreading the good news. Ride Kirklees have been asked to get involved with trail developments in:

  1. Oakwell Hall
  2. Dewsbury Country Park – Dewsbury Bike Park
  3. Caulms Wood
  4. Park Mills Colliery, Clayton West
  5. Fixby Woods

As you’ll soon gather, the developments range from small to huge so some parts will come to fruition sooner than others. There are all sorts of decisions to be finalised regarding funding, permissions from other landowners, fully signed off plans etc however Kirklees Council have been very positive so it’s going to be an exciting few years for mtb in Kirklees.

1. Oakwell Hall

This is a simple one, the trail’s already in place and fantastically well used, it’s more a request for help. We currently don’t have a representative that lives locally and rides it regularly. If it’s your local trail and you fancy getting involved to keep it sweet, we need a volunteer to organise TFT clean-ups (maximum two a year); getting to know the rangers so problems can be reported; keeping an eye on the state of the trail; help out the organising team for another open day. It’s not an onerous task, and there’s several of us that can help out until you know what’s what. If you’re interested please get in touch. (ridekirklees@hotmail.com).

All the following trail developments are in various stages of discussion with Kirklees Council. The discussions were underpinned by our “Drivetrain Bike Hub Proposal” document, regarding creating off-road cycling facilities in Kirklees. If these are your local rides, keep an eye out on the Facebook page to get involved.

2. Dewsbury Country Park – Dewsbury Bike Park?

After attending the Oakwell Hall Opening Day, the ranger of Dewsbury Country Park contacted Ride Kirklees with the idea of something similar in DCP. The long-term plan for Dewsbury Country Park is to develop a bike hub and trail centre. The park has the space to build a network of safe trails for people of all abilities. This proposal includes family orientated green routes, beginner blue routes and more advanced red routes (with black options) as well as a pump track and jump line. If you’ve never ridden a trail centre before, they use colours to grade routes by difficulty so that everyone knows what to expect. Having a mixture of graded trails would mean that the park would cater for all riders and allow progression for people to develop their off-road cycling skills. Providing dedicated walking/multipurpose routes near the bike tracks would also encourage more visitors to the park and also help to reduce any user conflicts that may arise.

At present Dewsbury Country park has issues around anti-social behaviour – fly tipping, drug use and unauthorized use of motor bikes. With the development of a bike hub and on-site facilities (e.g. bike hire, café, information centre) the increase in visitor numbers is hoped to reduce the anti-social issues, much like Leeds Urban Bike Park has done in Middleton

The aim is to develop the site in stages, so the council can gauge the popularity before the next stage of development.

The 1st stage will be to create a pump track that caters for all abilities – from kids wanting to learn, to experience riders looking to progress and jump. If the pump track is successful, we should then be able to move on to developing the red and green/blue trails.

Dewsbury Bike Park plan

3. Caulms Wood

Caulms Wood needs a significant amount of management and has seen the development of a volunteer group to take on the challenge of restoring the woodland into a more welcoming and secure place to find an escape from day to day life. The woodland is used by dog walkers and is also part of the Kirklees Way.

The woodland is already used by cyclists with several unofficial trails and a bridleway that cuts through the centre of the site. The Friends Of Caulms Wood invited Ride Kirklees to assess the feasibility of introducing official bike trails into the woods with the intention of creating a recreational venue close to the centre of Dewsbury. Ride Kirklees have since then held a meeting on site with local riders and the chairman of Singletraction – a volunteer trail building group who are responsible for developing and building bike trails including the Devils Toenail in Wetherby.

With the elevation of the site and the features that have been left from past quarrying, the site would make a challenging red graded route, with black graded options. By developing an official trail in the woods, we would be able to encourage off road cyclists to stay away from the Kirklees Way footpath that is currently being resurfaced. It would also help to reduce conflict between user groups, for example dog walkers, horse riders and cyclists.

Below is the phase one suggested route that was planned during a site visit by Ride Kirklees.

The above route would start and finish at the Cliffe street carpark, which would allow for people to drive to the venue and ride from a fixed point. However, with the Dewsbury local plan, this car park may be subject to housing development, in which case an alternative would be sought. The route was planned so as not to interfere with existing official rights of way, however there are a number of desire lines that have been created over the years by walkers and cyclists. Where possible, the cycle route would avoid these desire lines and create a new trail. We’ve suggested some of the desire lines become official walking routes to further reduce any conflict between user groups.

There have been discussions relating to how much space could be used to build this facility. From discussions with local riders there is a large amount of green space North of Caulms Wood, locally known as Nursery woods, with access from High Street in Hanging Heaton. If possible, it would be ideal if the proposed trail could utilize this space further by extending the trail.

Longer term there is a potential second phase, developing a trail that utilises the space between Caulms wood and Hanging Heaton (Nursery woods). This would mean that access to the trail can be from several different access points, enabling more use of the facility. At the moment this is just a possibility as amongst other things it requires permissions from a different landowner.

The above map shows phase one highlighted in red and the possible phase 2 highlighted in blue. There would still be a need for official access from the Hanging Heaton side using the existing paths.

