Scottish MTB Strategy – Submit your views

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Developing Mountain Biking In Scotland has issued a draft refresh of the Scottish Mountain Biking Strategy and is seeking your views on what it should contain.

The refresh will help DMBinS and all the members of the Scottish Mountain Bike Consortium (MTB Consortium) continue to progress on many exciting projects and investments already committed to mountain biking in Scotland, whilst taking cognisance of global changes, and insights and learnings over the last four years of delivery the strategy.

The refresh is a draft for consultation. DMBinS, and all members of the MTB Consortium, hope that industry and riders will feed their voice into the themes of the refresh and highlight any issues, or opportunities, that have not already been captured.

DMBinS

This might not seem like the most exciting of news, or even especially relevant to the average mountain biker, but it is. Strategy documents like this shape what an organisation can do, and where its funding is focussed. So it’s worth taking a look at what’s been drafted and submitting your comments now, rather than moaning later that you don’t think help is being given where it’s needed.

If you’ve been on a mountain biking trip to Scotland, what would have made the experience better? If you encountered a problem, what could have prevented that from happening? Are these things that could be turned into points for the Strategy to address?

It’s also relevant to people who live in popular mountain biking areas, businesses catering to mountain biking, and bike companies.

It’s divided up into different themes, and there’s a form to complete so you can submit your views. At first glance it can seem a bit overwhelming, but having been through it, I’d recommend opening up the form in one tab and then reading the Strategy in another tab, section by section, answering the consultation questions as you go. When you get to the end of the Strategy, think about if there was anything missing that never came up during your reading, and then go back and raise those points where you think they should have been. It worked for me, anyway.

Even if you think your points are minor, it’s good to show that the mountain bike community is engaged with this sort of thing – it all helps to show that we’re interested in building the scene and giving back, rather than just a bunch of adrenaline fuelled bike tech fiends!

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Viewing 38 posts - 1 through 38 (of 38 total)
  • Scottish MTB Strategy – Submit your views
  • crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Anyone else get a 403 Forbidden message when trying to click on the Draft Strategy Document?

    @stwhannah

    stevie750
    Full Member

    Yes .I get that as well
    probably IP blocked to anyone outside the tweed valley

    a11y
    Full Member

    Same here – 403 message

    daviek
    Full Member

    probably IP blocked to anyone outside the tweed valley

    🤣

    stwhannah
    Full Member

    I’m frankly impressed and excited that there are quite so many of you interested enough to have clicked the link! STW readers, restoring faith in humanity, one step at a time. 🙂

    daviek
    Full Member

    The link that Hannah posted above works

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Thanks Hannah, that link works!

    Evening reading sorted… 😉

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    Is there an option for stop spending all the budget on strategy reports?

    oldtennisshoes
    Full Member

    Vision (Reworded by members of the MTB Consortium May 22)
    Vision: Scotland to be recognised as the leader of European mountain biking, through sustainable trail
    development and management, participation and sport development, and innovative product development
    and tourism.

    Mission (Internal analysis of these numbers is being conducted – the numbers provided below are
    estimates)
    Sustain 2.5 million annual visits to the Scottish outdoors on a mountain bike (Increase of 92% from 2015)
    Multiple world champions or world series winners in every mountain bike discipline
    Sustain mountain biking’s annual total economic GVA contribution at £200m until 2025 (Overall increase of
    100% from 2015 data)

    Might have been better to start by them reading this:
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Good-Strategy-Bad-Difference-Matters/dp/B07R81FHT2

    YoKaiser
    Free Member

    I’m not as familiar as what’s happening with mountain biking in Scotland as I once was but has anything really changed in the last ten years?

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Depends on what you class as ‘changed’ – Glentress is still sucking in pretty much all money that is available…other Forestry areas are fed up with not getting a fair chunk of the funding available (as it all goes to Glentress), areas have trails developing and a lot more are a bit more formalised and structured.

    Im not sure much has changed on the ground, but above the parapet type stuff has changed as we now have trail associations working with various groups and land owners – which is good as it allows things to progress without being stifled by the Forestry.

    So things have continued to progress and in a lot of cases it has been great, but there is still a lot of stuff being focussed in 1 area (that area is good, but there are plenty others that could do with some cash to help progress them as well).

    Suspect that won’t be how others sees it, but that seems to be how it is for a lot of people (based on the ones who I chat with).

    StirlingCrispin
    Full Member

    What Dick says.

    I am wondering what this strategy has to do with me – someone who rides his bike in the local woods and hills several times a week.

