Pentland MTB Orienteering event – thoughts?

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  • Pentland MTB Orienteering event – thoughts?
  • Admittedly my experience in the Pentlands is based on my old Glasgow mbc days back in the late ’90s when we used to ride the Pentlands 2 or 3 times a year. There always seemed to be certain trails that were a bit trashed such as around Harelaw reservoir and also a bit of a classic descent which always seemed to result in somebody coming off into the electric fence which was there at the time. So what I want to know is how much worse the trails are now after our ridiculously wet winter? Is this event really a no go and if it is I will cancel my entry.

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    anrmclennan – I can’t help but feel the idea of encouraging riders off the main routes and onto the smaller routes is the complete opposite of what needs to be done. The main routes marked on the OS 50k like the castelaw red road, even the main walking path from harlaw up to maidens, for example, are well metalled and 50 or so riders going over them won’t cause anything more than cosmetic damage.

    Encouraging riders to explore smaller routes like the tiny boggy track round the back of Castlelaw hill and the Capelaw tracks, where even 5 riders will cause some serious long lasting churning and damage, leaves a far more significant impact on the trail network.

    The little uni club enduro that was organised at the end of last year down Allermuir is an example of how much damage a few riders can cause by riding on inappropriate tracks, and it wasn’t as wet then as it is now.

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    crookofdeveon – I would say just use common sense, stick to the main metalled trails if the waypoints allow it, and avoid the really damaged sensitive routes like Phantoms Cleugh etc.

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    Tandemjeremy is fairie extraordinaire

    love it!

    From the pictures posted earlier in the thread yes the do look quite bad (not been up for ages, just road training at the mo)and a little worse than normal winters but I do still think the impact of the event will not be massive. As pointed out before (by yourself as well) it’s a small field, maybe 50 odd. From the 50 say maybe 10-15 are family pairs who aren’t going to head up onto the hills that much, then maybe 10-15 new people who again won’t be heading off into the depths of the pentlands, so you maybe have say 25 ish “competitors” say 15 are local and maybe riding there anyway your looking at 10-15 extra riders who will only ride a section once maybe twice. Will not be a mass start so people will/should stick to clear lines and won’t be trying to go round people as in a normal race.

    Has anyone noticed the impact of this event before? Or even noticed that it’s happened?

    As events go I think this will be fairly low impact, just do it and you could always alleviate some guilt by helping on some repairs.

    On that note, and I know I will get shouted at for this and I don’t mean this to be antagonistic, just my feelings and do understand peoples fears. I would be happy to do some trail maintenance and have thought about coming along to the days organised, quite like a good bit of manual labour.
    BUT and I know this is the internet and people have their “Internet persona” but there are some “voices” on here (STW generally not just this thread) which make it quite off putting. The impression given is one of righteousness, judgemental and a bit cliquey, do it our way or not at all. I am sure you are great people in real life but I can’t say, for me it’s that appealing or welcoming to spend the day with people that seem overly judgemental and to want to rubbish a lot of things I like about the outdoors- competitions, events, dog running about ect. It’s not that I always disagree with the points or can’t see where your coming from but sometimes a more balanced approach might be a bit easier to take and more welcoming.

    As I said I know it’s just the Internet but this thread is a great example of getting on you high horse about something, if your worried email the organiser first and get the full picture rather than getting all worked up about it on here before knowing all the facts. Don’t think the organiser should have to stumble across a thread rubbishing their event, different if you contacted them and they gave an uncaring response or no response. A bit of respect would be good for someone who, like you guys, is willing to devote time to the sport.

    +1 for the above response.

    Some real debate going on here 😉

    As discussed, I’ve spoken to the Ranger who has recommended putting the following areas out of bounds: Black Hill west, Dens, Maidens and Phantom’s Cleugh and some of the area near Dreghorn. There were already areas out of bounds due to them being “sensitive areas”

    I’ve also been round the area over the winter and considering one or two other areas to be out of bounds. A lot of this will be on the cycle path, lower level roads and the other main metalled roads over the hills. On the day before the event I will again review and may put other areas out of bounds too.

    So the “challenge” for me is to have an event that doesn’t use these out of bounds areas but still make a fun and interesting event

    I agree that we (as bikers) should not be churning up the countryside and ruining it for others.

