DMBinW: Developing Mountain Biking In Wales – Be Part Of It!

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If you’re a ‘sector leader’ in Wales, here’s your chance to get involved in a new project – which, if it’s as successful as DMBinS (Developing Mountain Biking In Scotland), could bring a big leap forward for Welsh mountain biking.

After a few years of meetings which have nearly but not quite crossed the line into seeing a properly funded project in Wales to promote mountain biking, Welsh Cycling has decided to try and get things kick started, in the hope that other key players – like the Welsh Government, Sport Wales, and Natural Resources Wales – will be up for formalising something akin to the Scottish set up. In Scotland, the consistent funding of posts that allows people to work full time on promoting and supporting mountain biking has been key to progress. There’s only so much that can be done by volunteers, and the Scottish Government’s involvement has helped position mountain biking as part of the economy with something to contribute.

The Welsh Cycling project announcement states:

Outdoor activities contribute £1.6 billion annually to the Welsh economy, support around 31,000 jobs, and provide significant mental health benefits valued at £26.5 million. The research suggested that a 10% increase in participation could potentially increase the social value by £187 million.

In order to realise these benefits, Wales needs to invest in its mountain biking infrastructure, and promote it to potential visitors. This covers everything from bike friendly accommodation through to trails. Trails covers everything from trail centres to wild trails… and since you can’t really create a tourist brochure promoting something that the landowner hasn’t sanctioned, you get into the realm of legitimising wild trails.

Robbie George, Welsh Cycling’s Director of Development and Participation, explained a little more about what’s brought the project about:

This is currently Welsh Cycling effort to get things moving and we have written the establishment of this group into our new strategy, which will be released in May. Since I moved across from British Cycling last July, everyone in the MTB space is asking for some leadership and direction, so we are looking to light a fire under MB Wales and try and bring the wider community with us.

Robbie George, Welsh Cycling

MB Wales is a tourism focussed project by Visit Wales. It is set up as a CiC, which means it can apply to various funding sources for grant funding, but as Robbie notes, it hasn’t done it yet and it’s never been properly supported by Visit Wales funding – everything has been grant based and episodic. He’s hoping that this new project will provide some longer term stability that can enable Wales to replicate some of the successes of DMBinS.

The intention is that we create or recreate the MB Wales community to provide something tangible for the cycling industry to back. We hope to secure some commercial partners once the plan for developing MTB in Wales is clearer, which over time will show something meaningful and impactful for the government to support.

Robbie George, Welsh Cycling

It sounds as though this external funding will be needed, as Ministers have told Robbie that the current position from the government is they will not fund anything new until the economy improves. It’s all a bit chicken and egg. Getting the funding together for a full time employee is one of the first priorities:

We know everyone will ask for investment in trails but what we need is a dedicated resource to manage MB Wales and bring the community together. I’m doing it at the minute but I have a massive remit and it can’t become the main part of my job. We will look to secure £100k in the first year to make this a reality. Developing MTB in Scotland have advised we’d need £2-3m per year to have an equivalent model, but Wales has less money than Scotland. We’ll focus on getting people first who can then build the model to secure investment. We are looking long term at an investment model…I have been handed over various iterations of projects since early 2000’s, but none (sic) have been properly backed or sought to engage the wider community. I hope this time if we can focus it on grassroots movements and working in partnership across the industry we can deliver something long-term that is sustainable too.

Robbie George, Welsh Cycling

Get Involved!

If this all sounds like something you think you could be part of, or help support, Welsh Cycling has a couple of options for you.

Leave your details and interests with them to receive newsletters, updates and invitations and be at the forefront of this movement. Express interest in developing MTB in Wales.

If you are a sector leader in MTB in Wales, they are inviting you to the inaugural Wales MTB Gathering on the 10th May:

Wales MTB Gathering – MB Wales & FIAS Framework Workshop

  • Date: May 10th 
  • Location: The Lodge, Staylittle, Llanbrynmair, SY19 7BU 
  • Time: 9:30am-15:30pm 
  • Cost: Free!
  • Sign up here.
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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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  • DMBinW: Developing Mountain Biking In Wales – Be Part Of It!
  • gwaelod
    Free Member

    3rd line down “Welsh Assembly” – presumably this refers to the Senedd/Welsh parliament? – there hasn’t been a “Welsh Assembly” for years now.

    Suspect the Welsh Government would be a better “key player” than the Senedd/Parliament though given the Government actually holds executive power and the Senedd is just the Legislature 

    stwhannah
    Full Member

    Apologies! Had ‘Assembly’ drummed into me when I worked at the Scottish Parliament. Will fix.

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