Fed up of remote trail centres

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  • Fed up of remote trail centres
  • chrisski

    Trail centres are overrated anyway! Living in scotland the op has no excuse really unless he has no car to get there. Its much easier to just get on a bike and ride somewhere than it is lets say skiing. Dunno what the point of the op topic is anyway

    Premier Icon epicyclo

    I think the OP needs to get the cycle map of Inverness and take his kids along the quiet routes so they can cycle out into the plentiful supply of trails around Inverness.


    Dont know what the riding is like around Inverness and I accept that you can just get out and ride I personally prefer natural routes to trail centres,and though I do enjoy trail centre riding,I haven’t actually cycled at a trail centre for 2 years.
    I reckon that the op does have a point though mtbing is becoming expensive and having facilities that are near by would be one way reducing the cost to those famous hard working families we hear so much about. A good local club that works with the local council and landowners to promote cycling, seems the most viable option to me

    Premier Icon stilltortoise

    OP, I think the problem is that some people expect to be spoon-fed. We don’t need trail-experience-parks on people’s doorsteps, ‘we’ somehow need people to feel empowered or inspired to get out there under their own steam and explore. MTB isn’t all EWS and RadskillzUK mag, it’s just a bike that can get you places if you have the motivation. W/o the motivation to get out and try something you’re stuck online-gaming, facebooking and feeding the flab. Getting more groups to trail-centres for try-out sessions would be good but as one-offs the travel isn’t an issue for most areas of the UK now

    He said it best^

    “I can’t mountain bike, the nearest trail centre is 2 hours away”. Let’s not give people this kind of excuse not to ride a bike. If they want to ride, they will. If they don’t want to ride, we can encourage them but that doesn’t need trail centres within spitting distance of everyone. It needs keen friends, clubs, promotion, local enthusiasts to drive it. If they still don’t want to ride, accept that not everyone is into cycling.

    I had a very fortunate childhood with countryside on my doorstep. Would I have ridden my bike as much if I had a Playstation or a computer? Honestly? Probably not. There’s ample opportunities for most kids to keep fit and healthy but none of them will ever be as easy as sitting on the sofa playing video games or watching repeats of Hollyoaks.

    I love trail centres and I’d love one on my doorstep, but I think they’re a small part of encouraging kids to be active, which I think was the ultimate point the OP was trying to make.


    Skindog, where about in Aberdeen did the guy in Alpine bikes mention? I’m always game for hearing about new trails around Aberdeen.

    Premier Icon timthetinyhorse

    I this I will have my 2p on this one.

    If the op feels so very strongly about having facilities on his doorstep perhaps it is time for him to pull his finger out and do something about it, this is by no means a personal attack on the op, I don’t know this person but what I can say is that in my local area (within 25min pedal) the local community has pulled together, gathered funds and build a variety of different trails on an old slag heap, yes it’s not very tall, yes the runs aint too long and steep but the principle is there. It can be accessed on the national cycle network so kids from all over the area have access and to be honest (I don’t know the exact figures) I don’t think it was too expensive to complete.
    There is a BMX track at the foot of the trails also so all in all a good job has been done.

    It appears to me that there are a lot of people in the UK who want to ride but not either help to build or help with funding. I’m no saint myself, I have ridden the said trails but as yet have not helped with funding or building however I am a member of a different trail building group that build on FC land with permission that is 30min drive from my home. I’m afraid if people want to ride on their doorstep it’s time to get the maps out (god forbid parents teach kids to read a map) and go hunting or do something about the situation.

    As for the “audi drivers” comments etc, I drive said audi A4, its old with 165,000 miles on the clock, it gets me there and I work hard to put fuel in when I want to ride trails that are further afield, its what comes with hard work…….parents can easily take kids riding, I will be when my son is old enough to ride trail centres but we will also be riding the local hills (cheviots about 45min away in the car) and of course the little costal single-track gems that are dotted about my local area.

    Sorry for such a long post but its nice to have a little vent/express opinions now and again ?

    I agree with the OP actualy, but be carefull what you wish for. Swinley’s great, for a one lap blast to try and get a few places up the STRAVA leaderboard. And maybe it gets a few people into ‘mountainbiking’. But I suspect a lot won’t keep it up as there’s not the traditional ‘club’ to deceminate the knowlage of other trails/routes, so it’s possible people will assume they can only got there, or a 3 hour drive to Afan, not realising there’s almost limitless posibilities in the chilterns nearby, and consequently give up.

