Rebellious Northerners!

…and so to happier news.  Not every meeting we attend leaves us in a deep depression and joining the Pennine Mountain Bike Association (PMBA) for their annual barbecue at Gisburn left us fired up and ready for action even though the midges who also attended enjoyed themselves too!

PMBA is one of the longest standing mountain bike groups around and they’ve enjoyed great success over the years including the trails at Gisburn, Lee and Crag Quarry and Healey Nab.  They’ve had some tremendous support from Lancashire County Council, probably one of the most forward thinking CC’s in England who need no persuading about the value of outdoor pursuits and mountain biking in particular.

Apart from the opportunity to chew the fat and drink beer, Ride Sheffield’s primary reason for attending was to discuss the formation of a northern alliance of mountain bikers.  This idea has been discussed by PMBA and Ride Sheffield for some time and it was felt that we needed to include other local groups.  Hence, Tim Sellors from Singletraction and activists from Rossendale and Burnley were also present.

So, why a northern alliance?  All over the North of England, volunteer groups are doing sterling work on behalf of mountain bikers.  Much has been achieved by people who willingly give their free time.  However, working hard is one thing, it’s better to work clever. A recurring theme when we’re dealing with county councils, national parks and land owners is the lack of hard evidence about the economic benefits of MBing.  We know it’s there but proving it is going to cost serious money.

Now, to our surprise, we find that there are some national bodies that represent cycling, namely something called British Cycling (BC) and the CTC.  Who knew?!  Any road up, if we can form an alliance between all the northern volunteer groups, perhaps we can put some pressure on BC and CTC to fund an academic study, research that would be invaluable when trying to negotiate with all the aforementioned bodies.

Why not a national alliance I hear you ask?  In time, that would also be a great idea, strength in numbers, but it’s important to walk before we run and the obvious course is to work with those groups you already interact with.

So, let us know what you think.