After the Friends of Caulms wood carried out some scrub clearance recently, an area was identified to create a kids track. This will probably be a fairly simple pump track with rollers and table tops, and will be pretty small in order to enable kids to learn to ride. The designs have been submitted and a consultation is in progress to choose the design we will build.

4. Park Mill Colliery, Clayton West

Park Mill bike track was first launched in 2009 but has since fallen into disrepair for a number of reasons. A group of residents spoke to Councilors Graham Turner and Will Simpson in 2019 about youth provision in the area. It was suggested that the bike track could be revamped to create a facility for off road cycling.

The Park Mill Bike Track group met with a trail building company but the cost of a commercially built trail is prohibitive so are looking to create a volunteer-built track. Work has begun with the clearing of the original track, and we are hoping that this winter will offer the opportunity to start the resurfacing and shaping of the track.

When the original track is made fit for purpose, there are plans to develop a short red route around the site. This will complement the existing dirt jumps and the redeveloped track.

This project came about because in recent months, local trail builders built unsanctioned timber ramps into the dirt jump line, which although are well constructed, could create issues due to the extreme nature of the ramps. Ride Kirklees was  approached by Kirklees Council to assist on developing the site which will help to create a network of off-road cycling facilities in the area.

5. Fixby Woods

Hopefully everyone’s aware of this already from the discussions on the RK Facebook page.  There’s been a lot of good discussion with the Council to resolve the complaints about riding/digging in Fixby Woods. The main take away is they are positive about the future of mtb in Fixby on the back of our proposal however that means there’s a load of remedial work required. As most riders won’t be aware there’s a problem, we’ve been allowed to put signs up around the woods to help increase awareness and get more riders on board with the solution. First dig day is 10am Sunday 13th Sept, look out for more on the RK Facebook page. That’s just the briefest summary, the full detail is on our website:

https://ridekirklees.wordpress.com/2020/08/29/fixby-woods-update/

Fixby Woods Update

The Problem

Although Fixby Woods(Upper Fell Greave) has been ridden for years, in the last 12 months there’s been a shedload of inappropriate building and a lot of locals have properly kicked off about it. There’s been hundreds of hours of building effort put in which is commendable, just some of it’s not been thought through too well, and some could have been built better. Had the building been at the edge of a big woods, it probably would go unnoticed but these trails smash through the middle of a small busy suburban wood.  If the enthusiasm and effort of the diggers can be channelled a bit better, it will help create a long term future for mtb in Fixby.

The trail building has also collided with the perfect storm of other issues kicking off at the same time: increased Covid exercisers, increased littering, grafitti, dog mess, fires and motorbike riding. Due to the number of complaints the council have to act so we’re trying to be proactive in order for biking to continue in the woods. The council don’t blame us for the other stuff however biking is the vast majority of the complaints. The council has a number of worry beads about biking – they have to keep all user groups happy which is fair enough; they need to keep things as safe as possible for everyone; their liability for injuries; the poor quality of digging and damage to the ancient woodland amongst others.

That ancient woodland point could have knocked riding on the head straight away – some of the borrow pits impinge on tree roots; no building should go above the ground level by the trunks (some berms back up onto trees) and whoever carved the direction arrows into the tree trunks wants their head testing. If we build stuff it’s got to be considerate of the ancient woodland e.g the borrow pits should be blended in, not just left as stark holes left dug out. No feature should have wood in it e.g. the gap jump fell apart because it was packed with logs.

One complaint that was knocked back was that trees are being cut down to build the bike stuff. The council agreed with us that that’s not happened, it’s making use of the felled trees that have been left there. However they’re left there to form habitats so that critters (obviously I’m no entomologist) and stuff can thrive on the dead wood.

The solution – well it’s a work in progress.

The first good news point is that as soon as the complaints became significant, the Council organised a meeting to discuss resolving the issues and Ride Kirklees were asked to attend. Looks like our approach to advocacy is working.

We’ve had a few meetings with the Council and thumbs up to the council, they’ve been very positive with our approach. We submitted a proposal to keep the two lines through Fixby – the bombholes, and the newer jumps line. There’ll need to be some changes but most of the features will remain. We’ve been dealing with council folk from numerous departments (asset management; forestry; insurance; Rights of Way; parks; admin and I can’t remember who else). They’ve all been very positive……..well 99.9% positive – as non mtbers they went a bit grey at the sight of the shonky gap jump. That said they’re not on about sanitising it – the gaps may go (yet to be decided) but the length of the jumps is not a problem. One principle is that the line should be rollable so a rider of any ability can ride it (this is a multi user woods, not a bike park), however a 3.5m tabletop is rollable.

