Trails on Trial – A UK Access Documentary with Manon Carpenter

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This film takes an in depth look at the issues facing mountain bikers and landowner around the UK. It’s a pretty good balanced take on the complex and competing desires and responsibilities, and is something of a call to arms for the mountain bike community (and industry) to step up. Given the recent loss of Open MTB and the huge increase in outdoor access and use during the pandemic, it’s a timely look at the issues.

Riders the world over have developed a language of love for trails. Be it seasoned shredders or newcomers to the sport, we all understand the feeling of entering the elusive “flow state.” Often, this is how we interpret the trails we love to ride—they’re defined by their nuanced, unique traits, like gnarled set of roots or perfectly poised berms. They’re memories and moments we all cherish.

But behind the layers of soil, rock, and cambers lie ingredients that are integral to the trail’s being. We might not even understand their role, or existence, but the combination of hardy people, little-understood laws, and collaborations between builders and land managers are crucial to the very soul of the trail. Without them, trails sit on the knife’s edge between continuation and destruction.

In this documentary, the former World Cup downhill and World Champion, Manon Carpenter, undertakes a journey of discovery. Visiting riders and builders from across mainland Britain, she uncovers what it takes for mountain biking to become an accepted, thriving part of communities. Along the way, managers of large swathes of land where trails are situated share their point of view about why trail existence, and management, is a complex undertaking. When tensions arise, they share how they can be diffused, and eventually transitioned, into collaborations for the benefit of all.

You can learn more about the trail associations and groups featured in this film by visiting:

You can read the current national guidelines from agencies we visited by clicking the following links:

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Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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Home Forums Trails on Trial – A UK Access Documentary with Manon Carpenter

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  • Trails on Trial – A UK Access Documentary with Manon Carpenter
  • hodge1365
    Full Member

    Great article good to see the Risca guys who’ve made a massive difference to the great trails down here in the Valleys near Newport.
    Good work Boyo’s

    Full Member

    Sums it all up very well, needs to go on the telly.

    Full Member

    Good watch that. Is there any resources in how to find out / get involved with trail maintenance? I’m pretty sure someone builds and looks after my local trails (Whiteways/Houghton Forest) but no idea who there are?

    Full Member

    A good film, albeit one that I reckon will largely preach to the converted. I do need to pull my finger out and get involved in local biking stuff to me.

    Free Member

    Great film.

    Sums up so much about the sport that has given me no end of love & strife in equal amounts over the years.

    Thank you.

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