    Also, March was chosen as it was before lambing and birds nesting. Summer is too busy with tourists/ walkers. Autumn is too wet and Winter is too unpredictable. So I will never win with the seasons 😉

    Please come along and experience one of these events – you will then understand what mimimal impact a trailquest/ MBO event does.

    I bet if you went out on the day, the only difference you’d see is one or 2 blokes with beards and a map board. 🙂

    cows_in_cars – Member

    if your worried email the organiser first and get the full picture rather than getting all worked up about it on here before knowing all the facts. Don’t think the organiser should have to stumble across a thread rubbishing their event, different if you contacted them and they gave an uncaring response or no response. A bit of respect would be good for someone who, like you guys, is willing to devote time to the sport.

    The OP was asking if his fears were justified and getting other views onit. there is a long standing history which you may not be aware of discussion and concern over these trails not by nimbys but by users. I am another one who has not ridden in the pentlands all winter because of the condition of the trails and I have been trying to arrange repair sessions.

    I for one am reassured by the organiser but only partly so

    cfinnimore
    Member

    I’ve just read everyones post and I’m still bloody going up to check it out. Whether i’ll participate is another story, depends on commitments.

    I’m new to the Pentlands and feel real trepidation about independently exploring them in-case I do something deemed “inappropriate”,

    TJ is there a verbal forum that people attend to talk about the Pentlands with responsible representatives from all parties present?

    Talking, eh.

    cfinnimore – no – no forum

    go and explore – just stick to the code then its no problem

    fizzer
    Member

    I for one will not be cancelling my entry.

    I will also not have any guilt, trepidation or other fears about riding a few trails that may or may not be wet on the day just so they can be in pristine condition should the local elite wish to ride them once every couple of years.

    Maybe we should shut the countryside per se cos its been raining?

    Its nothing to do wit the local elite. There are a few of us who are upset at the unsustainable erosion the paths are suffering and question the wisdom of holding this event when the paths are fragile and easily damaged. Many of us have stopped riding there because of the damage being done by mountainbikers being irrisponsible.

    Cycling on hard surfaces, such as wide paths and tracks,
    causes few problems. If going off-trail, especially in
    winter, avoid wet, boggy or soft ground and don’t churn
    up the surface
    Take care not to disturb wildlife or damage natural
    vegetation; observe information or signs advising you of
    sensitive sites.
    Take your litter away with you
    A group will have greater impact on the environment, so
    take extra care and set a good example if you are a Leader
    Help protect trails from erosion; don’t skid, especially on loose
    surfaces and try not to lock your wheels when going downhill.
    Remember, you may not be the only cyclists using the route—
    consider the cumulative effect

    Premier Icon kennyp
    Subscriber

    I for one will not be cancelling my entry.

    I will also not have any guilt, trepidation or other fears about riding a few trails that may or may not be wet on the day just so they can be in pristine condition should the local elite wish to ride them once every couple of years.

    Maybe we should shut the countryside per se cos its been raining?

    Possibly one of the most selfish, ill-informed comments I’ve seen on here in ages. It’s nothing to do with the state of the trails on the day or the weather. It’s to do with the fact the trails up there are in a more fragile state than they’ve been in many years.

    There is no local elite; however there are plenty of local riders happy to stay away for the time being to give the trails a bit of a chance to recover. Seems a bit pointless mind you with people like you with this sort of “well as long as I have my fun then sod the rest of you” attitude.

    If that all sounds angry and bitter then it’s because the Pentlands are an area I care about deeply.

    Premier Icon kennyp
    Subscriber

    Oh, and to the guy on here organising. Full marks for trying to explain, and full marks for being the sort of bloke working to give something back to the sport, but to be honest, this is the wrong date and the wrong place for this sort of event.

    druidh
    Member

    Petition to PHRP anyone?

    fizzer
    Member

    Sorry I do apologise for wanting to ride my bike

    druidh
    Member

    You see if I was planning to ride somewhere and then some locals came on here and told me the trails had been trashed and needed to recover, I’d just ride somewhere else.

    Local knowledge counts for a lot.

    fizzer
    Member

    Ah I see the it’s locals again

    Do you own these trails?