Going forwards:

  • There a load of remedial work that we’re allowed to undertake e.g
    • the kicker over the bridleway has to go (you just can’t have a jump over a Public Right Of Way)
    • blending all the dig pits in
    • filling in any dig pits that impinge on tree roots
    • removing wood from any features (if anyone can explain why layering branches on the top of berms is meant to be a good idea, I’m intrigued)
    • ensuring berms aren’t built against trees
    • the oddly out of place loggy gap jump creation at the top of the bombholes will be removed along with the “berm” next to it. Cutting a “berm” into a flat surface just creates a berm shaped pond.
    • A lot of it is aesthetic improvements, but the aim is to get the digging to blend into the forest again, rather than being an ugly scar.
    • We’ll sort an RK Dig Day to start the ball rolling, just Covid and my knackered ribs might delay it a bit.
  • Some local riders have already been in touch to ask what they can do to help out. We met up to go through the problems/solutions – it’s all about spreading the message. There’s loads of riders use the woods, we need to get them involved in solving the problem hence the signs….
  • The Council gave us the nod to put signs up in the woods to try to stop any new digging and for the diggers to get in touch with us. As it stands there’s a large number of riders using the woods and a lot of them will have no idea there’s a problem. The signs’ll help with that however if everyone can spread the word too.
  • If you’re wondering about the inner tubes on the tree mounted signs. We’re not allowed to use nails or screws into the trees. We needed to use something that will grow with the tree (they’re not going to be up for that long!) hence inner tubes.
  • The jump line won’t be touched for the short term. They need a lot of work but we need to be accredited by the council before we can work on those. There has to be a rollable line so that anyone can ride it. This doesn’t sanitise it, the jump length can remain (as may some gap jumps) but the quality of the jump build needs to improve hugely. If you want an idea of the quality, head over to Wellholme Park Jumps line.
  • There’s work needed to improve the safety for all users of the woods e.g.  improved sight lines; a separation at the end of the new jump line to keep walkers/riders apart (currently the jump line and a footpath merge).
  • There’s still a way to go for full approval. I think we’ve met people from 7 departments so far, who are then going to be working with the local councillor to address the complaints however it feels like we’re currently in a good position.
  • There’s still the sticky issue with some of the locals. The folk in the council we’re dealing with are in discussion with the Fixby councillor; we’re involved with the Friends Of Fixby group and have kept them appraised with what we’re doing. I’d say there’s a way to go yet but we’re using the right channels to resolve it. That said there’s also locals who’ve voiced their approval that we’re doing something that the local kids can use. Whilst we’ve been there it’s been good to see a fair few kids riding the bombholes line, though a few more helmets would be better.
  • Medium term it potentially becomes a 12 month trial. If we can make the changes, keep any unauthorised building in check, keep it maintained to the agreed quality, then we’ve proven a rider developed/ maintained/ policed solution is viable. This may lead to the lines becoming more official, with signage but that’s a future discussion.

A long way to go but we’ve made some great progress in the few months since it all kicked off. Even more so considering the ultimate sanction could have been everything getting flattened.

Getting the water flowing

Last year we started carrying out a lot of bridleway maintenance, and have a team of really enthusiastic riders, walkers and horse riders willing to give up some time to clear drains, dig holes and cut back overgrown vegetation. We all seemed to get the bug, and planned monthly dig days, which saw a lot of work getting done to protect and enhance our trails. Then Coronavirus hit us and quite rightly everything stopped. Our trail maintenance programme has been suspended for now, but I thought I’d share a bit of positive news about what we have achieved so far….

Wessenden Bridleway.

This iconic route in the Colne valley was chosen as our first project because of the large number of users – mtb, horse riders, walkers, fell runners etc. It is undoubtedly one of the most popular bridleways around, and it made sense to tackle it and show what we can do.

The whole bridleway is about 3 miles long from top to bottom, with a wide track at either end. The middle section is narrower and has a number of ‘features’ that make it fun and challenging at the same time. It was this section that was in need of some TLC, as there were a number of large puddles leading to the trail widening and erosion of the moor. The drainage was simply not working due to the lack of maintenance over a number of years.

Our aim on this bridleway was to get the drains working as they were designed originally. Over 4 sessions (a total of 60 volunteer hours) we have significantly reduced the standing water on the trail. This was done by re-instating the hill side water gully, finding the culverts and clearing the cross drains.

Last time I rode it, there was still a few puddles that needed a quick ‘kick’ to get the water flowing again but on the whole, it is running fast and fun (even after all the rain we had). A few places need some aggregate to re adjust the levels, we’ll complete this in summer.

Next up….Meltham Cop (Dunnock Road).

With Wessenden running well, we decided to let it settle to monitor how effective our efforts have been and move on to a more challenging trail – Meltham Cop and the lakes that are there all year.

If you are not aware of this bridleway, the Cop is a very distinctive hill above Meltham, close to Blackmoorfoot reservoir. The bridleway skirts around the hill and is renowned for having rotor deep, track wide puddles at any given time, and after the torrential rain throughout February it was like riding through lakes.

os

There is evidence of some maintenance, but it appears that drainage wasn’t taken into consideration. It was over to us to find the drains and culverts and get the water flowing away from the trail. As well as making it a more pleasant ride, it’ll reduce the amount of erosion caused by users avoiding the puddles and walking/riding off the track.

 

The first (and only) session so far has been a great success with about 70% of the puddles 85177959_10163090110820252_7886965943065116672_ndraining away from the trail. It still needs a load of work as the first session was done to clear the puddles so we could take a better look at what needs doing. There are definitely some culverts in situ – our culvert finder Austin exposed one that took a huge amount of water away quickly!! Now that the majority of the water has got somewhere to go, we can dig around to expose the other culverts and get them back in operation.

 

85199299_10163090115085252_2678531198526947328_n

Lee digging out a drainage ditch on one of the larger puddles.