    Also very unimpressed with “Multiple world champions …. every mountain bike discipline”.
    Really ? That should be the last thing you focus on.

    Nothing about getting kids out there and enjoying riding bikes (several local schools do a fantastic job with this).

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Also very unimpressed with “Multiple world champions …. every mountain bike discipline”.
    Really ? That should be the last thing you focus on.

    Nothing about getting kids out there and enjoying riding bikes (several local schools do a fantastic job with this).

    That’s a bit of a chicken / egg thing though – you absolutely need the latter to have the former but without the facilities to enable development, you’re not going to get much progression. If you have the facilities, you can then reach out (God I hate that term) to schools, youth groups etc to get them along and enjoy riding bikes.

    Plus I’m willing to bet that if you put that phrase in, Scottish Cycling (and possibly UK Sport) might come up with some match-funding since it’s within their (and British Cycling’s) remit…

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    Facilities? We have the most relaxed land access laws in Europe and countless miles of tracks and paths. We don’t need to propagate the myth that mountain biking needs some special arena, likely centralised in one location (like Glentress) thereby putting it outwith the ability of many to access.

    stwhannah
    Full Member

    Some of the things you lot have said above are things I have said in my consultation response. Be sure to put a response in as well as discussing it here!


    @stirlingcrispin
    those omissions are what it has to do with you! If it’s not in the strategy it’s less likely to get funded. Make the strategy about those things that matter to you by telling them what those things are.

    poah
    Free Member

    Peebles MTB strategy more like.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Facilities? We have the most relaxed land access laws in Europe and countless miles of tracks and paths. We don’t need to propagate the myth that mountain biking needs some special arena, likely centralised in one location (like Glentress) thereby putting it outwith the ability of many to access.

    Well in that case why do we have trail centres at all? After all, anyone can just go out on their local bridleways…

    But many many people won’t do that – fear of getting lost, it’s not gnarr enough, there’s bloody walkers everywhere, there’s no bike hire, too many gates, arsey landowners, it turns into a mudbath in winter…
    You can’t hold MTB races on bridleways but you can certainly close off a bit of trail centre for a day and run an enduro or an XC race there.

    Competition shouldn’t be the defining factor of a trail centre but it absolutely should be a part of it. Plus as mentioned, it’s another way of accessing a fair chunk of grant money and tourism funding if you’re hosting a World Cup or something.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    That is part of the problem though…apparently this is all tourism…so what do the locals do as they don’t count for tourism?
    It is all wrong as it needs to be pitched as health and well-being with tourism as an additional benefit.

    stevie750
    Full Member

    I see Dunoon is mentioned, I wonder if it’s linked to this dunoon

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    You can’t hold MTB races on bridleways

    We don’t have bridleways and tracks already get used for events.

    Umpteen squillion DMBinS strategy reports ago there was a goal of providing transitional/educational options so that folk would be encouraged to venture away from trail centres. I could be completely selfish and say thank god that didn’t happen but I’m not the gatekeeping type.

    pjm60
    Free Member

    Quite difficult to engage with this as it’s stretching the definition of a ‘strategy’. For many of the sections it’s hard to see what DMBinS are actually proposing to do. As a random example, innovation includes:

    Reshoring & Remanufacturing
    Scotland has long been an innovator in the bicycling industry, including the first pedal driven bicycle (Kirkpatrick Macmillan) and the first pneumatic tyre (Dunlop). With the movement of the cycling industry towards reshoring manufacturing from the Far East into Europe and the need for a circular economy to help mitigate the environmental crisis, there will be opportunities for Scotland’s industry to grow. It is important that our enterprise agencies work with academia and industry to realise these opportunities.

    Ok great, we can all agree it’d be great to grow Scotland’s industry for many reasons. But this tells us nothing about how DMBinS or others are going to do anything about it. It is not strategy.

     

     

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    But this tells us nothing about how DMBinS or others are going to do anything about it. It is not strategy.

    Weird document – not really strategy, not really a set of targets or ambitions, not a pipeline of schemes…

    Almost like it was conceived purely as a consultancy exercise in order to spend some money.

    bruneep
    Full Member

    Almost like it was conceived purely as a consultancy exercise in order to spend some money.

    surely not………..😂

    Sanny
    Free Member

    I can only echo these sentiments. As a Strategy document, it falls well short. It has a stated vision but what is lacking is a clear articulation of what the strategic drivers for success are and the priorities for action. This feels an awful lot like an attempt at justifying the continued funding of DMBS in the face of the challenge of it not being self funding and relying on Scottish Government to pay for it.