    I think informal clubs with just enough publicity that others can find them by googling mountain biking “insert town name here” are a much more sustainable way to grow.


    We live on an island that’s almost unique in having such a well-developed network of bridleways, towpaths, quarry roads, old railways and all kinds of other routes all over the countryside thanks to our high population density and the industrial revolution. I have never understood the attraction of trial centres; the couple I’ve tried have bored me so much I’ve ended up peeling off and finding other places to ride. Just go out and buy your local 1:25,000 OS map and you’ll realise that your entire neighbourhood or county is one massive cyclists’ playground.


    I was pretty inspired by this thread, so on Sunday when I bumped into a a nice chap at kirkhill in Aberdeen who was busy building a trail, I downed bike and give him a hand. The network of trails is developing nicely despite the FC being a bit prone to pulling things apart.

    big respect to the guys who give up their day to make our rides more interesting!

    Premier Icon bails

    Just go out and buy your local 1:25,000 OS map

    I did.

    and you’ll realise that your entire neighbourhood or county is one massive cyclists’ playground.

    It’s really not. 🙁

    Premier Icon ahwiles

    globalti – Member

    I have never understood the attraction of trial centres

    1) corners
    2) jumps
    3) consistent level of challenge – my wife hates ‘natural’ trails as they’re often either boring, or too difficult. Bridleways/footpaths/cheeky trails are rarely fun AND easy. A trail centre offers XXkm of consistently challenging fun.

    there’s no point arguing, because you’ll be arguing with my wife, so you’ll be wrong as soon as you start.

    even the peak district, held up as an example of the best of mountain biking, has very few bridleways. and very few of them are any good, and linking up the good bits without too many road miles is almost impossible.

    Premier Icon kelvin

    OP wants to think himself lucky he doesn’t surf.

    Nearest break to me is two hours drive away, imagine the frustration of getting there and it’s flat!!!!! 😈

    ahwiles +1

    ‘natural’ stuff is good
    ‘trail center’ stuff is also good

    The difference is TC stuff is consistenty good, not a good bit at the end of a 10mile hike a bike accross a bog, up a hillside, ride down the tarmac road to apreciate a 100meter section of singletrack nirvana.

    I have never experienced type 2 or 3 fun (google it) at a trail center, whereas a natural ride isn’t complete without some!

    Premier Icon Del

    Some observations:
    1) The FC have built trails for us to ride with little or no cost to us ( other than as taxpayers and CP fees ). Their own studies show that riders who look for more technical stuff, red or above, are a very small minority of their visitors. frankly i’m amazed that red or above stuff gets built any more. study was linked off here ages ago. i don’t know why the FC are to blame for the situation the OP is unhappy about really. surely if you want stuff built local to town/cities then it’s the council who will have the most available land nearby?
    2) how often do you see kids playing in the street, let alone out on their bikes? when i were a kid ( and all this fields, etc. ) there were gangs of us marauding about the place all year round. in many ways it’s easy for parents to have their kids sat in front of the tv or games console of their choice. at least they’re not the victims of the apparently ubiquitous peado. 🙄 ( sorry – legitimate concerns in some respects I know ).
    3) i did have a computer at home and still got out on my bike.
    4) a lot of kids you see going to and from school under their own steam seem to have those stupid scooter things. every time i see one i want to shout ‘stop wasting your time and get a fracking bike!’, but this sort of behaviour is frowned upon, i’m told. scooters and bikes appear ( anecdotally ) to have similar levels of popularity. go figure. 🙄 if your mates aren’t in to it, you’re not likely to be in to it either.
    5) our local trail centre, haldon, is accessible from the centre of exeter in ~ 40mins via cycle path and relatively quiet country lanes. i can only guess at the numbers who ride up there, but i’d be surprised if it was more than 20-30 people a week.
    6) the tow path along the canal/estuary is irritatingly busy during the summer. not so in winter, but still a fair ( and growing ) number of commuters. maybe there just aren’t many cyclists in the frozen wastelands of scotland? 😉


    It’s cheaper to live in the countryside in NE Scotland. I choose to live next to Bennachie and Pitfichie and I now have a 45 minute commute to Dyce. The alternative is paying 40% more in rent and being nowhere near the trails.
    Move to a nice cheap rented cottage in the Grantown area and commute into Inverness for work.