The above photos show one of the ‘lakes’ before and after the first session. This was one of the smaller puddles on the trail, and as you can see we’ve not completely got rid of the water. We have, however reduced it, and with some drier weather this section should become fun and flowing (and faster!!)

Our second and third sessions were planned for the end of March – one Friday session and a Saturday session but due to the nightmare that is Coronavirus, they were cancelled. As soon as we get the all clear, we will get some more dates organised to crack on with Dunnock road.

In the meantime, if you’re out on your daily exercise, and you find a trail that could do with some TLC, please email ridekirklees@hotmail.com and we can look into it. We have proposals completed and submitted for another three bridleways, and one in the process in Cleckheaton. We need you, as local riders to give us a heads up about your trails, so we can sort them out (you can join in, everyone’s welcome). Don’t worry though, we are NOT looking to sanitise them, just sympathetic maintenance to prevent them getting to a state where they need a full resurface.

Stay safe, and ride sensibly…..

Lets get digging….

 

78927938_10157961666604180_7129000285149593600_n

Not to bring politics into mountain biking but we are in a time of austerity. Councils are strapped for cash, and services they offer are under pressure, and this can be seen every time we head out for a ride (especially in summer). Lets face it, bridleway maintenance is not high on the priority list of work to be done for our councils, especially when they only employ a handful of people to look after all the rights of way.

This summer it was pretty evident that rights of way were not being well managed – I can’t count the times I got home covered in nettle stings and bramble cuts from overgrown vegetation, or couldn’t find the actual trail under the sea of bracken. Then when the rains came – the amount of standing water, or rivers flowing along the tracks was immense.

These two bridleways were photographed at the height of summer. The first is possibly one of the most popular trails in Kirklees – The Wessenden Bridleway, a great fast flowing ride, with great views and a load of bracken covering most of the actual trail. The second photo is one of the lakes on Dunnock Road (Meltham Cop), which is almost rotor deep all year round.

Generally speaking the issues don’t really effect mountain bikers in the short term – we regularly ride through puddles and slop, and blast past bracken and brambles without any real issues. In the longer term standing water leads to increased erosion and degradation of the trail, hence greater future repair costs. Also these problems can cause issues to other users.

The main issue is erosion which causes the majority of damage to a bridleway. A lot of user groups will try and avoid puddles if possible, and this generally means walking or riding around the water. If enough people20190810_130948 do this, a new ‘desire line’ is created, causing damage to the surrounding landscape and widening the trail. Water is most definitely the main cause of damage to bridleways, either directly to the path surface through erosion or by forcing users to avoid it. You can see in the picture how the trail has been widened by people avoiding the puddle.

To some people, this may not seem like an issue, but fast forward a few years and the powers that be will have to resurface this fun, challenging trail. Are they going to think about it from a mountain bikers perspective, or look for an easy, low maintenance and durable fix? Chances are a load of crushed stone spread along the bridleway and compacted down (as has already been seen by other councils).

A prime example of where this has happened is the Packhorse Trail in Marsden, where parts of the bottom section have been resurfaced (using flags and stone pitching), but from a mountain bikers point of view, there was nothing wrong with it!!!

As an advocacy group, we want to help put something back, and look after our trails so we can continue riding them, and preserve the character of them for future riders. We have started looking at the condition of some of our local trails, and how we can help protect them. So far we have surveyed and written proposals for 5 sites in the West of Kirklees, and are looking for other members of the group to submit trails from their local areas so we can generate a definitive list.

The bridleways we know about so far are:

  1. Wessenden bridleway.
  2. Blackmoorfoot reservoir.
  3. Dunnock Road (Meltham Cop).
  4. Causeway (Pole Moor)
  5. The Packhorse Trail in Marsden.

maintenance

1. Wessenden Bridleway.

20190811_152900

Blocked cross drain

Possibly one of the most popular trails in the area as it joins up to so many different routes. Although there’s nothing seriously wrong with the bridleway, it’s ideal for preventative maintenance.

There are several areas where the side drains are blocked and water is leaching onto the trail and has started to cause erosion. Also most of the existing cross drains are blocked so they’re no longer channeling water off the trail.

This situation is only going to get worse so it’s best to solve the problems now.  We’ve already had a couple of sessions here, and the improvement is fantastic.

The pictures below show the reintroduction of the drainage channel. From the picture on the left it’s hard to believe there is one. Previously it was blocked and the standing water in it was leaching onto the trail. We’ve uncovered and emptied it so it’s now free flowing with water, and the trail is much drier. This has helped remove the pooling of water in dips in the trail which were beginning to erode.

2. Blackmoorfoot Reservoir

IMG-20190810-WA0013

The plan is to improve the bridleway between Reservoir Side road and Harrison Lane for all users. This small bridleway has a reasonable number of users due to it’s proximity to Blackmoorfoot Reservoir.

The aim is to reinstate existing drainage and improve drainage onto the moor. There was also problems with overhanging vegetation but these were resolved by Kirklees Bridleways Group.

The existing cross drains are silted and the flow off channels onto the moors are blocked. This is causing water to flow down the bridleway, increasing erosion hence clearing them will resolve the issue.