    Where are your local trails fizzer?

    druidh
    Member

    fizzer – Member
    Ah I see the it’s locals the people with the most informed opinion again

    FTFY

    This is why we are concerned – this is a more and more common feature in the pentlands. The organiser has said he is aware of the issues and will try to avoid damage. However given the fragile state of the trails I don’t see how an event like this can be run. this is a main junction of trails marked on the OS map


    Image1 by TandemJeremy, on Flickr


    Image1 by TandemJeremy, on Flickr

    TandemJeremy – Image 2 will be out of bounds, not 100% sure where image 1 is but if I think I know where it is (up the back of the reservoir?) which I may make out bounds too.

    Please remember that this is a limited number of people going over a huge area on a number of different tracks. Not a group of people going over the same bit of land at the same time and in the same direction.

    Majority of the checkpoints are well away from these areas and on good accessible tracks/ trails.

    Obviously nobody knows me but I’ve organised these events for over 3 years now across Scotland and ALWAYS take into account the conditions and the landowners requests. I have had no complaints from the landowners post event…

    Thank you to the other people who are supporting this event and I do understand the other commentators responses which I hope I have addressed their concerns.

    If these are more and more “common features” why don’t we all get a working committee together and fix it so we can all ride rather than just not riding??! 😉

    PS – I am not making money from this (unlike the rat race etc) but trying to promote our sport and get people out on their bikes.

    Premier Icon AlasdairMc
    Subscriber

    Those photos are at the junction between Phantom’s and Maiden’s Cleugh. A couple of years ago you could pass that spot without slowing, the trail was far narrower and it led down to a great wee rocky section. Not anymore since people have continued riding through all weathers and widening and deepening the track into the mess that remains.

    anrmclennan

    What puzzles me is if you make bits such as those pics out of bounds then how will you be able to have a choice of routes?. thats one of the few main east / west crossings of the pentlands – most of the others are even more vulnerable bar perhaps green cleugh.

    Its a difficult balance. I hope this thread has been taken as meant by you and I commend you for calmly discussing it. I am reasured to some extent by this but I do question if you take the vulnerable trails out of the equation how much you actually have left to allow route choice thus make the event worthwhile – ie can a reasonable compromise be reached?

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    fizzer – Member

    I will also not have any guilt, trepidation or other fears about riding a few trails that may or may not be wet on the day just so they can be in pristine condition should the local elite wish to ride them once every couple of years.

    If we trash the trails now, they’ll still be trashed come the summer. If we rest the trails now, then they’ll be in a better state come the summer. It’s not about not riding, it’s about choosing when you ride, so that it’s better when you do it.

    The comment about “local elite” is absurd, what fraction of pentlands riders post on this forum? 1%? But everyone who does benefits from trails being in better condition.

    NZCol
    Member

    You lot come across as bunch of whining, nimby moaners. As is is that area in the photos won’t be fixable until it has seriously started to dry out and will need some form of base put into it to stop it happening again. As a trail builder and maintainer and also familiar with that area historically you should work with the organizer and get a work,party going post event to sort out one or two of the worst spots. Whether you like it or not most people simply don’t care and will keep using these paths as and when they like.

    fizzer
    Member

    Plenty of tyre marks in those pictures so the locals, sorry people with the most informed opinions, are riding there.

    The organiser is saying that the routes will be out of bounds but even if they aren’t it is no business of yours.

    As above, bunch of whining moaners.

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager
    Subscriber

    NZCol – Member

    You lot come across as bunch of whining, nimby moaners. As is is that area in the photos won’t be fixable until it has seriously started to dry out and will need some form of base put into it to stop it happening again. As a trail builder and maintainer and also familiar with that area historically you should work with the organizer and get a work,party going post event to sort out one or two of the worst spots. Whether you like it or not most people simply don’t care and will keep using these paths as and when they like. Well said Col. There’s legitimate concern for the trails, then there’s posturing nimbyism. Too much of the latter in this thread IMHO.
    Anyone who objects to a small trailquest like this, sensibly planned and organised, is basically going to object to anything. Very hard to take that point of view seriously.

    Garry – which is why the OP and most of the posters raised it as a question.

