Throwback Thursday: Stolen Singletrack

Local mountain bike guide, Ed Oxley found one of his favourite trails had been ‘improved’. In his mission to blame someone, he ends up with himself.

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In my time I’ve ‘found’ a couple of trails and I’ve got myself lost riding trails, but recently I had a new experience. I only went and lost a trail.

The trail is a bridleway and it’s a Calderdale classic.We have some fabulous riding in our valley, as you will probably have seen from the photos in the magazine.

We have steep wooded valleys, moorland singletrack, steep and nasty tech, fast packhorse trails, rock gardens and exposed traverses.

All in all this adds up to around 2000 paths, of which there are 125 miles of bridleway (and over 700 miles of footpath).

What we don’t have is a lot of sweeping corners. Except on Ali’s Zig Zags.The clue is in the name.Ali ‘found’ it and the trail has a series of majestic turns. But that’s not all, it has a bit of singletrack, a collection of rocks and some tasty roots. It makes for a challenging climb or a descent that can be enjoyed by anyone. You can pootle down it and enjoy the view, or pin it and face the technical challenge of braking points, line choice and traction control. It’s where I’d take you if you wanted to practice climbing rocky step-ups or if you wanted to look at cornering technique. When I started skills coaching it was the first place I went with my first clients.

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So let’s talk money.We mountain bikers have it and when we travel to different areas to ride we spend it.We are a tourism and regeneration dream. Riders are drawn into an area like Calderdale because of the quality of the riding. This is determined by the technical nature of the trails and the beauty of the landscape. You can’t separate these two things, the trails are part of the landscape. Our riding is a freakish end-product of steep valleys and the early industrial revolution. The smoke-belching mills have gone and the green has grown back, but the multitude of worker’ paths and tracks remain for us all to enjoy. Make the trails boring and the riders won’t come, it’s as simple as that.

Meetings have been attended and promises made. Our local council seem to be getting our message. Does your council?

If you don’t explain what mountain bikers want from the bridleways, how will they ever know?

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