3. Meltham Cop (Dunnock Road)

This is a well used bridleway that’s suffering badly from standing water. There’s existing cross drains and side drainage channels that are all badly blocked. This is causing standing water to cover the trail, and people are either creating path creep to the side, or using stone from the dry stone walls to try to create stepping stones through the puddles. These photos were taken in summer show the impact of the problem.

The aim is to reinstate all the cross drains, and clear the drainage onto the fields below. This will remove the standing water and people will use the main trail again. The dry stone wall can be reinstated and next summer’s growth will cover the path creep.

4. Causeway

Causeway and the bridleways over Worts Hill near Pole Moor provide a multitude of problems. The first being that despite the marking on the OS map, Causeway isn’t actually a right of way so getting permission might take longer.

Causeway – There’s a side drain that runs beside the trail that’s mostly blocked (with Himalayan Balsam). This is causing significant amounts of water to chanel straight down the path, to such an extent that the householder at the bottom hasn’t fashioned dams to stop their drive flooding.

Worts Hill – There’s huge amounts of standing water caused by the lack of cross drainage from the farm track. The sheer size of the puddles and lack of drainage may mean a huge amount of work, and possibly machinery to sort this one out, as well as loads of aggregate. The plan on this one is to attempt to create some drainage, but will require some extra input from the landowner and the council!!

5. The Packhorse Trail.

pack3

Most riders in Kirklees know of the Packhorse Trail in Marsden. Probably one of the best and longest descents in the area. It runs from the A640 above Marsden Moor down to the Easter gate bridge. It has recently seen the National Trust carry out some stone pitching and flagging on the bottom section – the final descent to the bridge.

The fear is that without intervention from us, the pitching and flagging will continue along the whole trail. There are already a couple of sections in the in the middle of the trail that have been flagged across boggy areas and the unstoppable project to sanitise the bottom section is underway. The top section (pictured) is becoming heavily rutted through water damage. We have put together a proposal to clear out the existing cross drains and landscape the ruts to create a flowing line that should keep users on the original line of the bridleway. The idea is that any water will be diverted off the trail and onto the moor. This in turn will help to re-wet the area and protect against wildfires and encourage growth of sphagnum moss and other moorland species. It will also help to prevent more ‘desire lines’ so the bridleway doesn’t become a wide track across the landscape, but will be more ‘singletrack’.

How can you help?

We have now been granted permission to work on the four of the sites (as noted Caiseway will take longer). We’ve completed 3 maintenace session on Wessenden, clearing a huge length of drainage ditch and drastically reducing the amount of water on the main trail. We have another day planned on the 25th of January, which should mean the first section is complete and we can head further up the hill at a later date.

We are planning on holding a monthly dig day (the third Saturday of the month) so we can develop the trail network and show that us mountain bikers are willing to put something back. We have got permission to begin work on the bridleway between Reservoir side road and Harrison lane (Blackmoorfoot res) and Meltham cop, so the February dig may well be on one of those – keep an eye on Facebook for the dates!!

It’s not only about bridleways though, there is some potential to do some official trail building at a couple of locations as and when we can get permission. So if you’re more into your downhill and playing out in the woods, there hopefully will be a chance for you to get the shovels out. Happy digging!

AGM 2019

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.received_390414671715234

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.

Bridleway maintenance.

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 hel20191130_104840ping 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% – PDMTBPicture1

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.

HVMRT_Web_Logo_New60px

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.

66594221_10162054113525252_5192532507865645056_n.jpgWe 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,64685257_3169593213114199_4522229559118004224_n 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.

Ramsden Road.

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….

Gordon

 

Annual General Meeting

The date has been set for this years AGM. It will be happening on the 28th November at a venue in Mirfield. The venue hasn’t been confirmed yet as we are waiting to get an idea of numbers.

The AGM is a chance for group members to meet up and discuss what we have achieved and what projects we are planning to carry out. It will also give members a chance to put forward their ideas for projects that they want to get involved in – the whole idea behind the group is that it is steered by the members, so we need input from you!!

The agenda for the meeting will cover a number of points that we as a constituted group need to carry out, mainly electing committee members. We will also look at :

  • The be nice say hi campaign.
  • Oakwell Hall – nearly 1 year old!
  • Bridleway maintenance projects.
  • Peak District MTB’s “project 22%”
  • Trash Free Trails.
  •  Project 2026

If you would like to join us for a beer, a chat and a chance to win in our raffle, please let us know via email/facebook/comments bellow so we can confirm the venue.

ridekirklees@hotmail.com

Wessenden Trail Maintenance

The great news is that we’ve got approval to work on the Wessenden bridleway.  We’re planning two sessions, 9am-11am on the 16th and 30th November, followed by a ride if we’re not knackered.

The works are all reasonably simple.

  1. Reinstate existing drainage.
  2. Improve drainage from the trail onto the moor.
  3. Cut back vegetation

No heavy equipment will be needed, just shovels and mattocks that Ride Kirklees will provide.

Proposed area of maintenance

wessy

The area we’re going to work on starts just above the Wessenden deer farm. We’ll meet at Binn Lane/Binn Road junction, have a quick safety briefing, then we’ll make our way up to the deer farm to start.

  • Reinstate existing drainage.

There are several existing cross drains on the trail however they have all silted up through lack of maintenance. These will be reinstated to improve the drainage using the existing features. 