    Fundamentally, the focus of it seems to disregard the vast bulk of the population who live in the central belt of Scotland. The comment about it being a Tweed Valley centred document feels right.

    I think the authors would benefit from looking at what a good strategy document looks like such as the Scottish Forestry Strategy and consider how they might replicate the thinking. As currently drafted, it is a muddled mess. If I was the one controlling the funding, I would be seriously considering pulling it. I am sure the authors are well intentioned and passionate about what they do but if you are trying to develop and deliver a strategy for mountain biking in Scotland, it has to be an awful lot better than this.

    Cheers

    Sanny

     

    Sanny
    Free Member

    One last point. Where is the implementation plan that seeks to deliver on strategic objectives? The document as drafted is confusing in that it mixes aspiration at a strategic level with past delivery at the micro operational level. What will success actually look like and how will progress against the strategic objectives be delivered? I have to say to that I find it somewhat depressing that this has actually been put out for consultation. It would appear no adults were in the room to give a bit of critical friend advice and say this document is not a strategy.

    I know these points may be somewhat dry but is this really an acceptable output for continued SG funding?

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Looking at the big players involved, it’ll be funded despite the lack of detail or real thought – forestry, tourism and Scottish Cycling all play a large part of this. Although is a part of cycling, it is a very small part in the grand scheme of cyclists…and yet we have a strategic document that wants us as champions at various levels/disciplines – that needs Scottish Cycling to step things up significantly for off-road stuff, but they won’t as they really only care about track and road.
    Forestry are wanting this to remain as it gives a convenient shield to hide behind to keep controlling development – one of the reasons Glentress/Tweed Valley gets so much money spent on it – the forestry want it as the place where people in Scotland go mountain biking.
    Tourism – a great mouthpiece for all the money these MTB tourists bring to places (which also helps drive up costs for the tourists) – great for the locals who benefit though.

    Then there are the people who just want to go ride their bikes…it really doesn’t seem to cater for them, in fact it doesn’t seem to really cater for people looking for development locally to help improve the range of biking that can be done.

    This won’t have funded stopped as it seems to tick many boxes for the main players…but it does appear to be just creating words with very little on-the-ground to support it.

    I’m sure I’ll have more rants but I’m trying to keep calm about this as although I’ve more than a passing interest, it hasn’t stopped me doing what I want to do (which also evidences how narrow this is aiming at)…

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    If it’s not in the strategy it’s less likely to get funded. Make the strategy about those things that matter to you by telling them what those things are.

    For many responding on here, this isn’t our first time at this particular rodeo 😉

    Sanny
    Free Member

    Not sure I would agree with this being a convenient shield for the Forestry to hide behind. Funding for the next phase of the Tweed Valley developments comes via the UK Govt Borderlands Growth Deal. That funding simply isn’t available for use outwith the Borders.

    The Seven Stanes was the happy product of european funding monies. It was a classic case of build it and they will come. The real challenge has been in the cost of maintaining the network of trails as a recurrent revenue cost. When I was with the Forestry, it didn’t wash its face in terms of income v expenditure. I suspect it still doesn’t and never will. The building was the easy part. The trails are an integral part of the strategic vision of improving health, well being and life chances as articulated by the Scottish Forestry Strategy. However, from an expenditure perspective, replicating the model of trail centres across the country is not economically viable in the current model.

    I would dearly love to see a Central Scotland trail centre a la Glentress but the money simply isn’t there. It would not make sense for the Forestry to do anything other than consolidate what they already have. But then that is another story.

    No one is getting rich off mountain bike trails here in the UK. If you look at Bike Park Wales, their cash balance dropped £169k to £139k in 2021 and they have £5.194 million in long term loans and bank loans to service.

    Cheers

    Sanny

     

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Nah, definitely is a shield…a group aiming to develop, progress and promote mountain biking and the vast majority of work is all around Glentress and Innerleithen…it isn’t a coincidence…talking to several forest managers and rangers there is serious annoyance at the volume of money spent at Glentress as it stops other areas developing more stuff (that is a standard issue with any business, so isn’t unique here but reading about the millions being spent you do wonder why it isn’t being spread more evenly).

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    I put more or less exactly that ^^ into my response.

    This always annoys me with grant funding stuff – even today, where I work has been identified as one of the top areas in the country for X so we’re getting loads of extra money for X. In spite of the fact that we’re already good at it and don’t really need the money, what we need is for everyone else to have the money that we had (possibly along with our expertise) and then to do X as well as we did.

    The areas that are bad at X or have not delivered very well on it get reduced funding leaving them even less able to do X in future.

