Can you feel it? There’s more than a hint of spring in the air. Those eternal optimists the weather forecasters reckon things are looking up, there are snowdrops and daffodils everywhere and before you know it, the trails will be snuff dry and running sweet.
But while spring means dry trails for us, for our friends in the conservation business, it means much, much more. Many ground nesting birds are already prospecting for potential homes and we can play a big part in helping them to raise the next generation of skylarks, woodcocks and curlew.
And it couldn’t be simpler. Stay on the trail is all the land managers ask. Going off-piste during the nesting season, roughly March to July, is not in the best interests of the birds or mountain bikers. Most of us love the place we ride and take great pleasure in the wildlife that enliven it. Staying on the trail is no hardship and if it means we get to see more of these fantastic birds, all the better.
It’s possible therefore, that you might encounter the odd trail where efforts have been made to keep us on the right line. We can all think of places where, how can I put this, an over-enthusiastic rider has straight-lined a corner. If that straight line has been blocked off, there will be a very good reason.
We’re very lucky in our corner of the world to work with land-managers who don’t just tolerate mountain bikers but actively encourage them. Ride Sheffield has worked with The Sheffield Wildlife Trust since its inception. The great trails in Grenoside Woods and the well-maintained bridleways of Blackamoor are the fruits of that excellent relationship. The Eastern Moors Partnership have been equally constructive, allowing us to continue to use Sheep Skulls and opening up miles of new bridleway.
Therefore it’s only fair that when they seek our help, we do everything in our power to accommodate them. Stay on the trail, obey signs that indicate habitat management is under way and, if someone’s blocked off a short cut, just enjoy the technicality of the resulting corner. It’s what we ride for isn’t it?