Photo 2.1 Existing cross drains

There’s also a side drain that runs down the west side of the majority of the trail. Although it takes water from the moor, there’s no drainage channels from the main trail into it hence small side cuts could drain the surface water from the trail into the existing side drain. We’ll clear the side drain where needed. Any materials cleared from the drain need to be placed neatly in a row about 3-4 feet on the opposite side of the trail. This ensures the waste material looks like it’s been treated professionally and will soon be enveloped by the ferns.

20190811_152747.jpg

Photo 2.1 Existing side drains (to the left of the trail in the picture)

  • Improve drainage from the trail onto the moor.

Although the original drainage will be reinstated, it’s not sufficient for the narrow trail. Climate change has introduced much heavier, short bursts of significant rainfall. These have a far greater impact on trail erosion than users as it sluices down the existing trails, creating the deep channels. One solution is to create 10cm channels from the trail onto the moor to the right. This drains the main flow of water off the trail onto the moor, reducing the water erosion. 

Photo 2.2. Additional drainage channels to the right.

These channels silt up (much like the existing drainage) however encouraging riders to “Kick A Drain” will help keep these drainage channels clear.

  • Cut back vegetation.

This could be academic by the time we do the work however currently there’s several points on the trail that are being impinged by ferns, and they need cutting back.

20190811_151752.jpg

          Photo 2.3 Overgrowing vegetation

There is a fair bit of work to be done in order to get this bridleway into a state where it’s easy to maintain and provides a year round fun ride. The aim is to carry out the work on this bridleway so that it’s character is kept and further erosion can be limited. As mountain bikers, we have a responsibility to help protect and conserve the trails we ride and the surrounding landscape.

This is the first of many bridleways we want to work on, with the hope that by doing so we can improve our access rights across Kirklees. The more bodies we can get on site, the more work we can get done. This helps show other trail users that we are not just about bombing downhills as fast as possible to catch Strava times, but we are considerate trail users putting something back, and improving access for all.

If your free from 9am-11am on the 16th and 30th November, bring some snacks and a flask of tea and join us for a bit of digging and lots of craic to improve this great bridleway.

Setting the bar high.

Oakwell Hall mountain bike trail ‘official opening’

 

65391568_10162204507680601_2717924539781611520_n

As you all know the mountain bike trail at Oakwell Hall has been open for a while now. There was an impromptu ‘unofficial’ trail opening when Bike Track signed off the trail as finished and rideable however we always planned a proper event to officially open the trail. Ride Kirklees have put in a huge amount of work, from the germ of an idea through to the completion of the mountain bike trail, so it was only correct to have a celebratory opening day.

Wow, what a day it turned out to be…. The official opening of the Oakwell trail was amazing. It was hectic and stressful but worth every second of it. In Field of Dreams they said ” If you build it, they will come”…and they did. They came, they rode, they chatted, they smiled, they made new friends, they made it a special day, beyond my wildest dreams.

The past 4 weeks have been a crazy time – no riding, just typing – emails, texts, facebook, phone calls and planning!! Pulling together riders, stall holders, caterers, volunteers, paperwork, advertising and everything else that needs to be done to hold a public event. Soooo much planning, and for what? An absolutely amazing, sunny day hanging out with a great bunch of people who share a passion for mountain biking.  After everything I’d put in, I really wanted this event to be a success, and to show off all the work that a group of mountain bikers can achieve. Judging by the feedback that is exactly what it was.

65536365_10162204507370601_2209728345573163008_n

The event was held on the 30th June 2019. After what felt like weeks of crap weather, the forecast had improved. The day before turned out to be the hottest day in June for 40 years – it was looking good for the opening day. I was due to meet some RK volunteers and Oakwell Hall staff at 8:30am to get set up. Having not run an event like this before, I was nervous as hell…’Did we have everything organized’,’ would people show up’ were the kind of things on my mind.

I arrived to see Amanda from Oakwell and her husband Ben pulling out all the kit that had been stored earlier in the week – event tents, a mtb skill course, tables and a PA system. RK volunteers began to show up and so did Jules from Mobile Kuppa Coffee (to supply refreshments for us all). We loaded up the pick up and headed over to the field to set up the ‘village’ and I then realized the first issue – I had no idea where to set the tents up, and who was going to be in each tent. A quick group discussion with the team and we had a rough idea – DJ at the top next to the bar (cheers Magic Rock), tents down either side and stall holders wherever we can fit them.

20190630_094343.jpg

The field soon became a hive of activity, with everyone getting the job done and we were on track for the opening at 11 am. One of my earlier worries was would people show up? Yes they did!! Long before the event officially started, people started to appear. They arrived with bikes, grabbing a coffee, ice cream, riding the trail and getting the day off to the right start.DSC_3177

The sound of music began to play. The smell of burgers, sausages and coffee wafted through the air. There was a buzz of chatter. All the planning and stress had been worth it. More and more people were coming in to the village – solo riders, groups of riders, mums, dads, kids of all ages buzzing around chatting about bikes and how good it is to have such a sweet trail right on our doorstep. Kids were building their skills and confidence on the skills course that was set out and riders were getting in some practise laps before the race.

