New UK MTB Trail Alliance Gives Trail Stewards A Voice

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I’ve been following the work of this group – and even attending its online meetings – since it first started getting set up, so I’m very pleased to see it reach the ‘go public’ stage. Having previously seen trail advocates all over the country struggling with many of the same issues over and over, it’s great to see experience and knowledge being pooled. The meetings so far have been useful, interesting, and lead to lots of helping each other along. Just the sort of pooled resource that mountain bikers in the UK need. Read on and see what the UK MTB Trail Alliance can do for you, or might be about to do for your trails…

The UK MTB Trail Alliance is dedicated to supporting trail associations, bike parks and informal trail groups. We’re here to advocate for UK riders and their trails.

As mountain biking has grown, the absence of a national body to advocate for the UK’s trails has left them unsupported and vulnerable. The UK MTB Trail Alliance now offers trail associations, bike parks and informal trail groups the chance to share knowledge and pool their influence. With over 100 groups already on board, today’s official launch seeks support from riders to accelerate the progress already made by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign.

“The UK MTB Trail Alliance will protect and improve our amazing but fragile network of official and unofficial trails, by giving them the support and the representation they need. But we can’t do it without your help. Think about what trails mean to you, contribute what you can, and spread the word”

Robin Grant, founder and chair of the UK MTB Trail Alliance

The UK MTB Trail Alliance – By riders, for riders

The UK MTB Trail Alliance brings together over 100 of the UK’s trail associations, bike parks and informal trail groups to share knowledge and best practice and to give them a voice at a national level. We will advocate for the UK’s riders and their trails, building relationships with national landowners, governing bodies and national governments, to foster a more progressive approach. 

We’re aiming for a future with better and more sustainable trails – where trails have the resources, volunteers, knowledge and permission to prosper. One where fewer unofficial trails are shut down – because we’re able to work with landowners to allay and mitigate their concerns, and help local communities take on their management.

“There’s a lot of great momentum growing around mountain biking and trails at the moment, and it’s important riders, trail builders and trail stewards have a voice. Support the crowdfund with what you can, to make sure we collectively have a seat at the table where decisions are made.”

Manon Carpenter, trail advocate, Specialized Soil Searching and Patagonia ambassador and UK MTB Trail Alliance trustee 

Already active and delivering

Behind the scenes, the UK MTB Trail Alliance has already brought benefits to your trails. We’ve provided hands-on support to groups up and down the country. We’ve convened conversations with experts on a range of topics to help our members on monthly Zoom calls. We’ve engaged with the UK Trails Project and their ‘right trail, right place, right people, right time’ report. We’ve partnered with Welsh Cycling on the launch of the Developing Mountain Biking in Wales project. We’ve built relationships with landowners like Forestry England & NRW, national governing bodies like British Cycling and Cycling UK, and national government departments like DEFRA. In a short time, we have already demonstrated the benefits that collaboration and a collective voice can bring.

“Pre-launch, the UK MTB Trail Alliance have already gone above and beyond to provide advice and support to Wyllie Bike Park and Risca Riders. The alliance offers so much promise for helping trail groups and the trails they look after grow. If you’re passionate about trails, please donate what you can.”

Jo Atkinson, Wyllie Bike Park and Risca Riders

“NRW are in support of the UK MTB Trail Alliance, who we hope can help with the sustainable management of trails on the land in our care.”

Dave Liddy, lead specialist advisor recreation safety at Natural Resources Wales

“It’s fantastic to see the momentum that the UK MTB Trail Alliance is building, and to see so much new energy being poured into trail access”

Tom Hutton, former board member of OpenMTB

The Trail Hub

The Trail Hub is the UK MTB Trail Alliance’s knowledge sharing platform. It’s launched to over 200 users from trail associations, bike parks and informal trail groups. Its Library contains an array of useful information such as guides to funding, training, safeguarding, planning permission for trails, landowners’ liability, trail advocacy case studies, academic research and a host of other resources. There’s lots of discussion developing on the Trail Hub too, from how to map your trails, First Aid provision at bike parks, dedicated ebike climbs to favourite trail tools. The idea is if members have questions that other members might be able to help answer, they get on the Trail Hub and ask!

“It’s great that trail associations across the UK finally have a home and place to share good practice, support and experience. To build better trails and communities, making mountain biking a better space for all”.