    However the attitude of people like fizzer stinks and NZ col – you do not know what has happened in recent years when organised events and overuse has lead to extensive damage.

    I have been riding in the pentlands for decades but the last couple of years have seen massive damage

    NZCol
    Member

    Errrrr I might you know TJ. But anyway dont let that stop you. As I said, it needs fixing but you won’t stop the uneducated from using it. Trying to work with events organizers who have offered to try an redress damage could work you know.

    Really col- I thought you lived in NZ now. How much have you beeninthe pentlands in the last couple of years?

    I do agree with what you say in essence tho. However I don’t think its unresonable to question this given that other events have caused significant damage and that the trails are in a worse condition and more vulnerable now than I have ever seen them.

    Premier Icon kennyp
    Subscriber

    As above, bunch of whining moaners.

    Selfish idiot.

    druidh
    Member

    This isn’t about “local trails for local riders” – the folk on here showing concern are the very same folk who pop up on “what trails near Edinburgh” threads offering advice and guiding. It’s about respect and responsibility – as referred to in the SOAC.

    Rather than being coerced into a trail repair session, the organizer should have had this built into the plans from day 1. I wonder how large the entry list would be if the participants knew they had to wield a shovel at some point? Pretty small if fizzer is an example.

    NZCol
    Member

    Last year I was there 4 times, rode maybe 3 or 4 days, year before 7 times and rode at least 2 days each visit, 2009 I was there only twice but the year before that I was there 6 times. I have a bike there at my mums place and work(Ed) in Edinburgh you see. So I have seen it getting worse but anyway there is a fine line to be trod.

    fair enough then Col

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    Sounds like the Rangers are on the ball anyway.

    Maidens looks rank!

    Unlike the others who are surprised by the reaction, I ain’t as this is STW forum after all 😉

    Anyway, I am gonna try this event out as I have heard it’s great fun, and from the comments by the organiser I am happy that all the points have been taken into consideration 🙂

    Sorry to say guys, but the nay-sayers sound so much like the Walkers and Ramblers I used to meet up there LOL Have the locals really turned into walkers? I don’t mean walking I mean the kind of NIMBY approach to new events and uses of the local hills.

    I did my first Mountain bike event up there in the late 80’s, think it was run by WIlliamson cycles (ah those were the days) and have ridden there since. Was up there on Saturday and was happy to see some trails actually drying out! and guess what I met other bikes (shock horror)

    Anyway, good luck to the organisers and I will see you there.

    Kit
    Member

    I don’t mean walking I mean the kind of NIMBY approach to new events and uses of the local hills.

    I can’t speak for the others, but I have no objections to events being held or the Pentlands being used The key is that they are done responsibly, and my concern with this event was the timing.

    My original intention had been indeed to contact the organisers, but I wanted to check whether my opinion (which is all it is, right?) was justified, and had the support of other local bikers. The concerns I raised are entirely valid, it seems, as vindicated by the rangers’ decision to restrict the areas this event can operate in due to the existing condition of certain trails.

    A number of comments have been along the lines of “people bike in the Pentlands all the time and you can’t stop them”. This is, of course, true and I don’t think any of us want to stop people using the hills all year round, but people need to understand that access is granted on responsibility, and if people see an event organised by a national body, in (probably) wet conditions, taking in little-used paths then they will think that it is not irresponsible to use these trails. I think that this wrong! But this is up to the individual to decide, and consider the impact of what they are doing NOW on future years’ land use (e.g. fizzer) and attitudes of the land owners.

    I think these orienteering events are great and the Pentlands is a great place for it. Unfortunately the Pentlands have suffered from a large increase in MTB use over the last few years and we’ve also had 2 very wet years. I very much doubt some of the trashed trails will ever recover to their former glory. What is needed now is a plan to actualy repair and improve the trails so that they can sustain the current and future wear rates.

    The council or Pentland Hill Rangers don’t and will not have the budget or man power to address the errosion. A voluntary group would be a great thing to have that can promote the Pentlands and work with event organisers and local users to the benefit of all. I get the feeling that something like this will be coming in the next year or two as there is a lot of interest in this sort of thing right now. I for one will help out where I can.

    No elitism or Nimby attitudes here, just a lot of genuine concern for the area.

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