A nice video compilation of some of the best club rides..
Big thanks to all who turned up to repair Daisybank dirt jumps this weekend. It was an epic couple of days of dirt moving and packing in. I still cannot quite believe how much we achieved and how good the summer is going to be riding up there.
Last Friday (March 23rd) representatives from Cheltenham & County CC and Bigfoot MBC reached what we considered as a workable riding agreement with Natural England and the forestry manager
With our two clubs having recently collaborated in trying to negotiate the return of mountain biking to Buckholt Woods we furthered this partnership with a superb gravity riding day at the downhill trails near to Ribbesford
We will depart from Central Cross Drive at 19:15 and take a leisurely route on the road around and end up at The Cheltenham Motor Club. The final details of the route are still being put together. It is a great opportunity for us all to get together as a club and have a good time. We hope many of you will support this ride. Please don't hold back on the festive decorations on your bike!!!
I am reassured that for you 'proper beer' drinkers an advance party was out today sampling a range of their splendid ales Kinver and Salop – zesty pale beers, Kingscote and Tom Long hoppy Ales, Robust Stout Ale are all on at £2.50 pint.
For those unable to join the ride we'll aim to be in the bar by 8.15 Merry Christmas from your road and MTB sub-committee
Which area of Cranham are we talking about?
Coming from Birdlip, where the road splits, taking the right turn to Painwick (Buckholt Rd), the area starts here, on your left, and continues all the way down past the Sawmill, the Little Red House and to the post box on the left where there is a turning. I've linked the start and end below.
For those familiar with the trails, this includes "The Shrine" and the twisty DH trail that comes off it and the short section from the Sawmill to the open area where there are signs for no fly tipping / dumping. There are also tracks that cut through here from when you come from the Campsite direction and cross the Slad road into it.
Update: It is with regret that I have to report that the restrictions on us are wider than I first thought. Yes we have this issue around the Shrine area as it is private land. When I heard that signs were being erected by Natural England about no MTBing, I assumed this was on this bit of land. It isn't. It affects all the remaining routes we use down to the A46, includes the Wall, UB40, down towards Coopers Hill, the works. Essentially, if it SSSI and NE are involved, we're only welcome if riding bridlepaths. This will be a major loss of the enjoyment we have here.
Why has this situation recently arisen?
This land has recently been purchased and the new land owner who is not in favour of Mountain bikes using it. This is combined with Natural England's displeasure having a duty to look after it as it forms part of the Cotswold Commons and Beechwoods SSSI.
Do cyclists have a right to access this land?
Others may have their opinions and know more on this but there are no legal rights of way for cyclists, although walkers are allowed some form of access by right (I think). Put simply, this is private land and the owners do not want us using it, although they have expained the reason for this as environmental concern.
What contact has been made with the owner / Natural England about this?
I have spoken to Mrs Tyson who now owns this land (with her Husband). She was appreciative that someone from a cycling group has made contact with them as it gave her an opportunity to explain their reasons. It appears it is the large quantity of MTBers that are using the trails that is the issue. She is concerned that track construction is uncontrolled and damaging to the woodland. The digging of some jumps there is a big concern. I have suggested that we could assist their duty to help conserve the land by assisting with work parties to clear unwanted scrub and other work they need to do. Natural England's rep Paul Hackman is also concerned about the damage to this SSSI.
The response I got from Mrs Tyson was that they were not prepared to negotiate and if we wanted to, come back to them in a couple of years when things had calmed down.
I have got the address of the Tysons for reference so we can make a formal appeal to them.
So what now??
Signs are apparenetly being put up by Natural England stating no cycling in this area.
Policing this ban will be nearly impossible by the land owner although they could try and tear up the trails / block them.
I think we have, as a responsible organisation, a duty to do our best to work as hard as possible towards an amicable solution. The Tysons will soon see over time that trying to alienate riders from tracks they have enjoyed for many many years will only cause themselves and riders hassle. The way I see it, if we can get agreement (and possibly financial backing from the club) to have a select number of tracks to ride there we make them as sustainable as possible and this might mean importing stone onto areas that traditionally "bog up" and then some signage indicating where riders are allowed to ride. We can have regular meetings with the Tysons to hear concerns thay may have and help out with some non-bike related conservation work there too.
We can't force riders to stay clear of this area until such time we have a mutually beneficial agreement in place (if we get one...) but I think we should at least make riders (club and non-club) aware of the current situation. If we as riders start getting ugly about it, it jeopardies our chances of settling this in our favour.
I will be speaking to the Club Committee about making a formal representation to the Tysons and at least getting a meeting arranged so we can argue our case.
I will be liaising with Bigfoot MTB who I know built many of the trails in this area and seeing what their opinions are on this. If anyone is aware of other "clubs" or "groups" that regularly ride this area, please let me have their contact details and I will inform them.