Henry Norman, founder and director of Ride Sheffield

Help us to protect your trails

The UK MTB Trail Alliance will be set up as a registered charity and governed by a board of unpaid trustees. Although volunteer-run with no salaries, this work costs money – there are membership fees for professional bodies in order to lobby and influence, the admin costs of setting up and running a charity, and expenses to cover. We’re inviting all UK MTB riders who care about the future of their trails to invest what they can to make that future brighter – our GoFundMe campaign aims to raise £10,000 to help cover our year-one costs.

“There is a real need for a national body that can make trail builders’ lives easier. Be that dealing with red-tape, knowing how to build trails that will last, or just simply being able to chat with others in the same boat. If you can’t spare the time but can spare a tenner, donate now to the alliance’s GoFundMe” 

Andy Davies, chair of Dean Trail Volunteers

Our Trustees include representatives from small informal trail groups, big commercial bike parks, established trail associations to community-run trails, and from the four nations of the UK:

  • Robin Grant – Founder and chair of the UK MTB Trail Alliance, trustee of Cycling UK, ex-ad agency CEO and successful entrepreneur
  • Ian Warby – Founder of Aston Hill Bike Park, former CTC off-road lead and IMBA UK board member and proprietor of Firecrest Mountain Biking
  • Manon Carpenter – Trail advocate, ex-world champion downhiller, Specialized Soil Searching and Patagonia ambassador, IMBA Europe board member and North Cardiff Trails committee member
  • Ali Hair – Chair of Trash Free Cambu, an informal trail group in Cambusbarron, central Scotland and Trash Free Trails A-Teamer
  • Kath Goodey – Chair of Trail Collective North Wales and proprietor of RideHigh MTB
  • Bern McClure – Chair of Grassroots Mountainbikers, supporting trail builders across Ireland, and Cavehill Mountainbike Club, which manages trails in Cave Hill Country Park in Belfast
  • Karen Newman – Director of Highland Wildcat Trails, a set of community-run trails in Golspie in the Northern Highlands of Scotland
  • Tim Foster – Former management consultant and founder and owner of Revolution Bike Park in North Wales

“It’s high time that trail associations and bike parks had a voice. We aim to put trails front and centre of all that we do. By working closely with landowners, NGBs and others, we hope to become a significant and trusted partner. This can’t be achieved on volunteer hours alone so, please, donate and help us secure the future of our trails.”

Kath Goodey, chair of Trail Collective North Wales and UK MTB Trail Alliance trustee

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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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Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • New UK MTB Trail Alliance Gives Trail Stewards A Voice
  • pmurden
    Full Member

    Awesome news

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    This is a Good Thing.

    ditch_jockey
    Full Member

    Seems like this duplicates the existing work of DMBinS, and somewhat surprised that they don’t have a seat round the table. Given the different land access mindset north and south of the border, it feels like it will replicate the situation with MS / BMC, where the latter claims to be UK wide but, in reality, has little input north of the border.

    robingrant
    Full Member

    Hey @ditch_jockey

    The UK MTB Trail Alliance recognise the transformative effect Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) has had on mountain biking in Scotland over the last 14 years, and it’s an inspiration for the rest of the UK as to what can be achieved.

    They definitely have a seat round the table – we’re in close contact with Graeme McLean and the rest of the DMBinS team, exchanging notes on all sorts of subjects. The UK MTB Trail Alliance aims to work collaboratively with all of the organisations in the sector who share similar or complementary aims. As further proof of that, we’ve been working in partnership with Welsh Cycling on the Developing Mountain Biking in Wales project, which aims to kickstart a DMBinS for Wales.

    We aim to represent all of the UK’s trail associations, informal trail groups and bike parks, whichever of the UK’s four nations they happen to be in. Both our member base, and the composition of our board of trustees, reflect that, with members distributed fairly much as you would expect across the four nations (we even have member groups in the Isle of Man and Guernsey!), and trustees from all four nations. Looking at Scotland specifically, we have over twenty trail associations, informal trail groups and bike parks on board, and two of our eight trustees are from Scottish trail groups. So I feel confident that we represent Scottish trail associations, informal trail groups and bike parks as well as we represent English, Welsh or Northern Irish ones.

    Hopefully that allays your concerns a little, but let me know if you have any more concerns or questions!

    cheers

    Robin
    Founder & Chair
    UK MTB Trail Alliance

    ditch_jockey
    Full Member

    Thanks for the response Robin. Good to hear that DMBinS has input to this and, if I understand correctly, is being used as one model / point of reference for how a wider UK-wide advocacy group could function. It will be interesting to see how this all bears fruit.

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