    Catch-22.

    It’s why we’ve ended up with “Levelling Up” to attempt to fix decades of uderinvestment but I can see the MTB Trail Centres going the same way. Glentress gets millions for new cafe, maintenance, events etc while Drumlanrig ends up with a few quid for a new signpost or something.

    StirlingCrispin
    Full Member

    For anyone that’s wondering:

    For example:
    “Scottish Cycling, though DMBinS staff, are now full members of the National Access Forum (NAF).

    Cycling UK Scotland are also members of the NAF.
    Not worthy of a mention though ?!

    ericf
    Free Member

    I live down in the Tweed Valley and I’m always surprised to hear that there’s millions
    of pounds of funding going to Glentress and Innerleithen. If you ride here a lot you’ll see
    that there’s no evidence of that money being spent. The trails at Glentress have barely changed in the last 10-15 years and have very little maintenance. FLS do what they can but they just keep the trails clear of danger and try and stop too much erosion. All the wooden features get taped off once they fall into disrepair. There’s no evidence of multi million pound spending going on. The Peel centre went in about 2011 and that’s the last major investment I can think of. I know there is work ongoing now due to the world championships so yes in future it will be better. Innerleithen has had no paid for development. The trails are pretty much maintained on a voluntary basis although I believe FLS go in and sweep the trails and remove fallen trees etc when required. The golfie is all done by volunteers.

    mtnboarder
    Full Member

    Ah, but Eric, you’re forgetting about the 16km of promised new trails at GT (actually less than 10km in reality) and the incredibly important Gateway building! Yes, I am being sarcastic.

    For a few years now the only option for deteriorating wooden features at GT has been to close them. Remember all those fun wee skinnies on the climb to Buzzards? One left.

    Without the volunteer trail builders, the recently voted best trails in the UK would be nothing, but government agencies and funders are falling over themselves with self-congratulations over its success, and spending money moving the carpark back to where it was before…

    PaulMcG
    Full Member

    National Access Forum is a bit of a strange one, and certainly not something I would boast about. My perception of the NAF is that it is landowner-led and influenced. It was created by Nature Scotland, who have many vested interests in keeping people out of places – I’ve experienced 1st hand how they abuse their power. The main output of the NAF has been a landowner-serving ‘guidance’ document on access issues. The primary function of which seems to be a move to enshrine a right for landowners to charge for access (esp. for “events”, which are also heavily defined by NAF for no obvious reason – SOAC has workable guidance on all of this). This is the opposite to the actual legal position in the Land Reform Act/SOAC, which specifically rules out charging for access.

    NAF appear to have the objective of eroding hard won access rights. Approach with caution.

    clubby
    Full Member

    After the comments already, I don’t think I’ll bother reading the document.
    One of the big problems here is that as established mountain bikers, what We want doesn’t really develop mountain biking in general. There are grass roots projects being funded, which to be honest probably won’t interest any of us on here (except maybe the £100,000 for Lagan blue), but hopefully will get more people into the sport. There is a list of the six latest on an Instagram post a couple of days ago, but can’t copy it from my ancient iPad.
    Also claims 39 small grants have been given out so far from an £8 million fund.

    alishand
    Free Member

    Without the volunteer trail builders, the recently voted best trails in the UK would be nothing, but government agencies and funders are falling over themselves with self-congratulations over its success, and spending money moving the carpark back to where it was before…

    This is a perception I’m picking up more and more when it comes to DMBINS promotion of Scotland as a tourist destination (see recent videos with Scotty Laughland touring Lochaber, Perthshire, Tweed Valley etc). A lot of these places rely solely on volunteer trail build crews, so when you promo them as ‘destinations’ without the prerequisite infrastructure or forward plan for that increased traffic – where does the buck fall? Well at the moment it falls squarely with those volunteers and their spare time to maintain trails, and, who at the moment seem only to be lightly supported if at all.

    The strategy does mention supporting trail associations in accessing funding, but in my view they should be leaning heavily into supporting these groups as a strategic priority (with the view to developing areas for the longer term).

    banginon
    Full Member

    Drumlanrig doesn’t get any grant cash whatsoever and has been roundly ignored by DMBinS.
    I’ve been asking Graeme for a chat for ages and have had no response.
    It doesn’t play a part in their thoughts as there will never be £100Ks spent here, and it probably embarrasses them that there is trail that has cost buttons that is actually awesome and longer lasting and more fun than the gravel path stuff the FE builds.
    We are having huge issues following in from catastrophic storm damage and with larch orders down here and a bit of help from the national quango would be helpful tbh ..

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