This is not for me to decide, but I think it would be prudent to avoid the area for the time being on club (or non club) rides. I'll leave that decision to individuals.
Felling on the Racetrack
The Racetrack is blocked in two places at the moment due to tree felling. See pics attached. I spoke to one of the contractors doing the work and he reckoned it should all be cleared in a couple of weeks. Please be careful if you try and ride this, especailly in the dark!!! This bit of land we are not faced with any opposition to our use, it's just all the rest!!!!
On Sunday 13th November we are planning to make our way to Bushcombe (meeting at 2.30pm at the car park) to ride and take stock of what we have. If you want to go up earlier feel free and we'll meet you up there.
The ground may be still quite hard so it maybe that we start by checking the track over and seeing what needs work along with cutting some brush away to form new lines.
Other items of focus for this dig season are that we are keen to start looking at other lines for DH and, with the Cranham situation developing , creating an XC'able line there. This may sound like a massive task but I think we are only looking at the bottom 1/3 of the hill which needs something put in to ride back up as the exisiting trails and the Land rover tracks form a nice network in most areas and I think we could have something in place quite easily with a bit of graft and using the land well.
So if you fancy trying your hand at designing some lines, both DH and XC come along we'd love to hear your thoughts and we'd be happy to point you in the direct of some of the areas most suited for this to save you scouring the area. Or if you just want to come to dig and ride feel free.
We have XS-L in stock so feel free to contact Alex if you want to try something.
The price is subsidised by the club so you only need to pay £31
Track one was the BMX track from the top, down the chute, taking the long route to the next push path. The finish gate was on the straight before you drop on to the walkers track (so plenty of time to slow down). To those that do not know it so well, this section is all about sprinting and holding speed through large corners. Nothing too technical here just power and confidence! There we no particular problems with this section as everyone knew it well, though I did have an off track moment on the first practice run.
Track two used Dragons Tail, this drops from the middle walkers path to the top of the quarry. We used some tape to force the riders around all the corners then off the main line to take in a drop before finishing just after the ‘tail’ berms. By forcing the corners made this section a lot more difficult especially turning 90 degrees on rooty steps. During the practice period everyone had some off track moment, it was clear that consistency would win through on this stage. Roger deserves special credit for his crash on his race run. I did not see it but it sounded like he smashed through a tree!
Track three used Marshall Law then through the bomb hole in the beeches area. This track is one of the most technical on the hill with a good mixture of speed, tight corners and rough trail. Again everyone knew this track well so everyone was fine tuning their lines to save as much time as possible. First practice runs showed it was going to be close with Rich getting 40.25 and I got 40.24 (and no we were not following each other).
So the overall results were fairly close with Alex M taking the fastest overall and two of the stages. We hope to hold more of these sessions in the coming months, good practice for the FoD mini DH series!
Club has got one nice track now for our use!
Keep your eyes on the Facebook Group to see what is happening up there.
Barnaby has put together this excellant preview of what is to come...
The final mini DH of the season saw a return to Ski Run, but with an interesting start because of the forestry works. The new line started off looking nice but with 300 riders practicing their lines it soon turned into the evil child of Mr Rooty! The rest of the track was pretty slick and the mud and roots at the bottom section in particular were on hand to catch out the unwary.
Despite some drunken promises from others at the club dinner that they would be giving the event a go, Rich Dade was the only club member racing this time round, managing to get 18th place in the masters out of 47. Thanks also to Graham for the photos and Mike D for popping along and lending his support to the event.
Please read the message below from PS Tim Hutchinson reference new information related to bike thefts.
Please could you urge cyclists to keep an eye out for a white Vauxhall Combi van on '05 plates. There will obviously be lots of these around, but we have reason to believe that one is connected to thefts of pedal cycles.
Clearly we don't want to receive a report of every such van, as the vast majority will be used by totally legitimate and law abiding members of the public, but if any are seen in suspicious circumstances, we would very much like to hear from people. Either email me if it's just general info, or if it requires more immediate attention, ring the contact centre (0845 090 1234).
Also, I did hear a vague report of a pick up being seen up at Daisybank recently, with the occupants watching the bikers intently. I have no idea where that report came from and no further details. Again, if anyone has anything they want to tell me, please encourage them to drop me a line.
If you are followed home by this car or any other please report this to the local police (0845 090 1234) and lock your bikes up in your house for a while. Cars have been known to return only hours later to take the bikes. Carefully choose your route home so that you cannot be easily followed and keep an eye over your shoulder.
In the masters category (42 riders) both Charlie Williams and Rich Dade competed, the latter on his Commencal hardtail... Charlie came 11th with a 1.04.14, and Rich came 29th with 1.08.07.
Garry Higgins rode in the Vets and came a well deserved 11th out of 26 with a time of 1.05.81
Thanks as always to Graham for the photos and to all those who turned out to support.
Next round is Sunday 20 Feb - the more the merrier! Click here to find out more : www.minidh.co.uk/