65385252_10156520457547218_5794018179176988672_o

The main event of the day was the time trial, and entries were filling up. Bob Hedley and Mark Jowett stepped up to take control of the start gate and organise all the riders. With the time trial not being a high tech race using timing chips, they made sure everyone had a stop watch, and set off with enough space between the riders. The whistles of course marshalls could be heard (in true enduro style) and the race was on. It was juniors first (under 11’s)

P6300199.JPG

Followed by 12-16 year olds and then the adults. There was a buzz of excitement around the event with the race on, people submitting and comparing times, and a friendly air of competition. It was just a fun race…that everyone gave the full beans!

The time trials were finished by around 2pm, with 40 riders having entered, Bob and Mark started working out the results. It was now time for the ceremony…

My nerves kicked in again-time for public speaking over the PA!!! A few words of thanks and a speech by councillor Rob Walker and then time for me to relax with a beer.

…before the race results announcement and prize giving…(results are at the bottom)

The day was a huge success, so much so that we plan to run another one next year – hopefully bigger and better. A huge thank you to everyone who helped out on the day: Ride Kirklees group members for the marshalling, running around, just generally sorting stuff (Nigel, Liam, Mal, Bob, Mark, Chris, Greg and Mikey). The staff and volunteers from Oakwell Hall (Amanda, Ben and Les). Our sponsor, Yorkshire raw feeds,  and all the stall holders:

And of course everyone who came along to ride bikes, hang out on our trail, and make the day into a very special one. Thank You all!

Race Results.

(Apologies if there are any mistakes, I’ve done the best I can with the information received.)

Under 11 results (male).

  1. Leo McMillan.         5.18
  2. Taylor Green           5.55
  3. Charlie P.                 5.56
  4. Rhory Casson.         6.10
  5. Noah De Wit.           6.12
  6. Seth B.                       6.13
  7. Oswald Trent.          6.49
  8. Archie Sykes.          No time recorded.
  9. Harry Haworth.      No time recorded.

Under 11 results (female).

  1. Florence Trent.        8.57
  2. Kayleigh Harrison.  No time recorded.

12-16 year olds (male).

  1. Archie Casson.          4.28
  2. Matthew Dalton.      4.50
  3. Taylor Muffit.           5.16
  4. Harrison Walker.     5.20
  5. Sam Davis.                 5.27

12-16 year olds (female).

  1. Grace Austwick.     6.13
  2. Brodie Kilbury.      No time recorded.

Adults (female)

  1. Claire Trent.            4.41
  2. Paula Beaumont.    6.15
  3. Liz Austwick.          No time recorded.

Adults (male).

  1. Chris Kilburn.            4.04
  2. Dan Trent.                  4.10
  3. James Smith/Antony De Heveningham.  4.19
  4. Neil Walker.               4.30
  5. Damon Sandison.      4.43
  6. Paul Bentley.              4.51
  7. S. Bonham.                 4.54
  8. Don Willey.                 4.56
  9. M. Parry.                      4.57
  10. Jon Reeves.                  5.08
  11. Gavin Richardson.     5.18
  12. P. Johnson.                  5.58
  13. S. Hayes.                      6.10
  14. M. Tomlinson.            6.11
  15. Darren Nickerson.    6.36
  16. Rob Austwick.           No time recorded.
  17. Daniel Vokes.            No time recorded.
  18. Michael Gray.            No time recorded.
  19. Andrew Sykes.          No time recorded.
  20. Kevin Wyman.          No time recorded.
  21. Ben Coops.                 No time recorded.

Thanks again to everyone who came to join in with a superb day. See you next year 😉

A training exercise with Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team (HVMRT)

If any mountain bike rider takes a bad fall in Kirklees, it’ll be HVMRT who help them out. In an effort to return a bit of this favour, Ride Kirklees offered to provide some “casualties” for a training exercise. HVMRT wanted a scenario with multiple injured mountain bikers so Gordon, Steven and myself volunteered. In many years riding we’ve amassed numerous injuries… ahem… so we were well placed to pretend to be injured. The other Ride Kirklees member there was Don, more importantly he’s also in Mountain Rescue so he was the go between for the exercise.

The training site was the top of Magdelen Road near Meltham. Well we knew that, the Mountain Rescue team had no idea, they were all at the base in Marsden.  For anyone that doesn’t know it, Magdelen Road is far from being a road. It’s a fantastic bridleway downhill that has about 5 different surfaces – grass then muddy ruts then loose rocks, then hard pack then it turns into a farm track road by Ash Royd – well worth a visit if you‘ve not been.

At 8.15am we met at the Meltham End of Royd Road and made our way up to the “crash” site. Don gave us all our instructions for the exercise: Steven had taken a fall and injured his leg; Gordon had had a big smash, broken his collarbone and was dazed and confused (some would say no change from normal there); I was unconscious with a suspected broken pelvis. I felt that unconscious was achievable with my acting skills. The sneaky bit to the exercise is that the other two had no idea where I was. They’d crashed and hit the deck but weren’t sure whether I’d been ahead and was unaware anything had happened.  In “reality” I’d come smashing around the corner to find them both on the deck, blocking the path, and veered off the trail to miss them….unfortunately down a steep slope and mostly out of sight.