    There’s loads of good local stuff in and around the area. Easy enough to find the trails on strava.


    5thElefant – Member

    The trails?


    Meaning the “unofficial” trails of course … 😀


    Having just encountered this thread for the first time, im quite frankly staggered at how lazy and selfish the OPs post seems.
    Ive never been to a tail centre, although Im quite happy to go at some point and can completely understand their existance.
    However, MTB (for me) is about getting out and exploring, finding those nuggets of local trails and getting out there. To complain that purpose built facilities aren’t on peoples doorsteps highlights the fact that people expect the moon on a stick these days to participate in any sort of activity.
    However you dont NEED to go to trail centre to ride an MTB. To think otherwise is quite saddening.
    Yes we should be grateful that trail centres exist, but moreso that we are able to ride outside of such locations without serious restrictions.
    Im really lucky to be in the countryside within 10 minutes of riding on the road, but if I want to go to a trail centre, I’ve got a ferry trip to contend with before I can even start my drive to the nearest one.
    Much like cars, trail centres are a luxury, not a right. They’re certainly NOT a necessity.

    Premier Icon Trekster

    Plus the kids we need to be getting out there simply never get the opportunity to ride these places.

    No different to any other sport, needs parents to get them out and about.
    My son raced bmx and rowed for a number of years, we were on the road most weekends taking him and his team mates to events.
    Having helped start a now defunct kids bike club I have found too many parents just want(need)to dump their kids so that they can go shopping, to the gym, pool etc. The club folded partly due to lack of volunteers ie parents!!

    Premier Icon BillOddie

    I have a few thoughts on the points raised in this thread…

    1) There aren’t enough “Trail centres” close to town(s)

    More trail centres are better right? Well..Yes and No.
    Yes – Trail Centres are accesible as they provide a gateway into Mountain Biking (ie riding a bike offroad). This is a good thing. The more places there are to ride bikes in relative close proximity to town the better. Also learning to Mountain Bike in environment where there probably isn’t a Rooty Drop of Death ™ is likely to increase confidence and progression. Nothing like being dragged down some techfest natural trail to scare off the beginner.
    Also not everyone wants to slog across 10 miles of moorland to get to the sublime mile of singletrack.

    No – The more trail centres there are the more likely it is that Rights of Way will be restructured to exclude Mountain Bikes from existing ROWs. Unlikely but possibly worth keeping in mind.

    2) When I were a lad…
    Yes, yes, you disappeared into the woods for hours or days on end to ride your bike. Kids still do this. However The culture of fear and the nanny state-ism of present day certainly reduces the numbers of kids allowed to experience this type of freedom.
    Also getting the Xbox generation off their bum is hard enough but the promise of pies/cake/coke at the end of the ride (that is clearly defined and FUN) will help.

    3) OS Maps
    Yep – lovely things, bloody useful, I can read one but many can’t should lack of Nav skills be an impediment to learning to Mountain Bike? I don’t think so.

    Premier Icon stilltortoise

    Having helped start a now defunct kids bike club I have found too many parents just want(need)to dump their kids so that they can go shopping, to the gym, pool etc. The club folded partly due to lack of volunteers ie parents!!

    This is quite interesting. Is the ratio of “staff” to kids so high now that setting up and running new clubs is harder, simply because it needs more people? I used to get involved in all sorts, from Scouts to fencing to hockey to orchestras etc. I don’t recall there being that many adults required to look after the kids. Maybe times have changed.

    Premier Icon BillOddie

    I think insurance (and you will be wanting insurance) dictates a minimum Kid to Parent Ratio.

    If the op feels so very strongly about having facilities on his doorstep perhaps it is time for him to pull his finger out and do something about it…

    I agree with this to a point.

    I’ve been involved to some level (one a lot, another minimal) with two trail centres, and it’s incredibly rewarding to see something grow and get used. However, the paperwork, money, politics and other related ball-aches are hard work, no two ways about it. You’ll be dealing with land-owners, the rich public, the poor public, passionate riders and downright facking idiots, and they’ll all have an opinion which they sincerely believe is right. I have banged heads more times than I care to remember, and I’m not a confrontational person.

    This is before getting into the long, hard work of making sustainable trails – very different to making a cheeky trail in the woods, and keeping a motivated dig team is a mission in itself.

    Definitely do it – it’s utterly brilliant – but don’t expect to see results quickly.

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