Make sure you’ve got plenty of midge-repellent they said. Don’t worry, I said, I’ll be covered from head to foot, barely an inch of skin showing. Show’s how much I know. The Sheffield Midge or midgicus Sheffieldii as we scientific types call it, is the SAS of the insect world. Flat on my face beside Cooking On Gas waiting for Edale Mountain Rescue Team (EMRT) to come and ‘rescue’ me was an opportunity to discover just what a beastly little burglar the Canning’s mosquito is. I was itching for days.
Still, all for a good cause eh? The EMRT has attended a couple of rider-down incidents in Lady C’s and asked if some mug, sorry, volunteer, would be good enough to act as a guinea pig so they could run a night exercise. Everything seemed, from my prone position, to have gone swimmingly. They carried out two rescues with admirable professionalism and I was rewarded with a stretcher-ride back to the car-park. Winner.
What I didn’t know was how riders using the trail had reacted to the scrum of volunteers clustered around a fallen Horscroft. I learned later that some had been, and I quote, “arsey”. Some thought that it was a bit rich compromising their Strava runs simply to rescue a rider insufficiently skilful to negotiate Cooking on Gas’s peerless berms. Others thought there should have been a sign at the top to let them know the exercise was happening. Some obviously felt that the team should have scattered as they approached since this is a mountain bike trail for gawds sake.
Which, how can I put this, pissed me off mightily. As usual, I’m pretty sure I’m preaching to the converted but what the hell possesses a mountain biker to act in such a selfish way? No ride is so important that it’s worth endangering someone else’s safety. Putting a sign at the top of the trail to warn riders would be some way down the list of priorities in the event of a real incident, no? If you’re riding so fast that you can’t pull up in time for a crowd, how the hell are you going to stop for a fallen rider?
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only bad news, (I hate being the prophet of doom, why is it always me?!) There have been a growing number of complaints from other users about riders being reckless crossing rights of way. In spite of the new boulders and logs, riders are still crossing from one section of Cooking on Gas to another at warp speed with little regard for passing walkers and horse riders.
Just to reiterate a few things. Canning’s isn’t a trail centre. It is a multi use venue and we all need to get along. While sight-lines are generally really good, exercise care when crossing – there’s nothing more frightening than having a mountain bike hurtle past when you’re out enjoying a gentle stroll.
This is Sheffield after all. We’re nice people aren’t we? Stop, have a chat, listen to the bird song, take Strava off your phone. It’s only riding a bike after all….