Photo 1: Some of the 30 or so team members that rescued us

64685257_3169593213114199_4522229559118004224_n

So we all got in position then Steven made the call to Mountain Rescue to inform them of the incident.  I made my way down the slope and settled down for a long wait. Due to the weather forecast I’d put my full wets on, and also had a full face helmet so I was warm and toasty. As I was going to be found last it’s over to Gordon for what happened at the top of the trail….

It wasn’t long after the call went in (about 20 minutes-half an hour) before Steve and I heard the voices of the first team members at the rescue site. Steve gave some sharp blasts on his whistle to give them our position-a handy bit of kit in case you do get into trouble!! Straight away the team swung into action, carrying out triage to assess our injuries and gather as much details about the incident as possible. With me being ‘dazed and confused’ after an OTB with suspected head injuries, they put me as the priority casualty. Some of the team patched up Steve and gathered as much info as possible about our ride, plans, group members and what happened, whilst the others gave their full attention to me and my injuries.

Lee was my primary carer, and did an amazing job at working out my injuries, keeping me calm and reassuring me. He carefully carried out a primary survey to ensure there were no other unseen injuries. It was then a case of working out what pain relief I could be given and why. With a suspected C spine/head injury, morphine was out of the question and good old paracetamol and ibuprofen were the best bet. With the type of injuries I had sustained, another team member (sorry can’t remember his name) supported my head in case of any spinal injuries and helped to make me as comfortable as possible. With the typical wind up on exposed moors, a bothy bag was soon pulled out and put over all off us to help keep me warm.

With the bothy bag over us, it became a bit surreal. I could hear loads of things happening around me -snippets of conversation; “there could be a third rider…”, “carry out a sweep of the area”, “get the stretcher” and various radio messages, but couldn’t really fathom what was happening. Throughout all this Lee kept a check on me, making sure I was still conscious, heart rate was good and really important that I was warm and comfortable. It wasn’t till the bothy bag came off that I realised the scale of the operation – 30+ professional mountain rescue volunteers sorting out a ride gone wrong with a calm and efficient manner.

We paused the exercise a couple of times-after all it was training, so that the crew members could chat about what they were doing and the reasoning behind all the decisions being made – a really good bit of reflective practise that we should all carry out to stay on top of our game.

With all plans and options discussed, Lee and the crew got ready to package me up and get me off the hillside…and then they found Mal in a crumpled heap (fast asleep) at the bottom of the slope, and the priorities changed! However my carers stayed with me to make sure I didn’t get any worse.

The amazing thing about how the team work is the efficiency and smooth way that they dealt with the situation. With all that was going on, Lee didn’t falter from his job, and stuck by me whilst other HVMRT members moved on to the new priority of getting more kit – including ropes and ground anchors to help extract Mal. With the numbers of volunteers and some great direction from the ‘incident commander’ (not sure of the exact title!!) half the team were deployed to help Mal, others were working with Steve to get him off to the vehicles and the rest had a stretcher ready and started manoeuvring me onto the vacuum mattress to get me of to the ambulance….

Photo 2: Gordon being rescued

64230048_3169592709780916_3812127996001648640_n

…So back to me at the bottom of the slope. Errmmmm so I was woken up by someone shouting “rider, if you can hear me raise your arm”. Yep, I’d fallen asleep lying in the heather. I was just about to raise my arm when remembered I was meant to be unconscious. I had my foot at a jaunty angle denoting a broken pelvis, otherwise I was unconscious unless prodded. I think I was a 2 on the Glasgow Coma Scale, although as a non medic I could have remembered that all wrong. My main carer was excellent (as was the whole team to be fair), explaining everything he was going to do to me. As I had the helmet on my field of vision was narrow but anytime anyone did anything they’d warn me. We had a couple of short breaks in the exercise where other team members were able to practice on us. The team medic who was overseeing my part of the exercise prompted the team into some excellent thinking on their feet. There was also a good debate on mtb specific issues such as casualties with a full face helmet. On a non casualty point several people checked out that I was warm enough whilst lying there. I was well prepared, dressed for lying in a field being rained on for some time, however it was a good thing to do.

Photo 3:  Me sleeping at the bottom of the slope

64693001_3169593336447520_652867541894430720_n

I’ve been to many events in support of Mountain Rescue but thankfully so far have never needed their services so this was the first time I’d been a customer. Most of us have never needed Mountain rescue, and hopefully never will, however if you did, you’d be blown away by the professionalism and skill from a voluntary organisation. To rescue us there was the best part of 30 HVMRT members hence we need to support them as much as we can……so we need as many people as possible to take part in the Rescue Ride on July 14th. It’s a fundraising bike ride (mtb, road and family routes) for HVMRT. That too is a right laugh to be part of. If you’ve not ridden on the west side of Kirklees it’s a great introduction to some fine trails…and you get to ride Magdelen Road.

https://www.racespace.com/holme-valley-mrt/holme-valley-mrt-rescue-ride-2019?fbclid=IwAR1rZrgoVsRpbc6K5ZCvdVyOqWfqwjZ50A39dJNi0Q1Y-Tt_E9OpEdeXFLQ

We’ll be doing more training later in the year, you’re welcome to join in. All details will be posted on the Ride Kirklees Facebook page.