Hi there, it’s Dad here. Oh, you didn’t know that was my new nickname? Yeah, I posted something on Facebook the other day that fell firmly into the ‘no-shit-sherlock’ category and was both taken to task for preaching to the converted and called Dad.
Funny thing is, I kind of liked it. I mean, I am past the first flush of youth and a Dad, so it’s fair enough.
However, it does raise the thorny issue of what to post on Ride Sheffield where the vast majority of members are responsible riders who help little old ladies across the road, never swear in front of their mums and always help a stranger with a puncture.
Stating the bleedin’ obvious like don’t terrorise walkers or cut corners often goes down like a dog-turd amongst the leaves on your favourite trail. Those who go out of their way to ride responsibly inevitably get fed up with being urged to do the right thing.
Trouble is, I’ve had a couple of conversations recently with local land-managers that leave me with a dilemma. Winter is very definitely here and the evidence of our passing is there for all to see. Places we may have ridden in the summer without leaving a trace are now bottomless bogs. Those conversations with land-managers basically came down to, ‘have a word’.
Which isn’t easy for any number of reasons. I can bring it up here and on the Facebook page and once again be hauled over the coals for coming over all preachy. I’m also aware that we’re rapidly reaching the point where it’s difficult to find anywhere to ride that isn’t a mud bath and, let’s be honest, it may be winter but we still want to ride. Also, we’re not the only user group in the great outdoors having an effect on the trail.
But the people who have approached me are some of our biggest champions. They’re the enlightened land-managers who don’t view mountain bikers as the devil incarnate but a user group to be welcomed for any number of reasons. They’re ecologists who don’t see us as a danger to wildlife, open up new bridleways and view our intermittent transgressions not as the end of the world as we know it. They are, effectively, our sponsors, allies, not the enemy, so I have no alternative but to bring their concerns to your attention.
But to what possible end beyond the obviously political one of being seen to do the right thing? Well, although I’m talking to enlightened bikers, there are new riders coming into the sport all the time who might be less well-versed in the ways of the great-outdoors. There are also the unenlightened and unenlightenable who need to hear this stuff on a regular basis – that’s how peer-pressure works.
Although Ride Sheffield reaches a lot of people, we have to rely on our members to increase that reach – we need your networks and social media contacts so that we multiply the effect a thousand-fold.
So forgive me. I’m going to say it yet again. Please think carefully about where you ride this winter. Avoid peaty routes that simply can’t take the traffic when they’re wet. Peat bog takes thousands of years to accumulate and only a couple of years to destroy. We’re so lucky to have the Peak District, let’s treat it with the respect it deserves so that the trails we love will be in prime condition when spring and summer come round again.
Better still, share the hell out of this so that we have a chance of reaching those who need to hear it.
Sermon over. Now remember, Dad says clean your bike, contribute to RADmires and come to a dig day. Oh damn, I just can’t help myself….